Another tumultuous night in Saudi Arabian politics

The death of King Abdullah in January 2015 resuscitated a debate about reforms in Saudi Arabia. Many suggested at the time that perhaps the inclusion of younger princes in the leadership of the Kingdom might hasten necessary changes. There were positive comments expressed across the region when the 54-year-old Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef was appointed as Crown Prince in April 2015. As a “young” appointment by Saudi leadership standards, this suggested that the Saudi royal family was indeed moving towards reform. The rise of Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, a favourite son of King Salman, first as the Minister of Defence and later in charge of the economic transformation process further confirmed the sense of positivity. In June this year, during […]

Secessionist movements in Catalonia and Kurdistan must not be allowed to succeed

There is a long-running argument in Africa that the lumping together of different tribes into nation states is responsible for the intra-national conflicts in most African countries. Bringing different tribes under one national flag has fuelled tribal politics, or so the argument goes; tribes should have been left to self-govern after the end of colonialism, and national borders should have taken tribal lands into account. This makes sense, even though it tries to absolve poor post-colonial African leadership of any blame for the mess across the continent. The main challenge in Africa is the unfair distribution of resources and favouritism. Tribal politics is another obstacle towards socio-political and economic prosperity. In many ways, the development of nation states such as […]

Differences between Saudi, UAE may fracture their alliance

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Deputy Chief Commander of the Armed Forces of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Mohammed Bin Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan is perceived as the “mentor” of the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. King Salman’s ill health has led to the relegation of most of his responsibility to his son Prince Mohammad. He is by a stretch the most powerful leader in terms of economic and military might in the Middle East. He controls one of the richest entities in the world, Aramco, the state owned energy giant. Bin Salman is also the defence minister and the leader of the coalition currently battling armed insurgency in Yemen. […]

Saudi Arabia, Israel and America are misleading the world on the Iran nuclear deal

Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States despise the Islamic Republic of Iran for different reasons, most of which have little to do with global peace and stability. Both the Saudis and the Israelis were quick to issue statements of support when Donald Trump challenged the Obama-led nuclear deal with Iran last week. Trump has campaigned about pulling out from the agreement, calling it “the worst deal ever”. When the word spread that he intended to decertify it there were some sarcastic suggestions that perhaps he needs to “read the terms of the deal”. Both the US State Department and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have confirmed that Iran has abided by the agreement. Notwithstanding such assurances, Trump insists […]

Who wins and who loses in the Palestinian unity negotiations?

The answer to the question posed by this article is simple: Qatar stands to lose in terms of its historical socio-political and economic investments in the Gaza Strip as Egypt, the UAE and, indirectly, Saudi Arabia step into the picture. The perceived future improvements in Gaza as a result of the Palestinian unity negotiations will impact negatively on Qatar’s previous engagement in the territory. Why couldn’t the government in Doha achieve the miracle that the troika has achieved in such a short space of time? A children’s game played in South Africa involved unscrewing the lid of a bottle. The game was simple: an adult tightened the lid and the children lined up to try to unscrew it. The idea […]

The real reasons behind the cancellation of Israel – Africa Summit

It is another bad September for Israel in Africa. Sixteen years ago in Durban, Israel suffered a political blow at the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerances. The conference ended up with a walk out by Israel and the US after the draft declaration equated Zionism to racism. Similarly, the NGO Forum of the conference was equally critical of Israel. The conference was regarded as a serious drawback against the pro-Israeli forces at the conference. On 11 September 2017, the organisers of the first Israeli – Africa Summit which was scheduled to take place in Togo in October announced that the conference had been “postponed indefinitely”. The controversial conference has been very divisive since its announcement, […]

The Kurds in Iraq are preparing for a referendum to redress the mistakes of the past

The Kurds are known as the “world’s largest number of people without a nation”. There are over 30 million of them scattered around the world, although they live mainly in Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq. They have used their large numbers and history of being oppressed to justify a demand for independence and statehood. The autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan government in Erbil argues that only a nation with secure borders can guarantee their rights to the Kurds. However, calls for independence, although most likely to receive support inside Kurdistan, will meet strong opposition in the rest of Iraq and neighbouring countries. Iran, Syria and Turkey will resist any political actions which might bolster and mobilise their own Kurdish minorities to follow […]

How has Qatar fended amidst a sociopolitical and economic blockade by its neighbours?

On 5 June 2017 Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain imposed land, air, sea blockade on the State of Qatar and started a coalition against it. Also, Jordan relegated its diplomatic relationship with Qatar. The blockade on Qatar has had limited impact on the economy. It has, however, affected the movement of people, goods and animals. Family relations between the Saudis and Qataris date back centuries, long before colonisation and the creation of nation states. The blockade has already forced people across the borders to take difficult positions in support of their respective governments. Insults have been traded, creating an almost irreparable damage between the peoples. There has also been a high level of xenophobic incidences, which […]

Does Lebanon’s Jroud Arsal represent yet more ethnic cleansing of Sunni Muslims?

On 4 January 2014, the so-called Islamic State in the Levant — Daesh — declared its capture of the city of Fallujah in Iraq. There followed a number of reports about atrocities committed by the new ‘government’ in the city. In early 2016, Iraqi forces aided by the US-led coalition began an offensive to regain control of Fallujah; they declared victory in June last year. Before the offensive began, widespread messaging encouraged the residents of Fallujah to vacate their homes before the fighting started in earnest; the rationale was to avoid civilian casualties. Thousands heeded the calls. What followed was one of the worst examples of property destruction in the history of modern Iraq, which forced thousands more people to […]

Qatar unwavering as deadline extends by 48 hours

Speaking on the list of demands put forward by the Saudi-led coalition against Qatar, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement that “he hopes they will be reasonable and actionable”. The list, which was subsequently presented to Qatar, invited widespread criticism; many have called the list un-actionable and unreasonable. Qatar, on the other hand, has rejected the list of demands. According to Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdurahman Al-Thani the demands “were made to be rejected”. Amongst the demands presented to the Qatari government is the closure of Al Jazeera Media Network. The UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement that the demand to close Al Jazeera is “extraordinary, unprecedented and clearly […]