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5 possible consequences of Catalan independence

Barcelona and Madrid can work together for peace or work against each other for war.

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On the 27th of October, 2017, Catalonia officially implemented its declaration of independence from Spain, after declaring what amounted to a deceleration of intent to form an independent republic on the 10th of October. 

For the leaders in both Barcelona and Madrid, October of 2017 must certainly feel like the “longest month”. It was on the 1st of October that Catalonia held a referendum in which approximately 2.3 million Catalans voted to leave Spain, with the affirmative stance gaining 92% of the vote. With a turnout of 43%, while less than half the population of Catalonia, the percentage of votes cast was still higher for example, than the 2012 US midterm elections and only slightly lower than the last 10 US Presidential elections. 

After long weeks of back and forth over whether the position of Catlaonia was negotiable and if so how, the matter is now moot. Just prior to Madrid stripping Catalonia’s autonomous government and parliament of its powers, the parliament in Barcelona voted via-secret ballot to secede from Spain, thus forming an independent republic.

At present, Spain holds the view that the then autonomous government of Catalonia (or former government dependent on one’s point of view) acted illegally and that therefore, Catalonia remains part of Spain and as such, will vote to elect a new autonomous Parliament on 21st December after just under 2 months of direct rule from Madrid. From the point of view of the parliamentarians in Barcelona who voted in a numerically proper quorum for independence, Catalonia is now an independent Republic.

These legally black-and-white positions, obfuscate the more pressing ‘grey areas’ around which the next set of crises and/or solutions will revolve.

With this in mind, here are the possible short-term consequences of yesterday’s events starting with the most peaceful: 

1. Madrid ignores the implementation of the declaration of independence 

In many ways, it seems counter-intuitive to list this as the ‘most peaceful short term option’, not least because there is ostensibly no bigger insult to a peoples than to simply ignore their declaration of independence. This is ironically, not necessarily the case with Catalonia.

The very reason that Catalan independence was not declared on the 2nd of October is because the Catalan leadership are very moderate in their approach to the issue. Forgetting whether one finds the Catalan leaders inspiring or incipient, the fact of the matter is that they did not so much say “give me liberty or give me death” as they said “give me European values and give me those values on my terms at the soonest possible date after a period of polite discussions”.

Because Catalonia has shown the propensity to wait for a good faith negotiation partner during a very trying month and because furthermore, many Catalan politicians have insisted that they seek peace and cooperation whenever possible, the onus therefore is now very much on Madrid to de-escalate the situation.

Madrid could still go through with the technical firing of the Catalan government in order to administer the humdrum business of daily life in Catalonia for an interim period on their terms, but if Madrid were to officially adopt a position of ignoring the formal independence vote, it could still negotiate with independence leaders in another capacity.

The west, including Spain, continually speaks of ‘moderate rebels’ in places throughout the world, notably Syria, in spite of the fact that they are acting violently, using terrorism as their de-facto means of ‘political expression’, are mostly foreign proxies and are violating not only national but international law. With the exception of Catalonia violating Spanish law, included the much hated 1978 Spanish constitution, which many see as overtly Francoist in nature, none of this applies to Catalonia.

No one can reasonably say that Catalan independence supporters or their leaders are terrorists or post a direct threat to world peace as al-Qaeda, the FSA, Kurdish ethno-nationalists and ISIS do in places like Syria or Iraq. Furthermore, unlike Middle Eastern Kurds who are something of Israel’s de-facto regional puppets, Catalan independence movements have been part of Iberian history going back centuries. The Catalan struggle, in other-words, predates the creation of the dastardly Israeli colonial state, the birth of George Soros, the idea of the New World Order and the advent of neo-liberal economics.  To therefore say that Catalan independence is about any of these things, as many have, fails to realise the long historical basis which underlies recent events in Catalonia.

Because of this, Madrid  has nothing to lose, yet much to gain from engaging in negotiations with the leaders of the independence movement. Had Madrid negotiated directly with the leaders in Barcelona, the entire independence movement may have fizzled-out over time, in the same way that Brexit appears to be doing in another EU state, or otherwise, Madrid could have agreed to a situation whereby Catalonia settles on an Andorra like solution whereby Catalonia becomes a state formally protected by Spain (as Andorra is technically protected by France), while technically enjoying the desired benefits of EU membership which logically derive from the ‘protector’ state. Because of Catalonia’s size vis-a-vis Andorra, some sort of financial agreement could be agreed upon on a per annum basis.

Such a solution would require creativity, but crucially it requires no blood and could be arranged to create face-saving and money saving measures that cover both sides in terms of economic, political and even ego driven requirements and desires. It is still not too late to achieve this as the “slowly-slowly” attitude in Barcelona has not dramatically changed, in spite of recent dramatic events. In this sense, yesterday’s vote was more of a sign that Barcelona is not bluffing, that it is a sign that Madrid is now an automatic enemy of the largely unrecognised new Catalan Republic.

2. Barcelona initiates a dialogue process….and it works 

It must be re-stated that one of the reasons Catalonia implemented a declaration of independence yesterday was because it felt it had no option to do anything else. If Catalonia’s leaders did nothing while Madrid moved to abolish their autonomy, they would have looked weak before the eyes of their constituents and ineffective in the eyes of the world from which they will need to garner support, in one way or another.

Thus, we now know that Catalonia’s leaders have the collective strength to do what they said they would do. But can they now do something more difficult? Can they offer the wider world an option that cannot be refused?

Catalonia has gone out of its way to do that which, for example, the Kurds in the Middle East have not done. While Kurds have resorted to armed conflict and terrorism in their disregard for both national and international law, Catalans have practised entirely peaceful civil disobedience in arguable violation of national law, but in full compliance with EU law which is theoretically superior to national law in many cases, among member states.

The fact that Catalans are being totally disregarded by most EU states and the EU itself, is symptomatic of double-standards in the west, whereby an armed terrorist in Asia or Africa is a ‘freedom fighter’, but peaceful individuals initiating a controversial but totally non-violent political process in the west, are somehow bandits. Furthermore, Catalonia is a regional crisis and for the EU, an existential crisis. Such a reality is miles away from the very real security crisis that Turkey, Syria and Iran felt when Iraqi Kurds, machine guns in hand, voted in a secession referendum which went beyond their legally defined autonomous borders within Iraq. Again, none of this applies to Catalonia.

If followed to its logical conclusion, Catalonia can now call on international mediators to instigate a process for dialogue that Madrid simply could not ignore. If such a process fails, it will represent a total failure of the so-called international community. If not a single nation, not the UN, not a former UN Secretary General, not a single peace activist can step forward and heed Catalonia’s calls for a truly international dialogue process to be organised, then there truly is no international community to speak of. It certainly behoves Catalonia to attempt and find out.

3. Duelling governments in Barcelona 

Madrid is set to appoint a new interim leadership in Barcelona who will answer directly to the Spanish government, while calling for new elections to form a Catalan parliament in December. The effectiveness of such a move depends on the de-facto current leaders in Barcelona (Puigdemont et al.) and their supporters simply going away quietly.

If anyone thinks it is likely that after a long standoff which was capped by the declaration of a Catalan Republic will end the moment Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy sends ‘his man’ to Barcelona, then they are not living in the real world.

With two competing governments in Barcelona, the short term confusion and deadlock could lead to disaster, as shall be explored in the following two, very un-peaceful possibilities.

4. Mass arrests of Catalan independence leaders 

Spain has already set a worrying precedent by arresting Catalan independence organisers on sedition charges. There are now open fears that such a precedent could now lead to the arrest of the entire de-facto leadership in Barcelona, as well as many members of the Catalan parliament (even though the vote for independence was conducted via secret ballot).

This would not only set-off an uncontrollable chain reaction of fear and almost certainly violence in Catalonia and beyond, but would set off a chain of lawsuits which would test the primacy of national law versus EU and international law. If Madrid were to invoke the most neo-Francoist elements of its constitution and subsequently conduct mass arrests reminiscent of the 1930s, it would not only embolden more Catalans than ever in their desire to breakaway from Spain permanently, but it will be guaranteed to keep both the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice busy for years if not decades to come.

The legal issues which currently exist, could and should be solved through mediation followed by an accord. However, if mass arrests of prominent Catalan leaders are conducted by Spain, a larger legal Pandora’s Box would be flung open and more importantly, any claim of a peaceful regional dispute would be forever lost. Instead, it would be a repeat of the 1930s in more ways than one, combined with the legal labyrinth of 21st century judicial mechanisms.

5. Civil War 

Depending of various push-pull factors at play, a repeat, however microcosmic, of the 1930s Spanish Civil War could take place. If Madrid cracks down hard on political leaders, demonstrators and other civil bodies in Catalonia, it is possible that Catalans could find the means to arm themselves and fight back.

If an armed struggle took place in the heart of the EU, not only would it quite possibly be the end of Spain and western Europe as we know it, but it could be the end of the EU…full stop.

Whatever would be leftover, would by definition be unrecognisable and only a great deal of effort to put the region back together could restore peace.

For mercenary thinkers who see questions of war and peace simply in economic terms, it is worth saying this: for the moment, the Catalan crisis has not drastically impacted global markets. If things escalate into an armed civil conflict, it will impact markets, but primarily in Europe with some ricochets in North America.  The rest of the world will remain financially stable.

This will be the ultimate sign that an Iberian peninsula which once ruled large quarters of the world, is now reduced to a corner of a European Union that far from leading the world, can now, barely lead itself.

In many ways, this will be the ultimate wake-up call.

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BARR: No collusion by any Americans

Trump never used his powers to interfere with Mueller, and thus had no “corrupt intent” in the matter.

Alex Christoforou

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Attorney General Barr found no one in the Trump campaign colluded with “Russia” to meddle in the 2016 US election.

A devastating blow to Democrats and their mainstream media stenographers.

Trump reacted immediately…

Via RT…

With the full report on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into claims President Donald Trump colluded with Russia about to be released, Attorney General William Barr is giving a press conference about its findings.

Barr maintains the allegation that the Russian government made efforts to interfere in the election through the Internet Research Agency, an alleged Kremlin-control “troll farm”, as well as “hacking efforts” by the Russian intelligence agency GRU.

The bottom line, Barr says, is that Mueller has found Russia tried to interfere in the election, but “no American” helped it.

Barr explained the White House’s interaction with the Mueller report, whether Trump used executive privilege to block any of its contents from release, as well as on how the Justice Department chose which bits of the 400-page paper to redact.

On the matter of obstruction of justice, Barr said he and his deputy Rod Rosenstein have reviewed Mueller’s evidence and “legal theories”, and found that there is no evidence to show Trump tried to disrupt the investigation.

He said Trump never used his powers to interfere with Mueller, and thus had no “corrupt intent” in the matter.

Most of the redactions in the report were made to protect ongoing investigations and personal information of “peripheral third parties”.

Barr said that no-one outside the Justice Department took part in the redacting process or saw the unredacted version, except for the intelligence community, which was given access to parts of it to protect sources.

Trump did not ask to make any changes to Mueller’s report, Barr said.

Trump’s personal counsel was given access to the redacted report before its release.

A number of Trump-affiliated people, as well as Russian nationals, have been indicted, charged or put on trial by Mueller over the course of the past two years, but none for election-related conspiracy. Still, Democrats in Congress as well as numerous establishment media personalities have been insisting that Barr, a Trump pick for AG office, is somehow “spinning” its findings in order to protect and exonerate Trump, and are calling to see the full report as soon as possible.

They have equally condemned Barr’s decision to hold a news conference before the report is release, claiming he is trying to shape the public perception in Trump’s favor.

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Moscow’s Strategy: To Win Everywhere, Every Time

The main feature of Moscow’s approach is to find areas of common interest with its interlocutor and to favor the creation of trade or knowledge exchange.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Important events have occurred in the Middle East and North Africa in recent weeks that underline how the overall political reconfiguration of the region is in full swing. The Shia axis continues its diplomatic relations and, following Rouhani’s meeting in Baghdad, it was the turn of Adil Abdul-Mahdi to be received in Tehran by the highest government and religious authorities. Among the many statements released, two in particular reveal the high level of cooperation between the two countries, as well as demonstrating how the Shia axis is in full bloom, carrying significant prospects for the region. Abdul-Mahdi also reiterated that Iraq will not allow itself to be used as a platform from which to attack Iran: “Iraqi soil will not be allowed to be used by foreign troops to launch any attacks against Iran. The plan is to export electricity and gas for other countries in the region.”

Considering that these two countries were mortal enemies during Saddam Hussein’s time, their rapprochement is quite a (geo)political miracle, owing much of its success to Russia’s involvement in the region. The 4+1 coalition (Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria plus Hezbollah) and the anti-terrorism center in Baghdad came about as a result of Russia’s desire to coordinate all the allied parties in a single front. Russia’s military support of Syria, Iraq and Hezbollah (together with China’s economic support) has allowed Iran to begin to transform the region such that the Shia axis can effectively counteract the destabilizing chaos unleashed by the trio of the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

One of the gaps to be filled in the Shia axis lies in Lebanon, which has long experienced an internal conflict between the many religious and political currents in the country. The decision by Washington to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel pushed the Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, to make an important symbolic visit to Moscow to meet with President Putin.

Once again, the destabilizing efforts of the Saudis, Israelis and Americans are having the unintended effect of strengthening the Shia axis. It seems that this trio fails to understood how such acts as murdering Khashoggi, using civilian planes to hide behind in order to conduct bombing runs in Syria, recognizing the occupied territories like the Golan Heights – how these produce the opposite effects to the ones desired.

The supply of S-300 systems to Syria after the downing of the Russian reconnaissance plane took place as a result of Tel Aviv failing to think ahead and anticipate how Russia may respond.

What is surprising in Moscow’s actions is the versatility of its diplomacy, from the deployment of the S-300s in Syria, or the bombers in Iran, to the prompt meetings with Netanyahu in Moscow and Mohammad bin Salman at the G20. The ability of the Russian Federation to mediate and be present in almost every conflict on the globe restores to the country the international stature that is indispensable in counterbalancing the belligerence of the United States.

The main feature of Moscow’s approach is to find areas of common interest with its interlocutor and to favor the creation of trade or knowledge exchange. Another military and economic example can be found in a third axis; not the Shia or Saudi-Israeli-US one but the Turkish-Qatari one. In Syria, Erdogan started from positions that were exactly opposite to those of Putin and Assad. But with decisive military action and skilled diplomacy, the creation of the Astana format between Iran, Turkey and Russia made Turkey and Qatar publicly take the defense of Islamist takfiris and criminals in Idlib. Qatar for its part has a two-way connection with Turkey, but it is also in open conflict with the Saudi-Israeli axis, with the prospect of abandoning OPEC within a few weeks. This situation has allowed Moscow to open a series of negotiations with Doha on the topic of LNG, with these two players controlling most of the LNG on the planet. It is evident that also the Turkish-Qatari axis is strongly conditioned by Moscow and by the potential military agreements between Turkey and Russia (sale of S-400) and economic and energy agreements between Moscow and Doha.

America’s actions in the region risks combining the Qatari-Turkish front with the Shia axis, again thanks to Moscow’s skilful diplomatic work. The recent sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, together with the withdrawal from the JCPOA (the Iranian nuclear agreement), has created concern and bewilderment in the region and among Washington’s allies. The act of recognizing the occupied Golan Heights as belonging to Israel has brought together the Arab world as few events have done in recent times. Added to this, Trump’s open complaints about OPEC’s high pricing of oil has forced Riyadh to start wondering out aloud whether to start selling oil in a currency other than the dollar. This rumination was quickly denied, but it had already been aired. Such a decision would have grave implications for the petrodollar and most of the financial and economic power of the United States.

If the Shia axis, with Russian protection, is strengthened throughout the Middle East, the Saudi-Israel-American triad loses momentum and falls apart, as seen in Libya, with Haftar now one step closer in unifying the country thanks to the support of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France and Russia, with Fayez al-Sarraj now abandoned by the Italians and Americans awaiting his final defeat.

While the globe continues its multipolar transformation, the delicate balancing role played by Russia in the Middle East and North Africa is emphasized. The Venezuelan foreign minister’s recent visit to Syria shows how the front opposed to US imperialist bullying is not confined to the Middle East, with countries in direct or indirect conflict with Washington gathering together under the same protective Sino-Russian umbrella.

Trump’s “America First” policy, coupled with the conviction of American exceptionalism, is driving international relations towards two poles rather than multipolar ones, pushing China, Russia and all other countries opposed to the US to unite in order to collectively resist US diktats.

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Nigel Farage stuns political elite, as Brexit Party and UKIP surge in polls (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 144.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party’s stunning rise in the latest UK polls, which show Tory support splintering and collapsing to new lows. Theresa May’s Brexit debacle has all but destroyed the Conservative party, which is now seeing voters turn to UKIP and The Brexit Party.

Corbyn’s Labour Party is not finding much favor from UK voters either, as anger over how Britain’s two main parties conspired to sell out the country to EU globalists, is now being voiced in various polling data ahead of EU Parliament elections.

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Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk:


The Guardian reports Tories Hit by New Defections and Slump in Opinion Polls as Party Divide Widens.

The bitter fallout from Brexit is threatening to break the Tory party apart, as a Europhile former cabinet minister Stephen Dorrell on Sunday announces he is defecting to the independent MPs’ group Change UK, and a new opinion poll shows Conservative support plummeting to a five-year low as anti-EU parties surge.

The latest defections come as a new Opinium poll for the Observer shows a dramatic fall in Tory support in the past two weeks and a surge for anti-EU parties. The Conservatives have fallen by six percentage points to 29% compared to a fortnight ago. It is their worst position since December 2014. Labour is up one point on 36% while Ukip is up two points on 11%.

Even more alarmingly for the Tories, their prospects for the European elections appear dire. Only 17% of those certain to vote said they would choose the Conservatives in the European poll, while 29% would back Labour, and 25% either Ukip (13%) or Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party (12%).

YouGov Poll

A more recent YouGov Poll looks even worse for the Tories

In the YouGov poll, UKIP and BREX total 29%.

Polls Volatile

Eurointellingence has these thoughts on the polls.

We have noted before that classic opinion polls at a time like this are next to useless. But we found an interesting constituency-level poll, by Electoral Calculus, showing for the first time that Labour would get enough constituency MPs to form a minority government with the support of the SNP. This is a shift from previous such exercises, which predicted a continuation of the status quo with the Tories still in command.

This latest poll, too, is subject to our observation of massively intruding volatility. It says that some of the Tory’s most prominent MPs would be at risk, including Amber Rudd and Iain Duncan-Smith. And we agree with the bottom-line analysis of John Curtice, the pollster, who said the abrupt fall in support for Tories is due entirely to their failure to have delivered Brexit on time.

The Tories are facing two electoral tests in May – local elections on May 2 and European elections on May 23. Early polls are show Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party shooting up, taking votes away from the Tories. If European elections were held, we would expect the Brexit party to come ahead of the Tories. Labour is rock-solid in the polls, but Labour unity is at risk as the pro-referendum supporters want Jeremy Corbyn to put the second referendum on the party’s manifesto.

Tory Labour Talks

The Tory/Labour talks on a compromise have stalled, but are set to continue next week with three working groups: on security, on environmental protection, and on workers’ rights. A separate meeting is scheduled between Philip Hammond and John McDonnell, the chancellor and shadow chancellor. The big outstanding issue is the customs union. Theresa May has not yet moved on this one. We noted David Liddington, the effective deputy prime minister, saying that the minimum outcome of the talks would be an agreed and binding decision-making procedure to flush out all options but one in a series of parliamentary votes.

May’s task is to get at least half of her party on board for a compromise. What makes a deal attractive to the Tories is that May would resign soon afterwards, giving enough time for the Tory conference in October to select a successor before possible elections in early 2020.

This relative alignment of interests is why we would not rule out a deal – either on an agreed joint future relationship, or at least on a method to deliver an outcome.

Customs Union

A customs union, depending on how it is structured, would likely be worse than remaining. The UK would have to abide by all the EU rules and regulations without having any say.

Effectively, it will not be delivering Brexit.

Perhaps May’s deal has a resurrection.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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