The Arab Digest podcast conversation this week takes a hard look at US foreign policy in the Middle East under President Joe Biden. Digest editor William Law’s guest is Jon Hoffman, a geopolitical analyst and commentator. Hoffman sees Biden’s approach as a continuation of decades of failed policies that have served neither the US nor the people of the region well.
Summary: there was a flurry of suggestions that the Saudi crown prince would come to London for the Queen’s funeral but in the end he didn’t show up while other senior Gulf dignitaries did.
Summary: After a tumultuous week which saw the death of Queen Elizabeth and the rout of the Russian army in Ukraine, the Middle East analyst and author Kristian Coates Ulrichsen returns to the podcast to discuss in detail his recent tweets with Arab Digest editor William Law.
Summary: an end to the blockade of Qatar last year has, on the surface, eased tensions between Abu Dhabi and Doha but look a little deeper and the animosity remains.
Arab Digest editor William Law’s podcast guest is Giorgio Cafiero, the CEO of Washington-based Gulf State Analytics. Their conversation focusses on US-Saudi relations and the awkward situation US president Joe Biden finds himself in needing to reach some sort of accommodation with the Saudi Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman as petrol prices rocket and America’s domestic economic woes mount.
The European Council on Foreign Relations’ Cinzia Bianco joins Arab Digest editor William Law to talk about the partnership deal that the EU is proposing to the Gulf states. Large in ambition and sweeping in scope, it was released in Brussels in mid-May and titled ‘Joint Communication to the European Parliament and Council: a strategic partnership with the Gulf.’ So is the proposal a gamechanger or is it a dustcatcher? Will the Gulf play ball or are there red lines that will stop the initiative in its tracks? Cinzia weighs up the pros and cons and delivers her verdict.
Summary: as the war in Ukraine enters an ever more dangerous phase, MENA states continue to take a fence-sitting posture that keeps their options open and avoids annoying Putin.
Summary: what seemed a certainty has now bogged down and the Vienna talks are at risk of stalemate with America’s Gulf allies finding themselves caught between a rock and a hard place, on the one hand worried that either the US will do a deal that gives away too much and leaves them in the lurch or on the other that a no deal scenario will further heighten their regional insecurity fears.
Arab Digest editor William Law welcomes back Andreas Krieg of the Defence Studies Department, King’s College London and their conversation focusses on the battle that liberal democracy now finds itself engaged in as its MENA partners play the neutral card while quietly backing their ideological ally Putin in his war in Ukraine. It is an existential struggle, one encumbered with a stark hypocrisy.
Arab Digest editor William Law’s guest this week is the author and MENA analyst Christopher Davidson. Their conversation focusses on how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is proving beneficial for the region’s autocratic leaders and not simply because the price of hydrocarbons has soared. Amongst other windfalls Russia’s oligarchs are finding new homes in the Gulf and bringing their wealth with them.