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Qatar a year on: Still Ikhwanistan

Sunday, 16. February 2014 23:56

(from European Council on Foreign Relations webpage)

http://ecfr.eu/publications/summary/qatars_transition_like_father_like_son304

Qatar’s leadership transition: like father, like son [...]

Category:Published articles 2014 | Comment (0) | Autor:

Egypt’s Salafis: ‘New Brothers’ walking a political minefield

Tuesday, 7. January 2014 18:49

(This article was first published by the European Council on Foreign Relations on its website)

One of the most intriguing turns of the post-uprising scene in Egypt has been the emergence of the Salafi movement – as a political force, as a rival to the Muslim Brotherhood, and most recently as an ally of the July 3 military regime. The Salafi Nour party’s general secretary Galal Murra appeared on television as one of the handful of pliant politicians flanking General Abdulfattah al-Sisi as he announced the removal of elected president Mohammed Morsi last year after mass protests against Brotherhood rule. Since then the party’s leadership has remained faithful to the new regime as its conflict with the Brotherhood intensified and a hysterical anti-Islamist atmosphere ensued. [...]

Category:Commentary, Published articles 2014 | Comments (2) | Autor:

The Iran deal: What it means for Saudi Arabia

Wednesday, 27. November 2013 6:06

(This was written for the European Council on Foreign Relations, appearing on its website)

Almost everyone is happy about the deal reached between United States and Iran. Turkey, which has been drawing close to Tehran of late, is sending its foreign minister there on Monday; Oman was the location secret U.S.-Iran talks in recent months, so must be happy; the UAE issued a statement welcoming the deal. The two naysayers were always Israel and Saudi Arabia. Israel has made plain its displeasure, while Saudi Arabia has maintained a royal silence. [...]

Category:Published articles - 2013 | Comment (0) | Autor:

Saudi Arabia: cultivating sectarian spaces

Friday, 15. November 2013 2:55

(Part of a European Council on Foreign Relations report, ‘The Gulf and Sectarianism’, published November 2013)

Sectarianism has long underpinned Saudi Arabia’s domestic and foreign policy, and it has proved to be a particularly effective tool in the government’s management of the Arab Awakening, the movement of protest and revolt that began in Tunisia in December 2010. Saudi Arabia deployed a sectarian narrative to describe the 2011 uprising in Bahrain, calling it an Iranian-backed movement of Shia empowerment that aimed to disenfranchise Sunnis, the “rightful” Islamic centre of which Riyadh sees itself as champion. Saudi Arabia readily applied this framework to the conflict in Syria as it developed later that same year: the government characterised it as a battle in which a majority Sunni population has had to defend itself from an alignment of deviant Islamic schools and ideologies that aim to subjugate Sunnis – an easy sell considering that Shia powers and actors, specifically Iran, Hezbollah, and Syria’s own Alawi community, have been the most prominent supporters of President Bashar al-Assad. [...]

Category:Published articles - 2013 | Comment (0) | Autor:

Saudi women drivers: the red light that never changes

Wednesday, 13. November 2013 6:28

(also published on European Council on Foreign Relations website)

Saudi liberals have been predicting for years that a decision to allow women to drive is imminent. The predictions started with Abdullah taking over the managing of state affairs as crown prince in the late 1990s and intensified after he became king in 2005. Nothing happened then and nothing has happened now, as women make considerable efforts to promote the issue through social and political activism. [...]

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A very Gulf coup

Friday, 1. November 2013 17:31

(From the latest issue of Turkish Review, Volume 3 Issue 5: http://www.turkishreview.org/newsDetail_getNewsById.action?newsId=223386)

When Hosni Mubarak handed over power to his military peers in Egypt two years ago in the face of over two weeks of determined protests, the shock and fear in the Gulf was profound. As much as the US and Israel, if not more so, Saudi Arabia in particular had long bet on the strong arm of Mubarak’s police state, with the military in the background, to maintain the ‘stability’ that kept dangerous democratic forces in check [...]

Category:Published articles - 2013 | Comment (0) | Autor:

Ali Anouzla’s Saudi Article – The Last Straw?

Wednesday, 25. September 2013 22:10

This article appeared on Lakome.com on 12 September and there is some speculation in Morocco that it was the spark that led to the arrest of journalist and editor Ali Anouzla five days later. Accusing Saudi Arabia of being the central force ruining the “Arab awakening” that begin in Tunisia in 2010, it was an argument rarely stated in so forthright a manner in Arab media – a reflection of the power and manipulation of Saudi Arabia in Arab media and politics. Anouzla’s web newspaper project had been infuriating the Moroccan authorities for some time – not least for its strong coverage of King Mohammed’s pardon of a Spaniard convicted of paedophilia. Prosecutors say it was the posting of an al-Qa’ida video that explains the move against Anouzla now, but few are taking that seriously. He is being held in Morocco’s worst prison, Sale near Rabat, where suspected militants are held – one indication of the government’s determination to make Anouzla pay. Just in case the Saudi article disappears completely from the Lakome website, here is the Arabic below. [...]

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Street politics and manipulation in Egypt

Friday, 5. July 2013 19:44

Street politics is an inherently unstable and risky affair. Bypassing normal rules of political engagement, it can bring great dividends and or it can be an arena for sinister manipulation. Fortunately nothing has emerged from the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings of 2011 to suggest there was any of the kind of foul play involved in the street protests of 1953 in Iran against elected prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh, now widely regarded as part of a CIA-orchestrated coup. [...]

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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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Saudi Succession Struggle: One Man Down

Sunday, 21. April 2013 20:41

The news on Sunday that the deputy Saudi defence minister Prince Khaled bin Sultan had been removed from his post comes after a series of position changes among senior Saudi princes that have sped up in recent months as King Abdullah closes in on 90 years old, if he isn’t already there. Things began to heat up in earnest from 2009 when veteran interior minister Prince Nayef, like Abdullah, one of the first generation of sons of the modern state’s founder King Abdulaziz, was made second deputy prime minister, a surprise move from a king who was known not to get on with a powerful half-brother seen as the real strongman on the ground. Nayef died last year, since which time the jockeying among the sons of the main sons of Abdulaziz – Abdullah, Fahd, Nayef, Salman, Sultan – has intensified dramatically, or at least what we might call dramatic in the Saudi context. [...]

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