This week's guest editors

Obama, Saudi Arabia and “anti-terrorism”

Last week the US president, Barack Obama, visited Saudi Arabia. Fighting extremism, the crisis in Syria, and Iran's nuclear programme would all have been live concerns. Human rights, however, was not.

The Persian Gulf: implications of the Saudi-Qatari dispute

The Saudi strategy of offering military support to the US while exporting Muslim militancy and portraying itself as the protector of the two holiest sites in the Islamic world has backfired for both Saudi Arabia and the US. 

The Arab Spring popular uprisings – myth and reality

It is critical to recognize the significance of this revolutionary chapter in the modern history of the Middle East and the creative conceptions and articulations of resistance that shattered the system of domination, particularly the popular roots of these uprisings amongst the urban and rural poor.

This week's window on the Middle East - March 20, 2014

Arab Awakening's columnists offer their weekly perspective on what is happening on the ground in the Middle East. Leading the week, The continuous battle against sexual harassment in Egypt.

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression but conditions apply

Rayna Stamboliyska

Egypt has jailed journalists by the dozen; the Gulf is jailing people for tweets they send and surveillance companies are gearing them up. One does not need a crystal ball to see that repressive states in the MENA region will continue to suppress dissent.

The slow pace of female empowerment in the Gulf

These oil-rich countries cannot sustain long-term growth and prosperity if half the population remains marginalised and excluded from the workforce. The GCC states should begin to invest in and reform public and private sector institutions in favour of female-friendly policies.

Fallujah revisited

Saudi Arabia’s virulently sectarian geo-policies are behind the resurgence of Al Qaida in Iraq.

The Arab Spring and the changing balance of global power

From an empirical-analytical point of view, what has happened in the Middle East and North Africa since Mohammed Bouazizi died? This is not an opinion piece, but an assessment of underlying factors which have put pressure on the aspiration for justice and political reform launched by the Arab Spring. (5,000 words) 

Iran deal: the view from Saudi Arabia

Iran’s adoption of an actively conciliatory foreign policy has set the stage for Iranian-Saudi cooperation and for further developments to take place.

Appraising Ethiopia’s Saudi policy

We are full well aware that we should not kid ourselves about the likely short- and long- term costs of severing all bilateral ties. What we are proposing of course is limited in scope and time. 

Why the US should join forces with the Baathist regime in Syria

The Baathist regime is indeed guilty of great war crimes, but the human cost of a failed state would be a greater catastrophe. Washington should have learnt this lesson from Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq.

Syria's chemical weapons: is the UN exceeding its mandate?

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons should be a technical agency of the UN. But it has arguably become a piece in a geo-political chess game dominated by the US, invited into Syria to act in contravention of its remit. 

Gulf states and Iran: don't moan, act

The international deal over Iran reveals the weakness of Arab Gulf diplomacy. It's time for a new approach, says Khaled Hroub.

Why Saudi Arabia throws a tantrum in New York

The Saudis hope to win back a little of the moral authority they have lost in the last few months. The “major shift” with regard to the US is meant to show that the House of Saud are in sync with the street.

Why are the rulers of Saudi Arabia losing their cool?

Every time the Gulf States’ rulers justify their support for violent rebels in Syria or the military regime in Egypt by appealing to the unalienable right of peoples to basic rights and representative governance, they legitimize the Arab Spring in the eyes of their own peoples, too.

Iranian “threat” unites Saudi Arabia and Israel

Obama’s overture to Rouhani is costing the United States the goodwill of some old pro-Washington friends in the Arab world. When Prince Bandar, a close friend of the United States and a trusted adviser to the Saudi King, issues threats, Washington must listen.

Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia: military postures and alternatives

The three countries, and groups within them, are locked in narratives of confrontation, victimhood and fear. At present, their narratives are incompatible and seemingly unbridgeable.  That is the real cause of the current conflicts.

Prospects for a GCC-Iranian rapprochement?

A US-Iranian rapprochement over Iran's nuclear programme could improve general US-Iranian relations, leading to the lifting of Iran's painful sanctions. Could this in turn encourage improved relations between the countries of the GCC and Iran? 

Tunisia: between a rock and a hard place

Rachid Ghannouchi was in need of both political reassurance (and indeed financial backing) from the Obama Administration that the Ennahdha Party would not go the way of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

Has the US decided that the leadership of the Arab world goes to Saudi Arabia?

Qatar’s new Emir swiftly congratulated the interim Egyptian president, Adly Mansour, who was appointed by the Egyptian army. This was in stark contrast to the fatwa issued on July 6, 2013 by Al Qaradawi, openly calling on the Egyptian people to defy the army and maintain support for Morsi.

The question of sectarianism in Middle East politics

Everywhere the Arab uprisings have been confronted by the entrenched vested interests of old regimes, the so-called ‘deep state’ in Egypt, and by Islamist populism. The alignment of regional powers, following geopolitical interests, has sharpened the sectarian lines. But these alignments are not somehow essential to the region.

Turkey: looking east and west

The ongoing protests have only emphasised the gap between the Turkish government and the EU, and between Turkey and Arab leaders whose fear of revolt doesn’t necessarily translate into political solidarity with Ankara.

MI5 Woolwich failure due to geopolitical alliance with Islamist extremists

The strange British reluctance to prosecute banned group Al Muhajiroun activists despite their support for al-Qaeda terrorism seems inexplicable. But is it?

Palestine, peoples and borders in the new Middle East map

Today’s Sunni/Shiite regional war is the direct product of the Bush/Blair war on Iraq. The divide is all the more dangerous because of the Levant’s confessional mosaic. These events are changing the very nature of the states in the region, and the peoples that lie within them. Where do Palestine’s borders now lie?  

Europe’s guns, debt and corruption

This second of two essays on military spending and the EU crisis, explores the role of the European arms trade, corruption and the role of arms exporting countries in fuelling a debt crisis, and why these 'odious' debts need to be written off. See Part One here.

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