Sisi and the zero sum game

Summary: a big hike in interest rates as inflation gallops ahead shows that the economic model Egypt’s president is using is in danger of running out of road with grievous implications both for the country’s poor and an increasingly beleaguered middle class already slipping into poverty. 

Biden in a bind

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.

Bahrain: “A highly functional injustice system”

Bahraini human rights activist Maryam Alkhawaja is Arab Digest editor William Law’s guest. Her father Abdulhadi is serving a life sentence in Bahrain. His efforts on behalf of the struggle for rights in the Gulf kingdom, and his unjust incarceration, have been acknowledged with a 2022 Martin Ennals award honouring exceptional human rights defenders. For more than a decade Maryam has campaigned tirelessly for his release and that of all political prisoners held in Bahrain, other Gulf states and the wider Middle East.

The EU to the Gulf: Let’s do a deal

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.

Yemen, a ceasefire and reason to hope

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.

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