#Iran Foreign Minister Zarif and his domestic challenges

21 Jan

Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Source: wikipedia

What is Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif up against inside Iran? What pressure is he under?

Is the pressure he faces at home bigger than the pressure he faces abroad?

Will the recent clashes on the Israel – Syria border affect the nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1?

Did the Iranian General who was killed in Syria reportedly by Israel belong to the Quds force?

These are some of the questions I tried to answer in my interview with Allison Kaplan Sommer today for the TLV1 radio station.

You can listen to it here

In Tehran, a middle class family needs to earn $3700 per month

19 Jan

Shopping for basic products in Tehran. Source

Yet another interesting podcast from the Financial Times and from their wonderful Tehran reporter Najmeh Bozorgmehr.

In it you hear how life in Iran, especially in Tehran is becoming more expensive.

One person who was interviewed said that a middle class family needs to earn 10 million Toman = $3700 per month to maintain an honourable lifestyle.

And whats the average income in Tehran?

According to the recent government statistics, average yearly income for families living in cities in the Tehran province is 22 million Toman = $678 per month.

Life in Iran is becoming more expensive, one of the reasons being inflation. This makes it even more important for the people of Iran that sanctions are removed, as soon as possible.

You can listen to the podcast here

Reported #Israel attack against #Hezbollah: why now?

18 Jan

Leader of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah. Source

According to the Lebanon based Daily Star newspaper, today, an Israeli attack against a number of vehicles on the Syrian side of the Golan heights killed 9 people. Among them were senior members of Hezbollah and an Iranian field commander.

Why would Israel undertake such an operation? And why now?

There are a number of possibilities:

1 – It appears that in his recent interview on the 15th of January, Hezbollah Chief Nasrallah set a red line for Israel. He stated:

“The repeated bombings that struck several targets in Syria are a major violation, and we consider that any strike against Syria is a strike against the whole of the resistance axis, not just against Syria,” he told the Beirut-based Arab news television.

The “axis of resistance” which he mentioned is made up of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

In other words, any attack against Syria will now be considered as an attack against Hezbollah and Iran, as well as Syria.

This declaration would be considered as a new red line, for Israel.

When it comes to Syria, Israeli security officials seem to have an allergic reaction to red lines being drawn for Israel.

For example, at the end of January 2013, Iran drew a red line for Israel around Syria. According to foreign reports, it took Israel only a couple of days to cross that line.

2 – We are getting close to elections in Israel. There is the possibility that Netanyahu may lose. At the beginning a Likud lead government headed by Netanyahu looked certain. By as time has passed, Netanyahu’s challenger Isaac Herzog from the Labour party has started to catch up.

So a war just before elections may boost Netanyahu’s chances. And lets face it, it would not be the first time that a war was started just before elections here in Israel. And Netanyahu would not be the first Israeli leader to do this.

3- In his interview with i24 news tonight, Amir Oren of Haaretz newspaper stated that we are getting close to the anniversary of the assassination of former Hezbollah commander Imad Mighniye who was killed on the 12 of February 2008. Hezbollah may have been planning to retaliate, and Israel may have decided to take the initiative.

4 – Perhaps Hezbollah was planning to place some of its Iran made Fatah 110 missiles and its other new missiles which Nasrallah bragged about in his recent interview on Israel’s border with the Syrian side of the Golan heights.

These are all possibilities. Lets not jump to conclusions. We just finished a war in Gaza based on the assumption of some people in Israel that the Hamas central command in Gaza had ordered the kidnapping and killing of 3 Israeli teenagers. It turns out that it had not.

Poll: how does the French public view Jews and Muslims?

15 Jan

Bar chart from the findings of the poll. Source

For that matter, how do the German, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Polish and the British public view Jews? Do they view them favourably or unfavourably?

And the same goes regarding their view of Muslims. Which of these countries has the most favourable and unfavourable view of Muslims?

Well, the French people are the people who view both Jews and Muslims more favourably than all the other aforementioned countries (see right).

In terms of unfavourable views: between the surveyed nations, the Greek public had the most unfavourable view of Jews.

Meanwhile the Italian public was found to have the most unfavourable view of Muslims.

I would love to know why the Greek population has such an unfavourable of Jewish people. What is the source of their negative view? Is it the Greek press?

And why do the Italians have such an unfavourable view of Muslims? Italy has not been the target of major terrorist attacks by minority extremist Islamic groups. Is it because Italy is a religious country? Why?

You can read the entire findings of the recent poll by the Pew Research Center here.

اگر نتانیاهو بلد بود, تو پاریس اینجوری جلو میزد

14 Jan
bibi_complete1

 

Funny video clip: how to cut in line, Benjamin Netanyahu style

13 Jan

You gotta give it to Netanyahu, he is certainly persistent. Benjamin_Netanyahu_portrait

This clip of him which is circulating the web in Israel (loony tunes music and all), shows how at the start of the recent Paris march of leaders, he was at the second row.

Then you see how he tried to break his way into the first row of world leaders.

And then when he does, the African head of state whom he gets close to (I think he is the leader of Mali) tries to move away from him, but is pushed back into position by the French president.

Really something :-)

Credit for this clip goes to Hadashot Kikar Shabbat site in Israel.

The Arab Spring: What about Morocco?

12 Jan

Morocco is an interesting country, for many reasons. First and foremost because of its strong diaspora community, especially in France.

Secondly because a sizable number of Moroccan volunteers have  joined ISIS.

Thirdly and I find this fascinating, Morocco is on track to generating 42% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. This is more than many European and industrialized countries.

Fourthly, because its government, compared to other Arab regimes such as Syria and Libya, has been much more progressive. However as FT correspondent Borzou Daragahi who was recently been there mentions, the progress made towards civil liberties is under threat, because of emerging dangers.

His podcast interview is highly recommended 

 

 

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