ISIS PREPARES FOR TAKEOVER OF SPAIN

ISIS message in front of Aljafería Palace in Zaragoza

ISIS message in front of Aljafería Palace in Zaragoza

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By Bob Unruh | World Net Daily

Jihadists inside Spain have begun prepping for a takeover of the nation by ISIS, also known as Islamic State, the terror army that has been marching across Iraq, destroying Christians and evidence of their faith and imposing the extreme control of Islam’s Shariah law.

According to a new report from Soeren Kern, a senior fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute, there have developed more frequent and more strident statements regarding Spain being ruled once again by the violence of Islam.

Muslims, known then as Moors, occupied that region of the world from 711 until 1492.

“Clearly Spain forms part of the strategic objectives of global jihad,” Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz is quoted in the report. “We are not the only ones but we are in their sights.”

Soeren documents that a new campaign has evolved inside Spain in which images of famous landmarks or monuments are emblazoned with Arabic slogans, including “We are all the Islamic State.”

“One poster includes an image of the medieval Islamic Aljafería Palace in the Spanish city of Zaragoza and the black flag associated with the IS. Another uses an image of the famous La Concha beach in the Basque city of San Sebastián. Yet another includes an image of the statue of Jesus Christ on Monte Urgull in San Sebastián, with the Arabic words ‘Al-Andalus Country’ instead of ‘Basque Country,’” he reports.

One social media statement made the threat specifically, with, “@alwahsh1983 Support from Andalus means when we come to #spain won’t be hard to take it back,” in a Tweet from Abubasir Alkhalidiye.

Soeren, who also is a senior fellow for European politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estrategicos, reports that the poster campaign follows a video from Islamic State jihadists in which they vow to “liberate” what they call Al-Andalus from non-Muslims.

WND reported just weeks ago on an Islamic State video in which IS jihadists are vowing to “conquer Israel, Rome and Spain.”

IS would redraw boundaries of countries, separate Shia and Sunni Muslims, and subject everyone to extreme Islamic law, or Shariah.

Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri also has called for restoring to Muslim rule the Iberian Peninsula, referring to as Al-Andalus, as it was known in the eighth century.

“O our Muslim Umma (community) in the Maghreb of ribat and jihad (land of resistance and holy war): restoring Al-Andalus (Spain) is a trust on the shoulders of the Ummah in general and on your shoulders in particular,” Zawahiri said in 2007.

He also called for the “cleansing” of the “sons of Spain and France” in North Africa, which includes the Maghreb. Today, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, is waging its jihad there.

“Restoring al-Andalus is a trust on the shoulders of the nation in general and on your shoulders in particular, and you will not be able to do that without first cleansing the Muslim Maghreb of the children of France and Spain, who have come back again after your fathers and grandfathers sacrificed their blood cheaply in the path of God to expel them,” Zawahiri said.

“Radical Muslims (and many moderate Muslims) believe that all territories Muslims lost during the Christian Reconquista of Spain still belong to the realm of Islam,” Soeren reported. “They claim that Islamic law gives them the right to return there and re-establish Muslim rule.”

He continued, “In recent years, the return of ‘occupied’ Al-Andalus to the fold of Islam has become an obsession for Muslims of all stripes, and calls to reconquer al-Andalus have become more frequent and more strident.”

The report said Moroccan authorities also have warned Spain that “some of the more than 3,000 Moroccan jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq are beginning to return home, and that many of them are likely to attempt to infiltrate the Spanish mainland via the North African Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.”

For example, not even a week ago, there were reports that nine members of an ISIS recruitment team were arrested not far from Cueta, the report said.

“Some of those recruited by the cell are believed to have participated in beheadings in Syria and Iraq. Police say they are also examining computers and data storage devices to determine if there were plans to carry out a terror attack on Moroccan soil,” the Gatestone report said.

“On August 4, a 19-year-old Spanish woman and a 14-year-old Spanish girl were arrested in Melilla just days before they were due to join the jihad in Syria. They are first Spanish females to be prevented from becoming jihadists,” the report said.

Other arrests with alarming implications happened in May and June.

“In May, Spanish police broke up a cell in Melilla that allegedly recruited 26 jihadists (24 Moroccans and two Spaniards) for al-Qaida groups fighting in Libya and Mali. All six members of the cell are Spanish citizens. One of them, Benaissa Laghmouchi Baghdadi, is the first Spanish jihadist known to have returned from the fighting in Mali. Police say the cell used social media platforms such as ‘Sharia4Spain’ to recruit jihadists,” the report said.

SPAIN’S ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL CRISIS

Spanish State: ‘We Must Continue to Widen the Cracks that have Begun to Open Up’

By Josep Maria Antentas | Global Research

Six years have passed since the ‘official’ start of the crisis, when Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008. Four years since [then president Jose Luis Rodriguez] Zapatero announced the first big package of cuts in May 2010.

Three years since 15-M (the May 15 Movement) exploded onto the streets.

Two years since the large demonstration for independence in Catalonia on September 11, 2012. During this time, the economic and social crisis has morphed into a political crisis and a crisis of the regime. Discontent with the political system has reached levels never seen since the transition [from Franco's dictatorship to parliamentary democracy in 1978].

The May 25 European elections represent, at a statewide level, the first electoral impact of three years of interrupted, but real and intense social struggle. With a turnout similar to that in 2009 (44.9 per cent then, 44.84 per cent now) it is evident that the two-party system is crumbling at a rapid speed.

In 2009, the Partido Popular (conservative Popular Party, PP) won 6,670,377 votes (42.12%) and 24 seats, while the Partido Socialista Obrera Espanol (social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, PSOE) won 6,141,784 (38.78%) and 23 seats. Together, they garnered 12,812,161 votes (80.9%) and 47 deputies.

This time around, the panorama is vastly different: 4,070,643 (26.06%) and 16 deputies for PP and 3,596,324 (23%) and 14 deputies for the PSOE. Together, this adds up to 7,663,943 votes (49.06%) and 30 seats, 60% of what they got in 2009.

Those times when the two parties alternated in power is over. When one side governed, its support deteriorated, while the other recovered in opposition. Now, both the PP and PSOE, no matter whether in government or opposition, are going downhill.

Tilting Toward the Left

Overall, the crisis of the two-party system is, for now, tilting toward the left. This is worth noting given that across Europe, reactionary forces advanced everywhere. The vote for the left to the left of social democracy in the Spanish state is possibly, together with the vote for Syriza in Greece, the only two bits of good news at a continental level.

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EUROPEELECTIONSSource: WikiPedia 2009 results, 2014 results

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Parties such as Unión Progreso y Democracia (Union, Progress and Democracy, UPyD) have not been able to polarize the situation toward the right in any noticeable way, despite having increased their vote (1,015,994 votes, 6.49% and four deputies, as compared to 451,866, 2.85% and one seat in 2009).On the left, things have changed drastically: the combined vote for the two main statewide lists to the left of the PSOE, Podemos (1,245,948, 7.96%, five seats) and United Left (Izquierda Unida, IU, 1,562,567, 9.99%, six deputies) was 2,808,515 (17.95%) and 11 deputies, not far behind PSOE (3,596,324, 23% and 14 deputies).

If we add to this Primavera Europea (European Spring) [an alliance involving Compromis (Commitment) and Equo, the local Greens party] and its 299,884 votes (1.91%), the total becomes 3,108,399 (19.87%). Furthermore, we could also add the 324,534 votes (2.07%) obtained by Los Pueblos Deciden (the People Decide), led by Euskal Herria Bildu (EH Bildu, Reunite the Basque Country) and the Bloque Nacionalista Galego (Galician Nationalist Bloc, BNG).In places like the Community of Madrid, Podemos (248,888, 11.27%) and IU (231,889, 10.5%) outpolled the PSOE (417,993, 18.93%).The PSOE is still a long way from following the trajectory of PASOK [its Greek social-democratic counterpart]. It has not completely rotted out. It will be obligated to make changes and could garner support from unlikely places. But its electoral base has been shattered. With no political credibility left, and unable to offer anything that differs it from the right, it is gradually losing the only strong argument it had left: that it was the only force capable of being an alternative to the PP. Never has the chance to sink this ship been so close.

These types of chances rarely come around more than once.

Podemos (We Can)

There is no doubt: the sudden appearance of Podemos is the big news at a statewide level. A spectacular eruption both because of its results and what it represents.The purpose of the new formation in the short term is clear: destabilize the political system and open up cracks in the two-party system, given the inability of the traditional left to have done this on its own. Podemos’ success is magnificent news for those who do not feel represented by any of the existing political forces, for those who feel helpless or that they have nothing to hold onto, for those who were convinced that a new player was essential to liven up the game. Something to shake up the flow of the game, that comes in from the sideline and rapidly situates itself in the centre of the field and on the attack.

Its emergence will shake up the party game, shifting the entire political map, and all of the left.As of now, Podemos faces a great responsibility. Being the newest force, the most fragile, the least structured, it has a great weight on its shoulders: to not defraud the hopes many have placed in it (it’s not very often that something political enthuses those who are not already part of the active minority!) and continue playing the game it has so brilliantly started.The success of Podemos is also an excellent surprise – and so it should be – for those IU militants, sympathisers and voters who wished their party had a more dynamic way of doing politics, less ensconced in the institutions and more in tune with popular aspirations post-15-M. Podemos will act as a prod that obliges IU to change. This is good news for followers of this party who have received unexpected help from Podemos.

Finally, the emergence of Podemos is also good news for those of us who view things from Catalonia (or other nations without states that today belong to the Spanish state). The appearance of a new force at the statewide level with a clear discourse, and a lead candidate who has not been afraid to get his hands dirty, on the issue of the right to decide and the November 9 referendum on Catalan independence, is important news of unimaginable strategic value.

The bipartisanship of the PP-PSOE, the ‘PPOE,’ is suffering from a growing crisis that is not only reflected in declining votes but, above all, in a loss of credibility, an inability to even generate illusions among those who continue to vote for them.We should not however, take from this that the two-party system and the political regime has no room to maneuver, nor that the crisis will have a democratic and social outcome. The regime could recompose itself, with a mixture of re-legitimization and authoritarian and neo-centralist involution from above.Alternatively, the political vacuum could end up being filled by demagogic and reactionary alternatives as a form of replacement in extremis if the ‘PPOE’ was to definitively fail. Although this is not the dominant tendency registered on May 25, events in other countries, such as the alarming results in France, show that this danger is always present.

Build a Majority for the Left

This is not the time for business as usual, for grey routines on the left. It is not the time for forces such as IU to continue with its institutional inertia and the mentality of being a complement to the PSOE. It is not the time for social activists to continue to focus solely on social or trade union activism. While this is the basis for any change, on its own it is not enough: it is necessary to put forward a political alternative. It is also not the time for the anti-capitalist and alternative left to content itself with simply being a disgruntled minority that is not focused on becoming a majority, and instead prefers to narrowly focus on building their own organization.

“It is time to work toward gathering an anti-austerity socio-political majority that supports the opening up of a democratic constituent process(es) that ruptures what was bound up by chains of fear in 1978. ”

We should not be passive observers of this crisis of the regime. We have to get in the ring without any hang-ups. Always, of course, without losing sight of our objectives, without confusing dedication to become the majority with programmatic dissolution, making sure we don’t mix up audacity with reckless blunders. It is time to work toward gathering an anti-austerity socio-political majority that supports the opening up of a democratic constituent process(es) that ruptures what was bound up by chains of fear in 1978. It is time to act with the dual perspective of unity and radicalism, of will to be a majority… to change everything. To put an end to our interminable and particular ‘nightmare on Elm Street’ of neverending austerity plans, of permanent authoritarian blows and perpetual negation of our basic democratic rights.It is, however, not in our interest to generate false illusions. Cohering a political majority in favour of rupture will be a complex and difficult process, full of marshlands, fake paths, tracks that lead us nowhere and shortcuts that take us backwards. It will require a broad process of alliances and discussions, between different statewide forces and those fighting for sovereignty in Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia.

Today we can only barely begin to imagine the shapes and forms these will take.We must continue to widen the cracks that have begun to open up. Working with a serene quickness and runaway calm, with a dream-like realism and a rational imagination. The crisis of the PSOE and PP, together with the emergence of Podemos, is a first shake up that can only be understood as a prelude to what’s about to come. May 25 should be ‘the beginning of the beginning,’ electorally speaking.

Catalonia

In Catalonia, the mobilization behind the nationalist and pro-independence vote was very important, as the increase in participation shows (47.63% against 36.94% in 2009).

We have confirmed the existence of a broad majority for parties in favour of the right to decide. There is no doubt about it. The results show, once again, the impasse faced by the Partido Socialista Catalan (Catalan Socialist Party, PSC), which has no credibility either at the social or national level (358,539 votes, 14.28%, compared with 708,888, 36% in 2009). An exhausted PSC that won less votes than those obtained in the combined good showing for Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds-Esquerra Unida i Alternativa (Initiative for Catalonia Greens-United and Alternative Left, ICV-EUiA, 258,554, 10.30%) and Podemos (117,096, 4.66%).May 25 also reflects the existing equilibrium, one which polls had been predicting since the last election for parliament, between an Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (Republican Left of Catalonia, ERC) that is affirming itself as the main political force in the Catalonia (594,149, 23.67%) and a declining Convergència i Unió (Convergence and Union, CiU, 548,718, 21.86%).

The celebration of the multi-referendum, held alongside the elections but unfortunately disavowed by a Central Electoral Court that continues to be a faithful exponent of the increasingly cosmetic character of our parliamentary democracy, has put on the table a big strategic question in the midst of the independence debate: broaden the right to decide to include all spheres of society.

Looking to the future, the proposal formulated by the Procés Constituent (Constituent Process) headed up by Arcadi Oliveres and Teresa Forcades for the next elections, of the broadest possible electoral bloc against austerity and in support of a Catalan republic, begins to resemble, in a strategic manner, the shake up that could see a new political actor emerge in Catalonia with the capacity to influence a dynamic in which the key party of the Catalan right, the CiU, is suffering what appears to be an irreversible decline.

And one in which those of us who want to “decide on everything” cannot content ourselves with being spectators or a minor nuisance.The next few months will be decisive. We are reaching a new period of acceleration of politics as the moment of truth approaches: the November 9 referendum. Far from being a solely Catalan affair, the independence movement summons together a whole set of political and social-democratic forces that support egalitarian social change of the whole state.The lack of convincing and audible voices supportive of the right to decide at the Spain-wide level has so far been deafening. The discomfort that the issue causes for the Spain-wide left is as understandable as it is strategically blind: if Rajoy is defeated in Catalonia, he will be mortally wounded, as will the regime for which he acts as guarantor.How can we support the Catalan independence movement in a way that does not aid the Spanish right’s ability to cohere its social base but instead helps to break through the dam of the transition? That is the question.

We need a dual strategy: first, the willingness of the Catalan left and the pro-sovereignty movement to seek allies outside of Catalonia and not confine itself to simply accumulating forces at the national level (which, moreover, creates an internal pressure toward “patriotic unity” under the leadership of [current president of Catalonia and chairperson of CiU, Artur] Mas); second, political solidarity from the Spanish wide left with the right to decide in Catalonia.

There, Podemos could play a key role.Although lop-sided, the game remains open and the ending is yet to be determined. In the future, when we look back, we will see that the current period was either the time when we suffered a historic defeat that led to a massive impoverishment of the majority of the population and an anti-democratic involution of the political system. Or alternatively, as the time when we pushed the “second Borbonic restauration” off its tracks.Which of the two alternative futures will win out? Without doubt, today we are determining what happens tomorrow.

SPAIN’S GAME OF THRONES

King Juan Carlos Exits the Stage

Royal Palace, Madrid.

Royal Palace, Madrid. (Bernard Lafond / Flickr)

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By Omar G. Encarnación | Foreign Affairs

When King Juan Carlos abdicated the Spanish throne earlier this week, Spaniards were caught off-guard. As recently as April, Juan Carlos, who is one of the modern era’s most successful monarchs — he assumed the throne in 1975 following the death of General Francisco Franco and is widely considered to be the father of Spanish democracy for having orchestrated a widely-praised democratic transition that became a model for many other countries — was shutting down rumors that his transfer of some responsibilities to his son, 46-year-old Prince Felipe, was a sign that he might step down. “Abdication is not an option,” said a royal spokesman at the time. His statement was in keeping with Juan Carlos’s longstanding pledge that “he would die with his crown on.”

Juan Carlos’ sudden resignation is a gamble to restore the monarchy’s luster. Although the king is generally lauded as a class act, his exit from power has been anything but graceful. For the last two years, the king’s conduct, and that of other royals, has provoked unprecedented criticism from the media, the general public, and the political class, with some calling for the outright abolition of the monarchy and the return to republican government. Such calls represent the views of a small minority of Spaniards, but they are suggestive nonetheless, if only because of the infamy surrounding republicanism in Spain. The country’s last experiment with it, the short-lived Second Republic, ushered in the horrific violence of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and nearly 40 years of Francoist dictatorship in 1939.

Curiously, Juan Carlos’ gamble also entails a high stakes game of political brinkmanship for the incoming king, not unlike the one he himself encountered after Franco’s death. Felipe, like Juan Carlos, comes to the throne as a young and untested leader (Juan Carlos was 43 when he was crowned king). The current economic crisis is the most severe Spain has experienced since the one around the time of Franco’s death, which saw an economy that had been enjoying decades of dramatic growth take a nosedive thanks to the international oil crisis. And today, as in the early years of the newly created constitutional monarchy, restive regions are trying to break away from the Spanish kingdom.

But many things are different in 2014, making the challenges for Felipe arguably more daunting than those faced by Juan Carlos in 1975. Gone is the euphoria for democracy created by the end of the long dictatorship. Gone, too, is the faith that the monarchy can keep the country together. Ironically, in recent times, no one has done more damage to the monarchy than the very man who made the country believe that the institution was indispensable.

THE MONARCHY’S UNDOING

Spain’s sour national mood is not surprising. Severe economic decline since 2008 has left nearly a quarter of the population unemployed, the highest rate for an industrialized country. In turn, the monarchy has started to seem like a luxury that the country simply cannot afford. But anti-monarchical sentiment goes deeper than that. Juan Carlos’s abdication comes after a cascade of embarrassing revelations spoiled the royal family’s squeaky-clean image (at least compared to more scandal-prone European royalty, especially Britain’s Windsor clan, to which Juan Carlos is related by blood as Queen Elizabeth’s third cousin).

In 2012, for example, Juan Carlos drew unwanted attention when he was rushed to the hospital after a fall during an elephant-hunting trip in Botswana, a trip that was previously unknown to the public. Aside from a cringe-worthy picture of him standing next to a freshly killed elephant (which prompted the World Wildlife Fund to unceremoniously drop Juan Carlos as its honorary president), the king faced harsh criticism for his apparent insensitivity about the economic plight of his fellow Spaniards. El País estimated that the Botswana jaunt cost $60,000, about twice the annual salary of the average Spaniard. It was also revealed that the king’s traveling companion was not his wife, Queen Sofía, but a German aristocrat long rumored to be his lover.

In the wake of the Botswana scandal, the media began to pry into the king’s finances and business dealings like never before. An especially damaging revelation, unearthed by El Mundo, was a secret overseas bank account containing an inheritance from his father, Don Juan de Borbon, Count of Barcelona. The revelation was notable because of the size of the inheritance (some four million euros) and the absence of any evidence that it was ever reported to the tax authorities. Even more damning, it seemed to contradict the royal family’s claim that the family was left destitute after the declaration of the Second Republic in 1931 and the overthrow of Juan Carlos’ grandfather, King Alfonso XIII.  Forced to leave everything behind, the royal family fled to Rome, where Juan Carlos was born in 1938.

If things weren’t bad enough for the royal family, the king’s son-in-law, Duke of Palma de Mallorca Inaki Urdangarin, an Olympian turned businessman, was indicted on charges of racketeering, money laundering, and tax evasion. This was the first time in Spanish history that a member of the royal family had faced such criminal charges. Making things more embarrassing were revelations that Juan Carlos’ daughter, Urdangarin’s wife, had profited from her husband’s wrongdoing. In 2013, during her appearance in court to answer questions about her involvement in her husband’s alleged crimes, the Spanish press had a field day reporting on her extravagant spending on the so-called Little Palace, a residence on the outskirts of Barcelona reportedly outfitted with some four million euros worth of furnishings.

ROYAL GAMBLE

Public opinion polls reveal the heavy toll that the scandals have taken on the monarchy. Historically, the crown led all Spanish institutions in trustworthiness, but that is hardly the case today. In a 2013 survey by Spain’s Center for Sociological Studies, the monarchy received its lowest ranking since polling on the issue began: 3.6 out of a possible ten. It came in behind the police, armed forces, the media, and the public defender. More alarming, perhaps, the public is increasingly polarized over the monarchy. For much of the post-Franco era, it has enjoyed support from across the political spectrum. Today, the only portion of the public that gives the monarchy more than a five on the trustworthiness scale is right-wing voters affiliated with the governing Popular Party. Those on the left evaluate the monarchy more harshly, with a paltry 2.7.

The monarchists hope that the king’s abdication will serve as some kind of redemption. And, in fact, there are already some signs of that. News coverage of his decision has focused on how Juan Carlos’ reign has touched the lives of all Spaniards: His stunning betrayal of the Franco regime in 1975, when he ordered the military to ready the nation for a transition to democracy; his speech to the nation on the night of the 1981 military rebellion, in which he reassured Spaniards that the transition to democracy would not be reversed; his comforting appearances following the 2004 bombing of Madrid’s Atocha train station that killed some 200 people.

It isn’t clear, though, that the goodwill generated by Juan Carlos’ abdication will transfer to the future king. It should help that Felipe is untouched by scandal and that he is popular; more than 60 of the public has a favorable opinion of him, according to recent polls. (It doesn’t hurt that a married a commoner, Princess Letizia, a former television anchorwoman.) But the challenges that he will inherit are formidable. Despite signs of a nascent recovery, the economy remains fragile. Even though the monarchy has no direct control over economic matters, the severity of the crisis tends to color how Spaniards view almost everything. This point was underscored by the anti-monarchy rallies that broke out in major Spanish cities the day of Juan Carlos’s resignation, including one in Madrid that drew some 10,000 people demanding a third republic.

The monarchy is also in dire need of reformation. In light of the recent scandals, the left-wing parties have called for greater transparency in the royal household’s use of public funds. One draft law making its way through the Spanish parliament would compel the monarchy to report its expenses like any other public institution. Juan Carlos, to his credit, has embraced this idea. An unaddressed problem is that the current law of succession does not allow Felipe and Letizia’s oldest daughter, Infanta Leonor, to inherent the throne. Indeed, if they had a boy before the law of succession is reformed, he would be the legitimate heir to the throne. This would be quite ironic — and embarrassing — in a country that prides itself as being one of Europe’s most socially progressive, as suggested by its ban on sexist advertising, gender quotas intended to ensure parity between the sexes in the workplace and government, and the legalization of same-sex marriage, the first Catholic-majority nation in the world to do so.

FELIPE’S FOOTHOLD

It is regional separatism, the defining issue in Spanish politics, however, that poses the greatest challenge (and creates the biggest opportunity) for the next king. In November, the autonomous region of Catalonia will put the issue of independence to a pubic vote. Madrid opposes the referendum, claiming that it is illegitimate because the constitution that was adopted by popular referendum in 1978 explicitly states that the Spanish territory is “indivisible.” Catalan leaders remain undeterred and have already announced that Juan Carlos’ abdication will not derail their plans. But this is not to say that they would dismiss an intervention from the crown.

Some suspect that the Catalan political leadership is not really after independence — a tall order to be sure, and something the Basques have already unsuccessfully attempted — but greater accommodation from Madrid on a wide range of cultural, political, and economic issues. This provides an opening for the crown to work behind the scenes to facilitate negotiations between the conservative administration of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Catalan regional authorities. These negotiations could be timed to coincide with a reform to the law of succession, which is expected shortly before or after Felipe’s coronation.

The extent to which the next king will get involved in the explosive politics of separatism, and the degree to which he can make a difference on this matter, is unclear at the moment. Diego Muro, a scholar at Barcelona’s Institute of International Studies, notes that Felipe will enjoy some “sympathy” in Catalonia during his honeymoon period, despite the Catalans’ traditional disdain for the monarchy as a symbol of Spanish absolutism. “But whether he decides to use some of this political capital to become a game changer in the dispute between the Spanish and Catalan governments remains to be seen.”

How Felipe choses to play his cards on the issue of Catalonia’s separatist aspirations and the other challenges ahead of him will define his rule, and possibly even Spain’s fate. And observers should not underestimate him. It is worth remembering that Juan Carlos ascended to the throne with the moniker “Juan el Breve” (John the Brief), since few thought he would be around for very long. The young king had been seldom seen or heard after his arrival in Spain as a ten-year-old in 1948 — the result of a deal between Franco and Juan Carlos’ father to restore the monarchy in exchange for Franco personally grooming the future king. Thus, Juan Carlos’ legitimacy at the inception of his reign was tenuous at best, resting primarily on having been handpicked by Franco. By contrast, Felipe enjoys broad support, giving the monarchy its best chance at redemption. This is, after all, at the heart of his father’s gamble: that momentary enthusiasm about a new king could turn into a long-term rehabilitation of the monarchy.

SPANISH STATE: AFTER THE ABDICATION OF THE KING, IT’S TIME TO CHECKMATE THE REGIME

By Esther Vivas | Global Research

The regime is collapsing, it is dying and in its last-ditch struggle to survive, the king has abdicated. Never has the regime resulting from the Transition (The Transition is the name given to the political process following the death of Franco, which culminated in the Constitution of 1978) been as widely challenged as it is today.

The regime is collapsing, it is dying and in its last-ditch struggle to survive, the king has abdicated. Never has the regime resulting from the Transition (The Transition is the name given to the political process following the death of Franco, which culminated in the Constitution of 1978) been as widely challenged as it is today. The pillars on which it rests, the monarchy, the judiciary, bipartisanship, have been greatly delegitimized for some time now. We no longer believe in their lies, those lies with which they are trying to hold together a system that is falling apart. What seemed not so long ago impossible appears today as a reality. Let us push with all our might to widen even further this breach that the economic, social and political crisis has made possible.

Since the elephant hunt of his “majesty” in Botswana, through the indictment of his son- in-law Iñaki Urdangarín in the “Noos affair” and the involvement of the Infanta Cristina in this case, and including the many operations on the monarch’s hip, costing millions and paid out of public funds, the Royal House has become a caricature of itself. One of the main justifications of “democracy” is mortally wounded, but it is not dead yet.

The announcement of the royal abdication is a final, desperate attempt to save the regime; an attempt at a “facelift” with the aim of restoring legitimacy not only to the monarchy but also to its suite of judges, politicians and opinion formers. For years, far too many years, they have lived under the shelter of this false Transition, trying to efface or hide our collective history. Our forgetfulness has been the substrate of their victory, not only moral but also political and economic.

The economic crisis, transformed into a profound social and also political crisis, has put the king and the regime of 1978 on the ropes. People have said “basta”. We saw it three years ago with the emergence of the 15-M Movement; with the spread of civil disobedience; with the occupation of empty homes that were in the hands of banks, and all of that that with broad popular support despite the criminalization of protest. More poverty means more pain, but thanks to these mobilizations it also means greater awareness of who are the winners in this situation – the bankers, the politicians – and who are the losers.

The rising demand for sovereignty in Catalonia has also thrown the regime on the ropes, highlighting the deeply anti- democratic nature of a Constitution that does not allow the right to self-determination. Today, the European elections have given the “coup de grace” to a decaying regime, with the loss of more than five million votes for the PP and the PSOE and the emergence, with the election of five members of parliament, of “Podemos”. The regime is becoming nervous, very nervous.

The royal abdication is the latest rescue manoeuvre. But we must nevertheless remember that the system still has room for manoeuvre. The abdication of the king illustrates the weakness of the pillars of the regime and the strength of the people. But we do not want Juan Carlos Felipe [[Juan Carlos Felipe is the Crown Prince]] either. It’s time to go out into the streets to demand the opening of constituent processes throughout the Spanish State, in order to decide what kind of future we want. We must go on the offensive in order to checkmate the regime.

PM: SPANISH KING TO ABDICATE THRONE IN FAVOR OF SON

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MADRID (AP) — Spain’s King Juan Carlos, who led Spain’s transition from dictatorship to democracy but faced royal scandals amid the nation’s near financial meltdown, will abdicate so his son can become the country’s next monarch, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told the country Monday in an announcement broadcast nationwide.

Rajoy did not say when the handover would happen because the government must now craft a law creating a legal mechanism for the abdication and for 46-year-old Crown Prince Felipe’s assumption of power.

Juan Carlos was expected to address the nation later Monday, the royal palace said in a tweet. The palace also tweeted a photo of the king shaking Rajoy’s hand and presenting him with a letter announcing the abdication.

Juan Carlos, 76, has been on the throne for 39 years and was a hero to many for shepherding Spain’s democratic and economic transformation, but has had repeated health problems in recent years.

His longstanding popularity took a big blow following royal scandals, including an elephant-shooting trip he took in the middle of Spain’s financial crisis during which he broke his right hip and had to be flown from Botswana back to Spain for medical treatment aboard a private jet.

The king’s image was also tarnished by the investigation of his son-in-law, who is suspected of embezzling large amounts in public contracts.

His daughter Princess Cristina in January was forced to testify in the fraud and money-laundering case targeting her husband Inaki Urdangarin, an Olympic handball medalist turned businessman. She became the first Spanish royal to be questioned in court since Juan Carlos took the throne.

Felipe would presumably take the title King Felipe IV. He has a law degree from Madrid’s Autonomous University and obtained a masters in international relations from Georgetown University in the United States.

Felipe is married to Princess Letizia, a former television journalist, and they have two daughters.

Like his father, Felipe has traveled the globe trying to maintain Spain’s influence especially in former Latin American colonies, while seeking to promote the nation’s international business interests.

King Juan Carlos came to power in 1975, two days after the death of longtime dictator Francisco Franco. He endeared himself to many Spaniards, in large part by putting down an attempted military coup in 1981 when he was a young and largely untested head of state.

As Spain’s new democracy matured over the years and Spain transformed itself from a European economic laggard into the continent’s fourth largest economy, the king played a largely figurehead role, traveling the globe as an ambassador for the country. He was also a stabilizing force in a country with restive, independence-minded regions such as the Basque region and Catalonia.

“He has been a tireless defender of our interests,” Rajoy said.

Juan Carlos has melded the trappings of royalty with down-to-earth, regular-guy charm. The king is an avid sports fan and after the Madrid terror bombings of March 11, 2004, showed he could grieve like anyone else.

At an emotional state funeral for the 191 people killed in the train bombings by Islamic militants, Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia slowly went row-by-row through Madrid’s Almudena Cathedral, clasping the hands of sobbing mourners or kissing them on the cheek.

But his patient work nearly came undone during the financial crisis, with people questioning after the elephant-hunting trip whether a hereditary monarchy was needed.

The World Wildlife Fund’s branch in Spain ousted Juan Carlos as its honorary president — a title he’d held since 1968 — after deciding the hunt was incompatible with its goal of conserving endangered species. Juan Carlos took the unprecedented step of apologizing to Spaniards for his actions.

He recently said that he wanted to be remembered as “the king who has united all Spaniards.”

King Juan Carlos goes down a path increasingly traveled by European royalty.

Last year Belgium’s King Albert handed over the throne of his fractious kingdom to his son, Crown Prince Philippe. Two months earlier, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands stepped down after a 33-year reign in favor of her eldest son, who was appointed King Willem-Alexander.

It was a break with tradition, but not as big as the decision early last year by Pope Benedict XVI to resign, a move that stunned Catholics around the world.

The two royal successions in Belgium and the Netherlands have been smooth and successful.

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WHY IS KING JUAN CARLOS OF SPAIN ABDICATING?

DOZENS OF FBI, CIA AGENTS IN KIEV ‘ASSISTING UKRAINE SECURITY’

Reuters/Larry Downing/via RT.com

RT

Numerous US agents are helping the coup-appointed government in Ukraine to “fight organized crime” in the south east of the country, the German newspaper Bild revealed.

According to the daily, the CIA and FBI are advising the government in Kiev on how to deal with the ‘fight against organized crime’ and stop the violence in the country’s restive eastern regions.

The group also helps to investigate alleged financial crimes and is trying to trace the money, which was reportedly taken abroad during Viktor Yanokovich’s presidency, the newspaper said.

The head of the CIA, John Brennan, visited Kiev in mid-April and met with the acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and first Vice-President Vitaly Yarema to discuss a safer way to transfer US information to Ukraine.

Jen Psaki, spokeswomen for the United States Department of State, said that there was nothing to read into Brennan’s visit to Kiev, and that the head of the CIA did not offer support to the coup-appointed government in the country to help them conduct tactical operations within Ukraine.

However, following the visit the toppled President Viktor Yanukovich linked the CIA chief’s appearance in Kiev to the first stage of the new government’s crackdown in Slavyansk.

Brennan “sanctioned the use of weapons and provoked bloodshed,” Yanukovich said.

Bild’s reports comes as US President Barack Obama rules out that Washington will interfere in the situation in Ukraine.

“You’ve also seen suggestions or implications that somehow Americans are responsible for meddling inside Ukraine. I have to say that our only interest is for Ukraine to be able to make its own decisions. And the last thing we want is disorder and chaos in the center of Europe,” he said speaking in the White House after meeting the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, just two days ago.

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CIA, FBI AGENTS ‘ADVISING UKRAINE GOVERNMENT’

Berlin (AFP) – Dozens of specialists from the US Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation are advising the Ukrainian government, a German newspaper reported Sunday.

Citing unnamed German security sources, Bild am Sonntag said the CIA and FBI agents were helping Kiev end the rebellion in the east of Ukraine and set up a functioning security structure.

It said the agents were not directly involved in fighting with pro-Russian militants. “Their activity is limited to the capital Kiev,” the paper said.

The FBI agents are also helping the Kiev government fight organised crime, it added.

A group specialised in financial matters is to help trace the wealth of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, according to the report.

The interim Kiev government took charge in late February after months of street protests forced the ouster of Kremlin-friendly Yanukovych.

Fierce battles between Ukrainian soldiers and pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east have left more than 50 people dead in recent days.

Last month the White House confirmed that CIA director John Brennan had visited Kiev as part of a routine trip to Europe, in a move condemned by Moscow.

SPANISH POLITICIANS TO VOTE ON CATALONIA’S RIGHT TO A REFERENDUM ON INDEPENDENCE

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Spanish politicians are preparing to vote on whether to allow Catalonia’s regional assembly to hold a referendum on independence from Spain.

But for many the outcome is a foregone conclusion; Spain’s ruling Popular Party strongly opposes the motion, leaving it likely to be rejected.

“I think those things are best resolved through talking,” said Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. “And not through taking decisions unilaterally, then putting them in front of the rest of us afterwards.”

Officials in the north eastern region have vowed to vote on the issue in November, regardless of Tuesday’s result.

“I’m not going to participate in this debate. It is a decision taken in the Catalonian Parliament and I’m the President of the Government of Catalonia,” Artur Mas told euronews. “My government didn’t send the draft law to the Spanish Parliament to obtain the right to organise the referendum.”

Catalonia has seen hundreds of thousands of people rally for independence. But last month Spain’s Constitutional Court ruled that a move by Catalan leaders to unilaterally hold a referendum would be unconstitutional.

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