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Tue, 12 Nov 2019 23:01 GMT

Weekly Press Review - May 13th


David Robert Powell

Mon, 13 May 2019 08:44 GMT

US steps up naval presence in Middle East as warning to Iran

The decision by the US to increase its naval presence in the Middle East was prompted by intelligence warnings of Iranian plans to use its regional militias to attack US forces, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Iranian president responded by threatening to withdraw from parts of the nuclear agreement in 60 days if there was no sanctions relief. The Financial Times headlined US Iran special representative, Brian Hook, accusing Iran of using the nuclear threat to, “hold the world hostage.”  

Financial Times – May 9th

Ali Vaez, Director of the Iran project at the International Crisis Group, wrote in The Atlantic that US military and economic pressure would not make Iran agree to negotiate a new deal with the US. “The one thing Tehran would find more intolerable than the crushing impact of sanctions is raising the white flag because of them. Ayatollah Khamenei has believed over the years that if you give in to pressure it won’t actually alleviate it but it will actually invite more pressure. With that worldview, the Iranians are quite unlikely to be calling President Trump anytime soon.”

Ariane Tabatabai, political scientist at the RAND Corporation, highlighted in the New York Times the dilemma facing Europe. “If it follows the Americans’ lead the bloc risks torpedoing a deal that it sees as key to its security and its economic interests. If it gives in to Iran it could alienate the world’s largest economy and its chief security guarantor.” 

US tariff hikes spark fears of China trade war

President Trump’s decision to follow through on threats to impose tariffs of 25% on $200 billion of Chinese imports brought warnings of a renewed US-China trade war.

New York Times – May 12th

The New York Times called the new US tariffs, “a new tax on Americans,” and accused Trump of falsely claiming that China is paying the bill. “Trump continues to repeat the false claim that the money will come from China even though he has been told repeatedly that this claim has no basis in fact. He is wilfully peddling a falsehood for political gain.”

The Washington Post feared that if the ongoing trade talks fail, “tariffs could remain as permanent tools,” and Trump’s former chief advisor, Steve Bannon, argued in a Washington Post op-ed, “With our country at a crossroads, it is more important than ever that Trump follow his instincts and not soften his stance against the greatest existential threat ever faced by the United States.”

The Wall Street Journal – May 10th

But the conservative Wall Street Journal warned that stoking fears that China’s economic rise poses an existential threat to America means no deal is possible, ”but thinking that way can become a self-fulfilling prophecy and drive China into an even stronger mercantilist nationalism.”

Erdogan tries to undo electoral defeat 

The decision by the Turkish electoral commission to rerun the mayoral election in Istanbul, which was lost by President Erdogan’s party, was widely seen as an attempt by him to undermine the democratic process. “Erdogan under fire after quashing of mayor’s vote result,” headlined the Financial Times.

Financial Times – May 8th

The Washington Post said, “Mr Erdogan has moved to reverse the democratic opening — and, with it, the hopes that his authoritarianism could be contained.” The paper urged Turkey’s allies to tell him he should accept the result of the poll.

The New York Times said Erdogan had strengthened his political opponents by the move. “In challenging a vote he had obviously lost, Mr Erdogan clearly demonstrated weakness, thereby greatly strengthening the opposition and Mr Imamoglu, a relative unknown before the mayoral race.” 

British royal family celebrate new arrival

 Daily Mirror – May 8th 

UK front pages were awash last week with photos of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their firstborn son, named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. From across the Atlantic, the New York Times commented that the royal couple’s happy news was one all could share in. “Theirs is a real-life fable in which people of all backgrounds and colours can find echoes of their own lives, their childhood fantasies and dreams,” it said.