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"EU proposes fresh alliance with US in face of China challenge"


Die EU will den USA der Financial Times zufolge vorschlagen, das transatlantische Bündnis auf eine neue strategische Grundlage zu stellen. "The EU will call on the US to seize a 'once-in-a-generation' opportunity to forge a new global alliance, in a detailed pitch to bury the tensions of the Trump era and meet the 'strategic challenge' posed by China. A draft EU plan for revitalising the transatlantic partnership, seen by the Financial Times, proposes new co-operation on everything from digital regulation and tackling the Covid-19 pandemic to fighting deforestation. The paper, prepared by the European Commission, says the EU-US partnership needs 'maintenance and renewal' if the democratic world is to assert its interests against 'authoritarian powers' and 'closed economies [that] exploit the openness our own societies depend on'. The 11-page set of draft policy proposals, entitled 'a new EU-US agenda for global change', includes an appeal for the EU and US to bury the hatchet on persistent sources of transatlantic tension, such as Europe’s push for greater taxation of US tech giants."

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"Biden’s 'alter ego' Antony Blinken tipped for top foreign policy job"


Demetri Sevastopulo stellt Antony Blinken vor, der offenbar neuer US-Außenminister werden soll. "In a recent Intelligence Matters podcast, Mr Blinken said the US had to rebuild alliances to tackle the 'democratic recession' enabled by Mr Trump that let 'autocracies from Russia to China . . . exploit our difficulties'. Mr Blinken is a pragmatic realist who believes in US power but understands its limits. He will also have the most valuable currency in Washington — the ear of the president. He is so close to Mr Biden that some see him as his 'alter ego'."

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"Ethiopia crisis: 'a political mess that makes fathers fight sons'"


David Pilling und Andres Schipani erläutern in ihrer Reportage die Vorgeschichte und mögliche Folgen des aktuellen Konflikts in Äthiopien. "The conflict in Tigray is the biggest test of Abiy Ahmed’s premiership and threatens to spill over into neighbouring countries".

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"Erdogan is in danger of overreaching with foreign interventions"


Mit seinem Eingreifen in den Konflikt zwischen Armenien und Aserbaidschan könnte sich der türkische Präsident Erdogan außenpolitisch übernehmen, meint David Gardner. "Turkey challenging Russia in north Africa or the Levant is not quite the same as a face-off in the Caucasus. While that may be former Ottoman territory, this is former Soviet turf. Under Mr Erdogan’s authoritarian rule, the conceptual boundary between domestic and foreign policy has been erased. Both are fired by a turbocharged nationalism as he tries to shore up his shrinking base. His recourse to hard power abroad, sidelining generations of seasoned diplomats, gives the impression that Turkey has gone rogue. There are certainly takers for that view in the EU and the US. Should US President Donald Trump fail to win re-election in November, Mr Erdogan will lose the shield his administration has provided. All this comes at a time when Mr Erdogan is politically vulnerable; his adventurism could rebound on a weakened economy and currency."

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"Sweden sounds the alarm over 'heightened' Baltic tensions"


Die schwedische Regierung habe die militärische Bereitschaft wegen russischer Militärmanöver und einer "erhöhten Sicherheitslage" in der Ostsee erhöht, berichtet Richard Milne aus Stockholm. "Swedish television on Tuesday broadcast footage of armoured vehicles disembarking from the ferry on the island of Gotland, alongside holidaymakers driving campervans, as the Scandinavian country sought to send a strong signal to Russia over its increased military activity. (…) Jan Thornqvist, commander of joint operations for Sweden’s armed forces, said: 'There is currently extensive military activity in the Baltic Sea, conducted by Russian as well as western players, on a scale the likes of which have not been seen since the cold war.' (…) Sweden's armed forces said the threat of a military attack on the country was still low, but Mr Wiktorin said they wanted to be ready to intervene if an incursion were to be made by another country's vessel or aircraft."

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"Libya’s warring sides agree to restart ceasefire talks, says UN"


Die Bürgerkriegsparteien in Libyen wollen ihre Verhandlungen über einen Waffenstillstand der UNO zufolge wieder aufnehmen. "The warring sides in Libya have agreed to restart ceasefire talks after weeks of intense fighting in which Khalifa Haftar, the military strongman trying to seize Tripoli, lost control of a key air base south-west of the city. The UN mission in the country, which announced the agreement late on Monday, said the discussions between a joint military commission representing both sides in the conflict would start online in the next few days. (…) A previous attempt to negotiate a ceasefire by Russia, which backs Gen Haftar, and Turkey, which supports the GNA, failed in Moscow in January after Gen Haftar left without signing."

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"Covid-19 looks like a hinge in history"


Die Coronakrise könnte in der Geschichte der internationalen Politik als ähnlich folgenreicher Wendepunkt betrachtet werden wie das Attentat von Sarajevo oder das Münchener Abkommen von 1938, meint der frühere US-Finanzminister Lawrence Summers. Die Pandemie zeige schon jetzt größere globale Wirkung als die beiden anderen Schocks des 21. Jahrhunderts. "The Covid-19 crisis is the third major shock to the global system in the 21st century, following the 2001 terror attacks and the 2008 financial crisis. I suspect it is by far the most significant. Although the earlier events will figure in history textbooks, both 9/11 and the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy will fade over time from popular memory. By contrast, I believe, the coronavirus crisis will still be considered a seminal event generations from now. Students of the future will learn of its direct effects and of the questions it brings into sharp relief much as those of today learn about the 1914 assassination of the Archduke, the 1929 stock market crash, or the 1938 Munich Conference. These events were significant but their ultimate historical importance lies in what followed. This crisis is a massive global event in terms of its impact."

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"The pandemic could bring a global ceasefire"


Gideon Rachman hofft, dass UN-Generalsekretär Guterres mit seiner Initiative zur Ausrufung eines globalen Waffenstillstands trotz der Einwände der USA und Russlands Erfolg haben wird. Eine entsprechende Resolution könnte bald nicht zuletzt aufgrund der starken französischen Unterstützung verabschiedet werden. "Both Russia and the US were worried that signing up to a global ceasefire would stop them fighting their enemies in the Middle East and have insisted on a 'terrorism' carve-out in the resolution. Still, energetic diplomacy, from France in particular, looks likely to push the resolution over the line. That would provide an encouraging sign that the world’s major powers are still capable of working together — despite the increasing acrimony between the US and China, and the continuing bitterness between Russia and the west. The next step in the revival of the UN as a forum could be a virtual summit of the five permanent members of the Security Council (the US, China, Russia, France and the UK). Once again this is a French initiative: President Emmanuel Macron sees a revival of 'the P5' as a way of both promoting France’s global influence and building bridges with Russia — one of his pet projects. The British and Russians are also enthusiastic."

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"Why China is losing the coronavirus narrative"


Auch Jamil Anderlini ist der Ansicht, dass die Corona-Pandemie sich für China als außenpolitisches "Eigentor" herausstellen könnte. "From the deplorable treatment of African citizens in southern China to the export of faulty medical equipment, or the official endorsement of conspiracy theories blaming the US military for the outbreak, most of the Communist party’s efforts to control the international narrative have backfired. Some assume the west’s chaotic and early response allows China to step into the global governance vacuum. (…) Beijing could have gained far more sympathy if it had switched quickly to a strategy of transparency and co-operation. Instead, it arrested people who criticised its cover-up, and launched a global propaganda campaign to raise doubts about the Chinese origin of the virus and assert the superiority of its authoritarian system. (…) All this will accelerate calls in Washington and elsewhere for rapid decoupling from Chinese supply chains. This apparently self-defeating behaviour makes more sense when you consider the domestic political context. (…) Doubling down on vituperative nationalism can distract the populace, even if it damages China’s global reputation in the medium term."

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"Coronavirus and the threat to US supremacy"


Entgegen manch anderer Prognosen erwartet Gideon Rachman nicht, dass der relative Niedergang der Supermacht USA durch die Coronakrise beschleunigt werden wird. "Broadly speaking, I have been in the 'declinist' camp — arguing that the erosion of American hegemony is both real and inevitable. But at the same time, I’ve tried to remember two important questions that serve as a reality check on excessive declinism. Question one is: what currency in the world do you most trust? Question two: where, outside your home country, would you most like your children to go to university or to work? For a majority of the global middle-class, the answers to those questions have been, respectively, the dollar and the US. If that continues to be the case after the pandemic, then American primacy will have survived Covid-19. (…) The slogan on the greenback is 'In God we Trust.' The world’s appetite for dollars sends back the implicit message — 'In America we Trust.' If that trust survives coronavirus, so will American primacy."

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"Is 2020 the year for regime change in Venezuela?"


Der von Saudi-Arabien ausgelöste Preisverfall auf den Ölmärkten stelle eine ernste Gefahr für die Maduro-Regierung in Venezuela dar, meint Nick Butler. "With a global surplus of supply, and more Opec cuts in the offing, Venezuelan oil is no longer needed in the market. Without substantial export earnings, the government in Caracas is unlikely to be able to provide the investment needed to maintain current production, let alone meet Mr Maduro’s target. Even the most authoritarian regimes cannot survive without revenue."

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"Emmanuel Macron launches campaign against political Islam"


Präsident Macron will der Ausbreitung des politischen Islams und "separatistischer" muslimischer Gemeinden in Frankreich mit einer neuen Kampagne entgegentreten. "In some of his most explicit comments on Islam and France, Mr Macron said it was 'unacceptable' for anyone to disobey the laws of the French republic in the name of a religion or a foreign power. 'The republic must keep its promises, we must fight against discrimination, we must put meritocracy everywhere,' he said. 'But on the other side we must fight against separatism, because when the republic does not keep its promises, others try to replace it.' Mr Macron announced measures to tighten controls on foreign financing of mosques, to end the nomination by Algeria, Morocco and Turkey of 300 imams a year for France, and withdraw from this year permission for foreign governments to control language courses for 80,000 pupils learning Arabic, Turkish and other languages from their countries of origin — a system he called 'an important vector of separatism' given that many of the teachers did not speak French or care about French culture."

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"Donald Trump reminds the west why it liked US leadership"


Die aktuellen Ereignisse in Nordsyrien offenbaren nach Ansicht von Janan Ganesh, wie die Alternative zur oft geschmähten "Pax Americana" im Nahen Osten aussehen würde. "The world resented American omnipresence before it complained about American dereliction. Inadvertently, Donald Trump is forcing the end of this ambivalence. The more the US president unwinds his country’s external commitments, the more other nations see the resultant damage to the global commons. His decision to expose Kurds in Syria to Turkish forces has been the most clarifying moment of all. But there have been others, over trade and climate change. Countries with historic qualms about US power are going through a chastening education in life without it. The perverse result: an America First president could bequeath his successor a world that is keener on US leadership than it was before."

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"Ukraine’s Zelensky calls for Putin and Trump to join peace talks"


Der ukrainische Präsident Zelensky hat neue Friedensverhandlungen zur Beilegung des Konflikts im Osten der Ukraine vorgeschlagen. An den Treffen soll neben Russlands Präsident Putin auch US-Präsident Trump teilnehmen. "Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s new president, has suggested that Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump should join expanded talks aimed at ending a smouldering war with Russia-backed separatists in the country’s eastern regions. (...) Russia, which has insisted in past years that it would not discuss the return of Crimea to Ukraine, responded with scepticism to the suggestion of expanded talks, which Mr Zelensky said could take place in Minsk. 'I’m not prepared to answer anything . . . It’s an absolutely new format,' said Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson of Mr Putin. 'Firstly, we need to understand whether such a meeting has any prospects, and secondly, we need to understand what kind of new format is being offered,' Mr Peskov added, in comments carried by Russian news agencies."

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"As Sudan descends into violence, Algeria’s spring lives on"


Im Gegensatz zu Sudan wird die Revolte gegen die autoritäre Regierung in Algerien bisher nicht gewaltsam niedergeschlagen. Heba Saleh führt dies auch darauf zurück, dass beide Seiten eine Rückkehr zur Gewalt der 1990er Jahre fürchten. "Algerian generals are reluctant to use violence against the protesters 'because they are not sure their troops will be loyal to them,' said Lahouari Addi, a prominent sociologist of Algeria at the Institute of Political Studies in Lyon. 'It is unique; you have millions of civilians who are putting the high-ranking officers under siege peacefully and politically.' So far, both the army and the demonstrators have been careful to avoid a descent into violence. Street protests, which draw hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life every Friday, have avoided calls for a general strike or the permanent occupation of public squares, which would be perceived as escalations. Meanwhile, the military has not used force to disperse demonstrations. Neither side wants a repeat of the 'black decade' of the 1990s in which more than 100,000 people died in a civil war triggered by the army when it interrupted presidential elections to prevent the victory of Islamists, analysts say. Unlike Sudan, there are no rogue factions within the military or militias that could cause mayhem, they add."

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"Trade is just an opening shot in a wider US-China conflict"


Philip Stephens sieht den neu entflammten Handelskonflikt zwischen den USA und China als Beginn eines geopolitischen Ringens um die künftige globale Vorherrschaft. "The trade narrative is now being subsumed into a much more alarming one. Economics has merged with geopolitics. China, you can hear on almost every corner in sight of the White House and Congress, is not just a dangerous economic competitor but a looming existential threat. Beijing may not have the same ideological ambitions as the Soviet Union, but it does threaten US primacy. It needs more than a level playing field for trade to confront this challenge. (...) The danger in all this speaks for itself. Treating China as a certain enemy is a sure way to persuade Beijing that it should behave as such. Mistrust begets mistrust, which in turn could provide the spark for open conflict. China is no innocent — witness the ever present cyber attacks on western militaries and vital infrastructure. But demonising everything it does simply opens up the path from a trade war to something much rougher."

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"China offers to help fix Venezuela’s power grid"


China hat Venezuela Hilfe bei der Reparatur des Stromnetzes angeboten, berichtet Lucy Hornby aus Peking. "Beijing’s offer comes amid apparent uncertainty within the Chinese government over how to respond to the crisis in Venezuela. Although China is one of the few major countries, alongside Russia, that still recognises Mr Maduro’s government, it is also in informal contact with the opposition, led by Juan Guaidó, whose interim presidency is recognised by more than 50 countries, including the US. Officially, Beijing will only recognise Mr Maduro’s government as part of its principle of not interfering in other countries’ affairs. But some Chinese foreign policy analysts believe Beijing would quickly recognise another candidate, as long as he legally replaced Mr Maduro."

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"The US, China and the return of a two-bloc world"


Der Handelsstreit zwischen den USA und China, der Streit um das chinesische Unternehmen Huawei und das Vordringen der chinesischen "Belt and Road Initiative" nach Europa lassen Gideon Rachman erwarten, dass es erneut eine Blockbildung, wenn auch unter neuen Vorzeichen, geben könnte. "(...) an emerging two-bloc world is unlikely to be based around rival military alliances as it was in the cold war, when the Warsaw Pact faced off against Nato. Instead, it is technology that could become the basis of the new global split. China long ago banned Google and Facebook. Now the US is struggling to thwart Huawei. With concern mounting over the control and transfer of data across borders, countries may increasingly come under pressure to choose either the US tech-universe or the Chinese version — and they may find that the two are increasingly walled-off from each other. But a division that started with technology would not stay there. Data and communications are now fundamental to almost all forms of business and military activity. The two-bloc world of the cold war was replaced by an era of globalisation. Now globalisation itself may be threatened by the re-emergence of a two-bloc world."

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"The Trump era could last 30 years"


Der Aufschwung "populistischer" Politiker, Parteien und Bewegungen im Westen könnte in Anbetracht vergleichbarer Phasen der jüngeren Vergangenheit bis zu dreißig Jahre dauern, schreibt Gideon Rachman. "All efforts at historical periodisation are slightly artificial. But it is possible to identify two distinct eras in postwar western politics, both of which lasted roughly 30 years. The period from 1945-1975, known as les trente glorieuses in France, was identified with a period of strong economic growth across the west, alongside the construction of welfare states and Keynesian demand-management — all played out against the international backdrop of the cold war. (...) [The] 'neoliberal era' also lasted roughly 30 years until it was discredited by the global financial crisis of 2008. As with the end of the trente glorieuses, it took a few years of uncertainty before a new ideological movement emerged. But that happened in 2016, with Mr Trump’s election and Brexit. But why should cycles in modern history last for roughly 30 years? One possible explanation is that the successful ideologies and the political movements they spawn go through a cycle of emulation followed by overshoot."

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"Russia’s support for Venezuela has deep roots"


Die umfangreichen Investitionen des russischen Ölkonzerns Rosneft in Venezuela sind Alexander Gabuev zufolge ein wesentlicher Grund für die Unterstützung Moskaus für Präsident Maduro. "Russia’s policy on Venezuela is heavily influenced by Igor Sechin, the head of Rosneft, Russia’s national oil company. It is not only owed $3bn by Caracas, but also owns two offshore gasfields in the country and stakes in assets boasting more than 20m tonnes of crude. The involvement of Mr Sechin, who met with Mr Maduro in Moscow in September and flew to Caracas in November, suggests that Russia’s national security policymaking is increasingly driven by a combination of corporate interests and ambitions of powerful members of Mr Putin’s inner circle."

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"Mohammed bin Salman tests his standing with bold G20 trip"


Der saudi-arabische Kronprinz Mohammed bin Salman wird die internationalen Regierungschefs beim G20-Treffen in Buenos Aires in eine schwierige Situation bringen, schreibt Andrew England. "For many of the world leaders who will assemble at a riverside conference centre on Friday, the challenge will be to navigate between wanting to be seen as tough in their response to the killing and the pragmatic need to maintain relations with the world’s top oil exporter and their most powerful Arab ally. Some of those who just a few months ago were lauding the 33-year-old crown prince may now snub him, promising awkward moments as world leaders huddle for the two-day meeting. (...) 'We are going to see a kind of diplomatic dance . . . but it’s all about him touching down and everybody saying '[Prince Mohammed] is the only game in town, but we’ve got to manage the messaging back at home',' said Neil Quilliam, a Middle East expert at Chatham House. 'Even if it’s a snub, they will try and make it not too much of a snub.'"

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"Facebook executive contradicts Mueller indictment"


Facebooks Werbe-Vizechef Rob Goldman hat einer zentralen Aussage der Anklageschrift des US-Sonderermittlers Robert Mueller widersprochen und darauf hingewiesen, dass ein Großteil der russischen Ausgaben für Anzeigen auf seiner Plattform nach der US-Präsidentschaftswahl erfolgt sei. "A Facebook executive has argued the Russian disinformation campaign uncovered by the Mueller indictment was not intended to sway the US presidential election, after the investigation showed how Russians distributed propaganda on the platform. Rob Goldman, vice-president of advertising, tweeted that the majority of money the Russians spent on advertising was spent after the election - and that their real motivation was to divide the American people. 'The main goal of the Russian propaganda and misinformation effort is to divide America by using our institutions, like free speech and social media, against us. It has stoked fear and hatred among Americans. It is working incredibly well. We are quite divided as a nation,' he tweeted."

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"Tunisian unrest is a symptom of healthy democratic evolution"


Im Gegensatz zu manch anderen Beobachtern hält Safwan Masri die Proteste gegen die Regierung in Tunesien für ein Zeichen einer "gesunden demokratischen Evolution". "Some view the demonstrations and the government’s response as a dire warning that the end of Tunisia’s experiment with democracy is near. Others ask whether the country’s civic achievements, recognised as both an anomaly among and a source of inspiration for other Arab nations, need to be reconsidered. Both views are overly despairing. They fail to properly account for the source of the current round of unrest, the opportunities for overcoming it, and the stark differences in the two political moments. (...) The temptation to cast current demonstrations as a reprise of the 2011 revolutionary moment is flawed. Corrupt and authoritarian leadership is a different order of problem to structural economic issues, and Tunisia’s civil society and political actors have the capacity to come together around broader national aims."

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"Angela Merkel’s blunder, Donald Trump and the end of the west"


Auch Gideon Rachman hält Angela Merkels Aussagen zum transatlantischen Verhältnis für "unverantwortlich" und warnt, dass sich die Andeutung vom Ende des Westens in seiner bisherigen Form als selbsterfüllende Prophezeiung herausstellen könnte. "(...) her speech was a blunder for at least five reasons. First, it is a mistake to allow four months of the Trump presidency to throw into doubt a Transatlantic alliance that has kept the peace in Europe for 70 years. (...) Second, the US president actually had a valid point to make about the failure of most European countries to meet Nato targets on military expenditure. (...) Third, by implying that the western alliance is now coming apart, Ms Merkel has compounded the error that Mr Trump made when he failed to endorse Article 5. (...) Fourth, Ms Merkel was unwise and unfair to bracket the UK with Trump’s America. (...) The final flaw in Ms Merkel’s approach is that it displayed an uncharacteristic deafness to the echoes of history. (...) it is baffling that a German leader could stand in a beer-tent in Bavaria and announce a separation from Britain and the US while bracketing those two countries with Russia. The historical resonances should be chilling."

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"The isolation of Angela Merkel’s Germany"


Gideon Rachman schreibt, dass Deutschland heute Gefahr laufe, ohne eigenes Verschulden international isoliert dazustehen. Es gebe genügend Gründe, die Flüchtlings- und Euro-Politik von Bundeskanzlerin Merkel zu kritisieren, niemand bezweifle jedoch das deutsche Bekenntnis zu liberalen und internationalistischen Werten. "The problem is that Germany’s unwavering commitment to these values feels like the exception in the west, not the rule. One American delegate, returning from the recent Munich Security Conference, remarked to me that “it felt good to be in a normal country, again”. But German normality is now abnormal. (...) With so much going wrong for Germany, a huge amount hangs on the French election. If the pro-EU, pro-German Emmanuel Macron wins the presidency, there will be delight in Berlin. His election would break Germany’s growing sense of isolation, and offer renewed hope that a Franco-German partnership can revive the EU. By contrast, if Ms Le Pen wins, the German nightmare will be complete."

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