Archive for category Middle East
The Arab awakenings and assertive international role of Russia and China at the expense of the United States have created a new strategic situation for the rulers of Riyadh. Seen from Saudi Arabia, the US stood idly by at the ignominious toppling of its erstwhile allies, the dictators of Tunisia and Egypt. Its rival across the Gulf, Iran, is on its way to having a nuclear weapon and has attempted to assassinate its ambassador to Washington.
While the world was busy nit-picking the translation of those words, particularly Israel’s “good friend” Jonathan Steele of The Guardian, arguing Iran’s leader was just referring to a regime change of the evil expansionist Zionists now in power in Jerusalem, not physical annihilation of a sovereign state, Joshua Teitelbaum pointed out in his important rebuttal of these foolish semantics that Michael Axworthy, Britain’s consular officer in Tehran, testified that slogans draped over missiles in Iran’s military parades stated: “Israel must be wiped off the map.”
And now another tribal chink in the armor of the Syrian state.
London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Sheikh Nawaf al-Bashir, head of the prominent Baqara tribe in Syria, revealed that the Syrian authorities forced him to conduct an interview with a Syrian satellite television channel “with a gun to his head”, before releasing him 20 days later. The Baqara tribe is one of the largest tribes in Syria, and estimates indicate that the tribe’s membership stands at 1.2 million Syrian nationals.
In light of my piece last week on the failing of the Arab core states, check out this report on rumblings of a tribal rebellion in the Sinai. Stay tuned!
The democratic promise of the poorly named “Arab Spring” is now widely recognized to be a disappointment. Viewed from early 2012, democratic “transitions” seem a pipe dream. Instead of democracy we are witnessing a re-emergence of pre-state loyalty frameworks that call into question the viability of the modern state in today’s Middle East. With the notable exception of the oil monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council, where the state can still provide for its citizens, the phenomenon we see today is not democratization, but rather a process of state failure.