Ken Livingstone (Photo: Reuters)
Iran: Why This Time Is Different
Both sides of the Iran nuclear negotiations have a new vested interest in making the talks work, writes Richard Javad Heydarian of Foreign Policy in Focus.
The Iranian leadership is aware that both the short-term and long-term costs of Western sanctions are tremendous. Iran has one of the largest reserves of oil and gas in the world, but its aging refinery infrastructure has faced significant problems keeping up with demand. Without significant new investments, Iran’s long-term exports are set to decrease. Moreover, Iran’s largely untapped gas reserves also need major investments, making Western energy companies crucial to Iran’s long-term viability in energy markets. The sanctions are affecting short-term output too. According to Vienna-based JBC Energy GmbH, Iran’s output is currently at its lowest level in almost two decades.
Egypt’s surprising front-runner
Eric Cunningham of the Global Post takes a look at Abdel Meneim Aboul Fotouh, the moderate former Muslim Brotherhood member, who is winning support from both liberals and conservatives.
Fotouh, once a member of the Brotherhood’s Supreme Guidance Council, was suspended by the movement in May 2011 when he announced his intention to make a bid for the presidency. The Brotherhood and its party refused to support him. But since then, he has built a swell of ground-level support by campaigning for the right to education and healthcare for all Egyptians, ending all military trials for civilians and boosting foreign tourism to save the ailing economy.
London Jews’ Labour Problem
Labour’s mayoral candidate for London and his anti-Semitic outbursts has long been a source of concern for the Jewish community, a fact that seems to have eluded the party’s leadership, writes James Kirchick in Tablet.
Livingstone’s views about Jews combine those of an unreconstructed Marxist with the pub-hall pugilist. “He sees Jews who are not socialists as reactionary, bourgeois anti-revolutionary,” said [an] anonymous Jewish organization official, noting Livingstone’s remarks about Jews being “rich.” Livingstone’s stereotypes about Jews are an element of his timeworn electoral strategy of identity politics and part of his appeal to the Islamist far right. Perhaps the most controversial move Livingstone made as mayor was his 2004 City Hall invitation to, and public embrace of, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a “moderate” (to use Livingstone’s description) Egyptian cleric whose alleged moderation has not prevented him from endorsing wife beating, the murder of homosexuals, and Palestinian suicide bombing.
Islam’s European Hope
Young Muslims in Europe are by and large not turning to radical Islam, but are rather a part of the societies into which they were born, writes Shlomo Ben-Ami for Project Syndicate.
The massive influx of Muslims into Europe in the last two generations, it should be remembered, is the largest encounter between Islam and modernity in human history, and it has yielded invaluable benefits, such as a growing Muslim middle class, an emerging intelligentsia, and greater freedom for Muslim women. Polls in France – where the rate of intermarriages is the highest in Europe – have shown that the majority of Muslims do accept laïcité, gender equality, and other key republican values.
Palestinian Christians are disappearing
Governments across the Middle East much take steps to ensure that the fast diminishing Christian populations do not disappear altogether, writes Saliba Sarsar in the Daily Star.
The Palestinian Christian cause is truly a cause for everyone who inhabits the Holy Land. As an indigenous population, Palestinian Christians have contributed to the region’s character and significance religiously, spiritually, culturally, socially and economically. The impoverishment and marginalization of Palestinian Christians not only reflects badly on Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims, it also diminishes the cultural richness and diversity of their societies.