The Gulf states, the GCC and America

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags , , ,

We have described in earlier postings the near-crisis in US/Saudi relations over disagreements on the Arab spring, Egypt, Syria and Iran, and the reaction of other Gulf states to Iran in particular. One Emirati commentator Mish’al al-Gergawi wrote in the Dubai-based Gulf news on 4 December of a sense of betrayal across the Arabian gulf; “A new generation is taking the helm in many Arab Gulf states. Questions abound over where it will direct their interests and capacities and address the region’s …

Saudi positions: policy and paranoia

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags , ,

The impact on Saudi Arabia of developments over Syria and Iran, and Saudi reactions to them, continue to generate heated debate. The Hizbullah leader Hasan Nasrallah has told Lebanese TV that the suicide bombing of the Iranian embassy in Beirut last month which killed 25 people, and was claimed by a Lebanese Sunni group, was linked …

The Gulf states and the Iran deal

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags , ,

In our posting of 27 November we mentioned that Saudi Arabia’s official response to the Iran interim deal was cautiously positive. Reactions elsewhere in the Gulf have reflected the varying interests of the Gulf states but have generally been more positive. According to the Kuwait Times the Gulf Cooperation Council foreign ministers meeting in …

Iran: a thaw

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags ,

Agreement was reached early on 24 November on an interim deal giving Iran limited sanctions relief in return for restrictions on its nuclear programme. Associated Press have published a detailed account of the negotiations between the US and Iran during the last year, kept secret even from America's closest friends including the rest of the …

Kuwait; new thinking and the Muslim Brotherhood

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags ,

Recent developments in the region (Egypt, Syria, Iran) have called for new thinking in the Gulf states, most of which are not well adapted for new thinking. Kuwait has a more open political system than most, though it does not habitually aspire to a leading role. The Amirs of Kuwait and Qatar met King …

Détente with Iran: the impact

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags ,

Although the Geneva talks between Iran and the P5 +1 ended without agreement, the main participants have emphasised that it was extremely close. There are conflicting reports on exactly why and who was responsible for the failure to reach agreement, with some fingers pointed at the French: according to John Kerry “progress was made. The P5+1 was united”, but “Iran couldn’t take it at that particular moment; they weren’t able to accept that particular agreement.” Another meeting has been fixed for 20 November. Britain is reviving diplomatic relations two …

Bahrain: peaceful confrontation

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags

With political violence much reduced, tension in Bahrain largely centres on claims and counterclaims about the extent to which changes recommended by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry have been put into effect, for example police reform including video and audio recording of police interviews. A police officer was reported to have been killed by a home-made bomb …

The Arab spring: what next?

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags , , , , ,


Developments in Egypt have driven even Syria off the headlines, but it is clear that the major changes throughout the Middle East which began in Tunisia in 2011 are still working themselves out. Below are three attempts to take a broader view. The first by Max Rodenbeck Cairo-based chief Middle East correspondent of the Economist attempts a comprehensive survey and concludes that the current feeling that the scorecard looks overwhelmingly negative is only the end of the beginning. The second published on the London Review of …