Sectarian coalition is fake democracy



"The formation of the National Iraqi Alliance ahead of the legislative elections next January demonstrates many political changes and it has revealed how democratic practices can adapt to sectarian divisions. The new coalition groups one dominant sect but also other political forces representing various sects," wrote Walid Nouayhed in a comment piece featured in the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat.

The decision of the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al Maliki, leader of Islamic Dawa party, to quit the alliance is a reaction to rising differences within this bloc. Yet it is not certain this will lead the Iraqi premier to establish a new alliance based on principles of nationhood to counter the newly-born National Iraqi Alliance.  "This is because Mr al Maliki cannot set up a winning electoral base outside his sectarian and regional centres of political influence.The same is true for other political forces. For them to win the majority of votes, the competing political blocs have to stick to their sects." Again, Iraq's next elections are likely to reflect the same political spectrum that would be dominated by geographical, ethnic and religious considerations. "Iraqi politics will remain hostage of these variables that continue to guide the voters' choice."

In a comment piece for the Jordan-based newspaper Al Rai, Dr Riyad Hamouda Yasin wrote that because of  Palestinian internal conflicts, international powers have found it legitimate to interfere.

The Israelis knew, when withdrawing from the Gaza Strip, that this would create divisions among the Palestinians because there was no authority in place to effectively control the Strip. They also knew that Hamas was strengthening its position and was likely to overthrow Fatah, hence breaking the unity of the Palestinians.  The Europeans and Americans believe that the conflict over the Gaza Strip reflects a conflict of interests between moderate forces represented by Fatah and extremist forces represented by Hamas. "Israel used the media to widely criminalise the latter, describing it as a group that threatens its existence and stalls the peace process in the region. Israel went further to say that Hamas is the real threat to the Palestinian people and their supreme interests."

Such claims give the Israelis grounds for calling on the international community to trim the growing strength of Hamas. This is why the West is enthusiastic about supporting the Palestinian Authority, regardless of whether this would serve the Palestinians well. Yet the current state of division has only delayed internal dialogue among the Palestinian factions, a situation that will further benefit the Israelis.

"The crisis between the ruling elite in Iran has been surrounded by uncertainty. Reports are contradictory, especially those issued by the supreme leader's media office. But what is certain is that the crisis will persist as evidenced by the battle over forming the government," wrote Tariq al Homayed in an opinion piece for the London-based daily Al Sharq al Awsat.

Today it is clear that the supreme leader strongly holds power. He resorted to abducting reformists following a known "hostage policy" at which Iran excels. Since the Islamic revolution erupted, Iran has made use of hostages to open back-door channels of negotiations with the West. The supreme leader has again had recourse to the same tactic in dealing with reformists who objected to the last election results. Many leaders were detained and referred to fabricated trials. Vocal reformists were forced to muzzle their mouths.

The regime boasts now about its victory, whereas sources close to reformists have said the battle has not ended yet. They added that their major concern was to release the detainees and protect those who fled Iran. "The Iranian regime, as we see, is not only a dictatorship, but also a machine abducting its own people. This means that the establishment is in a deep crisis, no matter how it tries to hide this truth."

"What is the use of the meeting in London between the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the US  envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell?"  asked the lead opinion article of the UAE newspaper Al Bayan. The US would like to relaunch negotiations as soon as possible. The  US Department of State was reported as saying that the meeting was intended to lay down the basis for prospective talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. It added they had achieved some progress.

"But we are wondering about the agreement that is coming at a time Nethanyahu's government has no intention to change its policy in regard to settlement expansion." The US administration called for stopping all forms of settlements, which is a very positive attitude likely to revive the peace process. But Mr Nethanyahu is opposed to a total freeze of his infamous policy. He only accepted a temporary suspension of construction bids in the West Bank. Unfortunately, this move is not conducive at all to achieving the long-awaited peace.

"In this way, the Israelis would like to strip the Arabs of their winning cards and then go on as usual with their policy of procrastination." * Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE. 

Read part four: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

MATCH INFO

Mainz 0

RB Leipzig 5 (Werner 11', 48', 75', Poulsen 23', Sabitzer 36')

Man of the Match: Timo Werner (RB Leipzig)

The Year Earth Changed

Directed by:Tom Beard

Narrated by: Sir David Attenborough

Stars: 4

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League final:

Who: Real Madrid v Liverpool
Where: NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine
When: Saturday, May 26, 10.45pm (UAE)
TV: Match on BeIN Sports

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

12 restaurants opening at the hotel this month

Ariana’s Persian Kitchen
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Estiatorio Milos
House of Desserts
Jaleo by Jose Andres
La Mar
Ling Ling
Little Venice Cake Company
Malibu 90265
Nobu by the Beach
Resonance by Heston Blumenthal
The Royal Tearoom 

The specs

Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 620hp from 5,750-7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm from 3,000-5,750rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh1.05 million ($286,000)

Sanju

Produced: Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Rajkumar Hirani

Director: Rajkumar Hirani

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Vicky Kaushal, Paresh Rawal, Anushka Sharma, Manish’s Koirala, Dia Mirza, Sonam Kapoor, Jim Sarbh, Boman Irani

Rating: 3.5 stars