This week's editor

Heather McRobie

Heather McRobie is an editor at 5050.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The Arab World: towards bi-polarity?

Maged Mandour

In Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Bahrain, it will be very difficult for revolutionary democratic movements to succeed in such a bi-polar order.

Sudan and Operation Decisive Storm

Major opposition parties in Sudan boycotted the elections that took place earlier this month, but are now supporting the government's decision to join Operation Decisive Storm disregarding the effect this will have on the people of Yemen.

What if the Saudis win? Avoiding massive sectarian bloodshed in Yemen

Saudis won’t pull the triggers – AQAP, IS and various Sunni militias will do that – but they and their Sunni and American allies will be politically and morally culpable.

Shia crescent: self-fulfilling prophecy

Iran does not have influence over the region’s various Shia actors by default, but is helped by the way the Arab world regimes have historically treated Shia actors in the region. 

Saudi Arabia’s big mistake in Yemen

Saudi Arabia, by committing itself to an unlimited military escalation in Yemen, has over-reached itself.

This is what a feminist foreign policy looks like

Margot Wallström’s decision not to sell arms to Saudi Arabia demonstrates the fundamental rethink needed to achieve a feminist foreign policy. Herein lies women's power to stop war. 

A Saudi-Iranian grand bargain

Pundits have long criticised the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) for propagating Wahhabism, its austere brand of Sunni Islam, but have failed to address the underlying regional context.

Will Middle East ground troops be rallied against IS ?

Try as we might, the question of Mr. Assad’s fate will not go away: all roads stubbornly lead back to Damascus.

Saudi Arabia’s new king fuelling the feud among younger royals

Saudi Arabia must cover its tracks by not only forcefully denouncing ISIS and JN but actively introducing stiffer measures demonstrating that it is genuinely combating terrorism. How does this play out in terms of royal power?

Saudis and Wahhabis: a marriage between politics and piety

Much speculation has surrounded the new Saudi Arabian king Salman’s policies with respect to the powerful religious establishment: the Wahhabi clerics. Are Saudi-Wahhabi relations a problem worth worrying about?

Why we hate our reflections: Saudi Arabia and the Islamic State

Al Saud might be afraid of many things, but the main threat to their survival comes from within their historical legacy, from their own language; from the Islamic State.

Succession in Saudi Arabia: no surprises here

People should not expect drastic change in Saudi Arabia, as the regime's primary concern will be to maintain the status quo.

Domestic slavery in Britain “worse than Saudi Arabia”?

This week, 200 years after Britain abolished slavery, the UK’s domestic labour laws have been unfavourably compared to a country in the top ten for human rights abuse

Subsidising climate change

We need to raise awareness about how the rich oil nations keep subsidising oil extraction whilst agreeing that the world needs to cut emissions. Taxpayers cannot passively let their governments do this.

Charlie Hebdo: the Prophet does not want to be avenged

Those who hold Muslims accountable for these acts, or demand that they apologize for them, are delusional. Beyond Europe, Al-Qaeda has declared open war against most Arab and Muslim-majority countries, especially those allied to the west. 

Israel in the Arab consciousness: friend or foe?

Maged Mandour

The events of the Arab Revolt have dramatically shifted the position of Israel in the region. Arab regimes have moved from rejecting the existence of Israel to accommodation, to implicit cooperation, in some cases, open cooperation.

For history’s sake, the Arab peoples have revolted

Not only did the Arab peoples revolt, but the power of their revolts was so significant and threatening to the regional geopolitical order that the regional powers had to diffuse the collective consciousness at any cost.

Saudi's husseiniya massacre: sectarianism coming home to roost

The murder of Shi'a worshippers in the Eastern Province, by fighters who are returned jihadis, is the latest instance of blow-back. The Saudi regime must quickly change course.

ISIS airstrikes: between imperialism and orientalism

Maged Mandour

Islamic radicalism is the product of societal developments and it is not directly related to the religion of Islam. The lessons of Iraq are being actively ignored by the US and the west in general. The main tenets of American foreign policy, which have done well for extremism, are unchanged.

What is sectarianism in the Middle East?

The term is heard whenever the Middle East or Syria are discussed, yet a talking head would be pressed to define what they mean by sectarianism. Mohammad Dibo speaks to two prominent Arab thinkers willing to assist our understanding by going back to the basics.

ISIS airstrikes: how to rehabilitate dictators and destroy the revolution

Maged Mandour

The American intervention will strengthen the hand of Arab autocrats against their opponents, Islamists and non-Islamists alike. It lends credibility to the 'war against terror' rhetoric that these regimes use as a suppressant to the revolution.

This week's window on the Middle East - September 24, 2014

Arab Awakening's columnists offer their weekly perspective on what is happening on the ground in the Middle East. Leading the week, Anti-Syrian sentiment in Lebanon.

Tripoli airstrikes

Maged Mandour

These airstrikes demonstrate new fault lines in the Arab world: between Arab conservative regimes, their Islamist foes, and the democratic secular forces who find themselves in an impossible situation. 

Obama’s strategy beyond an abnormal war

To defeat IS you have not only to beat it militarily, but to undercut the financial and ideological underpinnings upon which it rests, and replace it with something that ensures that it cannot manifest again in future times.

The Israeli public and the Gaza war: supporting the armed effort, doubting the strategic outcome

Anti-Semitic acts in Europe reinforced the perception that the issue was extremist hatred of Jews per se. At the same time, prominent Egyptian and even Saudi spokespersons were openly encouraging of the Israeli war effort, the US was supportive, EU foreign ministers endorsed demilitarising the Gaza Strip. But to what end?

Israel, Hamas and the making of the New Arab World

Maged Mandour

The Arab Revolt, which gave so much hope to the Palestinians, has turned out to be a misfortune for the people of Gaza. The Israeli narrative has now found wide acceptance, not only in governments, but also on Arab streets.                  

The USA and Iran: united for a “New” Iraq

As scenes of jubilation in Sunni cities coupled with fear and calls for jihad in Shia cities show how deep and explosive sectarian divisions are in Iraq, should Kurds be forced to stay on?

The new great regional game: Saudi Arabia and Iran

Decades of corrupt and authoritarian governments in the region which brutally suppressed both secular opposition and moderate Islamists have created the breeding ground for a more nihilist ideology. 

What is the US administration’s alternative to elections it does not particularly like?

It is in everyone’s long-term interest to stop purposefully undermining developing democratic processes. 

Not the end of the "Arab Spring", is it?

Much has happened in the Middle East in the last four years, but in Europe, the development of the state and of democracy took four centuries and many wars.

Saudi Arabia-Iran: resilient animosity?

Cautious conciliatory overtures between Riyadh and Tehran indicate that the realities of the regional power balance might outweigh long-standing hostilities.

Establishing equilibrium in the Gulf: in search of a pragmatic agenda for stability and security

The Gulf countries and Iran need to address their mutually contentious foreign policy issues, such as Syria, Iran's nuclear programme, and their relationships with the US.

The fate of Gulf migrant workers is deeply connected to the fate of the Arab uprisings

The more the Gulf states pay a reputational cost in the west for maintaining this system of exploitation, the harder it will be for them to resist demands for serious reform. 

Holding BAE accountable for its deadly actions

Next week anti arms trade activists will be heading to Farnborough to attend the BAE Systems AGM and put new Chair, Sir Roger Carr, on the spot with questions about his company's associations with human rights abusers.

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.

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