Late October and early November saw a number of well-publicised visits by Israeli ministers to Gulf states, including a surprising trip by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Oman, where he was hosted in Muscat by Sultan Qaboos bin Said.
That trip was followed by Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev’s attendance at a United Arab Emirates (UAE)-hosted international judo tournament, where she found time in her itinerary to become the first Israeli minister to visit the world’s third largest mosque, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Read more
Even as the British marines were released without charge from Iranian custody to return home to Britain, the media couldn’t help but enjoy one last spasm of outrage over the “hostage crisis”. “Humiliation” sang the newspaper chorus, while the Daily Express helpfully explained the reason for the marines sporting open-necked shirts: in Iran, apparently, ties “are seen as symbols of Western decadence”.
While pundits and politicians have differed in their interpretation of how the incident has affected Britain’s reputation, there has been a remarkable amount of unity in the response of the British government, press and public opinion to the marines’ arrest, a framework characterised by typical imperial arrogance. Read more
Ever since the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran, relations between Iran and the West have grown increasingly strained. There is no one simple reason for this, and responsibility lies with the Americans, the British, the Israelis, and the Iranians themselves. There are big issues at play, and a lot at stake, from Iran’s nuclear programme to the miserable occupation of Iraq, from Israel’s desire for regional hegemony to Iranian domestic politics.
Out of these complex factors, the theme that has often dominated in the media has been the various comments made by President Ahmadinejad regarding Israel. Spread over several months, there have been three particularly high-profile remarks made by the Iranian head of state that have drawn strong condemnation from statesmen and commentators alike, and contributed to the deterioration of EU-Iranian relations. Read more