Source: The Economist
Capital failure. Blame poor leaders, distracted neighbours and a stalled peace process. Even by the standards of the peace process, this may be a new low. President Donald Trump’s advisers have spent the past year shuttling between Israelis and Palestinians. The administration is close to unveiling a peace plan, but its work has already lapsed into what the White House calls a “cooling-off period”. When Mike Pence, America’s vice-president, visits the Middle East in January, he is unlikely to be received by a Palestinian leader. The latest round of talks may be over before it begins.
The cause is Mr Trump’s decision on December 6th to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while ignoring Palestinian claims to the city. The announcement has undermined America’s contention that it is a fair mediator. But it has also highlighted the decrepit state of the Palestinian national movement. Protests against the decision were relatively small—only a few thousand Palestinians turned out at their peak. Eight Palestinians were killed in the violence, but it was hardly on the scale of a new intifada, or uprising. READ MORE…
A fter the announcement of a complete victory over terrorism in Iraq, many countries have already indicated their interest in bolstering economic cooperation with Baghdad, Fallah al-Lami, the UN adviser on the Iraqi economy, told Sputnik. Al-Lami recalled that in the past few months, “many delegations from government and private companies in Europe and the US have visited Iraq.” In particular, he referred to a recent meeting between Iraqi Central Bank officials and representatives of Airbus and Total as well as a visit by UK Prime Minister Theresa May and a spate of American companies. “All this points to the revival of Iraq. After announcing a final victory over terrorism, many have indicated that they want to invest in different areas of the Iraqi economy. Iraq is becoming a lucrative and attractive place for economic cooperation,” al-Lami pointed out.read more
After the liberation of Mosul, ISIS is unlikely to govern Iraq anytime soon; however, the ascendancy of Shiite militia groups leaves the country in a volatile state. These militia groups have multiple identities and complexities with differing degrees of integration into the Iraqi state, engagement with the international community, and cooperation with Iran. The plethora of groups has resulted in multiple clashes and rivalries among the militias, which further destabilizes Iraq.read more
The Arab Spring fostered hope for democratic reforms across the Middle East and North Africa region. Few of these hopes have come to fruition, with political violence, suppression of dissenting voices, and economic turmoil marking the region, rather than the political and economic reforms that had once seemed possible. In the realm of women’s rights, however, we are seeing slow progress.read more
Averting famine will require Saudi Arabia to permit the resumption of commercial shipping of food and fuel to the besieged country. Yemen is on course for a famine whose death toll could reach the millions, says Oxfam America’s Scott Paul, an expert on humanitarian policy. The country relies on imports for its fuel, food, and medicine, but shipments slowed to a trickle after Saudi Arabia began policing Yemeni ports in 2015 as part of a campaign to push Houthi rebels and their allies loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh out of Sana’a. After intercepting a missile fired at Riyadh from Yemen in early November, Saudi Arabia ratcheted up its blockade, sealing off rebel-held ports. Though it has since permitted some humanitarian aid, only a resumption of commercial shipments can avert famine, Paul says.read more
The Saudi elites have realized, perhaps for the first time, that they too can be subject to the same unjust, lawless prosecutions previously reserved mostly for political dissidents and terrorism. Saudi elites had long been immune to the worst failures of this brutal system. Their wealth and freedom to travel — sometimes by virtue of a handy second passport from a Western country — allowed them to flee the social, political and religious confines of their Riyadh homes. Now they know that no one is really safe when there are no laws or institutions to protect you.read more