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Daily Brief: Catalan Vote Again Backs Secessionists


Council on Foreign Relations Newsletter If you are unable to see the message below, click here to view. December 22, 2017 Daily News Brief   TOP OF THE AGENDA Catalan Vote Again Backs Secessionists Editor’s note: There will be no Daily Brief on Monday, December 25, for Christmas. An election in Spain's Catalonia region delivered a victory to secessionist parties, who maintained a narrow majority, winning 70 of the 135 seats in the regional assembly (Bloomberg) in snap elections on Thursday. Madrid had called the snap election after it took over powers from the Catalan regional government (Guardian) in retaliation for its declaration of independence following an October referendum on secession. Former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who has been in exile in Brussels since then, called the Thursday vote a victory for the “Catalan republic” (NYT), while Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is expected to consult with allies today. The vote had a record turnout of about 83 percent. ANALYSIS "[The result] exposes the flaws in Rajoy’s strategy and the divisions in Catalan society, testing international support again for his hardline approach," Esteban Duarte, Maria Tadeo, Charles Penty, and Vidya N Root write for Bloomberg. "[Catalan] nationalism has already existed for more than 20 years, leaving its imprint on schools, university education, street names, official documents, public radio and television, and trials," Isabel Coixet writes for the Washington Post.  "Hardcore separatists want to return to the path of civil disobedience, but the leadership appears to have realised that, with the European Union having turned its back, that route is blocked," Giles Tremlett writes for the Guardian. Trump’s Foreign Policy: Year One This timeline reviews the Trump administration’s push for an America First agenda during its first year.   PACIFIC RIM Japan Passes Record-High Budget The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved a draft budget for the fiscal year beginning in April that includes $45.8 billion in defense expenditures (Japan Times). The increased spending will cover purchases of U.S.-made equipment (DW), including missile interceptors and upgrades to Patriot missile batteries, in response to threats from North Korea. This CFR Backgrounder looks at North Korea's military capabilities. CHINA: Entrepreneur Wu Xiangyang was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison for selling virtual private networks (AP), a popular technology that allows users to circumvent government blocks on the internet.  SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA Pence Sees ‘Real Progress’ on Afghanistan Trip U.S. Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise visit to U.S. troops (RFE/RL) in Afghanistan and met with President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. The leaders, Pence said, expressed hope the Taliban would soon tire of war and come to negotiate. INDIA: The Foreign Ministry pledged $25 million in development aid to Myanmar, including funds to build houses for Rohingya refugees (Reuters) to return to Rakhine State after fleeing a military crackdown there. CFR's Alyssa Ayres discusses the world's fastest-growing humanitarian crisis. MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA Cholera Cases in Yemen Reach One Million Some one million Yemenis have contracted cholera (NPR) and two thousand died from the disease since the outbreak began in April, the Red Cross and the United Nations announced. Also on Thursday, a U.S. State Department official said the United States believes that there is “no military solution” to the war (Al Jazeera) and that Houthi rebels have a place in a political settlement. CFR's Michael P. Dempsey writes for CNN that the war in Yemen is one no one can win. IRAQ: Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said that the country will cease conducting air strikes against the self-proclaimed Islamic State (BBC) and bring home six of its jets following Iraq’s recent announcement that it has defeated the militant group.  SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA South Sudan Cease-Fire to Begin Sunday Representatives from the Transitional Government of National Unity and the armed opposition signed a cease-fire in Addis Ababa (Sudan Tribune) on Thursday seeking to revive a 2015 peace deal that fell apart last year. SOUTH AFRICA: South Africa downgraded its Tel Aviv embassy to a liaison office (Reuters) as the incoming secretary-general of the ruling African National Congress expressed the party’s support for Palestinians. The announcement came as the UN General Assembly voted to oppose the United States’ planned relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem.  EUROPE British Foreign Secretary Visits Russia UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, the first such visit by a British foreign secretary in five years (BBC). Lavrov denied Russian interference in the Brexit referendum and said it is “not at our initiative” (Guardian) that UK-Russia relations had reached a “low point.” AMERICAS Peruvian President Survives Impeachment Vote Lawmakers fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to impeach President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who is accused of graft and perjury (NYT) related to a far-reaching corruption probe centered on the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. BRAZIL: Aerospace manufacturer Boeing is in talks to take over Brazil's Embraer (FT), a passenger jet maker, in what would be a multibillion-dollar deal. UNITED STATES 128 States Vote Against U.S. Jerusalem Position at UN The UN General Assembly backed a nonbinding resolution calling any decision on the status of Jerusalem “null and void,” following the United States' announcement (BBC) that it would recognize the city as Israel’s capital. Thirty-five countries, including Canada and Mexico, abstained from the vote, and eight joined the United States. This Backgrounder examines the stakes in Jerusalem. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis became the first defense secretary to visit the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (AP), since Donald Rumsfeld in 2002. Mattis told U.S. personnel, "I am confident that we’re doing the right thing here."         Council on Foreign Relations — 58 East 68th Street — New York, NY 10065 CFR does not share email addresses with third parties. Forward This Email | Subscribe to CFR Newsletters | Unsubscribe - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  


Date: December 22, 2017 at 11:10PM