Libya’s peace process: What’s at stake for the Maghreb, 10 years after Gadhafi’s overthrow

A bus travels towards Tripoli by the newly-reopened coastal road which was cut between the cities of Misrata and Sirte, near Ras Lanuf, Libya August 10, 2021. Picture taken August 10, 2021. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori

Decade after the overthrow of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Libya is set to hold elections this December to produce a unified government. As the date approaches, the country’s Maghreb neighbors — Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco — are showing intensified interest in its ongoing peace process. Algerian decisionmakers resumed Libya flights, opened a sea line between… Continue reading Libya’s peace process: What’s at stake for the Maghreb, 10 years after Gadhafi’s overthrow

Infographic: COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the Middle East and North Africa

A man receives a dose of the China's Sinopharm vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a mass immunization venue inside Cairo's International Exhibition Center in Cairo, Egypt June 5, 2021. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Since multiple vaccines for COVID-19 became available at the end of 2020, countries across the world have struggled to ensure that their populations have access to sufficient quantities of the vaccines. Global vaccination efforts have been stymied by economic and logistical challenges, as poorer countries struggle to afford vaccines, queue for vaccine supplies through the… Continue reading Infographic: COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the Middle East and North Africa

Treat Iraq’s Iran-aligned militias like ISIS

Iraq is beset with crises. In the scorching summer heat, the country is suffering from electricity and water shortages, longstanding challenges that have routinely resulted in violent protests as part of wider grievances around lack of services and rampant corruption. On July 12, a hospital fire killed at least 60 people as a result of… Continue reading Treat Iraq’s Iran-aligned militias like ISIS

How Western policymakers can engage the new Arab diasporas

Since the onset of the Arab uprisings 10 years ago, many people from Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and other countries have fled or were forced to flee their home states. The demography of these new diasporas is diverse and powerful, yet policymakers in the West do not adequately engage with them.These emerging and politically… Continue reading How Western policymakers can engage the new Arab diasporas

Israel, Africa, and Libya: Morocco’s foreign policy trump cards

Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita speaks during a visit by Israeli envoys to Rabat, Morocco, December 22, 2020. Picture taken December 22, 2020. REUTERS/Shereen Talaat

Moroccan foreign policy has garnered significant attention in recent months amidst heightened tensions with the European Union, talks of further rapprochement with Israel, and stronger stances vis-à-vis its involvement in the Libyan peace processand its claim over the disputed territory of Western Sahara. Some argue that U.S. recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the latter has… Continue reading Israel, Africa, and Libya: Morocco’s foreign policy trump cards

For Washington and the Palestinians, old policy is no substitute for sound policy

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 25, 2021. Majdi Mohammed/Pool via REUTERS

The arrival of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Jerusalem last week marked the Biden administration’s first high-level public engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Coming days after a cease-fire was called between Israel and Hamas, which ended 11 days of fighting that left nearly 250 dead in Gaza, including 66 children, and 10 adults… Continue reading For Washington and the Palestinians, old policy is no substitute for sound policy

Imperfect allies and non-state actors: Lessons from the 1991 no-fly zone in Iraq

United States President George H.W. Bush speaks by telephone to US Secretary of State James A. Baker, III after the Secretary's first meeting with Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz of Iraq at the White House in Washington, DC on January 9, 1991. Photo by Carol T. Powers / White House via CNP/ABACAPRESS.COM

Thirty years ago, Saddam Hussein’s totalitarian regime was on the verge of committing genocide against Iraq’s Kurds. Forced to withdraw its invading forces from Kuwait by the international community in 1990, the Baath regime was looking to strengthen its severely weakened grip over the country’s population. In response, the United States, United Kingdom, and France… Continue reading Imperfect allies and non-state actors: Lessons from the 1991 no-fly zone in Iraq

One year of COVID-19 in the Middle East and North Africa: The fate of the ‘best performers’

FILE PHOTO: An elderly man receives the COVID-19 vaccine during a national coronavirus vaccination campaign, in Sale, Morocco January 29, 2021. REUTERS/Shereen Talaat/File Photo

One year after countries in the Middle East and around the world declared national health emergencies due to the coronavirus pandemic, hundreds are protesting in Jordan following the death of at least six COVID-19 patients due to hospital oxygen shortages. Elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, some states are faring relatively… Continue reading One year of COVID-19 in the Middle East and North Africa: The fate of the ‘best performers’

The arrest of Maati Monjib and the continued retreat of human rights in Morocco

Moroccan protesters hold up posters of Maati Monjib, a Moroccan professor of political history, to support him during a demonstration in the capital, Rabat, October 21, 2015. Monjib started a second hunger strike last Wednesday after authorities banned him from boarding a plane to Norway for an international conference on journalism in Lillehammer. The sign reads, "Even if you use repression, your intimidation is useless". REUTERS/Stringer

Last December, Maati Monjib — a Moroccan historian and former Patkin Fellow in the Middle East Democracy and Development Project at Brookings — was arrested by Moroccan security services while having lunch at a restaurant in Rabat. Monjib, a prominent and long-time critic of the government and an internationally known human rights activist, was charged… Continue reading The arrest of Maati Monjib and the continued retreat of human rights in Morocco

GCC News Roundup: US report finds Saudi crown prince approved Khashoggi murder, Gulf states impose new restrictions to stem virus surge (February 1-28)

FILE PHOTO: The Committee to Protect Journalists and other press freedom activists hold a candlelight vigil in front of the Saudi Embassy to mark the anniversary of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul, Wednesday evening in Washington, U.S., October 2, 2019. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger/File Photo

US report finds Saudi crown prince approved Khashoggi murder: Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler approved an operation to capture or kill murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, according to U.S. intelligence released on February 26 as the United States imposed sanctions on some of those involved but spared the crown prince himself in an effort to preserve relations… Continue reading GCC News Roundup: US report finds Saudi crown prince approved Khashoggi murder, Gulf states impose new restrictions to stem virus surge (February 1-28)

Heavy lies the crown: The survival of Arab monarchies, 10 years after the Arab Spring

People rise hands during a protest near the Prime Minister's office in Amman, Jordan June 6, 2018. REUTERS/ Ammar Awad

Ten years ago, the Arab uprisings unseated four “presidents for life” in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Yemen. The Middle East and North Africa’s (MENA) eight monarchs were spared, although many of their countries experienced moderate or significant unrest, including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Jordan, and Morocco. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar faced… Continue reading Heavy lies the crown: The survival of Arab monarchies, 10 years after the Arab Spring

Biden’s decision to strike Iran’s proxies is a good start

A member of Hashd al-Shaabi (paramilitary forces) holds a flag of Kataib Hezbollah militia group during a protest to condemn air strikes on their bases, in Baghdad, Iraq December 31, 2019. REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily

President Joe Biden’s decision to strike Iran-aligned groups in Syria last night follows a spate of rocket attacks launched against U.S. targets in Iraq this past week, including last week’s attack on U.S. and coalition personnel in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The Erbil attack was President Biden’s first major test… Continue reading Biden’s decision to strike Iran’s proxies is a good start

Elections in Palestine: Prelude or ploy?

A sign of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission is seen outside its office in Gaza City February 10, 2021. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

November, Donald Trump attempted to subvert the results of the democratic process and remain in power. Ironically, his inability to do so prompted another would-be-authoritarian half a world away — one who has managed to succeed repeatedly where Trump failed — to risk his grip on power and return his electorate to the ballot box. On… Continue reading Elections in Palestine: Prelude or ploy?

To save Iraq from economic collapse and fight ISIS, contain Iran’s proxies

The day after President Biden was inaugurated, Baghdad was hit by two suicide bombers who, in macabre fashion, killed at least 32 people and wounded at least 100. The attack was a stark reminder that the Iraq theater is still a critical one for combatting ISIS and preventing it from mounting a resurgence. With this… Continue reading To save Iraq from economic collapse and fight ISIS, contain Iran’s proxies

GCC News Roundup: Gulf leaders sign declaration in move to end Qatar rift, UAE signs deal to purchase F-35 jets from US (January 1-31)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) welcomes Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani upon his arrival in the city of alUla ahead of the 41st Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit.

Arab leaders signed a declaration on January 5 to ease a rift with Qatar, following Saudi Arabia’s decision to end a 3 1/2-year embargo of the tiny energy-rich country that deeply divided regional U.S. security allies and frayed social ties across the Arabian Peninsula. On the eve of the Gulf Arab leaders’ summit in the… Continue reading GCC News Roundup: Gulf leaders sign declaration in move to end Qatar rift, UAE signs deal to purchase F-35 jets from US (January 1-31)

US-Turkey relations will remain crisis-ridden for a long time to come

The U.S.-Turkey relationship has a long history of complexities, with no golden era to point to. However, even by these standards, recent years have been exceptionally bad. An accumulated series of crises, a dysfunctional framework for the relationship, and diverging threat perceptions have plagued ties. In particular, five crises that have tested U.S.-Turkey relations in recent… Continue reading US-Turkey relations will remain crisis-ridden for a long time to come

The blockade on Qatar helped strengthen its economy, paving the way to stronger regional integration

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani during the Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) 41st Summit in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia January 5, 2021. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY

On January 5, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Egypt ended their three-and-a-half-year blockade of Qatar. The Al-Ula Declaration, signed during the 41st Summit of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), has led to the resumption of travel and trade between Qatar and the blockading countries. It… Continue reading The blockade on Qatar helped strengthen its economy, paving the way to stronger regional integration

One year into his reign, Oman’s sultan must renegotiate the social contract and prioritize diversification

FILE PHOTO: Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said gives a speech after being sworn in before the royal family council in Muscat, Oman January 11, 2020. REUTERS/Sultan Al Hasani/File Photo

Oman is set to run out of its current oil and gas reserves in less than two decades, a highly problematic estimation. Indeed, hydrocarbons — which are the sultanate’s top exports (see Figure 1) — funded major infrastructural, educational, and healthcare developmentin the 1970s and 1980s, and generated 68% to 85% of yearly government revenues… Continue reading One year into his reign, Oman’s sultan must renegotiate the social contract and prioritize diversification

Infographic: New COVID-19 cases and the stringency of governmental response in the Middle East and North Africa

Men wearing protective face masks amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic walk beside police officer on Qasr el-Nil bridge leading to Cairo's Tahrir Square, Egypt December 17, 2020. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

In the early stages of the pandemic, Middle East and North Africa (MENA) governments imposed strict public health measures designed to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus domestically. These measures helped keep case levels in check and low compared to other regions of the world. The graphs below track the stringency of governmental public… Continue reading Infographic: New COVID-19 cases and the stringency of governmental response in the Middle East and North Africa

GCC News Roundup: Gulf states roll out COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, Saudi Arabia faces financial woes (December 1-31)

A Kuwai man, Abdulla al Anazi, gets a dose of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine in Kuwait City, Kuwait December 24, 2020. REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee

Gulf states roll out COVID-19 vaccination campaigns Bahrain will provide the COVID-19 vaccine for free to all citizens and residents, state news agency BNA reported on December 10. The country said on December 13 that it had approved the use of a Chinese coronavirus vaccine, following its earlier approval of a vaccine made by Pfizer… Continue reading GCC News Roundup: Gulf states roll out COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, Saudi Arabia faces financial woes (December 1-31)

Infographic: COVID-19 fatality in the Middle East and North Africa

People, wearing masks against the coronavirus, walk past a pharmacy, amid concerns over the spread of COVID-19 in Tunis, Tunisia October 7, 2020.REUTERS/Angus McDowall

Compared to many Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has managed to keep COVID-19 fatality rates relatively low. Between March and November 2020, MENA’s aggregate fatality rate – the number of new deaths as a share of new cases – averaged about 3 percent, as… Continue reading Infographic: COVID-19 fatality in the Middle East and North Africa

Infographic: Cumulative deaths from COVID-19 in the Middle East and North Africa

Rabat, Morocco.- In the photos, it shows the streets of Rabat during the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. David Nabarro, special adviser to the World Health Organization (WHO) urged governments not to use quarantine as the main strategy to control the spread of COVID-19 and warned of the increase in poverty as a result of the restrictions . "At the World Health Organization we do not advocate quarantines as the main means of controlling this virus," Nabarro said.

Overall, the number of deaths associated with the COVID-19 pandemic in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has remained low in both total and per capita terms relative to other regions. This may be driven, in part, by the youthful nature of the MENA’s populations and the relative strength of the healthcare systems in… Continue reading Infographic: Cumulative deaths from COVID-19 in the Middle East and North Africa

Infographic: The incidence of COVID-19 in the Middle East and North Africa

Egyptians, some of them wearing protective masks, look from the bus windows amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Cairo, Egypt December 17, 2020. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

In comparison with Europe and North and South America, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has managed to limit the initial spread of the COVID-19 virus. However, there has been significant variation between countries, as one can see in the following data visualization. This graph tracks cumulative confirmed cases of COVID-19 relative to… Continue reading Infographic: The incidence of COVID-19 in the Middle East and North Africa

Morocco’s partial normalization with Israel comes with risks and gains

President Donald Trump announced in a series of tweets on December 10 that the United States recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara territory, would open a consulate in Dakhla, and had brokered the qualified normalization of ties between Morocco and Israel. Confirmed by Morocco’s royal cabinet and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this controversial… Continue reading Morocco’s partial normalization with Israel comes with risks and gains

Is there a new window of opportunity in the Eastern Mediterranean crisis?

FILE PHOTO: Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz is escorted by Turkish Navy frigate TCG Gemlik (F-492) in the eastern Mediterranean Sea off Cyprus, August 6, 2019. Picture taken August 6, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer/File Photo

Maritime disputes between Greece and Turkey, couched in competing narratives of national sovereignties, are nothing new. Their genesis dates as far back as the founding periods of the two states. At its core, these disputes center on three issues: the disagreement over the width of Greek territorial waters, along with the ownership of certain islands… Continue reading Is there a new window of opportunity in the Eastern Mediterranean crisis?

GCC News Roundup: Trump moves to sell F-35 fighter jets to UAE, first flight carrying Israeli tourists lands in UAE (November 1-30)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during a welcoming ceremony upon the landing of a United Arab Emirates airline flydubai flight at Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, Israel November 26, 2020. REUTERS/Emil Salman/Pool

Trump advances plan to sell F-35 fighter jets to UAE The Trump administration formally notified Congress on November 10 that it plans to sell 50 stealth F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as part of a broader arms deal worth $23 billion aimed at deterring potential threats from Iran despite concern in… Continue reading GCC News Roundup: Trump moves to sell F-35 fighter jets to UAE, first flight carrying Israeli tourists lands in UAE (November 1-30)

Algeria must prioritize economic change amidst COVID-19 and political crisis

The logo of the state energy company Sonatrach is pictured at the headquarters in Algiers, Algeria November 20, 2019. Picture taken November 20, 2019. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina

In the midst of widespread popular discontent with the regime led by the Hirak movement, resource-wealthy Algeria continues to struggle with the same socioeconomic challenges it has faced for a decade. Only now, the country’s economic standing has been further complicated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the recent drop in oil prices. The former… Continue reading Algeria must prioritize economic change amidst COVID-19 and political crisis

Iran will lose the battle, but win the war

Funeral of assassinated Iranian nuclear scientist November 30, 2020, Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan, Iran: A handout picture provided by the Iranian defense ministry office shows the coffin of slain Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh is being carried inside the Shrine of Imam Reza, during a funeral ceremony in the city of Mashhad, northeastern Iran, 29 November 2020. With a funeral worthy of the Islamic Republic s greatest martyrs , Tehran paid a final tribute to a scientist killed in an assassination blamed on Israel and promised to continue his work. Fakhrizadeh died on November 27 in a hospital from his wounds after assailants targeted his card and engaged in a gunfight with his bodyguards outside Tehran, according to Iran s defen Poolfoto ZUMAPRESS.com ,EDITORIAL USE ONLYNo Use Switzerland. No Use Germany. No Use Japan. No Use Austria

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, the architect behind Iran’s nuclear program, has raised the spectre of a major conflict in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration in January. Iran is under unprecedented pressure at home (facing economic reverberations of the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign) and in the region (as Tehran struggles to protect… Continue reading Iran will lose the battle, but win the war

GCC News Roundup: French products boycotted, Qatar formally requests F-35 fighter jets (October 1-31)

Empty shelves are seen where French products were displayed, after Kuwaiti supermarkets' boycott on French goods, in Kuwait City, Kuwait, October 25, 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Hagagy

Saudi man attacks guard at French consulate A Saudi man was arrested in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after attacking and wounding a security guard with a “sharp tool” at the French consulate on October 29, local police said. A statement from the Mecca region’s police said the guard had suffered “minor injuries” and… Continue reading GCC News Roundup: French products boycotted, Qatar formally requests F-35 fighter jets (October 1-31)

How the Iran-Iraq war will shape the region for decades to come

REFILE - CORRECTING TYPO An Iranian woman holds a red flower as she attends a ceremony to bury remains of 150 "martyrs" from 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war in Tehran, Iran June 27, 2019. Nazanin Tabatabaee/West Asia News Agency via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY

Forty years ago, a major war between Iran and Iraq set the stage for far-reaching and lasting regional dynamics. The conflict — which began in September 1980 when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran, and ended in a stalemate in 1988 — was the nascent Islamic Republic’s first major military test. It was an existential battle for… Continue reading How the Iran-Iraq war will shape the region for decades to come

GCC News Roundup: Kuwaiti ruler dies, Bahrain normalizes relations with Israel (September 1-30)

FILE PHOTO: Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah speaks during a meeting at the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) summit at the Foreign Ministry in Bangkok, Thailand, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo

KUWAITI RULER SHEIKH SABAH DEAD AT 91 Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, the ruler of Kuwait who drew on his decades as the oil-rich nation’s top diplomat to push for closer ties to Iraq after the 1990 Gulf War and solutions to other regional crises, died on September 29. He was 91. The country… Continue reading GCC News Roundup: Kuwaiti ruler dies, Bahrain normalizes relations with Israel (September 1-30)

GCC News Roundup: UAE, Israel normalize ties, Qatar reforms labor laws (August 1-31)

Israeli National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat, U.S. President's senior adviser Jared Kushner and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash hold a meeting in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates August 31, 2020. Government Press Office (GPO)/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY

SAUDI ARAMCO INCOME FALLS BY 50 PERCENT Saudi Aramco’s net income plunged by 50 percent in the first half of the year, according to figures published August 9, offering a revealing glimpse into the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on one of the world’s biggest oil producers. Profits for the first six months of the… Continue reading GCC News Roundup: UAE, Israel normalize ties, Qatar reforms labor laws (August 1-31)

Iraq’s best hope is developing stronger ties to the Gulf — with US help

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi speaks during a news conference in Basra, Iraq, July 15, 2020. Ahmad Al-Rubaye/Pool via REUTERS

As Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi made his way to Washington, D.C. for talks at the White House on Thursday, he left a country that is mired in crisis. Iraq’s political environment is deeply fractious, and there are ongoing protests over socio-economic grievances. Its economy faces possible collapse amid the decline of oil prices and… Continue reading Iraq’s best hope is developing stronger ties to the Gulf — with US help

GCC News Roundup: GCC economies projected to shrink, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE ease restrictions (June 1-30)

A barber wears a protective face shield and gloves as he cuts hair of a customer at a local barber shop after its reopening, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia June 22, 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

SAUDI ARABIA LIMITS HAJJ ATTENDANCE A Saudi official said June 23 that the hajj pilgrimage, which usually draws up to 2.5 million Muslims from all over the world, would only see at the most a few thousand pilgrims next month due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. The kingdom’s Hajj Minister Muhammad Benten… Continue reading GCC News Roundup: GCC economies projected to shrink, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE ease restrictions (June 1-30)

Was Iraq’s prime minister right to go after an Iranian proxy?

Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi delivers a speech during the vote on the new government at the parliament headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, May 7, 2020. Iraqi Parliament Media Office/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

On June 25, Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi launched a raid against an Iran-aligned militia that has carried out at least 35 rocket attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq since last October. One such attack, in December, killed an American civilian contractor and wounded several U.S. military service members, triggering a series of events that… Continue reading Was Iraq’s prime minister right to go after an Iranian proxy?

Libya’s proxy sponsors face a dilemma

Irregular forces loyal to former army general Khalifa Haftar stand by an armed vehicle during clashes with Islamist militants in the eastern city of Benghazi June 2, 2014. Eight people were killed and 15 wounded when fighting broke out on Monday between the Libyan army and Islamist militants in the eastern city of Benghazi, medical sources said. The Ansar al-Sharia militant group attacked a camp on Monday belonging to army special forces, residents there said. Forces of the renegade general fighting Islamists later joined the battle, using combat helicopters, they added. REUTERS/Stringer (LIBYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS)

Events in Libya have taken a remarkable turn after the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli, the Government of National Accord (GNA), took back full control of the capital last Monday. The move forced Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA) to abandon their year-long attempt to take the city and withdraw their forces… Continue reading Libya’s proxy sponsors face a dilemma

What explains the decline of Iran’s moderates? It’s not Trump

Iranian lawmakers attend the opening ceremony of Iran's 11th parliament, practicing social distancing as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Tehran, Iran, May 27, 2020. WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY

Last month, Iran inaugurated a new parliament with a hardline majority elected in a late February ballot with the lowest voter turnout since the 1979 revolution. Conservatives even swept the capital city, Tehran, while the leading moderate secured just 95,393 votes in a metropolitan area with a population of over 13 million. Why have Iran’s… Continue reading What explains the decline of Iran’s moderates? It’s not Trump

GCC News Roundup: Gulf states begin to slowly ease restrictions, airlines plan reopening (May 1-31)

Empty Doha airport during repatriation, 2020-04-08. Aeroport de Doha vide durant un rapatriement, 2020-04-08.NO USE FRANCE

GULF STATES BEGIN TO OPEN UP DESPITE INCREASE IN CORONAVIRUS CASES The minister of human resources in Saudi Arabia said on May 26 that public sector employees would start returning to work gradually as of May 31, after more than two months of suspension amid strict measures to help curb the novel coronavirus outbreak. The state… Continue reading GCC News Roundup: Gulf states begin to slowly ease restrictions, airlines plan reopening (May 1-31)

How the US should approach the strategic dialogue with Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi uses his mobile phone at his office in Baghdad, Iraq May 9, 2020. Picture taken May 9, 2020. Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

After five months and two failed attempts, Iraq has a new prime minister. Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s appointment offers the country the prospect of some respite after months of political paralysis and mass social unrest since October 2019. The unrest has rocked the political class, and has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, the dramatic decline in… Continue reading How the US should approach the strategic dialogue with Iraq

Years of dereliction has left the PLO facing annexation without a plan

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a leadership meeting in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank May 19, 2020. Alaa Badarneh/Pool via REUTERS

After more than a quarter-century, the Oslo Accords came to an end last week. From his presidential compound in Ramallah, Mahmoud Abbas — the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) — delivered a speech in which he said Palestinians have become “absolved of all agreements and understandings… Continue reading Years of dereliction has left the PLO facing annexation without a plan

GCC News Roundup: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait implement new economic measures (April 1-30)

A person passes the logo of the Organization of the Petroleoum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in front of OPEC's headquarters in Vienna, Austria April 9, 2020. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

GULF ECONOMIES STRUGGLE AS CRUDE FUTURES COLLAPSE Gulf debt and equity markets fell on April 21 and the Saudi currency dropped in the forward market, after U.S. crude oil futures collapsed below $0 on a coronavirus-induced supply glut. Saudi Arabia’s central bank foreign reserves fell in March at their fastest rate in at least 20… Continue reading GCC News Roundup: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait implement new economic measures (April 1-30)

Iran’s corona-diplomacy The Rouhani administration’s miscalculated efforts to get sanctions lifted

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during the cabinet meeting, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Tehran, Iran, April 8, 2020. Official Presidential website/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

While President Trump’s campaign of “maximum pressure” against Iran has been building for three years now, the COVID-19 pandemic is making its impact much more acute. The administration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been pressing the U.S. to ease or lift sanctions in light of the public health and economic crises affecting a huge… Continue reading Iran’s corona-diplomacy The Rouhani administration’s miscalculated efforts to get sanctions lifted

COVID-19 will prolong conflict in the Middle East

A health worker disinfects a market amid concerns of the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen April 13, 2020. Picture taken April 13, 2020. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

The COVID-19 pandemic could not have come at a worse time for the Middle East. Since the U.S.-led international coalition secured the territorial defeat of ISIS three years ago, the region is still struggling to achieve lasting peace. Much of the region remains engulfed in ongoing conflict. The civil war has not ended in Syria,… Continue reading COVID-19 will prolong conflict in the Middle East

Are COVID-19 restrictions inflaming religious tensions?

Shi'ite pilgrims make their way to Kadhimiya to mark the death of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim during a curfew imposed to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Baghdad, Iraq March 18, 2020. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

The novel coronavirus that causes the disease known as COVID-19 is sweeping across the Middle East and reigniting religious tensions, as governments tighten the reins on long-held practices in the name of fighting the pandemic. There is no doubt that the restrictions, including the closure of Shia shrines in Iraq and Iran and the cancelation… Continue reading Are COVID-19 restrictions inflaming religious tensions?

GCC News Roundup: Further restrictions imposed in Gulf States as COVID-19 cases increase (March 1-31)

RIAD, SAUDI ARABIA- Health personnel carry out disinfection tasks in the streets and public places, as a preventive measure against the coronavirus in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 2, 2020. The government of Saudi Arabia ordered this Thursday (2) the Confinement of the population in the cities of Mecca and Medina to try to contain the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, which has already left 1,885 confirmed cases and 21 deaths in the country.

GULF STATES IMPOSE FURTHER RESTRICTIONS AS CORONAVIRUS CASES INCREASE Saudi authorities imposed entry and exit bans on Jeddah on March 29, after doing so for the cities of Riyadh, Mecca, and Medina on March 26. On March 29, the kingdom also extended indefinitely the suspension of international passenger flights and a bar on workplace attendance… Continue reading GCC News Roundup: Further restrictions imposed in Gulf States as COVID-19 cases increase (March 1-31)

Iraq has a new prime minister. What next?

Iraq's President Barham Salih meets with new prime minister-designate Adnan al-Zurfi in Baghdad, Iraq March 17, 2020. The Presidency of the Republic of Iraq Office/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Iraq has a new prime minister-designate, almost three weeks after the previous nominee — Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi — failed to secure parliamentary approval for his cabinet. The new figure, Adnan al-Zurfi, is a veteran of the Iraqi opposition and a long-time member of the ruling class who worked closely with the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA)… Continue reading Iraq has a new prime minister. What next?

GCC News Roundup: Coronavirus affects travel in the Gulf, Qatar-Saudi talks end. (February 1-29)

Passengers coming from China wearing masks to prevent a new coronavirus are checked by Saudi Health Ministry employees upon their arrival at King Khalid International Airport, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia January 29, 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

GULF STATES BAR TRAVEL, SUSPEND FLIGHTS DUE TO CORONAVIRUS Saudi Arabia barred its citizens and residents on February 6 from traveling to China amid the coronavirus outbreak. The country’s flagship national carrier, Saudia, had previously joined other major airlines in suspending flights to China. On February 27, the country closed its borders to foreign “umrah”… Continue reading GCC News Roundup: Coronavirus affects travel in the Gulf, Qatar-Saudi talks end. (February 1-29)

What will happen to Iraqi Shiite militias after one key leader’s death?

Iraqi women gather at the scene where Iran's Quds Force top commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed in a U.S. airstrike at Baghdad airport, Iraq February 13, 2020. REUTERS/Wissam al-Okaili

The U.S. decision to assassinate Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani in January inadvertently also caused the death of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the powerful and influential head of Kataib Hezbollah and de facto head of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). While commentators have focused on Soleimani, the death of Muhandis has broad implications for Iraq’s Shiite militia… Continue reading What will happen to Iraqi Shiite militias after one key leader’s death?

Iran’s parliamentary elections occur amid unprecedented pressures And the hardliners are moving toward monopolizing power

A woman walks past parliamentary election campaign posters at the end of the parliamentary election day in Tehran, Iran February 20, 2020. WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Nazanin Tabatabaee via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Ahead of Iran’s February 21 parliamentary elections, state media is at full blast. To urge Iranians to take to the polls this Friday, state TV’s Channel 1 (Shabakeh 1) is running an election-day countdown, showing images of past elections and enthusiastic voters, and inviting Iranian actors and directors to say on screen that they intend… Continue reading Iran’s parliamentary elections occur amid unprecedented pressures And the hardliners are moving toward monopolizing power

The real threat to Palestine is a crisis of leadership

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a Security Council meeting at the United Nations in New York, U.S., February 11, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The Palestinian response to President Trump’s “deal of the century” was a swift and predictable “no.” After a brief flirtation with Trump and his team more than two years ago, Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), has since characterized the White House’s efforts as a… Continue reading The real threat to Palestine is a crisis of leadership