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: 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.
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: with resentment growing in Turkey towards Syrian refugees, President Erdoğan offers homes and promises of a ‘self-sufficient economic infrastructure’ to encourage 1 million to leave.
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.
Summary: as President Biden seeks to turn Putin into a global pariah, he has let slip another target, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is increasingly gaining international approval and acceptance despite his ruthless suppression of Saudis at home and attacks on critics abroad.
Summary: despite the relative calm of the past month, energy markets remain mired in uncertainty with volatility only likely to increase.
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.
Summary: MbS paying Jared Kushner US$2 billion and the UAE hacking the UK Prime Minister’s office attracts little comment from Western policymakers.