Arabian Peninsula

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Taking on Militants: A Fight for the Soul of Pakistan

Two high-level meetings in recent months involving senior military commanders and intelligence officials and/or top-level government representatives spotlight Pakistan’s difficulty in coming to grips with domestic and regional political violence resulting from decades of support of militant Islamist and jihadist groups for foreign policy and ideological reasons. Overcoming those difficulties could determine Pakistan’s future, the nature of its society and its place in the world.

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140 Years of Saudi Arabia in Photographs

Here’s a pictorial reminder that Saudi Arabia has definitely evolved a lot over the past century or so. Saudi Arabia’s buzzwords of 2016 are “change” and “modernization.”  So it might do us well to see how far the kingdom has come.

Soft Power Strategy: Iceland and Qatar

The soccer soft power contrast between Qatar and Iceland speaks volumes. A comparison of the strategies of both countries demonstrates that it takes more than money to leverage soccer to create political, geopolitical and economic opportunity. Money and world soccer body FIFA’s desire to take one of the world’s foremost sporting events beyond Europe and the Americas helped Qatar win the right to host the 2022 World Cup. Six years after the awarding, Qatar is a nation under fire by human rights and labour activists for its controversial labour regime, has yet to convincingly counter widespread suspicions of wrongdoing in…
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The lure of power in Yemen: A woman shows her palm during a demonstration to demand the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the southern city of Taiz June 14, 2011. The writing reads "The freedom". Image ©: ibtimes mpc-journal.org

The Lure of Power in Yemen

In Yemen – as in much of the Middle East – Islam is at war with itself. As Saudi Arabia’s Sunni fundamentalist ruling family and Iran’s equally uncompromising Shia-based Islamic Revolution play out their deadly rivalry, the fault-line between the Shia and the Sunni traditions of Islam defines the conflict, as on so many of the region’s battlefields.

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Political Violence and Sectarianism in Pakistan

Pakistan’s military commanders gathered this week to assess the impact of the massive bombing in Quetta that killed some 70 people and wiped out a generation of lawyers in the province of Baluchistan. They believed there was a sinister foreign-inspired plot that aimed to thwart their effort to root out political violence. The commanders’ analysis strokes with their selective military campaign that targets specific groups like the Pakistani Taliban and the Sunni-Muslim Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

NoZionists

Is Saudi Arabia Zion?

Kamal Salibi, one of the Arab world’s foremost contemporary historians, kicked up a storm when he concluded in a 1985 linguistic exegesis that Judaism’s Zion was not located in Israel but in Saudi Arabia. Israelis, Jews, Saudis, Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians found common ground at the time to denounce Mr. Salibi in stark terms.

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The Qatar Phenomenon

It is not easy to pigeon-hole Qatar, a stand-alone Middle Eastern state in more ways than one, geographically, politically, economically, influentially.  That Qatar aspires to become a major player in the region and beyond may seem obvious enough, but in pursuit of this objective Qatar’s tactics sometimes puzzle, sometimes infuriate, its neighbours. But then, as the world’s wealthiest nation by a long chalk, Qatar can afford the luxury of proceeding along its own preferred path, without too much concern for what others think.

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Saudi Change of Women’s Sporting Right

Saudi Arabia is projecting miniscule steps to reverse decades of denial of women’s sporting rights as evidence of significant changes in the kingdom that aim to diversify its energy-dependent economy and upgrade its autocracy. The steps include the appointment of a member of the ruling family to oversee women’s sports and the doubling of the number of women participating in Olympic Games from two to four.

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