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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. 

Middle East/North Africa Security

Iraq and Syria: Do Profits Perpetuate Violence?

Years of civil war and political instability in Iraq and Syria have seen non-state actors rise to prominence. Many take a hybrid form, in which they have been semi-institutionalised by the state, qualifying them for the state payroll. However, the majority of these militias sustain themselves in other ways, notably from the shadow economy. This begs the question: for how long will illicit and informal economic activity persist and does its profits perpetuate violence?

Middle East/North Africa Natural resources and energy

What to expect in the Gulf Cooperation Countries in 2021: Key trends to watch

The history of the Gulf Cooperation Council is a story of the equally blessing and cursing natural resources, monarchies and Muslim Brotherhood. Since its establishment in 1981, this political and economic union has been subject to heightened economic pressures and long-standing geopolitical dynamics. This article explores the key trends to expect from the partnership of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates throughout 2021.

Middle East/North Africa Security

The early dilemmas of Biden’s foreign policy towards the Middle East and the Iranian factor

During his first speech on foreign policy earlier in February, President Biden announced his decision to terminate US support for Saudi Arabia’s military operations in Yemen. Suspending offensive aid for the Saudi-led coalition, the recently-elected President decided to reverse one of the last foreign policy moves of Trump’s administration, by lifting the designation of Yemeni Houthi as a terrorist group.

Middle East/North Africa Politics

The Precarious Balancing act of President Tebboune

President Tebboune has undertaken several political manoeuvres since the start of the year to balance against a number of threats presented by both the Hirak Movement and internal opposition. Whilst calculated, Tebboune’s balancing act is not likely to soothe Hirak frustrations, particularly when his reforms are so shallow in nature. Coupled with the increasingly perilous economic conditions, Algeria is set to see a resurgence in the Hirak movement once again.

Middle East/North Africa Politics

Lebanon: State Paralysis is Fomenting Political Violence

Amidst persistent economic deterioration and governmental breakdown, Lebanon has increasingly seen a worrying trend towards civic unrest and political violence. As the breakdown sees no sign of abating, public dismay at the elite is leading to riots which are being brutally repressed by the Lebanese authorities. Concurrently, one can witness a rise in tensions both within and outwith the sects. Lebanon suffered fifteen long years of conflict, raising the question of whether the country will see a repeat of previous misery.