• Bahrain’s disappearing moderates

    Al Monitor | Elizabeth Dickinson | 4.23.14

    The toll from a string of car bombings in Bahrain is mounting. Over the last two months, five people have died and a handful more have been injured. Talks between the government and political groups — close to restarting in February — have been ... Continue Reading derailed. Businesses were questioning whether the turmoil that set back investments in 2011 was really coming to an end as they had hoped. hide

    Israel must take on Palestinian governance if talks fail: Abbas

    Reuters | Ali Sawafta | 4.23.14

    Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas told a group of Israeli journalists on Tuesday that if peace talks do not continue, Israel will have to take on the burden of governing Palestinian lands. Though Abbas has repeatedly hinted that he could ... Continue Reading devolve some of the limited powers his Palestinian Authority exercises in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, his statement added urgency to a U.S. effort to extend negotiations set to expire next week. hide

    Dexter Filkins: What We Left Behind in Iraq

    The New Yorker | Dexter Filkins | 4.23.14

    The capture of Iraqi territory by Islamic extremists, barely two years since the last American soldiers left, prompted an extraordinary wave of soul-searching in Iraq and the United States, which lost more than thirteen hundred men and women in ... Continue Reading Anbar Province. Much of that reflection, in both countries, centered on Maliki, the man in whom the United States invested so much of its hopes and resources. Among many Iraqis, the concern is that their country is falling again into civil war, and that it is Maliki who has driven it to the edge. On April 30th, Iraqi voters will go to the polls to choose a parliament and ultimately a Prime Minister; after eight years in office, Maliki is seeking a third term. Many fear that victory would allow him to tighten his hold on the state. “If he wins this time, he will never leave,” the longtime Maliki associate told me. hide

    Homs Emerges as Turning Point in Shaping Syria’s Future

    New York Times | Anne Barnard | 4.23.14

    On the edge of the Old City here, children play beside a house blown open by shelling. An antique wood-framed mirror leans against the wall, so that soldiers can watch for threats from around the corner. A block closer to one of the city’s last ... Continue Reading front lines, trash, rubble and rusted cars litter streets of charred and sagging buildings. hide

    Saudi Arabia Seeks Outside Help to Combat Deadly MERS Outbreak

    Bloomberg | Deema Almashabi and Kambiz Foroohar | 4.23.14

    Saudi Arabia Seeks Outside Help to Combat Deadly MERS Outbreak Saudi Arabia said it’s consulting global experts on how to combat a deadly respiratory virus, as the first case was reported in neighboring Jordan. Specialists from Germany, France, the U.K. and the U.S. are helping tackle the outbreak of ... Continue Reading Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, Assistant Deputy Minister of Health Mohammed Zamakhshary said in a telephone interview in Riyadh yesterday. hide

    Unemployment rate among Saudi women hits 34%

    Arab News | Fadia Jiffry | 4.23.14

    The rate of unemployment amongst Saudi women in 2013 has been pegged at 34 percent, up 2 percent from the previous year, according to recent statistics issued by the Central Department of Statistics and Information (CDSI). hide

    Saudi Arabia’s healthcare model and U.S. Republicans

    Al Arabiya | Jamal Khashoggi | 4.23.14

    Saudi Arabia’s healthcare model and U.S. Republicans The good news is that the Saudi health ministry is heading in the direction of the socialized medical care model to provide the required healthcare for its citizens, including retired ones. This decreases the ministry's direct administrative ... Continue Reading responsibility over hundreds of hospitals and medical centers, as ministry spokesperson Khaled Marghlani said last Monday. hide

    ‘Saudi America’: Mirage?  

    New York Times | Clifford Kraus | 4.22.14

    Industry executives note that the typical oil shale well needs a price of roughly $50 a barrel to break even, given the expense of drilling horizontally and hydraulic fracturing. “Bankers don’t want to see oil near $65,” said Mr. Faulkner, the ... Continue Reading chief executive of Breitling Energy, an active shale driller in Oklahoma and Texas. “Capital would dry up quickly like it did for gas.” hide

    April 22nd, 2014 Edition

    The Middle East Policy Council: A Conversation with Ford Fraker

    SUSRIS | Pat Ryan | 4.22.14

    The Middle East Policy Council: A Conversation with Ford Fraker In December the MEPC named Ford Fraker its new president. Board Chairman Omar Kader noted at the time that, “We believe that the Ambassador’s unique appreciation for U.S. national interests in the Middle East — as a banker, Ambassador and ... Continue Reading through continued engagement with the current U.S. administration – will advance the MEPC mission as the organization enters its fourth decade.” It has been four decades, as well, that Ford Fraker has been engaged in the Middle East, mostly in the world of finance. hide

    Egypt to lift natural gas prices for homes, businesses

    Asharq Alawsat | 4.22.14

    Egypt plans to double the price of natural gas piped into some homes and businesses from next month, but the move will trim its huge fuel subsidy bill only slightly because few premises are connected to the gas network. hide

    Iran admits nuclear agency reshuffle to pave way for 5+1 talks

    Reuters | Mehrdad Balali | 4.22.14

    Iran admits nuclear agency reshuffle to pave way for 5+1 talks President Hassan Rouhani's government confirmed rumors on Monday it had reshuffled the leadership of Iran's atomic agency to sideline nuclear experts opposed to talks on its atomic program with the West. Rouhani and his negotiators have been ... Continue Reading under intense pressure from Islamic hardliners opposed to the talks with the United States and five other powers seeking greater transparency in the hide

    Opinion: Saudi’s Prince Bandar did not fail Syria: the West lost its nerve

    The National | Faisal Al Yafai | 4.22.14

    Opinion: Saudi’s Prince Bandar did not fail Syria: the West lost its nerve In the swirl of rumours and gossip that passes for informed comment on Saudi Arabia’s secretive politics, the removal of Prince Bandar has been seen as part of a shift in policy of the Gulf state towards Syria. That is true, although the ... Continue Reading shift is subtle, in tactics not in intent. Saudi Arabia still seeks the removal of the Assad regime, but recognises that the reality on the ground has changed, that the dynamics of the conflict have altered. No longer is this simply the rebels versus the regime. The long drawn out civil war has brought in new actors, some with the agendas of foreign governments, some with their own religious wars. hide

    GCC population put at 47.4m in 2012

    Emirates 247 | 4.22.14

    The number at the end of 2012 meant that the population of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) grew by nearly three per cent above 2011, when it stood at around 46 million, showed the figures by the Riyadh-based GCC secretariat. hide

    Opinion: Arab election season

    Washington Post | Marc Lynch | 4.22.14

    All told these four elections cover 183 million people, or some 50 percent of the population of the Arab world. (Lebanon’s parliament is also set to choose a new president on April 23, but isn’t actually holding an election.) Few expect these ... Continue Reading elections to matter much. Only in Iraq’s parliamentary ballot is real power at stake, and the outcome unknown in advance. hide

    Drone strikes alone won’t stamp out al Qaeda in Yemen: analysts

    Reuters | Mohamed Ghobari and Yara Bayoumy | 4.22.14

    A weak central government, a rivalry-ridden and poorly equipped security force, endemic poverty and corruption have made Yemen the ideal haven of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), whom U.S. President Barack Obama has described as the ... Continue Reading group "most active in plotting against our homeland." Desperate to prevent AQAP from planning more attacks like its attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner in December 2009, Washington has used drones to kill group members and leaders. hide