George Friedman

Last week was spent obsessed with Gaza. In the end, nothing changed. A war was fought without an Israeli ground assault but with massive air and rocket attacks on both sides. Israel did not have the appetite and perhaps the power to crush Hamas. Hamas did not have the power to compel Israel to change its policies but wanted to achieve a symbolic victory against Israel. Both decided that continued fighting made little sense and allowed the Americans and Egyptians to bless a settlement. Everyone from Iran to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood played a role, and then the curtain on this act went down. It will come up again. It was not trivial for those who lived through the conflict, but in the end it changed little.

In this context, focusing on Catalonian elections would seem frivolous, but it is the nature of geopolitics that the quiet and odd may have more significance in the long run than the events that carry noisy headlines.

Catalonia is a region in northeastern Spain. Its capital, Barcelona, is the second-largest city in Spain and the country's industrial and commercial hub. Catalonia is also a region that for decades has had a substantial independence movement seeking to break away from the rest of Spain.

In a regional election held Sunday, the movement for independence remained strong but also became more complex. The regional president, Artur Mas, had called early elections as a way of measuring support for a referendum on secession. Mas' party actually lost 12 seats in the election, though another independence-oriented but more left-wing party doubled its seats. Together, the pro-independence parties increased their share by one seat and have the necessary two-thirds majority to force a non-binding referendum.


George Friedman

George Friedman is the CEO and chief intelligence officer of Stratfor, a private intelligence company located in Austin, TX.