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Daily Brief: Madrid, Catalonia in Standoff After Referendum

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October 2, 2017

Daily News Brief

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TOP OF THE AGENDA

Madrid, Catalonia in Standoff After Referendum

Catalan leaders said the preliminary results of an independence referendum held Sunday indicate 90 percent of voters favored secession. Hundreds were injured as Spanish authorities violently sought to suppress the vote, which was banned by Madrid.

Spain's central government said it can use its constitutional powers to suspend regional autonomy (Reuters) if Catalonia's parliament declares independence. At least 875 people, including thirty-three police, were injured in clashes as law enforcement raided polling stations and confiscated ballots (Guardian). Voter turnout of 2.26 million people represented about 42 percent of Catalonia's population (VOA), according to a regional government spokesman. 

ANALYSIS

"One of the consequences [of Madrid's actions] is that there might be much stronger support for a clean break with Spain and less room for a negotiated agreement on which most parties can agree," Pablo Beramendi said in a CFR interview.

"An independent Catalonia would transform the political landscape of Western Europe, with the creation of a new, mid-sized state sandwiched between Spain and France, to say nothing of emboldening other so-called stateless nations in Europe," Omar G. Encarnacion writes for Foreign Affairs.

"European integration was designed precisely to overcome the divisiveness and trauma of nationalist, identity politics, which are at the heart of the matter in Catalonia. At a time when the union is already under serious strain, this crisis risks aggravating the specter of European fragmentation," writes a group of authors for the European Council on Foreign Relations.

UNITED STATES

At Least Fifty Dead in Las Vegas Concert Massacre

Police killed a gunman they identified as sixty-four-year-old Stephen Paddock after he opened fire at a country music concert (NYT), killing at least fifty people and injuring two hundred Sunday night in what was one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. Police found numerous firearms (WSJ) at Paddock's residence.

The U.S. deputy secretary of state will meet with a top Bangladeshi foreign ministry official in Washington on Tuesday to discuss the influx of Rohingya refugees (VOA) from neighboring Myanmar.

Mayesha Alam writes that Rohingya women and girls face severe risk

PACIFIC RIM

Trump, Tillerson Send Mixed Messages on North Korea

U.S. President Donald J. Trump wrote in a Sunday tweet that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was "wasting his time" attempting to negotiate (NYT) with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The comment came after Tillerson said the United States had multiple direct channels of communication open to Pyongyang.

Scott D. Sagan writes in Foreign Affairs that deterrence is still the best option in North Korea.

MYANMAR: Authorities took three groups of foreign diplomats to tour Rakhine State on Monday (AP); the nationality of the diplomats was not made public. Myanmar has been criticized for not allowing journalists and observers access to the region, where a crackdown by security forces has prompted an exodus of half a million Rohingya Muslims.

CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick writes that the United Nations has taken a tough stance on Myanmar, five years into the crisis.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Uzbek-Kyrgyz Border Demarcated

Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev signed legislation demarcating some 85 percent of the 795-mile border (RFE/RL) between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan on Monday. Border disputes have been a source of conflict between the countries since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

AFGHANISTAN: Child soldiers as young as fourteen from Afghanistan have been recruited by Iran to fight in Syria (VOA) alongside pro-government forces, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch. 

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Monitor: September Deadliest Month This Year in Syria's War

More than 3,300 people died as a result of fighting in Syria (BBC) in September, including 995 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The UK-based monitoring group said 70 percent of the deaths were caused by Syrian government, Russian, or U.S.-led coalition air strikes.

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES: West Bank-based Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah arrived in Gaza on Monday, his first visit in two years, to meet with authorities of the militant group Hamas to discuss retaking control of the Gaza Strip (Al Jazeera).

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Turkey Opens Military Base in Somalia

Turkey inaugurated in Mogadishu on Saturday its largest foreign military base (VOA). Turkish General Hulusi Akar said the base will assist in building a "strong Somali National Army."

DRC: A cargo plane carrying vehicles and weapons crashed Saturday soon after taking off from Kinshasa, killing every member of its Russian crew (DW). One local official said up to thirty people are feared dead (AFP)

EUROPE

Same-Sex Marriages Allowed in Germany

Same-sex couples across Germany wed after legislation permitting gay marriage that was passed in June (NYT) took effect on Sunday. Germany is the fifteenth European country to allow same-sex marriage.

AMERICAS

Cease-Fire With ELN Rebels Takes Effect in Colombia

Colombia's largest active rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), began its first cease-fire with the government (BBC) in five decades on Sunday. The deal follows last year's signing of a historic peace agreement between the government and the Marxist rebel group FARC.

CANADA: Criminal defense lawyer Jagmeet Singh, a Sikh, became the first ethnic minority to lead a major federal party in Canada (CBC) after he won leadership of the New Democratic Party in a Sunday election (BBC)

 
 
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