Yemen Civil War
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have diverging goals in Yemen
The United Arab Emirates is part of a Saudi-led coalition against the Houthis in Yemen. But recently, it has become clear that Abu Dhabi’s and Riyadh’s goals are diverging. While both the Emiratis and Saudis want to roll back Iran’s growing influence in the region, the UAE wants to divide Yemen, so it can gain more control around critical access points to the Red Sea. The tensions that will arise will further complicate the Yemen conflict.
Saudi Arabia’s hidden power struggle comes into the open
The arrest of 208 high-ranking individuals in November 2017 on suspicion of corruption suggests that the House of Saud faces serious challenges. King Salman’s son, Mohammad bin Salman, has consolidated power in a way that contravenes the traditional rules of succession of the Saudi ruling dynasty. But amid foreign policy setbacks and a mixed record with domestic reforms, it is far from certain that the Crown Prince will succeed his father on the throne.
2018 Global Outlook: Four dangerous dynamics in the Middle East
Early 2018 finds the Middle East at a singular moment in its history. It is hard to recall a period when so many fundamental geopolitical shifts have occurred just as societies, states and alliances in the region were all starting to fall apart. Four disruptive trends can be identified, any one of which would have sufficed to produce regional instability in the not-too-distant past. Today, their combination creates a formidable dynamic for armed conflict.
Hezbollah’s role in Syria
Iran established Hezbollah in Lebanon in the 1980s to fight Israel and subvert Sunni regimes in the Middle East. Now, it is doing Tehran’s bidding in the Syrian civil war, supporting President Bashar al-Assad. The experience has given Hezbollah fighters the military skill necessary to strike again at Israel. The coming conflict could be much worse than the previous round of fighting in 2006.
Don’t blame Sykes-Picot
May 2016 marked 100 years since the signing of the controversial Sykes-Picot Agreement, which divided up spheres of influence in the Middle East between France and the United Kingdom. Some argue that the colonial powers duped a helpless and naive Arab world, leading to the region’s chronic instability. However, over the past century Arab countries have constantly been torn between nationalism and Islamism – something that has made it difficult for them to become modern democratic states.
Oil prices shape Gulf states’ geopolitical moves
Low oil prices are putting pressure on Gulf states’ budgets, and their efforts to reduce spending will have huge geopolitical implications. Most importantly, they will lose influence in the region as they hold back on foreign aid and military engagement. Domestically, diminished subsidies, welfare and infrastructure expenditures could arouse instability.