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Daily Brief: Catalonia to Declare Independence Within Days

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October 4, 2017

Daily News Brief

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Catalonia to Declare Independence Within Days

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said on Tuesday that the region will declare its independence from Spain after the government finishes tallying votes (BBC) from a Sunday referendum that was forcefully opposed by Madrid.

Spain's high court announced Wednesday that it is investigating senior Catalan authorities for sedition. European Council President Donald Tusk backed Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's opposition to Catalan independence, while some other members of the bloc have criticized Madrid's tactics (Reuters) to suppress the vote. Widespread demonstrations and a general strike in Catalonia shut down public transportation (NYT) for most of Tuesday.


"A distinct culture and disproportionate contribution to the national budget—which underpin the Catalan argument—are not a basis for a claim of injustice. Otherwise, rich cities, tired of subsidizing poorer ones, would secede too and the right to self-determination would become a path to state fragmentation," Roula Khalaf writes for the Financial Times.

"Brussels has in the past given little or no encouragement to separatist movements inside the European Union, whether those of the Catalans, Scots, Flemings, or others," writes Reuters.

"If the Spanish government had downplayed the vote, the world would have quickly forgotten about it. Instead, they have grabbed headlines by breaking the key international norm of tolerating peaceful demonstrations and supporting democratic representation," R. Joseph Huddleston writes for Foreign Affairs


Opposition Lawmaker in Cambodia Flees

Lawmaker Mu Sochua, deputy president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, fled the country on Tuesday after receiving information she would face arrest (Reuters). Nearly half of the party's members have fled since its president, Kem Sokha, was charged with treason (VOA) in September.


UN Releases Emergency Funds for Rohingya Refugees

The United Nations has released $12 million in emergency relief funds for basic necessities and medical care (VOA) for the estimated half million Rohingya Muslims who have fled Myanmar (Guardian) in recent weeks. The body said while Bangladesh has "offered a generous welcome" to Rohingya refugees, the solution lies in Myanmar.

CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick asks why Myanmar's military leaders aren't facing greater punishment in the National.

PAKISTAN: Pakistan's foreign minister will meet his U.S. counterpart on Wednesday (Dawn) during a three-day visit to Washington. The visit comes as U.S.-Pakistan relations have worsened over accusations by U.S. President Donald J. Trump that Pakistan hosts terrorist havens.


Erdogan, Rouhani Discuss Kurds in Tehran

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Tehran on Wednesday to discuss with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani last week's independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, in which voters overwhelmingly favored secession (Al Jazeera).

EGYPT: At least twenty-two people in Egypt have been arrested in the last four days (BBC) in a crackdown on the LGBTQ community, according to the rights group Amnesty International.


Thousands of Refugees Flee DRC for Zambia

At least 3,360 people have fled since August 30 to Zambia (VOA) from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where security forces and militias are fighting in the southeast, according to the United Nations.

UGANDA: Three opposition lawmakers have had their homes attacked in the last week. The incidents come as some members of parliament are fighting to scrap a bill that would lift presidential age limits and allow President Yoweri Museveni to stay in power (DW).

This CFR Backgrounder looks at Africa's longest-serving leaders.


France to Pass Law on Terrorism Emergency Measures

France's lower house has approved anti-terrorism legislation (DW) that incorporates measures from a two-year-old state of emergency, including expanded surveillance powers and the ability to close places of worship that preach radical ideology. The bill is expected to pass through the National Assembly.

EU: Brussels is expected on Wednesday to bill Amazon for Luxembourg back taxes (FT) totaling several hundred million euros. 


Kremlin Says Ready to Discuss Venezuelan Debt

A Kremlin spokesman said that it will "certainly" discuss restructuring Venezuela's debt (Reuters) if the issue is raised by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

CUBA: The United States has expelled fifteen Cuban diplomats (BBC) following a series of mysterious attacks in which nearly two dozen U.S. staff in Havana suffered physical ailments. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Cuba failed to take "appropriate steps to protect our diplomats."


U.S. Defense Secretary Defends Iran Deal

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a Senate hearing on Tuesday that if the United States can confirm Iran is fulfilling its commitments (Reuters) outlined in a 2015 nuclear deal, then the country should remain in the pact. President Trump is expected to make an announcement soon about the U.S. commitment to the deal (NYT)

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton discussed the Iran nuclear agreement at this CFR event.

The trial of Ahmed Abu Khatallah, who is charged with orchestrating a 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound (Al Jazeera) in Benghazi, Libya, began in Washington, DC, this week.


Verizon Says Yahoo Breach Hit Three Billion Accounts

Verizon, the parent company of Yahoo since June, has tripled its estimate of the number of users affected in a 2013 hack (WSJ) to all three billion of its accounts.

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