November 19, 2019

May 7, 2012

Hollande Victory in France Lessens Likelihood of War with Iran

The new socialist president will steer France away from his predecessor’s hardline ‎policies, writes Muhammad Sahimi for PBS. ‎

Assembling a coalition with communists and smaller center-left ‎parties, Hollande campaigned on a platform of 60 points, only four ‎of which were devoted to foreign policy. It is unlikely, under his ‎administration, that France will pursue military adventures in the ‎Middle East or be dragged into one by Israeli Prime Minister ‎Benjamin Netanyahu and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, who ‎have repeatedly threatened to launch a preemptive strike against ‎the Islamic Republic. Hollande has indicated that he will pull ‎France’s 3,600 military personnel from Afghanistan a year earlier ‎than Sarkozy promised and that he is interested in more normal ‎relations between the European Union and Iran; at the same time, ‎he has pledged to be tough with those Middle Eastern nations who ‎violate the rights of their citizens.‎

Labor at a crossroads

Party leader Shelly Yachimovich has breathed new life into Labor, but her stance on ‎key issues is still unclear, writes Emanuel Shahaf in the Times of Israel. ‎

‎[H]er reluctance to make any statements of consequence regarding ‎controversial but critical topics — Israel’s continued control over the ‎territories, relations with the Arab minority, and growing apprehension over ‎the erosion of the status quo vis-à-vis the religious establishment, to name a ‎few — leave many Labor supporters wondering where she is headed.‎

Iran, Obama and Bibis October Surprise

Jonathan Tobin of Commentary Magazine does not believe that early Israeli ‎elections automatically mean Netanyahu is planning a fall attack on Iran’s nuclear ‎facilities. ‎

The only reason the West has stepped up its previously weak sanctions on Iran that led to ‎the current lackluster negotiations is that they believed Israel would act unless they ‎started behaving as if they cared about the problem. As most informed observers have ‎noted, the chances of the talks achieving anything that would actually lessen the danger ‎are slim. But if the Iranians as well as Obama and his partners think Israel will strike in the ‎fall that could put tremendous pressure on both sides to do more than diplomatic game ‎playing. ‎

Arab Spring Spurs Palestinian ‎Journalists to Test Free Speech ‎Limits

Isabel Kershner of the New York Times looks at the crackdown on Palestinian ‎journalists who speak out against the ruling classes. ‎

As Palestinian journalists and activists, imbued with ‎the spirit of the Arab Spring, become more daring ‎and enamored with the possibilities of new media ‎and social networking sites, the primary instinct of ‎some in the Palestinian Authority has been to crack ‎down. Palestinian society, mostly conservative, has ‎traditionally been served by a staid and obedient ‎news media. But the communications revolution ‎has shaken things up.‎