January 28, 2021

Turnaround: Is Saudi Arabia shifting course towards Iran?

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud and US President Barack Obama inspect an honour guard

   Jerusalem Post, 23/5 A number of recent Saudi moves and official statements have led to speculation regarding a possible shift on the kingdom’s stance toward Iran. The Saudis appear to be moving at least on a declarative level away from a position according to which Iranian ambitions are a threat to be resisted, toward an attempt to accommodate Teheran. The speculation regarding a changed Saudi stance rests largely on three recent public events. The first was the meeting last month … [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


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...]

Israel and Saudi Arabia – Alliance of Interests


PJMedia, 24/10 Recent remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have fuelled renewed speculation of behind the scenes links between Israel and the Gulf monarchies. Netanyahu, speaking at the UN, said that “The dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the emergence of other threats in our region have led many of our Arab neighbours to recognize, finally recognize, that Israel is not their enemy.” He added: “This affords us the opportunity to overcome the historic animosities and … [Read more...]

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


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


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...]

Middle East Media Sampler, February 14, 2021

Obama receives Novel Peace Prize, December 10, 2009.

1) Decline and its consequences   In October, 2009, Charles Krauthammer wrote, Decline is a choice: The president then denounced the idea of elevating any group of nations above others--which takes care, I suppose, of the Security Council, the G-20, and the Western alliance. And just to make the point unmistakable, he denounced "alignments of nations rooted in the cleavages of a long-gone Cold War" as making "no sense in an interconnected world." What does that say about NATO? Of … [Read more...]

Behind the Lines: A Gulf Apart


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...]

Iranian Agent Admits Plot to Kill Saudi Ambassador in Washington DC


Perhaps you remember an incredibly sensational story from back in October 2011 that after a brief period in the headlines disappeared completely. The U.S. government arrested an Iranian-American citizen in Texas and charged him with being an agent of the Iranian government who planned at Tehran’s behest to hire a Mexican drug gang to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in a fiery terrorist attack in Washington DC. It would have been another September 11, albeit on a far smaller scale. Knowing … [Read more...]

Dueling for Pole Position in Bahrain


The Saudi-sponsored newspaper Alsharq Alawsat this week reported a meeting in Qom between Iraqi Shi’ite Islamist leader Moqtada al-Sadr and leaders of the Bahraini opposition. Alsharq Alawsat, based in London, was keen to cast a spotlight on this meeting because it appears to offer evidence of the involvement of Iran and its allies in the uprising against the rule of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa in Bahrain. Riyadh and its allies have long alleged that the unrest in Bahrain is the work … [Read more...]