Archive for the ‘Regions’ Category


BACK in June, after Spain’s second indecisive election in six months, the general expectation was that Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, would swiftly form a new government. Although his conservative People’s Party (PP) did not win back the absolute majority it had lost in December, it remained easily the largest party, with 137 of the 350 seats in the Cortes (parliament), and was the only one to increase its share of the vote. But the summer holidays have come and gone and Spain’s political stalemate is no closer to ending. That is cause for growing frustration and concern.

In two parliamentary votes, on August 30th and September 2nd, Mr Rajoy fell tantalisingly short of securing a mandate, with 170 votes in favour but 180 against. These votes started the clock for a third election, once seen as unthinkable. If no one can secure a majority by the end of October, parliament will be dissolved and Spaniards would face a Christmas election.

For this, most commentators put the blame squarely on Pedro Sánchez, the leader of the opposition Socialists. His 85 deputies hold the balance of power. But he refuses to allow enough of them to abstain to give Mr Rajoy his mandate. He accuses Mr Rajoy and the PP of betraying the trust of Spaniards and of burdening the country with austerity and corruption. Read more…

Sept. 5th, 2016


Germany and the UK: Hints of a Role Reversal

Written on August 21, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Europe, Foreign Policy

This piece was created in collaboration with the European Council on Foreign Relations. Almut Moeller is the co-head of ECFR’s Berlin office. The views expressed are the author’s own.

“Summer is off” was German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s message at the end of July when she decided to interrupt her holidays for her annual summer press briefing. In the aftermath of the attacks in Wuerzburg, Munich, and Ansbach, as well as the attempted military coup in Turkey, Merkel felt compelled to address the German public on some fundamental questions of government policy.

The chancellor is traditionally expected to cover a lot of ground in this press briefing. And indeed, Merkel admitted in her typically sober and understated style that she did not feel “unterausgelasted” (“underworked”) by the number and scope of challenges to German and European societies. She even admitted to sometimes feeling like she needed a good dose of sleep — and suggested that all the events that have left the European Union and its members increasingly frail and disunited required deep reflection.

For policy analysts as well, this summer has hardly seemed like “time off,” but has nonetheless been a time for the brain to take a break from the news-driven routine and to engage in some bigger and longer-term thinking. Summer seminars — usually convened in pleasant settings — often provide just the right change of scenery to help structure one’s thinking process. And this year, British-German seminars have been particularly thought-provoking. Read more…

By Almut Moeller
August 18, 2016


In November 1979, the Jinghe Share Holding Co. opened its doors in Tokyo, marking China’s first overseas investment and the start of the country’s transformative economic opening. Today, China has become the world’s second-largest investor and biggest supplier of capital. While other markets are in recession, China’s economy continues to grow, however slowly. Without question, the gravity of China’s economy, coupled with its ever-expanding reach into global affairs, will secure its place of influence in the international system for decades to come.

But the sort of presence Beijing seeks abroad is evolving. For China, as for most countries, investment and acquisition are key components of its strategy for development and, to some extent, national security. Yet as China embarks on the long path leading away from an export-based model of economic growth and toward one dependent on domestic consumption, its investment priorities are shifting. Beijing is gradually replacing its focus on snatching up the developing world’s energy and natural resources with an emphasis on acquiring the developed world’s value-added industry assets. At the same time, the government’s traditional dominance in outward investment is weakening, making room for private enterprises to invest alongside their state-owned peers. Furthermore, China is becoming more careful about its investment decisions, trading a frenzy of hasty purchases for a careful search for quality buys. Read more…

By Zhixing Zhang & Matthew Bey
August 17, 2016


What Exactly Is Going On In Ukraine?

Written on August 18, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Europe, Foreign Policy, Security

Among Russia watchers, the month of August has become somewhat notorious. Rare is the year that goes by without an eventful August. Sometimes the chaos is internal (the wildfires of 2010 and 2012), while other years the events are external (2008’s Russia-Georgia War comes to mind).

This year, another August surprise seems increasingly possible. The Ukrainian territories that have been occupied by Russia since 2014 are taking their turn in the spotlight. While violence in the east of the country—the so-called Lugansk and Donetsk Peoples Republics—has begun to ramp up considerably, the past days have seen worrisome developments in Russian-annexed Crimea.

The circumstances are still somewhat murky, but it seems clear that some kind of incident occurred on the Russian-occupied side of the Crimean border that resulted in the death of two Russian service members. While the events occurred over the weekend, they did not fully escalate until a few days later. The Russians have accused Ukraine of crossing that border—into what is de jure Ukrainian land—and committing “terrorist acts” that “we will not let pass idly by.”

The Organization for Security and Cooperation’s monitoring mission could not “confirm media reports of security incidents involving shooting or military activities” in northern Crimea, and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt has written that the United States “government has seen nothing so far that corroborates Russian allegations.” Read more…

Hannah Thoburn, Aug. 11th,


In the next few months, a mixed force of Iraqi Arab and Kurdish security forces — including various Sunni and perhaps some Shiite militia elements — will enter Mosul, clear the city of Islamic State extremists and then work to bring governance, stability and reconstruction to one of Iraq’s most complex cities and its province.

There is no question that the Islamic State will be defeated in Mosul; the real question is what comes afterward. Can the post-Islamic State effort resolve the squabbling likely to arise over numerous issues and bring lasting stability to one of Iraq’s most diverse and challenging provinces? Failure to do so could lead to ISIS 3.0.

The prospect of the operation to clear Mosul brings to mind experiences from the spring of 2003, when the 101st Airborne Division, which I was privileged to command, entered a Mosul in considerable turmoil. Our first task, once a degree of order had been restored, was to determine how to establish governance. That entailed getting Iraqi partners to help run the city of nearly 2 million people and the rest of Nineveh Province — a very large area about which we knew very little.

Establishing a representative interim council to work with us in Nineveh proved to be no easy task — and its formation and subsequent developments hold insights for the coming endeavor in Mosul. Read more…

David Petraeus is a retired U.S. Army general who commanded coalition forces in Iraq from 2007 to 2008 and Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011 and served as CIA director from 2011 to 2012. He is a partner in a major global investment firm.

August 12th,

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