January 28, 2021

Doha Descending

Amid rumors of Mashaal’s expulsion, Doha trying to regain alliance with Egypt, Saudi Arabia It is still not clear whether reports in Turkish newspaper Aydinlik concerning the expulsion by Qatar of Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal are accurate. Hamas officials have indignantly denied that their leader is shortly set to quit his Doha home. But certainly, Mashaal’s expulsion would fit with the broader pattern of recent events. Recent months have witnessed a number of acts by Qatar … [Read more...]

Shifting Mideast Sands Reveal New Alliances

Egyptian General Abd al-Fatah al-Sisi

A number of events in recent weeks cast light on the current intersecting lines of conflict in the Middle East. They reflect a region in flux, in which new bonds are being formed, and old ones torn asunder. But amid the confusion, a new topography is emerging. This was the month in which a long-existent split in the Sunni Arab world turned into a gaping fissure. On March 5th, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates announced that they were withdrawing their ambassadors from the … [Read more...]

Gulf States Scramble to Realign

jonathan-spyer

Evidence is currently mounting regarding a major US policy shift in the Middle East, based on a general rapprochement with Iran. As this strategy takes shape, traditional US allies in the region are becoming increasingly worried. Much attention has been focused on the implications of the shift for Israel, with many observers saying that Israel is increasingly isolated by the US and more alone than it has ever been. But Israel, in fact, is far from alone. Nor does it appear to be the primary … [Read more...]

Qatari Power – and Irresponsibility – set to continue under new Emir

jonathan-spyer

Jerusalem Post, 29/6. An event of a type exotically rare in the contemporary Arab world took place this week: namely, a bloodless transfer of power. The ruling, ailing Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamid bin-Khalifa al-Thani chose to step down. Power was transferred to his 33 year old son, Tamim bin-Hamid al-Thani. Rumors of the imminent abdication had been rife among Gulf-watchers for some months. Few had expected that it would come so soon. The young and inexperienced Tamim is ascending to power … [Read more...]

Saudi Arabia/United States: Strange Bedfellows in the Middle East

barry-rubin

What is the difference between Saudi and U.S. policy in the Arabic-speaking Middle East? It’s complex but fascinating and if you can understand the weird twists and turns in this situation you can understand the Middle East. While the two countries may appear aligned in fact–and often when they have the same goals–their policies differ extensively. And the Saudis are not always wrong. Arguably, they are pursuing their own interests more effectively than is the United States. The Saudis … [Read more...]

My Life’s Work: Free Books and a Look Back at Forty Years of Middle East Analysis

The Arab States and the Palestine Conflict

I’ve just put the full texts of 13 books I’ve written onto the Internet. You can access them all for free with a single click.  This project has prompted me to think a lot about what I’ve been trying to do these last forty years. The main goal has been trying to explain the Middle East as it actually exists, how its politics work, and how its history can be understood. My basic overview is contained in my The Tragedy of the Middle East. In structural terms, the Middle East can be … [Read more...]

Behind the Lines: A Gulf Apart

Emirates_Palace1

Saudi and United Arab Emirates security forces recently apprehended a 10-man cell linked to the Muslim Brotherhood that was active in the UAE. The cell, according to Gulf media reports, was engaged in raising money for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, propagandizing among Egyptians residing in the UAE and gathering information on the UAE’s defense facilities. It was also reported as being in “constant communication” with its parent movement in Cairo. The arrest of this group has … [Read more...]

Gulf Union Fails to Materialize

jonathan-spyer

Saudi and Gulf leaders held discussions in Riyadh this week on proposed moves toward greater unity. The meeting, however, revealed little genuine enthusiasm for such a project outside of Saudi Arabia itself and beleaguered Bahrain. But while it is unlikely that proposals for greater Gulf unity will bear fruit, the very fact that they are being raised at all is significant. It reflects two things: firstly, the overriding concerns felt by Saudi Arabia regarding Iranian ambitions in the Gulf … [Read more...]

Gulf Arab Leaders: Obama Administration Policy is the Biggest Threat to our Security

barry-rubin

Want to understand the real Middle East? Then pay attention to the following. Let’s say an important and outspoken Gulf Arab gave a frank and thoughtful assessment of the region’s security problems. What would he say and what would that tell you? And how would that differ from the stereotypes of what Arabs—especially non-Islamist Arab leaders—think as presented by the Western media and academia? In fact, Dahi Khalfan Tamim recently gave such a speech. He is the respected police chief … [Read more...]

Saudi Arabia, Gulf States: Iran Is Attacking Us; Obama Administration: Excuses, Excuses!

barry-rubin

This article was published in PajamasMedia. The full text is published here for your convenience.How sadly ironic. A few years ago, the two previous U.S. presidents were trying to get Gulf Arab states to do more to foster an Arab-Israeli peace settlement and to stand up against Iran. They didn't respond very much. Now they are ready for the battle and the current U.S. government is at best neutral and at worst on the other side!In an unprecedented statement, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC, … [Read more...]