Post from June, 2013

Qatar: For My Next Trick…

Sunday, 9. June 2013 19:25

Qatar coup stories are of course dime-a-dozen. Doha has many potential enemies, from Iran and pro-Assad groups, to anti-Muslim Brotherhood regimes like Saudi Arabia who are with Qatar in the anti-Assad camp. The latest in the rumour mill is a bit more intriguing – that the Emir could be preparing to transfer much if not most of his powers to the heir apparent Prince Tameem. […]

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The UK in Syria – and Qatar in the UK

Thursday, 6. June 2013 21:43

Britain has become notably more gung-ho about Syria in recent months. The government, and parliament, are split over arming the anti-Assad rebels, but the prime minister David Cameron, his foreign minister William Hague and others are pushing for arming the anti-Assad forces, while placing hope on the proposed Geneva conference for some kind of negotiated resolution of the conflict. Britain played a key role along with France in the EU’s recent decision to allow member states to arm the rebels, though the UK government is saying it won’t take any definitive action until Geneva has taken place. But a clear shift in the UK position has taken place in recent months. […]

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Not Time To Declare ‘Sykes-Picot’ Dead Just Yet

Tuesday, 4. June 2013 21:48

The words ‘Sykes-Picot’ must have been bandied around more than at any time since 1916 over the past few months. The sense that the region is in the midst of a reshaping of borders, identities, nationalities has been evolving since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the blatant appeal to sectarianism by the occupying powers. That shouldn’t be a surprise because foreign powers, anywhere, have always played the policy of divide-and-rule. That’s what Sykes-Picot, with its spheres of British and French interests – was all about. The Middle East subsequently featured areas of British and American influence in the Gulf, Russian interest in a range of states including Syria, Egypt, Algeria, Iraq et al. with varying degrees of longevity, and the establishment of a Jewish settler state in Palestine. None of that was part-and-parcel of the Sykes-Picot arrangement per se, but it still accorded with the general principles. […]

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