Middle East/North Africa

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Middle East/North Africa Security

The United Arab Emirates and Houthi Attacks: Successes and Risks

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been exposed to a recent wave of drone and missile strikes from Houthi militants in Yemen. These attacks are in retaliation to a change in the UAE’s strategy in its intervention in Yemen’s civil war. The UAE’s robust defense systems have been able to thwart Houthi attacks. However, the UAE’s continued intervention in Yemen risks provoking Houthi rebels into adopting military tactics that target civilians. The mere risk of such an attack would negatively affect the UAE’s perception of security, which is crucial for the UAE’s success as an economic powerhouse of the Middle East. 

Middle East/North Africa Technology and infrastructure

Drones, Disinformation and Proxies: What the Middle East’s ‘Forever Wars’ tell us about the Future of Conflict

Ten years after the Arab Spring, the shockwaves from the surge of democratic protests across the Middle East continue to reverberate throughout the region in the form of smouldering multidimensional proxy conflicts in Syria, Libya and Yemen. Great and regional powers’ increasing employment of drones, disinformation and local proxies are exacerbating broader global trends associated with hyper-globalisation, emerging technologies and societal fragmentation. Collectively, these trends fuel the multidimensional geopolitical contest being played out across the Middle East; an ominous harbinger of the murky shadow wars representing the new face of conflict in the twenty-first century. 

Middle East/North Africa Natural resources and energy

Jordan and Israel Join UAE to Sign a Historic Solar Energy-for-Water Deal

Towards the end of November, Israel, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates signed a historic resource sharing agreement in the biggest display of regional cooperation ever undertaken between Israel and its Arab neighbors. With funding and solar technology from the UAE, the deal establishes a solar farm in Jordan which will provide electricity to Israel. In exchange, Israel will provide water to Jordan, building a desalination plant on its Mediterranean coast. In addition to representatives from Israel, Jordan, and the UAE, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry attended the deal’s signing in Dubai. 

Middle East/North Africa Politics

Iran – Taliban Relations: What to Expect

On October 4, less than two months since the Taliban takeover of Kabul, leaders of the group met with members of the Iranian delegation in order to discuss trade and business relations. The Iranian embassy in Kabul was one of few to remain operational. Historically, Iran has been considered among the Taliban’s bitter enemies. However, the current developments are indicative of Iran’s commitment to realpolitik.

Middle East/North Africa Security

The Future of Afghanistan: Social Media Companies and the Taliban

Many political figures and analysts have made statements regarding their skeptical eye towards the progressive sentiments being shared on social media platforms by the Taliban. Yet, the terrorist group is still able to post freely facing barely any difficulties. The mass amounts of Taliban propaganda being spread online may increase the group’s political popularity, expand their member-base as well as international support, and ultimately, solidify their control in Afghanistan. The Taliban’s utilization of media platforms could potentially ignite a revitalized global Islamist militant movement and must be taken more seriously by social media companies.

Economics Middle East/North Africa

Stable but stagnant: Transforming Jordan’s economy

After attempts by Prince Hamzah bin al-Hussein and other government officials to destabilize the country, King Abdullah of Jordan is eager to bolster his already strong ties with the US. While foreign policy may be high on the agenda, Jordanian policymakers should pay more attention to the pressing economic issues weighing on the country.

Middle East/North Africa Politics

China in a post-US Afghanistan: A paradigm shift in foreign policy?

China’s long-standing policy of non-interference is challenged by the cruel geopolitical realities and developments in the country with which it shares its smallest border. The U.S. military withdrawal, coupled with Afghanistan’s seizure by the Taliban, have marked a major turning point, presenting China with both opportunities and challenges. It seems Beijing can no longer afford to stay away from the region.

Middle East/North Africa Security

Khorasan as the Next Syria?

As NATO forces prepare to finally depart Afghanistan, a resurgent Taliban, al-Qaeda and Islamic State threaten to reverse two decades of progress. Given the toxic combination of poor governance, political exclusion, dysfunctional economies, security vacuums and repressive regimes along Afghanistan’s porous borders, the potential resurgence of al-Qaeda and emergence of new challenges such as Islamic State-Khorasan Province threatens to transform the country into the epicentre of a new regional conflict complex across South and Central Asia. Despite assumptions that NATO’s withdrawal represents a conclusive end to the ‘War on Terror’, current indicators suggest this merely represents a dangerous new chapter in the struggle against global jihadism.

Middle East/North Africa Security

Rising tension due to Gulf maritime security: Possible threat to the global economy?

There was recently an attack on the Mercer Street vessel belonging to an Israeli billionaire, with Iran being blamed for the incident. These kinds of attacks have been happening since the beginning of the year, and it appears highly likely that they will continue. There is a possibility of maritime security breaches in the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz. Such developments could lead to a rise in political, economic and security issues, especially if they were to coincide with an Israel-Iran confrontation.

Middle East/North Africa Security

Symbioses of power in Iraq and the Popular Mobilisation Units

In my first article I discussed the risk of perpetual violence in Iraq and Syria fuelled by both numerous non-state actors there and the increasingly cronyistic authoritarian system in which they operate. This was followed by a more detailed look into the illicit economic activities of militias across Iraq and Syria. Leading on from this, today’s commentary will shift from an economic to a more political focus, exploring the symbioses of power in Iraq and the role of the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU).