Tag Archives: United States

King Bibi Returns

It is an immense irony, as the great orientalist Bernard Lewis was fond of remarking, that Israel – the most vibrant and enthusiastic democracy in the Middle East – has to put up with the world’s worst electoral system. Its governments frequently collapse. Perhaps they do it philanthropically, to allow citizens once again the pleasure of going to the polls. 

Israel’s longest serving leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, is back. His return confirms once again an iron clad rule of Israeli politics: never write Bibi off. A few years ago, his opponents briefly thought they had vanquished him for good.   

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ISIS Is Wreaking Afghan Terror

The bomb tore through an examination hall in Kabul on Friday, where students – mostly minority Hazara, mostly young women – were sitting a practice test in preparation for university. Thirty-five were killed, dozens more injured. An unspeakable human tragedy. 

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Russia’s Imperial Periphery

Wars are breaking out across the imperial periphery as Russia is defeated in Ukraine. 

This week, Azerbaijan attacked Armenia, striking its sovereign territory—a clear repudiation of the “peacekeeping” efforts masterminded by Russia in the aftermath of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War. As it is attacked, Armenia has plaintively appealed for Russian aid—aid which is not forthcoming. 

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Broken History

Review – Breaking History by Jared Kushner

In time-honoured Washington fashion, the memoir of Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, makes the case that its author was a pivotal, if hidden, force in American politics. Kushner has himself in the background of everything significant that occurred in the four years Trump was in power. 

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The American-Saudi Relationship in Peril

When a comedy sketch on Saudi TV went viral recently, it set people talking in Washington. The sketch depicted a senile President Joe Biden being manhandled by his staff – not exactly ground-breaking comedy, and hardly unique among international portrayals of the president. But for observers of the Gulf kingdom, it was worth noting.

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With Netanyahu Gone, Will Israel Soften Its Stance on Iran?

On 13 June, before the new coalition government won a vote of confidence in Israel, the outgoing prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, made an incendiary speech in the Knesset.

‘Iran is celebrating’ the new coalition, he said. He claimed the government, led by religious-nationalist Naftali Bennett, would be dominated by the left-wing and therefore weak. 

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Liberators or Occupiers?

The fourth anniversary of the start of the battle for Raqqa has just passed, during which time the city was recaptured from the Islamic State (IS).

Raqqa had been IS’ Syrian capital, and it took over four months for the liberators, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), to wrest back control of the city in October 2017 with international support.

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Yemen’s Wars

Mountainous and dry, with a tendency to anarchy in the ample spaces between its cities, Yemen has long been hospitable to insurgency. Yet in ancient times it was home to the Sabaeans and had claims to be the biblical land of the Queen of Sheba. Its fertility and beauty were such that the Romans called it Arabia Felix, ‘happy Arabia’. The people there are mostly Arabs and like much of the rest of Arabia, became subject to the distant domain of the Ottoman sultan. The fate of the peninsula was influenced significantly by Britain, which in 1937 took the port city of Aden as the centre of its colony (on independence in 1967, it became South Yemen). Britain exercised significant influence over who ruled Muscat and Oman; assisted succession to the monarchy and imamate of North Yemen; and together with the US confirmed the al Saud family as hereditary rulers of what became Saudi Arabia. Now combined, the former North and South Yemen are together Sunni by bare majority, but the Zaidi Shia remain a large, mainly northern minority.

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The Bid to Stabilise Mali

British troops have begun operations in Mali as part of a United Nations mission to counter jihadist groups in the country. UK forces began arriving in February and have, with BBC cameras in tow, started their long-range patrols of the country’s sparse regions. The way the cameras captured it, those involved in these initial patrols seem confident, but also a little uneasy.

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