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Canada Is Restoring Ties with Iran, but Appears to Be Getting Nothing in Return

Five years ago, Ottawa broke off relations with Tehran. But since becoming prime minister in 2015, Justin Trudeau has promised to restore ties, and Canadian diplomats traveled to Iran last week for talks. Michael Petrou, noting the Islamic Republic’s support for terror, backing of the murderous rule of Bashar al-Assad, and atrocious human-rights record, is skeptical that any good will come out of reconciliation between the two countries:

[The] former Canadian resident Saeed Malekpour has been jailed [in Iran] for almost a decade, accused, among other charges, of propagandizing against the Islamic Republic. The Concordia University professor and Canadian citizen Homa Hoodfar was released by Iran last September, after more than 100 days in Tehran’s Evin Prison. . . . While diplomatic relations worked in that case, they didn’t save the Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, who, in 2003, was jailed at Evin, tortured, raped, and murdered. . . .

This doesn’t necessarily mean Canada shouldn’t have diplomatic relations with Iran. Canada has official ties with all sorts of obscene regimes. . . . But it would be refreshing if Canada were more candid about the tawdry nature of these relations. Trudeau once dismissed the weaponized armored vehicles Canada sells to Saudi Arabia as “jeeps”—a ridiculous statement, but one that was easier to square with his government’s supposedly more principled foreign policy.

Canada’s relationship with Saudi Arabia results in money, jobs, and, ironically, an alliance with the leader of a bloc of Sunni Arab states opposing Iran—whose ambitions in the region Canada generally opposes. What Canada gets out of restoring diplomatic ties with Iran is harder to discern: more convenient travel for Iranian Canadians and their relatives, certainly, and the possibility of modest trade and business deals down the road.

That might be enough for Trudeau’s government, and if it is, he should say so. But if Canada is to claim engaging with Iran will help Canada “hold Iran to account on human rights,” [to paraphrase a foreign-ministry spokesman], it should explain why this is so. That would be a difficult argument to make. There is little evidence to support it.

Read more at Canada

More about: Canada, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, Saudi Arabia

 

Israel’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC