The Burning Ambition of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s conservatism is well-known. It is religious, social, and political. Saudi Arabia is a monarchy whose legitimacy is supported by clerical authority. Many outsiders, particularly Westerners, assume from this that the country is entirely retrograde, that reform of its institutions, laws and society may never come. Continue reading

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An Endgame in Syria?

Around the world and in Syria itself, there is an idea which is gaining traction.

This idea holds, in effect, that the war is coming to an end. Its proponents suggest that things are beginning to fall into place; that the situation is beginning to become conclusive; and that, very soon, the country will reach something like stasis, or even a final state. Continue reading

Iraq and Its Kurds Succeed Where Iran Failed in Earthquake Aftermath

An earthquake of 7.3 mag­nitude struck Iraq and Iran on November 12. It began in the Iraqi area of Halabja but its tremors were felt across the Middle East and its effects were extensive. Continue reading

How to End Syria’s Sieges

Heart-rending images come out of the Syrian war with such regularity that one would almost be forgiven for becoming inured to their horror. This is how global callousness sets in, and there are reasons for it.

But a series of photographs which were propagated last month challenged this collective emotional hardness. They documented the young life of Sahar Dofdaa, a terribly emaciated infant born in East Ghouta, which has been under siege by forces loyal to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since 2012. Continue reading

Defeating Daesh?

Despite the rhetoric, the campaign against the Islamic State group (IS) is not over. The international coalition is sounding almost triumphalist, giving developments a sunny gloss and frequently repeating claim that it is ‘defeating Daesh’.

This is true in a way, and success in one aspect – the protracted war which has pushed IS out of many cities and towns in Syria and Iraq – cannot be denied. Continue reading

Lifting the Assad Regime’s Sieges Requires More Than Just Words

Syria’s war has been brutal even by the normal standards of a civil conflict.

Half a million are thought to have died, while many thousands have ‘disappeared’ into prisons which are known to be sites of mass murder; millions have fled Syria, and millions more have been internally displaced within the country. Continue reading

Saudi Arabia’s King-In-Waiting Flexes His Muscles

Last Saturday, three events in Saudi Arabia caught the attention of the world.

The first was the remarkable news that the kingdom had intercepted and neutralised a missile over Riyadh. This was quickly determined to have been launched from Yemen, which was swiftly blockaded, with its sea, land and air ports abruptly closed. Continue reading