Killing Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr

It’s hard to believe that Saudi Arabia, currently heading up the UN Human Rights Commission, started 2016 with the beheading of 47 prisoners. When was the last time the head of a global human rights commission executed 47 people in one day? The crude symbolism of who was executed and who wasn’t was supposed to Read more about Killing Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr[…]

How to Make a Yemen Peace Process Stick

Six months into the Saudi-led air campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen, the situation inside the southwestern Arabian peninsula country remains as fluid as it is deadly.  Pro-government forces allied to Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi — thanks in large measure to the willingness of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Qatar to deploy Read more about How to Make a Yemen Peace Process Stick[…]

Don’t Write Off the GCC Camp David Summit Yet

When the King of Saudi Arabia comes to Washington to visit the President of the United States, it’s always a big deal.  But when the top princes and sheikhs of all six Gulf Arab powers make the trip at the same exact time, the news dominates the front pages of the western and Arab newspapers Read more about Don’t Write Off the GCC Camp David Summit Yet[…]

A Fork In The Road To Damascus? The U.S., Saudi Arabia, and a New “Moderate” Syrian Militia

Despite all of Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s recruitment efforts to enlist Sunni heads of state in the Middle East for an anti-Islamic State coalition, it is important not to forget what many Sunni leaders want to eradicate from Syria first and foremost: Bashar al-Assad and his Alawite-led regime. On September 11, 2014, King Read more about A Fork In The Road To Damascus? The U.S., Saudi Arabia, and a New “Moderate” Syrian Militia[…]

Sunni Leaders Are Key to Fighting Islamic State: An Optimistic View

While young Muslims from around the world continue to flood into the battlefields Syria, Obama’s two key diplomats in the coming war against the so-called Islamic State are also on the move. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel just flew to Turkey to enlist the country’s military support along its southern border with Syria, and Secretary Read more about Sunni Leaders Are Key to Fighting Islamic State: An Optimistic View[…]

The Slow, Agonizing Death of the Syrian Civil War

Those who are hoping that an agreement between the exogenous opposition and the government can bring an end to the Syrian civil war misunderstand the purpose of the Geneva communique and subsequent talks: the aim is to get foreign powers to stop exacerbating and perpetuating the crisis, principally the United States and its regional allies. Read more about The Slow, Agonizing Death of the Syrian Civil War[…]

Middle East Trench Warfare: Saudi Foreign Policy in Lebanon and Beyond

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman hailed the recent Saudi pledge to donate $3 billion directly to the Lebanese military for the purchasing of advanced weapons and equipment as a positive development in a time of rising sectarian tensions and escalating attacks across Lebanon. Indeed, the acquisition of new arms is framed in the public domain as Read more about Middle East Trench Warfare: Saudi Foreign Policy in Lebanon and Beyond[…]

Shallow Democracy v. Deep State: An Archaeology of the Crisis in Egypt

A week after carrying out his ultimatum to depose President Mursi, General al-Sisi delivered a new 48-hour ultimatum to those alienated by his actions to end their protests against the military coup.  Even as the general demanded that the protesters end their demonstrations, he called upon his own supporters to take to the streets nationwide Read more about Shallow Democracy v. Deep State: An Archaeology of the Crisis in Egypt[…]

Will al-Thani of Jordan be the First to Go?

In the third wave of the Arab Spring monarchies are on their heels King Abdullah al-Thani’s attempts to placate Jordan is going up in flames, to the Arab Spring chant “the people want the downfall of the regime” seen from Sidi Bouzid to Deraa. After closing roads with flaming car chassis, protesters tried to storm Read more about Will al-Thani of Jordan be the First to Go?[…]

The Lion’s Advocate

Working through misconceptions in the Syrian uprising While one would never know it from the news, the reform process in Syria is actually going smoother than it is in Egypt. If this might sound crazy to the everyday headline reader, think of it this way:  Syria has a popularly approved new constitution, a democratically elected Read more about The Lion’s Advocate[…]

A Shift in Islamist Discourses, A Prelude to the Arab Spring?

Recent events in the Arab World have brought the Islamists back to the fore after many Western scholars had declared the dawn of a post-Islamists era.[1] This premature declaration emerged in parallel with great shifts in Islamist discourses in late 1990s. These shifts manifested in these movements’ rejection of violence and in their desire to Read more about A Shift in Islamist Discourses, A Prelude to the Arab Spring?[…]

Jordan’s Big Tent

Hejazis, Palestinians, Iraqis, Chechens…and now Syrians Sometime in the morning of June 21, Syrian pilot Colonel Hassam Merei al-Hamade walked across the tarmac of the al-Dumair military airport and climbed into the cockpit of a Russian-made MiG-21 fighter jet, determined to desert. The colonel took off rapidly to avoid radar detectors and flew 110 miles Read more about Jordan’s Big Tent[…]

Too many cooks in the kitchen…

Bahrain, the Land of Two Seas: Now Between a Rock and a Harder Place In the immediate months after the Saudi-Bahraini led crackdown on the Pearl Roundabout protests last year it appeared as if tensions could not get much higher between regional powerhouses Saudi Arabia and Iran. On one hand, Bahrain’s foreign ministry, held by Read more about Too many cooks in the kitchen…[…]

The Smart Money’s on Stability

Castles made of sand: sturdier than you may think It is hard not to see the points of comparison between Saudi Arabia and the rest of the precocious Arab world: large scale youth unemployment (40% of Saudis between the age of 20-24 by some estimates), a politically disgruntled population marching on “days of rage” (no doubt exacerbated Read more about The Smart Money’s on Stability[…]