Women in the economy – the Middle East and Saudi Arabia

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A new World Bank report "Women, Business and the Law"  opens with the proposition that women perform 66% of the world's work, produce 50% of the food, but earn 10% of the income and own 1% of the property. In a worldwide survey which "focuses on gender differentiations …

Spotlight on Iran

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It has long been a commonplace that Arabists are said to see the Palestine problem as the magic key which could unlock the other problems of the Middle East region. Temporarily at any rate this central role seems to have passed to Iran. As Martin Chulov writes in the Guardian today 25 September "Hassan Rouhani’s overtures to the …

Turkey feels the impact

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Turkey, like Lebanon and Jordan, has felt the direct impact of the Syrian civil war, including occasional exchanges of fire and a massive refugee problem. Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan has sided since the beginning of the crisis with the Sunni rebels and against his ex-ally, President Bashar al-Asad. He was one of the main supporters of American plans …

Egypt: mixed signals

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Following the re-establishment last week of government control in Dalia, Minya province, which had been controlled by supporters of ex-President Mursi, security forces engaged armed groups in Kerdasa, Giza district, 10 miles from Cairo on 19 September, reportedly arresting 51 people and searching for 100 other suspects. Some of those arrested are accused of taking part in an …

Saudi Arabia: new policy questions

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Following a meeting with the Saudi and Egyptian foreign ministers on 8 September John Kerry said that Saudi Arabia had specifically agreed to support a "strike" against the Syrian regime as part of an international military response to Syria's use of chemical weapons. On 13 September Prince Turki Al Faisal, former Saudi ambassador in London …

Iran responds

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On 18 September President Hassan Rouhani of Iran told NBC News that Iran would never develop nuclear weapons (video clip at link), and spoke positively about the letters he had exchanged with President Obama. He is due to speak at the UN general assembly in New York of 24 September. The unexpected developments of the last …

Yemen

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Reuters reports that militants believed to belong to al-Qa’ida in the Arabian peninsula (AQAP) killed about 40 people in attacks on two targets in Shabwa province in south on 20 September, one at a military camp in al-Nashama and the other in the town of Mayfaa. We circulate below a Reuters report on the latest phase of the …

Syria: the human cost

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The appalling bloodshed and destruction in Syria continues unabated. According to a UNHCR report of 3 September the number of refugees now exceeds 2 million, almost 1.8 million in the last 12 months. "More than 97 per cent of Syria's refugees are hosted by countries in the immediate surrounding region, placing an overwhelming burden …

Egypt: out of intensive care

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Protests and disturbances continue on a reduced scale (violence of a different nature continues in Sinai). The British ambassador James Watt posted on his blog "I return to my blog after what seems a century at least of absence. But everything before 30 June, for those of us living in Egypt, seems to belong to the …

Syria, Israel, Iran

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A striking feature of recent developments over Syria is that US congressional and public opinion appears not to have been much influenced by an intensive campaign by the Israeli lobby led by AIPAC to make the administration stand by its earlier determination to use force in Syria. This is unprecedented in recent years. Since it appears to reflect …