The New Year has seen relations in the region spiral out of control with Saudi Arabia cutting off diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Sectarian tensions mounted following the execution of prominent Saudi Shi’a cleric Nimr al-Nimr and the subsequent attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran. With a resurgent Iran, emboldened by the lifting of sanctions and the recognition of global powers of its nuclear program, and a young, ambitious leadership in Saudi Arabia, it is likely that such diplomatic stand-offs will be a common occurrence in the near future. Read more »
Over the past few years Western media’s negative coverage of the Arab Gulf states has increased so much that it is starting to look more like a rite of passage for some journalists and news organisations. Meanwhile, what’s notable is that most Western media outlets have softened their tone when reporting on Iran. Read more »
Many Emiratis viewed the operation against the Houthis through the prism of a government decision. Now, Emiratis view the war as a life-changing experience fraught with difficulties and danger in order to avert an even a greater danger in the future: the control of an Arabian Peninsula state by Iran. Emiratis want to see this war brought to an end as soon as possible with as little civilian casualties and damage as possible. Read more »
As the situation in Syria deteriorated, tens of thousands of desperate Syrians began to embark on the dangerous journey to Europe by boat. Criticism grew of the Gulf States – the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman – who until recently were the ‘elephants in the room’ when it came to their lack of support and resettlement for fleeing Syrian refugees. Read more »
Sunni vs. Shia sectarian tension and violence is raging, and ISIS — a Sunni terrorist group — is taking advantage of it. We cannot defeat ISIS unless parties on both sides — particularly Iran and Saudi Arabia — stop fueling sectarianism. A security-only minded strategy in tackling ISIS will likely fail. We need a more comprehensive solution that tackles incitement on television and social media as well as in educational curriculums. It is difficult to see how a solution to many of the region’s problems will be achieved as long as Iran and Saudi Arabia maintain a zero-sum game approach with each other.
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In the Gulf Arab States, the Iranian nuclear deal has been met with celebration and apprehension. The business community in the Gulf is no doubt glad that the Iranian market, long shuttered under heavy sanctions, will finally be open for business. Yet political tensions caused by the Iranian government in the region continue to be a concern. Read more »