EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 29/11/2019

The New York Times – Michael Crowley / Trump visits Afghanistan and says he reopened talks with Taliban

  • President Trump made a surprise Thanksgiving visit to American troops in Afghanistan on Thursday and declared that he had reopened peace negotiations with the Taliban less than three months after scuttling talks in hopes of ending 18 years of war. Mr. Trump’s sudden announcement on peace talks came at a very critical moment in the United States’ long, drawn-out military venture in Afghanistan, a time when the country is mired in turmoil over disputed election results.
  • However, the scope of the negotiations is still unclear, and White House officials gave few details beyond Mr. Trump’s sudden revelation. The Taliban made no official comment immediately after the late-night visit and Mr. Ghani said little afterward about any peace talks.
  • The visit had an important political dimension. President Trump is searching for foreign policy achievements he can celebrate on the campaign trail over the next year. Several of his other marquee initiatives, including nuclear talks with North Korea and an effort to squeeze concessions out of Iran with economic pressure, have yielded few results.

The Guardian – Jennifer Rankin / EU  risks splits over Brexit trade talks, says new council chief

  • The EU  is ready for the next phase of Brexit but risks greater internal divisions, one of its incoming leaders has stated. In one of his first interviews since being nominated president of the European Council, Charles Michel hoped that the UK election would bring clarity on whether the country would ratify the withdrawal agreement. If Brexit happens on January, the two sides will embark on a race to negotiate a free-trade agreement. He stated that the EU would have to “work again very hard” to maintain unity as countries had different economic interests in the UK relationship.
  • Moreover, Michel  said that he wanted to avoid Brexit becoming a big issue, as he planned to focus on the eurozone, climate change and the EU’s next seven-year budget. His priority is making Europe a more united player on the world stage, as he warned against the possibility of the union becoming “the collateral damage” in a possible cold war between the US and China.
  • He spoke warmly of ideas to reform the EU enlargement process that are closely associated with the French president: “We need to discuss whether it is possible to improve this process, for example with the possibility to decide the principle of reversibility.”, referring to a French idea that countries could be pushed to the back of the queue if sliding back on democratic reforms.
  • POLITICO – Jean-Claude Juncker / Brussels Playbook

The Washington Post – Mustafa Salim & Erin Cunningham / Iraq forms ‘crisis cells’ as Iran’s Najaf consulate burns and more than two dozen protesters are killed

  • A wave  of fresh unrest rippled across Iraq on Thursday as security forces clashed with demonstrators in Baghdad and cities in the south, leaving more than two dozen protesters dead and one Iranian diplomatic mission burned, which prompted the Iraqi government to form new “crisis cells” to manage the unfolding turmoil.
  • The latest surge of violence underscored  the deep challenges for authorities after nearly two months of anti-government protests over a high unemployment rate, corruption and poor government services in this oil-rich nation. Moreover, it draws Iran deeper into the unrest. Iran is a major backer of the Iraqi government and holds powerful sway over local Shiite militias.  
  • At least 350 people have died in Iraq since protests erupted on Oct. 1, with daily battles in the heart of Baghdad as protesters attempt to gain control of the key downtown bridges leading to the seat of government. Security forces have confronted crowds with live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas, often with fatal results.
  • Al-monitor – Mustafa Saadoun / Iraq clamps down on media and broadcast networks covering protests

Financial Times – Simon Tilford / Germany is falling out of love with economic orthodoxy

  • Germany has been the driving force behind the dominant economic orthodoxy in Europe over the past 20 years: balanced budgets, deep-seated scepticism about the role of the state in the economy and a strong focus on export competitiveness. Outsiders have long expressed frustration at the apparently strong consensus in Germany over economic policymaking. However, the signs are now multiplying that change could be afoot, not least because the country’s economic prospects have worsened sharply.
  • Moreover, a large new poll of Germans’ attitudes to government and the economy commissioned by the Forum for a New Economy threw up some striking results, suggesting that a large majority could support a less “German” economic policy agenda. The survey revealed strong support for more public spending, including a surprising degree of support for this to be financed through debt.
  • Could this all be good news for Europe? Weak global trade and persistent trade tensions will emphasise the importance of a healthy European economy to Germany. This could persuade the country to end its opposition to reforms — such as more risk-sharing and a major common budget — needed to improve the eurozone’s economic performance.
  • Financial Times – Tobias Buck / Germany’s SPD to name new leader after months of bitter battle

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.

Política Internacional |