Saudi Arabia: Ashura killings of Shi’ites

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Saudi Arabia: Ashura killings of Shi'ites On 3 November masked men opened fire on a group of Shia worshippers leaving a shrine in al-Dalwa, al-Ahsa governorate in the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia, where they had been taking part in the annual Ashura commemoration of the death of Muhammad's grandson Husain (see posting of 24 October). At least five were killed …

The Gulf Cooperation Council: choppy water

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The GCC, which has proved a useful mechanism for cooperation, is facing problems because of political divisions between members over the Muslim Brotherhood and over Iran. Positive reaction over IS but funding for Jihadis a toxic issue. Kuwait in the hot seat. The GCC, whose members are Saudi Arabia and the five smaller …

Yemen: falling apart

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The Houthis now control most of the north including the capital Sana’a and the port of Hudaida. The Southern Movement, with representatives from the whole of southern region, is demanding independence. Meanwhile refugees flood into Yemen from the Horn of Africa. The Houthi rebellion which began 10 years ago around Sa’da in Northern Yemen is essentially tribal. The Houthis are Zaidi Shia (as are many other northern Yemenis), not the same as the Twelver Shia of Iran, Iraq, Bahrain and the Shia minorities in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. …

Yemen: showdown with the Houthis?

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First we thank former British ambassador Richard Dalton for the solution to the enigma in our posting of 23 August, the AFP report that the Iranian Foreign Minister had offered to join international action in Iraq in return some concession over sanctions, which was immediately denied by Tehran. “The offer was to do more for the West on …

Yemen

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At least eight soldiers and six government-allied tribesmen were killed on 5 June in an attack presumed to be by al-Qa’ida in Bayhan, Shabwa province, central . According to Al Jazeera "The assault came hours after a drone strike killed three al-Qaeda suspects late on Wednesday as they were travelling in a vehicle in the Wadi Abida area, …

Yemen

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Violent conflict continues in roughly in three forms: in the north largely tribal between the Zaidi (Shi’a) Houthis and government forces as well as Salafist (Sunni) groups, mainly in the central/southern region with AQAP (which includes many foreign fighters), and with southern separatists (the Hirak movement). Constitutional and political development has been largely overshadowed, but President Hadi has appointed …

Yemen: National Dialogue concludes

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A rare item of encouraging news from Yemen: the National Dialogue Conference has agreed a document on which the new constitution will be based. According to a BBC report President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi will reveal details of the rival political, tribal, religious and social groups' vision for a new political system at the …

Women

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One does not need to be a feminist in the activist sense to recognise that the position and problems of women in the Arab world are in need of reform. Indeed to many outside observers they are a repulsive aspect of Arabian society. Charles Doughty, the doyen of Arabian travellers, was told by a religious shaikh in Khaybar (now Saudi Arabia) nearly 150 years ago that “a woman must be kept in subjection, for else they will begin to despise their husbands.” According to the landmark “Arab human development report” …

Yemen: a violence spectacular

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A series of attacks on the Yemeni defence ministry on 5 December killed at least 52 people. Frank Gardner of the BBC comments ‘This is what's called "a complex attack", using a carefully timed combination of a suicide car bomb followed up by an armed assault. It was aimed at the heart of Yemen's defence and security …

Yemen: murder and hunger

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Since 2002 Yemen has been subjected to assassination of suspected al-Qa’ida terrorists by US drones as part of the "Global War on Terror". At a joint press conference on 22 October Human Rights Watch released a report on drone attacks in Yemen and Amnesty International a parallel report on drone attacks in Pakistan. …