16 November 2017   Leave a comment

The Israeli media, i24News, is reporting that Israel and Saudi Arabia are sharing intelligence on Iranian activities in the Middle East.   Israel Defense Force (IDF) chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot was interviewed in the Saudi newspaper, Elaf, and he indicated that there was a “complete consensus” between Israel and Saudi Arabia on the “Iranian threat”.  The report goes on:

 

“Echoing a refrain often used by Israeli political leaders, he argued that Iran wants to take control of the Middle East by creating a Shi’ite crescent, ‘from Lebanon to Iran and then from the Gulf to the Red Sea.’

“‘We must prevent this from happening,’ he implored. ‘In this matter there is complete agreement between us and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which was never one of our enemies or fought each other, and I think there is a complete consensus between us and them regarding the Iranian axis'”.
Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have diplomatic relations and the Saudis have historically backed the Palestinian Authority in its negotiations with Israel on possible Palestinian statehood.   An Arab newspaper published in Great Britain, The New Arab, has published what it claims to be a secret document from the Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry that Saudi Arabia will pressure the Palestinian Authority to drop its demand for a “right of return” for Palestinian refugees displaced by the creation of Israel in 1948 in return for concessions by Israel on Palestinian statehood.   I cannot confirm that the document is authentic, but its broad parameters conform to US policy, a close ally of both Israel and Saudi Arabia.  The sands in the Middle East are certainly shifting.
I find it astonishing that the media is not covering the climate conference currently going on in Bonn, Germany.  The UN currently predicts that global temperatures will increase by 3.2ºC by 2100 given current trends.  Deutsche Welle has published a fascinating article on how four major cities in the world–New Orleans, USA, Paris, France, Cape Town, South Africa, and Dhaka, Bangladesh–will be affected in that prediction comes true.  The probable outcomes are unmanageable and will require significant investments in adaptations if policies do not change.
Hemant Kakkar and Niro Sivanathan have published an interesting paper on why political leaders who pursue a strategy of “dominance” appeal to voters.  Their argument is that economic uncertainty leads voters to prefer authoritarian policies:
“We contend that the preference for a dominant leader increases with uncertainty and competitive threats in one’s environment. When faced with a milieu of uncertainty and the resulting psychological lack of control, individuals favor a dominant/authoritarian leader who, they believe, has the capability to brave unfavorable winds and increase their future chances of success.
“We contend that, when faced with uncertainty, individuals prefer a leader who is self-assured and decisive in achieving her objectives. These are the characteristics that people expect to find in a dominant and authoritarian leader rather than in a leader who, although respected and well admired, is less willing to be forceful in pursuing her goals and is commonly perceived as lacking conviction in making tough calls”.
The hypothesis certainly explains the rise of right-wig policies ever since the Great Recession of 2008-09.  For those who prefer a socio-psychological explanation of contemporary events, the paper is certainly worth reading.

Posted November 16, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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