Political Analysis

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Rolling Back Militancy: Bangladesh Looks to Saudi in a Twist of Irony

  Bangladesh, in a twist of irony, is looking to Saudi Arabia to fund a $ 1 billion plan to build hundreds of mosques and religious centres to counter militant Islam that for much of the past decade traced its roots to ultra-conservative strands of the faith promoted by a multi-billion dollar Saudi campaign.

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Realignment in the Middle East

Once upon a time Turkey and Israel were the greatest of friends.  In March 1949 Turkey was the first Islamic nation to recognize the new state of Israel. Over the next fifty years, despite some ups and downs, the relationship flourished.  In the Cold War Turkey was a key ally of the Western camp and in the 1990s, under the aegis of the United States, Israel and Turkey established bilateral defense, security and economic partnerships which burgeoned into strong social and cultural ties.

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Regime Change in Gaza?

Suddenly, it seems, the appalling circumstances in which the vast majority of Gazans are living have struck the public conscience.  The Strip suffers from a chronic lack of water, of electricity, of medical resources – and the situation seems to be deteriorating from week to week.  Gaza’s problems stem from a variety of causes, but the people of Gaza have little inclination to analyse the reasons for the humanitarian crisis that has overwhelmed them.  The struggle to exist in anything approaching decent living and working conditions occupies most of their attention.

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Egyptian Ultras: Down But Not Out

  Egyptian general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi won a second term virtually unchallenged in what is widely seen as a flawed election. The run-up to the poll, including a soccer protest, suggests, however, that it will take more than a democratic whitewash to get a grip on simmering discontent.

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Reality Checks in the Middle East

A new pragmatic spirit is dawning in the Middle East.  Old outworn attitudes are beginning to crumble.  For example, when have officials from leading Arab states sat round a table with those from Israel – which many of them do not formally recognize as yet − to discuss how to alleviate a problem affecting the region?  Yet that is precisely what happened on Tuesday, 13 March 2018, when Israeli national security officials met their counterparts from Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates in the White House to discuss a humanitarian crisis unfolding in the…
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Britain Turns Its Back on BDS

The organization dedicated to isolating and delegitimizing Israel by way of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) has so far not reacted officially to the announcement that Britain’s Prince William is to visit Israel this summer. Since he will also be visiting Jordan and what are described in the announcement as “the Palestinian occupied territories”, and since both Jordan’s King Abdullah and Palestinian Authority (PA) president, Mahmoud Abbas, have welcomed the news, hard-line BDS supporters do not have much of a leg to stand on. Moreover Prince William probably ranks considerably higher in the public popularity stakes than Roger Waters, Lorde…
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Pakistan Struggles to Get a Grip on Militancy and Ultra-Conservatism

Seventy years after its birth, Pakistan is struggling to get a grip on Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism and its militant offshoots that were aided and abetted by successive governments as well as Saudi Arabia and at times the United States. The stakes for Pakistan are high as it confronts mounting international pressure that includes China, its closest ally, to crackdown on militancy.

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The Enigma That Is Qatar

It is not easy to pigeon-hole Qatar, a stand-alone Middle Eastern state in more ways than one − geographically, politically, economically, influentially.  Itself a small peninsula projecting into the Persian Gulf from the vast Arabian Peninsula, Qatar clearly aspires to become a major player in the region and beyond.  In pursuit of this objective, its tactics have sometimes puzzled, sometimes infuriated, its neighbours. But then, as one of the world’s wealthiest nations – and certainly number one on a per capita basis – Qatar has reckoned for a long time that it could afford the luxury of proceeding along its own…
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Tunisia’s Next Revolution

Protests are once again shaking Tunisia. A new finance law, which imposes drastic austerity measures on the country’s workers, has sparked a wave of resistance. Put into effect on January 1, this legislation meets the requirements of a $2.9-billion IMF loan by increasing prices on basic goods, reducing public sector employment, and hiking the value-added tax (VAT). The government is repressing the uprising harshly: it’s already killed a protester and arrested 800 others.

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Sisi’s Islamist Enemies and Secret Friends

  Egypt has been battling with Sinai-based terrorists ever since the overthrow in 2013 of former president Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood government that he headed.

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