Although they are on opposite sides of Syria’s civil war, Russia and Saudi Arabia find themselves in similar positions. Both are presenting themselves as trying in earnest to rein in their proxies. Russia, wanting to again be considered a great power, has forced Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to come to the negotiating table and perhaps can force him to make important compromises. The Saudis, wanting to be seen as reliable and essential U.S. allies in the region, claim to have organized the fragmented Syrian opposition into a moderate, cohesive body. Moscow and Riyadh may indeed have enough leverage to rein […]
Gulf States Archive
A Century After Sykes-Picot, Is There a Better Map for the Middle East?
This month marks the centenary of the Sykes-Picot treaty, a French-English agreement to establish areas of control and influence in the Arab lands of the Middle East after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The milestone has stirred up resentments and a sense that the flailing states of the region never really existed as coherent geographic entities. But changing borders is not easy, and even if one could draw a better map of the Middle East, it would not solve its deepest sources of distress. Much is being said about the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot agreement, a minor event […]
The 13th Summit of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) wrapped up in Istanbul last month, chaired by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The summit was notable for the fact that it attracted over 30 heads of state, the highest number in the OIC’s nearly 50-year history. As usual, the OIC’s final resolution reflects a hodgepodge of bilateral, regional and global issues of interest to the Muslim ummah, or global community. This included pledges to fight Islamophobia, promote economic and scientific cooperation, combat terrorism, and deal with long-standing territorial conflicts in Israel-Palestine, Cyprus, Jammu-Kashmir and Nagorno-Karabakh, among others. But despite […]