The New York Times – Thomas Erdbrink / The Iranian revolution at 40: From theocracy to ‘normality’
- On February 11, 1979, forty years ago, the Iranian revolutionaries succeeded at bringing down the government. Dreams of freedom and independence from the US fired them up. But great, rapid change can leave deep and lasting wounds.
- The first years were bloody, and what materialized after them was truly revolutionary: an Islamic republic, a theocracy built on ideological choices inspired to a great extent by Ayatollah Khomeini.
- But over the years, as the early revolutionary fervor gave way for most people to a yearning for a more normal existence, the rules became negotiable. While the political system is basically the same as in those early years, the society changed slowly, at times almost imperceptibly.
- After allowing so many social taboos to slip, Iran’s leaders face a growing dilemma of whether to start translating the social changes into new laws and customs or try to hang on to the 40-year-old ideals of the revolution.
- The Economist / Four decades after its revolution, Iran is still stuck in the past
Politico – Joshua Posaner, Anca Gurzu & Paola Tamma / Franco-German alliance survives Nord Stream 2 scare
- On Thursday, Paris indicated it would back reforming bloc rules for the gas market, which would beef up Brussels’ role in governing it. Effectively that would have sucked power to regulate pipelines and allocate capacity on lines like Nord Stream 2 away from Berlin, and handed it to Brussels.
- But in the end, a bilateral compromise on the Gas Directive was supported by almost all member countries. The new language shifts responsibility for regulating pipelines coming to the EU from third countries to the country where such a pipeline lands — in Nord Stream 2’s case, Germany. The revamped directive would apply EU energy rules to the pipeline.
- The common approach came in the face of furious protests from the US, which wanted the pipeline killed — a sign of how an unpredictable Trump administration is driving Paris and Berlin closer together.
- Although Berlin won its battle to keep control, it isn’t winning friends with its approach to the Nord Stream 2 project, said Jacopo Pepe from the German Council on Foreign Relations. The directive has to be agreed in talks with the European Parliament, where Poland will fight a rearguard action.
- “Turkey finds itself in an increasingly difficult situation on two fronts in Syria,” explains Semih Idiz. “Its key priorities have boiled down to trying to keep Russian and Syrian regime forces out of Idlib on the one hand and securing the departure of US forces from Manbij and territories east of the Euphrates River on the other.”
- “Moscow continues to complain that the memorandum agreed upon between Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in September 2018 for Idlib is not working,” writes Idiz. “Aware of the increasing difficulties it faces in Idlib, Ankara has started to accuse the West of supporting Hayat Tahrir al-Sham [the group that Erdogan vowed to neutralize] in order to undermine the Turkish-Russian memorandum.”
- “If the US does not contribute to a safe zone [along Syria’s northeast border] under the control of Turkey, we will take the matter into our own hands,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. And “if the terrorists in Manbij are not removed in the next few weeks … nothing will stop us.”
Project Syndicate – Nouriel Roubini / A mixed economic bag in 2019
- The good news at the start of 2019 is that the risk of an outright global recession is low. The bad news is that we are heading into a year of synchronized global deceleration, which could lead to a global growth stall and sharp market downturn in 2020.
- In the US, if wages were to accelerate and produce even moderate inflation above 2%, fears of at least two more rate hikes this year would return. America’s dysfunctional domestic politics could add to uncertainties globally.
- In China, as the slowdown continues, the government’s current mix of modest monetary, credit, and fiscal stimulus could prove inadequate. Moreover, an escalation of the Sino-American conflict would hamper global growth.
- Oil prices may be driven down by a coming supply glut. While low oil prices are good for consumers, they tend to weaken US stocks and markets in oil-exporting economies, raising concerns about corporate defaults.
- Though there is a cloud over the global economy, the silver lining is that it has made the major central banks more dovish. Still, the fact that most central banks are in a highly accommodative position means that there is little room for additional monetary easing.
The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.