July 24, 2020

WESTERN INFLUENCE ON ARAB MILITARIES: POUNDING SQUARE PEGS INTO ROUND HOLES

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff greets the various commanding generals of U.S. Forces, Iraq in Baghdad on July 27, 2010. Mullen's final stop in Iraq wraps up the ten-day, around the world trip to meet with counterparts and troops engaged in the war on terrorism. DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

This article is a personal account of U.S. Army Colonel Norvell DeAtkine’s experience in dealing with Arab militaries for over 40 years. Based on observation and study of Arab military establishments, he concludes little of significance has happened to change the deeply embedded character of the Arab military mindset. While there is some evidence that Arab soldiers historically performed better under European officers, there is no evidence that the Western tradition of command ethos outlived … [Read more...]

SAUDI ARABIA FACES A CHANGING MIDDLE EAST

The calls for democracy during the “Arab Spring” presented the Saudi Arabian regime with serious challenges. Traditional allies such as the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt fell by the wayside leaving Riyadh practically alone as defender of an authoritarian government. The flames of protest grew closer as both Yemen and Bahrain experienced major unrest. An embryonic Saudi protest movement was snuffed out by a combination of threats and massive financial aid. The kingdom remains stable, since its … [Read more...]

SAUDI ARABIA’S ECONOMIC NEEDS AND THE PRICE OF OIL

  INTRODUCTION Between 2003 and 2008, the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil spot price increased by 300 percent. However, the economic crisis that befell the world and reached its peak in December 2008 sent prices back to below the 2004 average. In reference to the crisis, the Saudi Arabian monarchy stated that the drop in the price of a barrel of oil to below $50 to $55 was damaging to its economy and that a continuing drop in prices would be detrimental to the growth the country … [Read more...]

NEGOTIATING THE CLIMATE CHANGE REGIME: THE CASE OF SAUDI ARABIA

  INTRODUCTION  The failure of parties at the December 2009 Copenhagen conference to secure a new treaty on global climate mitigation has elicited various reactions.  Nearly 200 countries participating in the negotiations concluded by merely “taking note” of the Copenhagen Accord of December 18, 2009.  Some have argued that the lack of a viable treaty at Copenhagen reflects the reality of “a world divided” about (a) the facts of climate change, (b) … [Read more...]

SAUDI ARABIA AND THE NEW STRATEGIC LANDSCAPE

  INTRODUCTION  Two decades after the end of the Cold War, a new strategic landscape has ap­peared in the Middle East. No longer dominated by a U.S.-Soviet rivalry, this new landscape is dominated by U.S.-Iranian confrontation. In this struggle, the United States’ most important Arab ally, Saudi Arabia, plays a key role. As the Obama administration policies allow Iran to run out the clock on getting a nuclear weapon, it would appear from its recent policy moves that it … [Read more...]

ALL I WANT IS EQUALITY WITH GIRLS: GENDER AND SOCIAL CHANGE IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY GULF

  INTRODUCTION In January 2004, Lubna Olayan stepped up to the lectern to deliver a speech to the Jeddah Economic Summit. She was a natural choice to be the first woman to address the forum in the Saudi port city because she headed one of Saudi Arabia’s best-known conglomerates, the Olayan Financing Group. Lubna was a daughter of Sulayman Olayan, who had risen from humble circumstances to become one of Saudi Arabia’s most successful businessmen. Yet the organizers of the … [Read more...]

To Perpetuate Their Dictatorships, Arab Rulers Resort to the Islamic Creed

  KORANIC INSPIRATION FOR THE MODERATE, ISLAMIST, AND JIHADIST The Koran often provides Muslims with contradictory inspirations on subjects of political or social relevance. On Muslim relations with Christians and Jews, for example, a moderate Muslim would focus on peaceful and tolerant verses such as 29:46: “Do not argue with the People of the Book [Christians and Jews] unless in a fair way.” Similar injunctions are found in, among others, 2:62, 2:136, 2:256, and the second … [Read more...]

Motives and Interests in Israel-Gulf Relations

barry-rubin

In early August 2009, Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faysal visited Washington. He praised the Obama administration and then hammered nails into the coffin of its Middle East policy. There was nothing subtle about the Saudi response. For the first time, a non-radical Arab regime--that is, one nominally allied with the United States--has openly ridiculed the U.S. government’s new policy. Naturally, the prince was full of praise for the Obama administration, in general. In specific, … [Read more...]

Iran and the Arab World: A View from Riyadh

THE IMAGE OF A SHI’A THREAT  Expectations about a broad regional realignment vis-à-vis Iran are very much rooted in Neo-Realist assumptions about the self-help nature of international politics and the irrelevance of domestic politics. In the case of Saudi Arabia, such a perspective could therefore assume a natural tendency to align with Israel. Set apart from other actors in the region by specific (complementary) military and economic strengths and weaknesses, both countries … [Read more...]

German-Kuwaiti Relations: From Their Beginnings to the Reunification of Germany

[1]  In 1752, the al-Sabah family from central Arabia established a trading post in the Persian Gulf. Shortly after Sabah bin Jabir was elected as the first emir in 1756, Europeans discovered “the Little Fort.” The German explorer Carsten Niebuhr mapped it as "Koueit" in 1772, referring to it as "A township a three-day trip away" from Zubair.[2] Another German explorer, Ulrich Jasper Seetzen, mentioned a British trading post there, while geographer Karl Ritter marked Kuwait's … [Read more...]