Arabian Peninsula

Mideast Yemen

Positive Action in Yemen Yields Positive Results

If any one area is a microcosm of the chaos in the Middle East, it is Yemen. Here, as across the region, Islam has been at war with itself, as the deadly rivalry between Saudi Arabia’s Sunni fundamentalist ruling family, and Iran’s equally uncompromising Shia-based Islamic revolution, played itself out. Nowhere was the fault-line between the Shia and the Sunni traditions of Islam more obvious – and nowhere was it more blurred, as self-seeking interests cut across it. Who is fighting whom in Yemen? There are four main principals: The Iranian-supported Houthi rebels; the lawful president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi;…
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Waleed Abdullah

Player’s Haircut Spots Saudi’s Existential Dilemmas

Waleed Abdullah probably didn’t know what was happening to him when a referee delayed kick-off of a Saudi premier league match to cut the Al-Shabab FC goalkeeper’s hair. In a country that demands conformity, Abdullah’s hair-do, involving shaved parts of his hair in a style popular among youths across the globe, was deemed un-Islamic and by implication subversive – a threat that needed to be dealt with immediately and demonstratively. The public humiliation of Abdullah not only evoked the disgracing of players who failed to live up to autocratic expectations in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Moammar Qaddafi’s Libya but also…
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Canadians Keep Asking Questions About Saudi Arms Deal

Headline news revealed last week that London’s mayor Matt Brown and top city manager Art Zuidema emailed 14 city councillors not to speak publicly about the $15-billion arms deal involving General Dynamics Land Systems in London. Councillors were directed in January to refer interview requests to a city hall spokesperson who would give a corporate response to media inquiries about the local contractor’s deal to build light armoured vehicles (LAVs) for Saudi Arabia. Brown pledged during his 2014 mayoral campaign to create a new era of accountability and transparency at city hall but the directive co-signed by “Matt and Art”…
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Amnesty International criticism returns Qatar to square one mpc-journal.org Image ©: Bruno Barbey/Magnum Photos

Amnesty International Criticism Returns Qatar to Square One

A new report from Amnesty International slams Qatar for not living up to promises to improve workers’ rights and adds to a growing international criticism of Qatar’s inability to properly implement adopted policies. World Cup host Qatar and FIFA are in public diplomacy terms back to square one with a just published Amnesty International report that takes the Gulf state to task for failing to implement lofty promises to significantly improve workers’ working and living conditions and the world soccer body for not ensuring that Qatar lives up to international standards. The report, The Ugly Side of the Beautiful Game, provides…
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Wahabbi Clerics, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Export of Wahhabism

There has long been debate about the longevity of the Saudi ruling family. My initial conclusion when I first visited Saudi Arabia exactly 40 years ago was: This can’t last. I would still maintain it cannot last even if my time line has changed given that the Saudi monarchy obviously has far greater resilience than I initially gave it credit for. One major reason for the doubts about the Al-Saud’s viability is obviously the Faustian bargain they made with the Wahhabis, proponents of a puritan, intolerant, discriminatory, anti-pluralistic interpretation of Islam.

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