ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 11/01/2019

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The New York Times – Declan Walsh & David E. Sanger / Pompeo speech lays out vision for Mideast, taking shots at Obama

  • US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid out his vision for America’s role in the Middle East on Thursday, telling a university audience in Cairo that “the age of self-inflicted American shame is over” and that the US would pursue a more activist policy.
  • Pompeo’s prescription was short on specifics, beyond bolstering alliances with Arab autocrats loyal to Washington. Nor did he mention human rights. Instead he painted a picture of a Middle East cast into chaos by President Barack Obama, and that can only be rescued by crushing Iran.
  • Pompeo vowed to “expel every last Iranian boot” from Syria, where President Trump had said his only reason for remaining was defeating the Islamic State. Asked to reconcile these apparent contradictions, Pompeo said: “There’s no contradiction whatsoever. This is a story made up by the media.”
  • Later that afternoon, Pompeo declared that “when America retreats, chaos follows.” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took to twitter to counter this claim, saying that, “Whenever/wherever US interferes, chaos, repression and resentment follow.”

Al-Monitor – Mohammad Ali Shabani / Iran national security adviser says Europe missed chance to save nuclear deal

  • The logic behind Iran’s continued compliance with its obligations under the nuclear deal (JCPOA) has been based on two pillars: that strategic patience will pit Europe against the US and that waiting out Trump is thus the best option. But this logic is becoming increasingly challenged.
  • Europe has shown itself to cower in the face of US pressure. Most major European companies have left Iran, the promised special purpose vehicle (SPV) to facilitate trade with Iran remains a theoretical concept.
  • “The Europeans’ opportunity to execute their commitments to our country under the JCPOA, and particularly [with reference to] the special financial channel, has ended,” said the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Ali Shamkhani.
  • A possible shift on the part of Shamkhani may alter the power balance within the SNSC, with potentially disastrous consequences for the nuclear deal — including its remaining signatories.
  • However, some analysts posit that Iran’s departure from the JCPOA is unlikely simply on the basis that its other options are worse than continued compliance with the accord.

The Guardian – Tom Phillips / Maduro starts new Venezuela term by accusing US of imperialist ‘world war’

  • The Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, has castigated the EU and accused Washington of waging an imperialist “world war” against his nation, as he shrugged off a tempest of international condemnation to begin his second term in office, which is due to last six years.
  • The EU called last year’s vote “neither free, nor fair”, and said Maduro was “starting a new mandate on the basis of non-democratic elections”. Mike Pompeo, for his part, condemned Maduro’s “illegitimate usurpation of power”.
  • Latin American governments also denounced the inauguration, with Paraguay breaking off diplomatic ties and Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri, branding Maduro “the victimizer who plays victim”.
  • “I want a new start for the Bolivarian Revolution … I want us to correct the many mistakes we have committed,” Maduro said, calling corrupt chavistas a greater threat than US imperialism.

Euractiv – Gerardo Fortuna / Five Star Movement unveils plan to form EU Parliament group

  • Brexit will take UKIP out of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) parliamentary group, where Five Star Movement MEPs are currently sitting. And it’s not clear whether the EFDD will survive after the May European elections, leaving the Five Star Movement looking for new potential allies.
  • Although environmental protection is considered as a core campaign topic for the Five Star Movement in the run-up to the next EU parliamentary term, the European Greens have so far kept the door shut to a formal alliance with the Five Star Movement.
  • The leader of the Five Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, is thus meeting with other European parties the purpose of bringing them in for to a future political group to be formed in the European Parliament after the elections.
  • Promoting direct democracy and reducing overspending in politics are among the priorities that the new political group will look to promote in a manifesto to be published in the run-up to the 2019 European elections.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces. 

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