Iran as a superpower, and Hungary tilts away from EU

 
President Hassan Rouhani Experts describe Iran under President Hassan Rouhani as a regional superpower

A review of the best commentary on and around the world...

Iran "relishes the chance to secure a place as the region's superpower, a quest made all the easier by America's reluctance to get embroiled", according to the Economist.

Officially Iran does not have forces in Iraq. But they seem to have a presence. Last month, for example, they held a public funeral for "an Iranian pilot killed in Samarra".

US officials worry about the role Iran plays in Iraq. Still the Americans seem to think - or hope - Iran will eventually bail on Nuri al-Maliki and scale back their role in the Middle East.

Yet that is "wishful thinking", says Ramzy Mardini, an Iraq expert at a think-tank in Washington.

Meanwhile - at least according to Robert Joseph, a former undersecretary of state, writing in National Review - the US "has lost enormous credibility in the region with friends and adversaries alike".

As a result, he writes, Iran will continue to make gains in its efforts to build a nuclear weapon. US and Iranian officials are meeting in Geneva on Thursday for nuclear talks.

The Iranians, he says, will attempt to exploit gaps in an agreement to place limits on centrifuges.

Hungary

In the Washington Post, opinion writer Harold Meyerson says Hungary is leaning toward Moscow - not Washington. He says Hungarians seem to view "Putin's Russia" as a "more attractive political model than the liberal democracies of the West".

As he points out, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Oran is attacking the European Union - and saying good things about Russia and China.

Meyerson says Europeans should pay attention - and take action. "Creating and observing democratic laws and norms", he says, "is a prerequisite for EU membership."

He adds: "Why shouldn't dismantling such laws and norms be grounds for expulsion?"

Nigeria

Adewale Maja-Pearce, the author of a book entitled Remembering Ken Saro-Wiwa, and Other Essays, writes in the New York Times about Nigeria's National Electric Power Authority. It is widely known as "Never Expect Power Always", he says.

In his essay he describes how power is distributed unequally - and unfairly.

"Even though about 85% of Nigeria's urban areas and 30% of rural areas are on the power grid - the result of years of government monopoly and its attendant corruption - the supply is intermittent at best," he writes.

He concludes by saying the power shortages are a symbol of a bigger problem.

"Cutting corners has become a way of life for all Nigerians, great and small. We don't expect anything better, which is why we are so quiescent," he writes. "But power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and, in their own small way, so do power shortages."

BBC Monitoring's quotes of the day

Moscow officials are providing a list of US-and EU-imported fruits and vegetables that will be banned for up to a year. The ban is being imposed in response to Western-imposed economic sanctions.

"Agricultural producers and experts welcome the head of state's decision to introduce reciprocal measures in retaliation for the West's sanctions." -Izvestiya

"'Russia is ready for lawsuits under the WTO [World Trade Organization] framework and is prepared to respect the rulings of the organisation's arbitration mechanisms.'" -Kommersant

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