Catastrophe and Consequence

by The Editors | published June 13, 2014 - 4:01pm

What is happening in Iraq is a catastrophe, but not a sudden one. The violence in Iraq has been worsening steadily over the last few years. And more to the point, today’s crisis is the consequence of failed policies and failed politics -- national, regional and international -- years and even decades in the making.

No understanding of today’s Iraq is complete without the background of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and ensuing Gulf war, and the 13 years of UN economic sanctions, all of which set the stage for the additional disasters that would befall Iraq with the US-led invasion of 2003.

Boom, Bust and Boom in Dubai

by Pete Moore | published June 9, 2014 - 10:28am

It’s easy to be critical of Dubai and its socioeconomic model.

Youth of the Gulf, Youth of Palestine

by Ted Swedenburg | published May 31, 2014 - 11:19am

I recently came across two accounts of Arab youth that fly in the face of conventional wisdom. One is Kristin Diwan’s issue brief on youth activism in the Arab Gulf states for the Atlantic Council, and the other is a documentary by filmmaker Jumana Manna on Palestinian “male thug culture” in East Jerusalem. The film is called Blessed, Blessed Oblivion.

DragonMart, the Mega-Souk of Today's Silk Road

by Jacqueline Armijo
published in MER270

In 1998, a shipwreck was discovered off the coast of Indonesia. It turned out to be the remains of an early ninth-century dhow from the Gulf that had been headed back from China with a cargo of over 70,000 items, primarily ceramics, produced in different Chinese regions. The goods varied in style and quality, and had clearly been custom-made for the different tastes of the major trading centers of the Gulf. Thousands of ceramic bowls and dishes had been neatly stacked into hundreds of large urns, which in turn had been arranged in several layers of rows along the bottom of the dhow.

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Jordan, Morocco and an Expanded GCC

by Curtis Ryan | published April 15, 2014 - 4:04pm

A recent report suggests that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) may be looking to expand…again. The report says that, during a March summit, the group of six Arab petro-princedoms extended invitations to both Jordan and Morocco to join a pan-monarchical military alliance. And there is a chance, at least, that the GCC states would include a nominal republic, Egypt, in a broader regional military and defense pact (although it is not clear if Jordan, Morocco and Egypt would need to join the GCC or the military bloc would be a separate entity).

Saudi Bullying of Qatar

by Sheila Carapico | published March 13, 2014 - 4:45pm

Just ahead of a planned state visit from President Barack Obama, Saudi Arabia is brandishing the threat of a land and naval blockade against its neighbor and fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member Qatar.

(No) Dialogue in Bahrain

by Toby Matthiesen | published February 13, 2014

In the run-up to the third anniversary of the Bahraini uprising on February 14, 2011, mass protests with tens of thousands of participants again engulfed the small kingdom. At the same time, a number of contacts between the opposition and the royal family sparked hopes of renewed high-level negotiations leading to the resolution of the long-standing conflict.

Collective Frustration, But No Collective Action, in Qatar

by Justin Gengler | published December 7, 2013

In late June 2013, as neighboring Arab states continued their struggles against popular pressure for political reform or regime change, the Gulf emirate of Qatar undertook its own, voluntary transfer of power. Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, patriarch of modern Qatar, appeared on state television to name as successor his 33-year old son, Sheikh Tamim. The outgoing leader was hobbled by serious health problems, it was said, and in any case most observers agreed that a recalibration of Qatar’s domestic and international agendas was perhaps just what the doctor ordered.

Handshakes in Geneva

by The Editors | published November 30, 2013

Everyone is happy with the interim agreement reached with Iran in Geneva on November 23 -- that is, everyone who really wants to defuse the tensions over Iran’s nuclear research program.

Commanding the Center

by Daniel Volman
published in MER125

Although President Jimmy Carter pledged in January 1980 to “use any means necessary, including military force” to ensure “the free movement of Middle Eastern oil” and created the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) for intervention in the Third World, the American military presence in the Middle East was still relatively small when President Ronald Reagan took office in January 1981. [1] Over the past three years, the Reagan administration has substantially expanded the size and strength of American military forces surrounding the Middle East.

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