The coming Iranian June 18th presidential election that is expected to herald a conservative victory will have implications not only for Iranian domestic politics and internal consolidation but also for the Saudi Iranian rivalry that has played out in the wider Middle East. Recent revelations about clandestine security-led Saudi-Iranian meetings orchestrated and held in Baghdad, point to a tactical recalibration away from the period of heightened regional tensions and acrimony experienced under the turbulent Trump years.
The Council of Guardians announced on May 25th the names of the candidates considered suitable to participate in the presidential elections of June 18th, arousing surprise and a fair share of perplexities.
Last year brought about new, unforeseen challenges for the global community. The Covid-19 pandemic came as an unexpected “black swan” and put abruptly under discussion our life styles, our working practices, the ways we used to do business. In a nutshell, the whole globalization paradigm, which had reached its peak, was under threat by an invisible and microscopical enemy. Today, as we are finally getting out of the most acute phase of the emergency – at least from the health point of view – we are called to a possibly even daunting challenge: how can we build back our societies better?
Seventeen elements in the periodic table – the so-called “rare earths” – play a major role in the calculations and strategies of various nations. In many ways, rare earths are the vitamins of industrial society in the 21st century: they are vital to key products from hi-tech items (smartphones and monitors) to energy conversion systems (wind turbines, photovoltaic panels and electrical machinery) and even military equipment (lasers and radar). The difficulties involved in replacing them with alternative materials make rare earths uniquely strategic resources.
The continued global chip shortage in recent months amid the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the role of semiconductors, their supply chain, production stages and business cycle in the global economy.
In the early ages of hydrocarbons, when the oil companies discovered gas, they quickly abandoned the wells and moved the drilling rigs to other areas, looking for the most valuable crude oil. In those days, gas was considered as the poor relative of the fossil fuel family.
The Beirut port blast that claimed 178 lives, left over 6,500 injured and 300,000 homeless last August –the largest non-nuclear deflagration in history- was an avoidable tragedy. It was also virtually impossible to hide. The collapse of the Lebanese financial system could have also been avoided. It was, however, less visible. A series of measures set by the Lebanese Central Bank (Banque du Liban, BDL) and the government swept the inevitable default under a rug of financial engineering and the lira-to-dollar peg.
The MED This Week newsletter provides expert analysis and informed insights on the most significant developments in the MENA region, bringing together unique opinions on the topic and reliable foresight on future scenarios. Today, we turn the spotlight on Israel, where opposition parties have recently agreed to form a coalition government to put an end to Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year tenure as Prime Minister.
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