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.
Summary: while avoiding uncomfortable or unrewarding topics Masrour Barzani talks a good game about solving Iraq’s woes but it is one that is short on detail and long on rhetoric.
Summary: as the Egyptian president drives the country ever deeper into a massive debt swamp, he is capitalising on Saudi and Emirati fears of another revolution the keep the Gulf money flowing in.
Summary: as the war in Ukraine continues and a massive column of armoured vehicles heads toward Kyiv, fears are growing that the Russian president is prepared to inflict massive civilian harm in order to achieve his objectives.
Summary: with the exception of occasional news reports, the war in Syria grinds on with little coverage of the growing threat of IS or awareness that the international community has moved to accept Bashar al-Assad back into the fold even as millions of Syrians continue to suffer inside and outside the country.
Summary: this year poses big challenges to the economies of the MENA region, many of which are already in deep trouble while a wealthy few will use their hydrocarbons revenues to ride out whatever rough weather comes their way.
Summary: Iran is seeking to maintain its successful asymmetric warfare advantages by attempting to secure a continuation of the status quo in Vienna, happy to trade short-term acquisition of nuclear weaponry for relief from sanctions and continued progress with its programme of regional interventions. With the United States pulling back, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh are preparing themselves to be able to disrupt that status quo should it threaten them.
Summary: the cause of the 2020 Beirut blast is debated but what is indisputable is that the failure to uncover the truth is denying the people of Lebanon the justice they deserve.
Arab Digest editor William Law is joined by the European Council on Foreign Relations’ Cinzia Bianco. Cinzia takes an insightful look at the year just past in the Middle East and North Africa, from coups, to Covid, to MbS and MbZ, to alliances abandoned and new ones forged. And she offers her predictions for 2022.
Summary: Vladimir Putin can look back at 2021 satisfied in the knowledge that Russia has further strengthened its hand in the Middle East and North Africa.