Tag archive for » Shia «

The new caliphate: what it does and doesn’t mean

Monday, 30. June 2014 21:24

First published by European Council on Foreign Relations

The word “caliphate” sends many into paroxysms of horrified excitement. Following the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 the opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and its Arab calques liked to raise the bogeyman of this demonic political institution which Egyptian presidential candidate for the Brotherhood’s eminence grise Khairat al-Shater and Ennahda leader Mohammed al-Ghannouchi allegedly sought to establish. The main proof in the case seemed to be little more than that the Brotherhood was established a few years after the Turkish republic abolished the office of caliph in 1924, plus a lot of paranoia. No one really asked what “establishing a caliphate” would mean in practice. Mainstream media have avoided shedding much light, beyond telling us that it is a “medieval” entity. Given that the first caliphate was established around 623 CE and the last one ended less than a century back, we can safely say that this is useless information. [...]

Category:Commentary | Comment (0) | Autor:

EL PUZLE ISLÁMICO: Batallas internas en el islam político

Tuesday, 24. June 2014 4:16

Published in Spanish in Vanguardia Dossier, July/Sept 2014

Islamic society and politics in the Middle East are riven by two schisms today that have produced violent instability that is set to continue until a critical moment, such as the fall of a regime such as that in Iran or Saudi Arabia, or a historical compromise between the two. It would be hard to choose one as more unlikely than the other in the current situation. Both conflicts are products of the past generation and though they have developed separately it is possible to see a link between them if we consider the Islamic Republic in Iran as a Shi’ite mirror image of the political Islam that the Brotherhood and movements such as Ennahda, Hamas, Islah are representative of within a Sunni framework. [...]

Category:Commentary, Published articles 2014 | Comment (0) | 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:

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. [...]

Category:Commentary | Comment (0) | Autor:

Yemen: The Last Imam and Future of Zaidism

Saturday, 16. February 2013 18:50

Last year Yemen celebrated 50 years since the republic was established via military coup. Political systems and the distribution of power they involve do not just disappear, they tend to replicate themselves in disguised forms and it would hardly be a surprise to find that this has been the case in Yemen since then. The republic replaced a Zaidi Imamate – a Sharia state system in which the legitimate rulers came from an elite class of descendants of the Prophet, referred to as al-hashimiyyeen, or the Hashemis. However, the republic only really found its feet, after a decade of instability, with the ascendance of Ali Abdullah Saleh to the presidency in 1978. [...]

Category:Commentary | Comment (0) | Autor:

Bahrain court upholds sentences on uprising leaders

Tuesday, 4. September 2012 2:08

By Andrew Hammond

DUBAI (Reuters) – A Bahraini civilian court on Tuesday upheld sentences of up to life in prison against leaders of last year’s pro-democracy uprising, a decision that could dim prospects for defusing unrest in the small Gulf Arab state.

Amnesty International, a London-based human rights group, described the ruling as outrageous. [...]

Category:Published articles - 2012 | Comment (0) | Autor:

Egypt bars entry to Bahraini dissident

Monday, 27. August 2012 2:30

CAIRO | Mon Aug 27, 2012 12:43pm BST

(Reuters) – A leading Bahraini opposition activist said she had been refused entry to Egypt at Cairo airport on Sunday, accusing Arab governments of continuing repressive security cooperation despite political change in the region.

Maryam al-Khawaja, the Denmark-based international spokesperson for the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, said she had hoped to enter Egypt for a few hours to see friends on a stopover while flying to South Africa. [...]

Category:Published articles - 2012 | Comment (0) | Autor:

Bahrain Shi’ites battle police at protester’s funeral

Wednesday, 22. August 2012 2:28

DUBAI | Wed Aug 22, 2012 11:00pm BST

(Reuters) – Protesters pelted police with petrol bombs and stones in clashes that broke out in Bahrain on Tuesday night at the funeral for a teenage demonstrator killed last week in a new bout of unrest in the U.S.-allied Gulf state. [...]

Category:Published articles - 2012 | Comment (0) | Autor:

Bahraini teenager killed in clash with police

Saturday, 18. August 2012 2:25

DUBAI | Sat Aug 18, 2012 7:40pm BST

(Reuters) – A 16-year-old protester was killed after what opposition activists in Bahrain said was a “brutal attack” by security forces, but which the Bahrain government described as a defensive response to a petrol bomb attack on police. [...]

Category:Published articles - 2012 | Comment (0) | Autor: