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[…]

The U.N. Needs a New Framework for Yemen

Three months into a Saudi-led air campaign against the Houthi militia and former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s Republican Guard, Yemen has degenerated into a terrible cycle of misery, fratricidal violence, and nationwide suffering.  Already the poorest country in the Arab world before the Houthis captured the Yemeni capital of Sanaa last September, air operations by Read more about The U.N. Needs a New Framework for Yemen[…]

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[…]

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. Read more about It’s Time For Politics in Yemen[…]

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[…]

Airstrikes Begin in Syria: A Decisive Blow or an Ominous Precedent?

The Obama Administration has just announced that they and their coalition allies have begun a fierce campaign in Syria, bombing primarily “hard-targets” in the IS stronghold of Raqqa (about 20 of them). Here’s what is known—and perhaps more importantly—what is not known so far about the U.S. airstrikes: “Sunni Arab” Partners The U.S. was the only non-Arab actor Read more about Airstrikes Begin in Syria: A Decisive Blow or an Ominous Precedent?[…]

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[…]

When Hypocrites Take the Hippocratic Oath

Or, Undoing the “Arab Spring” Earlier this month, the White House unveiled its new foreign policy credo: “Don’t do stupid shit.” While many lamented the modesty of this approach, acting with restraint in order to limit iatrogenesis is certainly a worthy goal—and an approach with wide and enduring popular support—in fact, this is the vision Read more about When Hypocrites Take the Hippocratic Oath[…]

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[…]

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 Read more about The Middle East & North Africa: Hat Tricks, Power Plays, and Penalties[…]

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 Read more about Negotiations with Iran: Nuclear Breakthrough or Nuclear Meltdown?[…]

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. Read more about Better Reputations, Better Results: “Perception Management” in Bahrain[…]

Halting Weapons, Aiding Narratives in Egypt

Do recent U.S. policies undermine the generals or strengthen their legitimacy? While U.S. policymakers continue to resist defining the transition in Egypt as a coup, in response to the country’s escalating crisis, they have decided to reduce military aid to Egypt. The White House will continue to support the Army’s campaign in the Sinai Peninsula, but has cut hundreds Read more about Halting Weapons, Aiding Narratives in Egypt[…]

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[…]

Coup me once, shame on you; coup me twice…

The Next Phase of the Egyptian “Revolution” Mohamed Mursi’s biggest, albeit inevitable, failure is now perhaps obvious: he was unable to significantly reform Egypt’s “deep state.” The recent coup makes it less likely that future elected officials will have the courage to even try, assuming they are ever granted meaningful authority over the state—there is no doubt Read more about Coup me once, shame on you; coup me twice…[…]

And to the Victor Goes the Ruins

The next phase of the Syrian Civil War As the Syrian conflict has dragged on, growing in intensity with no sign of resolution or international intervention, the regime may seem incredibly resilient: they have been able to push the rebels out of Damascus, to protect the majority-Alawite territories, to hold Aleppo, and to keep pressure Read more about And to the Victor Goes the Ruins[…]

Al-Qaeda’s Renaissance: The Arab Spring and the New Mujahadeen

Musa al-Gharbi Following the military coup which removed Hosni Mubarak, it was widely reported that al-Qaeda was rendered obsolete by the Arab Spring. Fareed Zakaria, for instance, pronounced: “The Arab Revolts of 2011 represent a total repudiation of al Qaeda’s founding ideology. For 20 years, al Qaeda has said that the regimes of the Arab Read more about Al-Qaeda’s Renaissance: The Arab Spring and the New Mujahadeen[…]

And now for something completely different…

Brother can you spare an atom? As the news from Japan continues to worsen. many countries around the world have begun to reconsider their plans to expand nuclear power generation. What is not widely known is that the Arab world is still likely to see some of the biggest growth in nuclear energy, thanks to Read more about And now for something completely different…[…]