ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 18/06/2019

The Washington Post – Karen DeYoung / Iran threatens to surpass uranium limits as tensions with the U.S. continue to grow

  • Iran said Monday that its stockpile of enriched uranium will surpass limits set by the 2015 international nuclear deal 10 days from now, unless European partners in the agreement do more to help it circumvent U.S. sanctions — a step by Tehran likely to add to growing U.S.-Iran tensions.
  • The Iranian uranium threat was followed by an announcement by the American acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan that he was sending approximately 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East “for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats.” President Trump has said repeatedly that his goal in Iran is “no nuclear weapons” and that he does not want war. But events seem to be quickly moving in the opposite directions on both counts.
  • European allies, partners in the nuclear agreement that Trump dropped out of last year, remain stuck in the middle. They want to stay in the deal and continue trading and investing in Iran. But efforts to persuade their own business communities, while avoiding sanctions and the U.S. dollar, have proved difficult.
  • In Washington, Trump has derided the nuclear deal with Iran as a failure of the Obama administration, and said that his own pressure is designed to bring Tehran to the negotiating table to forge a new agreement.

The Guardian – Emma Graham-Harrison / Sound of Hong Kong’s defiance reverberates in Beijing

  • The most obvious casualty of Hong Kong’s extraordinary uprising against chief executive, Carrie Lam, and her campaign to tie the city more closely to China, will be her own career. The city’s protests are also a major challenge to Lam’s boss, Xi Jinping.
  • “(Protestors) have forced Xi to back down, for the first time since he took power seven years ago, from a major policy platform”, said Willy Lam, professor at the Centre for China Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
  • The show of political power by Hong Kong’s population, and Lam’s humiliating climbdown over a controversial extradition law, are a major headache for Xi, a ruler who has pursued an increasingly nationalist, autocratic agenda since becoming premier of China.
  • “The protests in Hong Kong have exacerbated Beijing’s existing challenges. China is already embroiled in a trade war, and protests could strengthen Beijing’s critics in Taiwan as the election approaches,” said Zhixing Zhang, senior east Asia analyst at Stratfor.

The Economist / Muhammad Morsi, Egypt’s only democratic ruler, dies in court

  • Egyptian liberals, who split their vote during the election’s first round, did not share Mr Morsi’s Islamist politics, but he seemed the democratic choice, a break from the old regime. Many held their noses and voted for him in the run-off in June 2012 against Ahmed Shafiq, Mr Mubarak’s last prime minister.
  • The goodwill was short-lived. Mr Morsi and his allies never got a grip on Egypt’s factious state. From the start the army undermined him, while the intelligence services worked to bring him down. The Mubarak-era courts became a major source of opposition: judges dissolved parliament, in which the Muslim Brotherhood —Morsi’s political party— held a plurality.
  • In November 2012 the president issued a decree that shielded his decisions from judicial review. Anti-Morsi protesters who surrounded his palace were soon attacked by Brotherhood supporters. The edict and the subsequent violence prompted a rupture with the revolutionaries that helped him to reach the office. When the army removed him in July 2013, many were happy to see him go.
  • Mr Morsi was a poor president. But he was the only popularly-elected one in Egypt’s long history. It is a tragic coda for Egypt’s revolution that he spent his final years rotting alone in a cell, his death almost a footnote in a country that long ago slid back into dictatorship.

The New York Times – Jane Perlez & Mark Landler / Xi Jinping will make first visit to North Korea ahead of meeting with Trump

  • President Xi Jinping plans to make his first state visit to North Korea this week, a surprise move that could rattle his relationship with President Trump, who has made his nuclear diplomacy with Mr. Kim a signature foreign policy project.
  • By going to Pyongyang, the North’s capital, Mr. Xi is injecting himself into the middle of Mr. Trump’s negotiating efforts, which have languished since February when he and Mr. Kim failed to agree on a disarmament deal.
  • Mr. Xi’s move risks sidelining Mr. Trump in the diplomatic undertaking that he views as one of his biggest legacies. And it suggests the Chinese leader is willing to strike out on his own, as China’s broader relationship with the United States continues to fray.
  • Relations between China and North Korea are scarcely less tense. Mr. Xi’s visit would be the first by a Chinese leader in 14 years. After the North staged successful missile and nuclear tests, China voted at the United Nations in favor of tougher economic sanctions.
  • Still, China remains North Korea’s most important ally — one on which Pyongyang has long relied to intercede for it on the world stage. China has sometimes helped Mr. Kim by looking the other way when ships deliver oil to the North in violation of international sanctions.

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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