Foreign Policy

Germany is getting ready for Merkel’s CDU successor

Here is today’s foreign policy mandate: Angela Merkel’s CDU elect a new leader Indian government meets with peasant unions for a ninth round of talks, and North Korea shows his new missiles.

A note to readers: Morning Brief will not be published on Monday, January 18, to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States.

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Merkel’s CDU gathers to elect a new leader

The next chairman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and possibly the country’s next leader will be determined in the next two days, as 1,001 party delegates will meet virtually to choose a successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel as party leader.

The last attempt to replace Merkel was a false start. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was elected CDU leader in 2018, just so that the party had its worst appearance so far in the European Parliament elections (her public fight with a Youtuber did not help). Kramp-Karrenbauer stepped down from office last February, but the coronavirus pandemic has delayed the selection of her replacement.

This time, the three candidates guarantee that the next CDU leader will be a man from North Rhine-Westphalia. Armin Laschet, deputy chairman of the CDU and Merkel’s preferred option, will stand against Friedrich Merz, who came second after Kramp-Karrenbauer in 2018, and Norbert Röttgen, the current chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Bundestag. (Sudha David-Wilp, who writes in Foreign Policy, goes into depth on each candidate).

Merz, a traditional conservative and former manager of the BlackRock investment firm, is currently leading polls among CDU voters. In February of last year, Peter Kuras highlighted in a foreign policy profile of Merz which clear shift to the right his selection would signal if party members try to face the challenges of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Söder so good. However, the next German Chancellor will not necessarily be decided on the vote this weekend. A YouGov poll in early January shows that Markus Söder, the President of Bavaria and member of the Bavarian sister party of the CDU, the CSU, is by far the first choice. 26 percent of the respondents supported Söder, Merz with 8 percent a distant second place. Significantly, 47 percent of the September elections said they either did not do any of the above or were undecided.

Merkel’s legacy. Regardless of who wins, they not only have to meet German expectations, but also those of the world. For the third year in a row, Germany topped a Gallup poll asking respondents to rate their level of agreement with running a country. A Pew survey of 14 countries carried out in the summer showed that confidence in Angela Merkel was high at all times.

What we are following today

Lucky for the ninth time? Indian Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Industry Minister Som Prakash will hold a ninth round of talks with representatives of 41 farmers’ unions in New Delhi today as protests against proposed agricultural reforms continue.

The meeting comes after the Indian Supreme Court suspended the implementation of the law and set up a review committee that farmers unions dismissed as biased. FP’s Katie Livingstone on Wednesday wrote the events that led to the Supreme Court relocation on Tuesday.

Deadline for withdrawal of troops. Today is the deadline for the dismantling of large US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and for the complete withdrawal from Somalia, according to the November 17th announcement by US President Donald Trump. Troop numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan are expected to drop to 2,500 in each country.

A provision in the recently passed US Defense Act prohibits the use of funds to enable troop numbers in Afghanistan to drop below 4,000 without incumbent Defense Secretary Christopher Miller providing Congress with a “comprehensive agency risk and impact assessment.” although Reuters reports the drawdown continues anyway.

Abdi Yusuf writes in Foreign Policy that a withdrawal from Somalia will only increase al-Shabab’s power to launch attacks.

North Korea’s new weapons. North Korea showed what the state media dubbed “the most powerful weapon in the world” when it showed new ballistic missiles fired from submarines. The demonstration of military might comes at the end of a rare ruling party congress where Leader Kim Jong Un pledged to step up the defense while admitting that the past five years have been the “worst of the worst” for the country.

Overheating. According to NASA calculations, 2020 was the hottest year that has ever been recorded, as scientists blame the increasing formation of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere. The record differs from the conclusion by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which said 2020 will be the second warmest year. Regardless of the ranking, the seven hottest years ever happened in the past seven years. Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said the news was “a forerunner for further developments”.

Yemen’s hunger. Humanitarian experts have warned the United Nations of a major famine in Yemen affecting millions when the US designation of the Houthi insurgents in Yemen as a terrorist organization goes on. The nomination is due to take effect the day before President-Elect Joe Biden takes office. Mark Lowcock, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, said licenses and exemptions – touted by the Trump administration as a way for humanitarian groups to keep working – were inadequate and the only way to prevent a famine would be a complete reversal of the U.S. Decision is.

Vaccination records? Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has proposed setting up vaccination records so that those who received the sting can move freely around the European Union. The proposal is expected to be discussed next week at a virtual meeting of EU leaders. Greece’s tourism-dependent economy would get a boost with any increase in travel, but Mitsotakis’ plan is being rejected by other European governments, including Berlin.

Save my life, spare my toilet. US intelligence has rented a studio apartment near Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s property for $ 3,000 a month to use as a toilet after the couple banned agents from using one of their six bathrooms, reports the Washington Post.

The unusual expenses were necessary after several backup plans failed. Agents had used a spare bath in former President Barack Obama’s garage as he lived a few doors from the Kushners before they were banned from Obama’s security detail after an agent allegedly made “an awkward mess”. A port-a-potty outside the Kushner property was removed after residents complained that trips to the residence of Vice President Mike Pence were considered too far.

While the reveal is embarrassing for the Secret Service and the Kushner family, the story highlights the more pressing issue of access to public toilets in the U.S. capital. The DC Department of Human Services lists only seven public institutions in all of downtown.

That’s it for today.

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Credit: ODD ANDERSEN / POOL / AFP

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