In an ambitious essay in the Guardian, Patrick Wintour discusses the multifaceted complexity British political parties faces in the coming year leading up to the May 2015 general elections, labeling its results the “least predictable outcome for 70 years”. How will local and European elections shape the field between now and June? Will the Liberal-Democrats under Nicholas Clegg be decimated, removing them as viable coalition partners for the Conservatives under David Cameron? Will the rise of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) under Nigel Farage prove enduring, and how will the Conservatives react to what appears to be a shift in Britons’ voting habits? Perhaps more crucially for the future of Great Britain, how will the political parties deal with the impending Scottish referendum on independence on 18 September 2014? Whatever the outcomes, it is probably not far-fetched to call the next year one of the most important in recent British political history.
It is often assumed that the Islamic Republic of Iran exercises profound influence in Iraq, with rumours that Islamic-Revolutionary Guard Corps-Jerusalem Force (IRGC-JF) commander General Ghassem Soleimani even played the role of king-maker following the last Iraqi general elections and helped ensure a second-term for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. But a recent article by Al-Monitor’s Ali Mamouri gives a more nuanced picture of the scene in Iraq, showing that while Iran does indeed exercise great influence there, the opinion of the Shiite political parties and the Shiite clerical establishment in Najaf and Kerbala also matter enormously, and that Iran cannot simply force its will on Shiite Iraqis but at best can push for a consensus among them.
Der Spiegel reports that despite tensions in the United States – German relationship, especially over allegations of National Security Agency (NSA) spying on German politicians, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is decisively moving in the direction of strengthening the Trans-Atlantic relationship with the United States in the face of a number of challenges, above all mounting geopolitical tensions with Russia.
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