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: a sister battles for her brother’s freedom and that of thousands of other prisoners of conscience held in Saudi Arabia’s prison system.
Summary: with the passing of the ailing president of the UAE, Abu Dhabi’s crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed assumes a title that he has long held in every other aspect but name. In a smooth transition, all that remains is his decision about who to appoint to assume the position of crown prince.
Arab Digest editor William Law is in conversation with the Saudi human rights activist Areej al-Sadhan. Her brother Abdulrahman, a humanitarian aid worker, was forcibly disappeared in Saudi Arabia in 2018. She has been fighting ever since to secure his release and that of the many other prisoners of conscience sentenced to long terms by a politicised judiciary who then vanish into the kingdom’s labrythine prison system.
Summary: following the prime minister’s meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh in March, a Saudi Shura Council delegation visits Westminster and meets with the business minister Kwasi Kwarteng to the horror of the Saudi opposition.
Summary: the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh cannot be left to the Israeli authorities to investigate. Only an independent body can establish the truth of her death.
Yemen expert and author Helen Lackner joins Arab Digest editor William Law to discuss a ceasefire that is largely holding as all sides begin to acknowledge that a protracted stalemate, rather than leading to further fighting, could prove the path to dialogue, negotiations and an end to a more than seven year war that has brought untold suffering to the people of Yemen.
Summary: the US-Saudi relationship is at its lowest ebb in decades and newly declassified documents linking Saudi officials to 9/11 will make fixing it even harder.
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.
Newlines Institute senior analyst Caroline Rose joins Arab Digest editor William Law to discuss how Syria’s Assad family runs a narco state built on captagon, the illicit drug of choice for the Levant, the Gulf states and the wider Middle East. Working with Hezbollah, the family oversees the manufacture, distribution and sale of a drug that is cheap and easy to produce and is generating billions for the family and their associates.