Saudi Arabia’s key role in the Middle East
Journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder has upset the Middle East’s geopolitical balance in two dimensions: the three-sided rivalry between Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and the conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and stable monarchies in the region. For the Saudis, the crisis poses an unexpected opportunity to improve governance. For the West, it presents a choice between triggering chaos and a possible radical takeover, or helping the kingdom make a difficult transition.
GIS Dossier: Europe as a global player – the Middle East and North Africa
Europe’s influence as a great power is nowhere more apparent than in the attraction it exerts on the poorer countries to its south – in the Middle East and Northern Africa. This is the region where European Union member states, often without U.S. support, have deployed their full foreign-policy arsenal, from diplomacy and military intervention to financial aid and investment, with mixed success. Yet as migration and terror show, problems the EU fails to address “out there” tend to wind up on its doorstep.
Middle East regimes challenge religious order, move toward modernization
In Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, leaders are chipping away at religious traditionalism to make way for the economic and social reforms their peoples demand. Usually, the vehement backlash to such attempts has thwarted any momentum toward modernization. But this time, the leaders are taking slow, careful steps, and have popular support. They just may pull it off.
Opinion: Jerusalem recognition narrows U.S. options on Iran
President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has hurt U.S. efforts to build a Sunni alliance against Iran. Given the risk of a region-wide conflict erupting near the Golan Heights or in southern Lebanon, its timing was also unfortunate. However, there could be a deeper logic behind the move.
Iranians at odds as succession looms
Hassan Rouhani’s reelection as Iran’s president was greeted with euphoria by his reform-minded supporters, but has only sharpened divisions in a deeply polarized country. Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei may be frail and ailing, but he still dominates the Islamic Republic, and his conservative supporters are well-positioned to steer any succession. The new U.S. administration’s attempts to isolate Iran will only strengthen them.
Iraq: between democracy and failed state
Iraqi democracy has been more or less written off by the West. Combating its political gridlock, sectarianism and corruption will be harder than defeating Daesh. The best way Baghdad can start solving these problems is to strike a deal to retake Mosul.
Walls: a symbol of decline
Donald Trump is using the imaginary threat posed by Mexican immigrants to scare voters, and has proposed building a wall on the southern border of the United States. The EU’s deal with Turkey on refugees serves a similar purpose, as do the fences now being built in several European countries.
Let’s play make-believe: Hollande and France’s ‘security pact’
After the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, French President Francois Hollande was quick to announce that his new centrepiece policy would be a ‘security pact,’ which will take priority over the European ‘stability pact.’ The strategy’s prospects of success for creating greater security in France look bleak. However, there may also have been politic...
Regional powers play with fire in Yemen
Islamic militants versus Islamic militants? The inventiveness of extremists when it comes to the wars they are waging in the Middle East and Africa seems inexhaustible. We may have thought that Islamic State was the last threshold of barbarism and the breakdown of traditional state structures. Now, however, even as the group metastasises in Libya, the Sinai Peninsu...
Persecution of Christians around the globe is rising, a special report on a dangerous issue
The Islamic State terrorist attack, in which almost 40 holidaymakers were killed in Tunisia, accompanied by atrocities in France and Kuwait, highlights again the murderous outrages the group is willing to commit. Christians have been in the firing line of the IS terrorists and othr terror groups in the Middle East and the rest of the globe.