The Arabian Game of Thrones Heats Up

The reported torture, murder, and dismemberment of Washington-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate-general in Istanbul reminded the world that an intense power play is now taking place within the monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula and between them. In November 2017, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) ordered the arrest and detention …

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Cranes tower above the first, 602-meter-long quay at the Gwadar port in Baluchistan on the southernmost tip of Pakistan last October. This is the site of what is supposed to become a giant trade port as part of China's 'New Silk Roads'. Photo: AFP/ DPA

The New Silk Roads Are Just Pieces in a Giant Puzzle

The New Silk Roads, formerly One Belt One Road, then Belt and Road Initiative, were launched almost five years ago by President Xi Jinping, first in Astana (the Silk Road Economic Belt) and then in Jakarta (the Maritime Silk Road). Way beyond the acronym purgatory – and the “lost in translation” factor that neither name …

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Yemen War Challenges Saudi Moral Authority

Saudi conduct of its ill-fated war in Yemen coupled with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s alignment with the Trump administration and Israel, and his often coercive approach to diplomatic relations, has opened the door to challenges of the kingdom’s moral leadership of the Sunni Muslim world, a legitimizing pillar of the ruling Al Saud family’s …

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Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani attend the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Kuwait City on 5 December 2017 (AFP)

Trump’s ‘Arab NATO’ Idea Is Doomed to Fail

The United States is reportedly floating plans for a new security alliance with six Gulf Arab states, alongside Jordan and Egypt, to counter Iran's growing presence in the region. Provisionally named the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), some have dubbed it an “Arab NATO” of Sunni Muslim allies. “MESA will serve as a bulwark against …

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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in meeting with Oman's Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah

Can Oman Build a Ladder for Trump to Come Down the Iranian Tree He Climbed?

The US establishment wrongly believed that it could deal with Iran as with North Korea, using a carrot and stick. Threatening diplomacy has never worked with the “Islamic Republic” since 1979 when the Shah fell and Imam Khomeini seized power. It is true that US pressure on Iran over the last months has plunged the …

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Yemeni tribesmen from the Popular Resistance fire from a tank west of Marib city in November 2015 (AFP)

For Saudi Arabia, It’s been Operation Shoot Yourself in the Foot

Remember the name the Saudis gave their operation in Yemen when they launched it on 25 March 2015? Operation: Decisive Storm. By 21 April, the storm was officially declared over. The air strikes continued, of course, but the strikes on hospitals, schools and, in one notorious incident, a wedding party in Sanaa, were now part of an operation …

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