Financial Times – David Gardner / Trump’s move on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard raises the temperature
- The US president’s designation of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization is an unprecedented move, whether as a policy or a provocation. It is designed to add more pressure on the Islamic Republic, already extremely demonized in Mr. Trump’s narrative.
- The IRGC was established after the 1979 revolution and has always been the theocracy’s guard at home as well as the Islamic Republic army abroad, above legendary Quds Force.
- Paradoxically, the force has often fought alongside or in parallel to the United States, in places such as Afghanistan against the Taliban, Bosnia against the Serbs or in Iraq against ISIS.
- According to Trita Parsi, an Iranian-American critic of US policy, “the unprecedented decision to designate IRGC as a terrorist organisation will not put any significant additional pressures on Iran [..] This move closes yet another potential door for peacefully resolving tensions with Iran. Once all doors are closed, and diplomacy is rendered impossible, war will essentially become inevitable”.
Politico – Maïa de la Baume / Salvini aims high with populist alliance for Europe
- Italian far right-leader Matteo Salvini declared on Monday that he aims to establish the biggest group in the European Parliament, joining forces with Euroskeptics outside of his political family. He presented his plans alongside Members of the European Parliament that belonged to Alternative for Germany, Danish People’s Party and Finland’s True Finns.
- Mr. Salvini declared that those assembled will work with League’s traditional allies such as Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, although the party was notably absent from the event. Common issues are border control as well as “the fight against terrorism and against extremism”.
- In spite of parties’ differences, he would seek to woo those beyond the Europe of Nations and Freedom group, in order to alter the “nightmare” of communitarian policy priorities.
- The True Finns declared that “we have different geopolitical interests”, but also added that these political parties would “unite on “border protection, culture and the fight against Euro-federalism.” Anders Vistisen, from the Danish People’s Party stated that other parties that share their values are invited “to have a chat with us”.
The Atlantic – Anshel Pfeffer / Netanyahu brought nationalism to the 21st century
- Whereas Menachem Begin, the founder of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, emphasized both nationalism and liberalism, the current Israeli Prime Minister has forgotten about the latter.
- Over the years, Netanyahu’s messaging has ditched the positivity and focused on fear. Ahead of this week’s elections, Netanyahu has been as convinced as ever that his victory is the only legitimate outcome.
- Supporters, and even some critics, insist that Netanyahu’s rhetoric is opportunistic, that he is not so much a nationalist as an instrumentalist. “The pressures of recent years, the investigations against him, and the legal challenge have pushed him to use the most dirtytricks which he has borrowed from the populists and the xenophobes,” said Oxford lecturer Yael Tamir.
- There is no room in today’s Likud for the party’s old guard or for others who believe in a form of liberal nationalism. Many former party members are planning to vote today for the former general Benny Gantz, portrayed by Netanyahu as a “weak leftist”.
South China Morning Post – Catherine Wong / Spain’s top envoy to China says New Silk Road won’t solve ‘substantial’ trade gap
- The Spanish Ambassador to China, Rafael Dezcállar de Mazarredo, said that while Madrid was deepening cooperation with China on its Belt and Road Initiative, it was not the answer to Spain’s most pressing concern – addressing the trade imbalance.
- The Spanish Ambassador’s call came ahead of a key summit between Chinese and European Union leaders in Brussels today.
- Dezcállar stressed that the EU was “not a secondary player” and would walk its own path independent of Washington. “Sometimes we forget the European Union is the largest market in the world.”
- Dezcállar added that Madrid hoped the new foreign investment law Beijing passed in March would help to improve market access for Spanish firms in China, particularly in finance, insurance, engineering and legal services. Some 600 Spanish companies have a presence in China.