Tag archive for » syria «

Street Art vs. State Soap

Friday, 4. April 2014 19:15

By Andrew Hammond

Flickr/Darla Hueske [...]

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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 [...]

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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. [...]

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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. [...]

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Syria and the Battle for Public Opinion

Tuesday, 8. October 2013 3:31

Russian president Vladimir Putin’s recent intervention in American politics with an article placed in The New York Times was possibly the most spectacular turn in an immense battle raging in parallel to the Syrian civil war over the past two years - a battle for control of the narrative. [...]

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Violence in Egypt: Neither Algeria nor Syria

Tuesday, 16. July 2013 4:21

Whenever the spectre of a new rupture between the Egyptian ‘deep state’ and the Islamists comes up, the Algerian comparison inevitably rears its head. On the surface it makes sense, especially this time round: a mass Islamist movement is deprived of governing – a right it won through the standard democratic process – by a military and entrenched interests who cannot stomach the idea of such a change of order. The Islamists would cry foul and take to the hills vowing they will be back to wreak their terrible revenge. [...]

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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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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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Israel attacks Syria: A Night on Twitter

Sunday, 5. May 2013 16:28

The Israeli rocket strikes on Mount Qasioun last night produced an almost immediate explosion of Twitter commentary, despite the wee hours when the action took place. Those opposed to the Syrian opposition – whether for fear of the Jihadists or Syria falling into the hands of a Saudi-Israeli-US axis – were sort of triumphant at seeing the rebels exposed on the same battlefield as the Israelis, while there was perhaps some embarrassment dressed up as bravura from the other side. Either way, the massacred civilians of Banias have fallen off the news cycle, not that global media attention has really made any difference to anything, despite the intense glare directed at this most horrific of conflicts.* [...]

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