Monday, May 8

Monday, May 8

Plus: China’s third most powerful man has an ‘important announcement’


TURKEY PUSHES FOR GULEN EXTRADITION

JUSTICE MINISTER MEETS US COUNTERPART

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Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag will meet his US counterpart Jeff Sessions on Monday. Mr Bozdag will present “new evidence” that US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen orchestrated last July’s failed coup in a bid to persuade authorities to extradite him.

Gulen is the head of a transnational Islamist organisation that operated a vast network of mosques, schools, banks and media outlets—both inside Turkey and in Central Asia. These institutions provided education and discounted services to the poor, creating an extensive client-patronage network that President Erdogan once referred to as the “parallel state”. Over the past few years, many of the organisation’s assets have been seized by Turkish authorities and so-called ‘Gulenist-sympathisers’ persecuted.

But the relationship wasn’t always this hostile. Conservative Islamists, Gulen and President Erdogan were once allies that opposed Turkey’s secular elite. This relationship deteriorated in 2012 when Gulenists within the judiciary began accusing Erdogan’s AK Party of corruption.

Erdogan will travel to Washington next week to meet President Trump amid tense relations, particularly over disagreements in Syria. If Bozdag makes headway on Monday, the US might use Gulen’s extradition to leverage greater Turkish cooperation in Syria, although will be careful to disguise any evidence of such a grand bargain.

MYSTERY SURROUNDS ‘IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT’

SENIOR CHINESE OFFICIAL IN MACAU

Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

China’s third most powerful man, parliamentary chairman Zhang Dejiang, will travel to the gambling mecca of Macau on Monday where he’s expected to make an ‘important announcement’.

His as-yet unconfirmed proclamation comes as Macau enjoys its ninth consecutive month of gaming revenue growth. The return to prosperity is promising; the Chinese territory had experienced years of feeble activity since 2012, when President Xi’s anti-corruption campaign began targeting wayward spending by officials.

During his three-day visit, Mr Zhang is rumoured to be investigating the staggering $1.3 billion that’s withdrawn monthly from Macau’s ATMs. The immense outflows of cash are kindling suspicions of money laundering and illegitimate capital flight.

Zhang and his Macanese hosts are also expected to discuss further implementation of Beijing’s ‘Greater Bay Area’ scheme, which will bring Macau, Hong Kong and the southern Chinese province of Guangdong under a new economic zone. With 100 million residents and a combined economic output of $1.4 trillion, the Greater Bay Area will play a pivotal role in Xi’s keystone One Belt, One Road initiative.

FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY IN THE SPOTLIGHT

UN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE BEGINS

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Developing countries will lead the charge to oust powerful fossil fuel lobbyists at this week’s UN Climate Change Conference, which begins in Bonn on Monday.

While hundreds of private sector lobbyists will attend the conference, by far the most powerful non-state group will hail from the fossil fuel industry. This irony has not been lost on the Like-Minded Group of Developing Countries—a group that includes China and India and represents more than half the world’s population. The group will push to restrict the access of fossil fuel representatives from future conferences, a proposal known as the ‘conflict-of-interest’ policy.

But change will be difficult to achieve. The UN body organising the conference has taken a neutral stance on the inclusion of the fossil fuel industry, delegating the decision to governments—many of which face pressure by interest groups at home.

Regardless of the proposal’s success, the spectre of the pro-fossil fuel Trump administration (his top diplomat is ex-CEO of the world’s largest private oil company) will hang over this week’s summit. Speculation is mounting that the US could pull out of the Paris Agreement in the coming weeks.

 

HAPPENING ELSEWHERE…

The French election results are expected to be announced. Our analysis here.

The EU trade commissioner will arrive in Mexico for five days of talks on the under-negotiation EU-Mexico free trade agreement.

Former US intelligence director James Clapper will testify in the ongoing Senate probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.