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Middle East/North Africa Security

Chaos in Lebanon: How much longer can the military maintain law and order?

Last month, June 2021, I recorded a total of 97 Security Incidents happening across Lebanon. The vast majority of these were roadblocks set up by angry protesters over the rapidly deteriorating socio-economic conditions. There were, however, 15 occasions of violence, in security operations, militancy, crime and personal disputes. Towards the end of the month, this figure was quickly rising and has continued to increase into July. This begs the question: For how long can the un-paid and deeply suffering Lebanese military remain deployed to maintain law and order?

Middle East/North Africa Security

Iraq and Syria: The Local and Regional Impact of Illicit Economies

In my previous article, I discussed the risk of Iraq and Syria entering a state of perpetual violence brought about by militias, to sustain their presence and maintain their profits. High rates of unemployment and increasing militarisation of governance and the economy, have meant that forming, joining and sustaining militias has become one of the few profitable rent-seeking methods. This article examines their illicit economic activities in greater detail showing the impact on a local to regional scale and the wider reverberating consequences.

Middle East/North Africa Security

Syria’s Decade of War and Russia’s Encouragement of the Ongoing Conflict

As of March 2021, Syria has now been embroiled in civil war for ten years, as both the Syrian interim government and various other rebel factions continue to fight back against Bashar al-Assad and the human rights abuses that have occurred under his presidency. Yet, after an entire decade of war, there still does not appear to be any clear indication of peace in sight. This raises the question as to what has caused the conflict in Syria to last so long, and which state actors or nations might be responsible. 

Middle East/North Africa Security

Religious Riots in Jerusalem: Reignited Tensions in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Months of quiet intermission in the rivalry between Israel and Palestine ends as new tensions emerge between the feuding states, ranging from riots in Jerusalem caused by religious extremists to exchanges of missiles over the Gaza Strip. These latest clashes in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict represent the frailty in their relationship, serving as a reminder that even when tensions appear to be low for a time, hostilities can be triggered and reignited at any time. Further underlined by the particularly long period of time that these states have been rivals, it is left unanswered when, and even if, the conflict will ever be firmly resolved.  

Middle East/North Africa Politics

Hezbollah’s Economic Initiatives in Collapsing Lebanon

With the Lebanese Lira hitting a new low at the beginning of March, Lebanon is at the brink of collapse, undergoing fuel shortages and driving its population into poverty. The economic crisis has worsened in the last year due to the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, the explosion of the port of Beirut in August, and, above all, to the Lebanese political class that has repeatedly failed to form a government. The political vacuum has given room to Hezbollah, which is likely one of the actors responsible for stalling the government’s formation, to demonstrate its abilities in managing the country through its apparently well-developed social welfare.

Middle East/North Africa Security

Yemen’s Chance for Peace Weakens as the Fighting against the Houthis Intensifies

As the war in Yemen enters its seventh year the Saudi Arabian-led coalition has begun attempting peace talks with their main adversaries, the Houthi rebel forces that have occupied much of the northwest of the country for the last several years. As President Biden is now committed to withdrawing American support for the coalition, it has left them at a disadvantage which they appear to wish to rectify by negotiating with the Houthis in the hope of reaching an agreement. However, the Houthi forces have largely held a strong position in the war and, as demonstrated by their recent bombings and airstrikes, appear to have little interest in ending the conflict.

Middle East/North Africa Politics Security

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Anglo-Iranian Relations and Hostage Diplomacy

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was detained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in March 2016, marking the start of a five year ordeal which only now seems to have any prospect of ending.

Middle East/North Africa Politics

Iraq’s National Dialogue

Pope Francis’ visit to Iraq had a significant impact on the national unity of Iraq. A moment of pride and unity for all Iraqis as media-outlets put the country and its rich history and diverse cultures in a positive light. Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi recognised this opportunity and called for a National Dialogue to tackle the divisions within the country.

Economics Middle East/North Africa

Walking the Tightrope: The UAE Makes Strides Towards Regional Power in the Gulf

The United Arab Emirates has taken increasingly bold foreign policy measures since the start of the pandemic. In a carefully crafted mix of economic and security measures, the UAE is not only on its way to repairing the economic impact of the pandemic but also to becoming a regional hegemon. The formal establishment of relations with Israel has significantly improved the UAE’s position in the short-term. However, the long term advantage of this agreement for the UAE will depend on Iran’s security status, and whether the UAE can compete with Saudi Arabia to become the region’s economic heart. 

Middle East/North Africa Security

Will the US Negotiations With the Taliban Leave Afghanistan Vulnerable?

Although entering negotiations with the Taliban might be seen as a sign of progression, there are still concerning signs that the fighting will continue in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of American support and influence. Without an American presence there is a danger that Afghanistan will be more exposed than ever to the threat of the Taliban’s terrorism.