x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Ahmadinejad makes his boldest move

His decision to quadruple prices and challenge the livelihood of 70 million Iranians borders on political suicide, but it is crucial for his survival in power, says London-based Asharq al Awsat.

"We must admit he's a fearless man, more of a war general than a popular politician. To quadruple prices could possibly be the greatest adventure that any official could risk taking, no matter what his reasons or powers may be," observed the columnist Abdulrahman al Rashed in the London-based daily Asharq al Awsat.

This is more daring than him challenging the international community with his uranium enrichment project. His decision to challenge the livelihood of 70 million Iranians is surely riskier than standing up to the three million who took to the streets to oppose his re-election.

His decision borders on political suicide, but it is crucial for his survival in power, and he will not retreat now no matter how high the price. He has been preparing his people for this change for months, backing his decision with numerous explanations, but people don't usually support the idea of parting with their savings.

However, he has inherited the current crisis. Since its foundation, the Iranian regime had subsidised prices for political and economic reasons, but massive subsidies were threatening to bankrupt the government.

Iran is now going through an internal economic war. With its current resources, Iran will either have to let go of its scheme to control the Middle East or carry on with its nuclear project that would guarantee the survival of the regime.


Iraqi cabinet is free from foreign influence

The most important feature about the new Iraqi government is that it is entirely made in Iraq, comments columnist Satea Noureddine in the Lebanese daily Assafir.

The cabinet formation was free of any US, Iranian, Saudi, Turkish or Syrian influences, proving that these countries' ambitions in Iraq have reached their end.

All five countries had exerted quasi-joint efforts to deny Mr al Maliki a second term as prime minister before they had to submit to the will of his constituency, and realise that tampering with the Shiite majority rule could jeopardise the entire political process in Iraq. Al Maliki's stay in power was the result of the most important, and only, US-Iranian implicit agreement to date.

The genius in the new government, which could also be its biggest hurdle, is that it recognised everyone without exception. The only objection to the cabinet came from the prime minister himself as he said he wished it were a majority cabinet rather than one of full national partnership.

The new cabinet is neither perfect nor exemplary. To see it from a Lebanese perspective, for instance, makes it look like a transitory formation that could be dissolved at any sharp political turn. However, the current US wisdom reveals that the situation in Iraq is advancing and developing independently from foreign powers, at a slow but very stable pace.


Three alternatives for Islam in Europe

What can you do if you are a European Muslim when the concept of cultural variety is falling apart and rightist extremism is on the rise in Europe? asked columnist Saad Mehio in the Emirati daily Al Khaleej.

You have three options. Your first option could be to imitate the concepts of the Zionist movement that regards anti-Semitism as natural and logical. Consequently, you would declare that anti-Islamic feelings are intrinsic to the European Christian identity.

A second option would be to adopt the concepts of radical movements that try to pass off suicide as martyrdom and violence as piety. Then you would be in a state of conflict with the West.

The third and most reasonable option is to adopt the fundamentals of liberal Islam that successfully married Islamic values with modernity.

"Despite western studies and concepts that focus on the radical form of Islam, many Muslims live by principles that can be generally described as "liberal Islam", which is characterised by special interpretations of issues such as democracy, the distinction between religion and politics, women's rights, promoting human advancement and protecting individual freedoms."

This form of Islam is in power now in Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh. It is succeeding in every domain, which paves the way for European Islam to follow suit.


Both Israel and Hamas don't want a war

"The Israeli command wishes that the current circumstances would allow for a major attack on Gaza, but residents of the South don't want to go back to the shelters and the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is more preoccupied with negotiations at present," wrote the columnist Mazen Hammad in the Qatari daily Al Watan.

Israel isn't the only one to fear an explosion of the situation. Israeli military intelligence believes that Hamas too has reasons not to want to be dragged into a war.

Hamas is trying to change the rules of the game at the borders following the events of the last two weeks that saw an escalation of Israeli bombing and retaliation bombing of the South of Israel.

Israel wants to compel Hamas to return to previous equations where they contained the Al Qassam military wing and controlled all operations against Israel. "But in the absence of any communication channels between Israel and Hamas, both parties are expressing their views through a power showdown that could ultimately lead to more violent clashes."

Israeli intelligence reports claim that local politics now are calm and simple and seem to convey that Hamas is the only one guilty of escalation. At the same time, Hamas sought to clarify that it is interested in keeping the calm to avoid a disproportionate war.


* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem