EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 12/02/2020

Foreign Policy – Elizabeth Tsurkov / Desperate, thousands of Syrians flee towards Turkish border

  • The wintry weather, along with the bloody onslaught by the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has turned the flight of displaced civilians in Idlib and Aleppo toward the Turkish border into the biggest humanitarian crisis yet in a war that for almost a decade has normalized mass atrocities.
  • Since Dec. 1, 2019, 689,100 civilians have been displaced by the government’s offensive against Idlib, most of them women and children. Some 100,000 have been displaced only in the past week. The rapid progress of regime forces and waves of displacement it produced escalated tensions between Turkey and the Syrian forces backed by Russia.
  • The fate of Idlib’s 3 million to 4 million residents now depends on Turkey’s ability to deter further regime advances. Another five Turkish soldiers were killed in recent days in an attack carried out by Assad’s forces. Russia and the Assad regime still control the skies and use this dominance to destroy hospitals, bakeries, and other civilian areas.
  • To makes matter worse, Iran became much more actively involved in the campaign against the last rebel-held pocket in January, though the regime’s advances also stemmed from Russian support. Russia is determined to achieve a decisive military solution for Idlib and told Turkey it would not accept a cease-fire even if the rebels made significant concessions.
  • Financial Times – David Gardner / Europe could soon feel the fallout from Idlib

The New York Times – Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns / Bernie Sanders scores narrow victory in New Hampshire primary

  • Senator Bernie Sanders narrowly won the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, consolidating support on the left. Mr. Sanders had about 26 percent of the vote with 90 percent of the ballots counted, while former Mayor Pete Buttigieg was a close second. Senator Amy Klobuchar finished in third, while Senator Elizabeth Warren finished a distant fourth and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. finished fifth.
  • The results raised immediate questions about how much longer Mr. Biden and Ms. Warren, onetime front-runners, could afford to continue their campaigns. Mr. Sander’s grip on progressive carried him to the top of the field in both Iowa and New Hampshire, but in both states he captured less than 30 percent of the vote.
  • The rise of Mr. Sanders has distressed many centrists and traditional liberals at a time when Democratic voters are united by a ravenous desire to defeat President Trump. Mr Trump’s impeachment acquittal, the chaotic vote-counting in Iowa and the fractured Democratic field have many in the party worried that they are endangering their opportunity to win back the White House.
  • Mr. Buttigieg was the leader among moderate and conservative voters on Tuesday and, without naming Mr. Sanders, he urged voters to reject a political approach that demanded revolution or nothing. He also subtly underscored the generational gulf between him and Mr. Sanders: “I admired Mr. Sanders when I was a high school student, (…) I respect him greatly to this day.”
  • The Washington Post – Aaron Blake / Winners and losers from the New Hampshire primary

Haaretz – Jack Khoury and Noa Landau / U.S. Envoy at UN: Trump Mideast Peace Plan is subject to changes

  • A senior Trump administration official said after the UN Security Council session on Tuesday that Washington is “willing to have an honest and open discussion on [the plan] as a possible basis to restart negotiations for a realistic two-state solution.” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Trump’s plan seeks to “put an end to the question of Palestine.”
  • Mr. Abbas described the Palestinian state envisioned by the plan as “Swiss cheese”. In a joint press conference with Mr. Abbas, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Abbas is Israel’s only partner for peace, praising him for fighting terrorism and stating that an Israeli-Palestinian peace requires direct negotiations between the two sides.
  • Steps toward annexation of parts of the West Bank would have a “devastating effect” on the prospect of the two-state solution to the conflict, said Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s Mideast envoy. He reaffirmed the UN’s official position that peace can only be achieved with a two-state solution along the pre-1967 lines, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.
  • Al-Monitor – Mazal Mualem / Can Netanyahu spin right-wing annexation war to his advantage?

Euractiv – Frédéric Simon / EU working on plans to expose climate impact of natural gas

  • The European Commission is preparing a strategy to curb methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, including fracked LNG imported from the US. But the timing is uncertain because officials are still busy collecting data on which to base a credible policy.
  • Methane has a global warming potential that is over 80 times more powerful than CO2 during the first 20 years after release, according to the Environmental Defence Fund, a green pressure group. Human-made methane emissions account for about 25 per cent of today’s warming, a third of which comes from the oil and gas sectors, according to the EDF’s estimates.
  • The gas industry itself admits there is a knowledge gap. “We recognize indeed, there is a need for better measurements” of methane leakage across the gas supply chain, said James Watson, secretary-general of Eurogas, an industry association. “Now is the time to act,” he added, saying he hoped a “baseline measurement” could be adopted soon. As Europe imports increasing amounts of American LNG, it will have to take account of the climate impact of imported US gas, most of which is obtained through fracking.
  • The Guardian – Phillip Inman and Fiona Harvey / Global economic growth will take big hit due to loss of nature

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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