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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[…]

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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[…]

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Shia Militias, Sectarianism & Sovereignty in Iraq

In recent months there has been an important shift in American strategic thinking about Iraq, with key government officials and analysts arguing that Shiite militias are displacing the Islamic State as the most serious threat to Iraqi stability. In January 2015, Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers that increased Iranian influence[…]

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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[…]

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It’s Time For Politics in Yemen

Highly concerned that the security situation inside Yemen was no longer possible to ignore, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud made a decision that was highly uncharacteristic of Saudi behavior over the past decade: he went beyond the traditional option of funding acceptable proxies by assembling a Sunni Arab military coalition for conventional operations in Yemen.[…]

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Critical Context on Iran’s Nuclear Program

Iran’s nuclear program was founded in 1957 as part of U.S. President Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” initiative. As part of this deal, the United States helped provide the training, technology and infrastructure allowing Iran to become a nuclear power. It was America that built Iran’s first nuclear reactor in 1967, subsequently providing them with the[…]

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Interrupting the War Image: SISMEC Interviews Graphic Artist Azim Fakhri

Farzana Marie (FM): Many of your works of art depict images of war and violence juxtaposed with, or altered in surprising ways to convey, instead, a vision for peace. Your tagline, “Imagination is my power,” directly implies a displacement of violent force with art. Can you talk about how this approach emerged for you, beginning[…]

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Cyberwarfare and the Danger of David’s Sling

Dr. Tim Kirk SONY executives never saw this coming.  Apparently no one else did either, although it happened before:   SONY was warned against releasing “The Interview”, a farcical comedy about assassinating the beloved/despotic North Korean political leader, Kim Jong-Un. Onlookers supposed those North Korean threats against the film referred to a subsequent missile launch demonstration that[…]

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The Emirs Want You!

Security and Nation Building in the Gulf In move that reflects current  socio-political anxieties of the Persian Gulf monarchies, the UAE following the example of Qatar introduced a draft bill requiring compulsory military service for men between the ages of 18 and 30. The bill can be (conventionally) interpreted as a response to the perceived military[…]

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SISMEC EVENT “Iran: Charting New Horizons”

The Southwest Initiative for the Study of Middle East Conflicts (SISMEC), in conjunction with the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies (MENAS), the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) and the School of Government and Public Policy (SGPP) at the University of Arizona, will host an event entitled “Iran: Charting New Horizons.” Friday[…]

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Iranian Perspectives on the Nuclear Deal

In the months following the interim nuclear deal it negotiated with the P5 + 1, the Iranian government has lost no time in adopting a simultaneously conciliatory and proud attitude on the international stage and in selling the nuclear deal at home.  Internationally, the government has emphasized the peaceful, civilian ends of its nuclear program[…]

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The Middle East & North Africa: Hat Tricks, Power Plays, and Penalties

With 2013 drawing to a close, the MENA region is a volatile mix of peace plans, war strategies, identity consolidation, and individual displacement As the conflict in Syria continues in its third year, the possibility of peace remains uncertain.  With the addition of actors from all over the region and no clearly defined single agenda, the war[…]

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Negotiations with Iran: Nuclear Breakthrough or Nuclear Meltdown?

Initially, Bashar al-Asad had developed his chemical weapons programs as a deterrent against Israeli and Western aggression—lately, he has discovered that these arms are more of a liability than an asset, nearly provoking the very invasion they were intended to ward off. For its part, Iran has been unyielding in their condemnation of the use[…]

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Better Reputations, Better Results: “Perception Management” in Bahrain

The Kingdom of Bahrain is recruiting a veritable army of Mad Men, ensuring the brutal crackdown of its own citizens over the last two years stays out of international media headlines and the global consciousness. The constitutional monarchy wants the world to forget how it allowed its military to fire upon mourners at a funeral.[…]

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Syrian Hunger Games

May the Odds be Ever in Your Favor… The Assad regime’s contempt for the international community’s limp response to its continuing atrocities is not only arrogant but coldly calculated. A former brigadier general in the Syrian army, Akil Hashem, asserts that: “According to my sources, the regime actually regulates how many should be killed per[…]