Tag Archives: Shia Iran

UNCERTAIN DEALS

Map for deals

Two current international “deals” may yet amount to nothing.

The European Union’s latest deal with Greece, the third bailout of the country in the last five years, may yet fail.

The Greek government may not be able to get the agreement through parliament as it is only going to make austerity harder for the Greek people.

Four bills need to be passed in the next twenty-four hours.   Pensions must be cut; taxes increased; the defense budget slashed and steps taken toward privatizing ports and other government owned enterprises, which it is hoped will cut corruption and make things more efficient.   As the ruling party, Syriza, is very left-wing, there’s a good possibility the parliament will not approve everything.   The Greek population voted against further austerity less than a month ago.

There is concern, too, beyond Greece’s borders.   European creditor countries are fully aware that, even if the Greek parliament approves the agreement, they may not keep their word.   It’s happened before.   This would mean that, in a few months, Greece will be back, asking for a further bailout.

A further set-back occurred this morning when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that Greece’s debt was “unsustainable” and that the country needs a much greater infusion of cash from the EU.   The EU bailout deal has, at least, united all concerned in the conviction that it won’t work!    The Greek problem is not about to go away.

Then there’s the deal between six western powers and Iran.

The British Guardian Weekly wasn’t sure which deal to put on its front page, Greece or Iran.   Right up to the last minute, Greece was going to be the leader, but then the deal with Iran came through.  The paper decided that the Iranian deal was the more important one, with far reaching implications.   But both deals could have both short-term and long-term negative consequences.

On Iran, the headline on the Fox News website was: “Win for Putin?” Putin has been supportive of Iran, Syria’s Assad and Shi’ites in general.

It’s certainly a win for Iran, which can look forward to the lifting of international sanctions.

The best the West can hope for is that this will buy time, that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons for at least the next ten years, by which time, democracies being as they are, none of those signing the agreement today, will still be in power.   They can, as with so many things, kick the can down the road.

However, even if this presupposes Iran will keep its side of the deal.   That’s no more likely than Greece abiding by the terms of the EU bailout deal.

Anyway, it doesn’t really matter what the West thinks about the Iranian deal.

Israel’s prime minister has described the deal as “a mistake of historic proportions,” that it endangers his country.   He added:  “the more you read it, the worse it gets.”   Iran has been screaming “Death to Israel.  Death to America,” for over 35 years.   A recent demonstration in Tehran showed mobs screaming the same again. Perhaps nobody in Washington has been watching!

But, even Israel is not the country most concerned about the agreement.   The Sunni Arab states are.   Almost certainly, they will see through this agreement and their fears of Shia Iran acquiring nuclear weapons will lead them to acquire the same.   It may take a few years, but they will be driven by a great sense of urgency.   Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt are the three countries most likely to pursue their own bomb, with immediate help from Pakistan, which already has the bomb.   Saudi Arabia certainly has the money for this.

The greatest threat to world peace remains the Sunni-Shia conflict, a struggle that has continued for over thirteen centuries.   Although an Obama Administration spokesman expressed the hope that the Iran deal would help bring a resolution to the ancient conflict, this is at best naïve.   Nothing will end the conflict until the Messiah comes and sorts out the religious mess that is today’s world. Meanwhile, the US will be seen as siding with the Shi’ites against the Sunnis.   Tehran and Damascus must be celebrating at this development.

The Iranian deal brings to mind I Thessalonians 5:3 :  “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail Upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (KJV).

Thankfully, Jesus Christ is returning to end the spiritual confusion. “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”  (Matthew 24:22).

INTERNATIONAL NEWS DESK

syriza

Syriza was described on the BBC World Service this morning as a “very left-wing party.”   It looks as if it will come to power in Greece this Sunday, January 25th.

The big issue, as is common in western democracies, is the economy.   In the case of Greece, this means austerity, which, in turn, means the euro.

In May, 2010, faced with imminent national bankruptcy, the European Central Bank, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (the so called troika) bailed out the small Mediterranean country, while imposing strict austerity on the Greeks.   Austerity measures were increased in 2011 resulting in very high unemployment, especially amongst the young.   The measures were extremely unpopular.   Much of the blame was given to the euro, Germany and Angela Merkel.

Today, Syriza is threatening to unilaterally halve the debt, to end Greece’s national “humiliation” and if necessary, to leave the euro. Angela Merkel has indicated she is ok with a Grexit, the term being used for a Greek exit.

One concern is that, if one country withdraws, others will follow.   The eurozone could unravel.   Although not a member of the eurozone, Great Britain could pull out of the EU, which, again, might influence others.

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King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died yesterday, automatically succeeded by his half-brother King Salman.   Little change is likely in the kingdom in the immediate future.   The two kings come from a total of 45 brothers and half-brothers.   However, King Salman, aged 79, is likely the last of the present generation.

King Abdullah’s passing is ill-timed.   He has been king since 2005 and before that was de facto monarch for ten years as the previous king had suffered a serious stroke.   So, for twenty years, he has been the most powerful man in Saudi Arabia and a major figure in the Middle East.   His knowledge and experience will be sorely missed.

This is a challenging time for the Arabian peninsula, home of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), perpetrators of the Paris terror attack.   Yemen’s pro-American government resigned this week as rebels seized the capital.   At the same time, another neighbor, Oman, will soon lose its leader, the pro-western Sultan Qaboos, who is now 74 and has been suffering from an undisclosed medical condition, which has resulted in him being rarely seen in public.

King Abdullah has been involved in bringing down the price of oil.   If the king had wanted to, he could have reversed the falling price simply by cutting Saudi production, but he didn’t.

He has also played a major role in supporting western efforts at fighting IS (Islamic State) and supporting Sunni rebels against Syria’s leader, who is allied to Saudi Arabia’s enemy, Shia Iran.   It should be noted here that Iran’s leader will attend a memorial for King Abdullah tomorrow.   Under Islamic custom, the king was buried today.

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Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill. He died on 24th January 1965.

His official biographer is Sir Martin Gilbert.   Sir Martin spends two months every year at conservative Hillsdale College in Michigan, where he lectures on Churchill.   He has willed his extensive Churchill library to the college.

A few years ago, a student invited me to go with him to one of the lectures.

I asked Sir Martin to sign my copy of his one volume book on Churchill, which he gladly did.   I also took the opportunity to ask him a question:   “If Churchill had never lived, what would have happened in World War Two?”   His response was:   “We wouldn’t have gotten very far.”   His lecture that evening illustrated his point.

That evening’s talk was on the sinking of the French fleet after the fall of France.

Churchill ordered that the fleet should be sunk so that it would not fall into the hands of the Germans.   Hundreds of French naval personnel died in the British attack on the fleet.   The incident remains controversial to this day.   Not only did it deny the Germans the use of the fleet, it had the added side benefit of convincing US President Franklin Roosevelt to back Churchill.    He was now convinced that the British war-time leader would stop at nothing to win the war.

The western world desperately needs a Churchill now.