Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shake hands during a welcome ceremony in Ankara, Turkey, June 22, 2022 (AP photo by Burhan Ozbilici).
Many optimists in the Middle East as well as in Washington have argued for some time that governments in the region will find new ways to embrace diplomacy and cooperate among themselves if foreign powers like the United States take a backseat and reduce their footprint in the region. In recent years, the region has seen a sustained round of diplomacy as well as conflict—two major themes that have been a frequent subject of this newsletter. The causes of conflict come from both within and outside the region. Unlike in other parts of the world where the great powers reduced [...]
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at Al Salam Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 24, 2019 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).
U.S. President Joe Biden’s “reset” of Washington’s approach to the Middle East increasingly looks like a continuation of the policies of his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, with an added measure of piety and evasion about what’s really driving the administration’s decision-making process. But an unwitting admission might have come last week when a White House reporter asked Biden why he changed his mind about meeting Saudi Arabia’s once-blacklisted de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, known as MBS. “The commitments from the Saudis don’t relate to anything having to do with energy,” Biden responded, despite the fact that [...]
Motorists in Iraq drive past a poster bearing the image of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, June 13, 2022.
A political earthquake is underway in Iraq, as lawmakers from Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s bloc have resigned en masse from parliament. The move is ostensibly meant to end eight months of political paralysis, amid a prolonged stalemate over forming a government following last October’s parliamentary elections. But with no clear pathway toward a breakthrough in the government-formation talks, and the expectation of mass protests on the horizon, Iraq appears to be on the verge of perhaps the greatest political uncertainty it has faced since the first post-Saddam multiparty elections in 2005. First, what happened? On Sunday, Sadr announced the resignations [...]
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