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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.

Middle East/North Africa Politics

Biden’s policy shift means Saudi Arabia will have to adapt to regain favour with Washington

On Thursday, February 4, Joe Biden announced the US State Department’s new foreign policy on Saudi Arabia. The announcement confirmed a long-awaited shift in US foreign policy which will see an end to US support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and a new effort to find a peace agreement to end the conflict. Prioritising human rights for future relations with the Saudis, Biden’s policy likely provides significant leverage to draw the Saudis out of Yemen as they seek to ameliorate their relations with the new administration. 

Middle East/North Africa Politics

Public Sector Reform: A Way Forward for Iraq?

The public sector in Iraq accounts for the majority of employment in the oil-rich country. Plummeting oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in economic crisis and an ever increasing budget deficit. Where there is crisis however, there is opportunity: will 2021 bring a much needed reform of the public sector in Iraq? 

Middle East/North Africa Security

Middle East – The resurgence of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq

Islamic State (IS) rarely makes the mainstream media headlines these days. After losing the last of their territory during the Battle of Baghuz Fawqani in early 2019, the “caliphate was declared “defeated”. However, 2020 saw a significant growth in IS attacks in their traditional heartlands of Syria and Iraq, as well as a growing presence in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and across large parts of the African continent continent. Despite the loss of territory, the ideology of ISIS was not defeated, and although it’s difficult to put a precise number on their manpower, there is evidence that they are re-establishing themselves in the Middle East.

Middle East/North Africa Politics

A place in the sun? Assessing the Turkish government’s olive branch to Israel

Following the election of Joe Biden as the next US President, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has set the eyes of an increasingly diplomatically isolated nation on its regional neighbour and former ally. Israel, spurred by the threat of Iran in the region, has also sent signals that rapprochement with Turkey is on the cards. Can the two countries mend their fraught relationship?

Middle East/North Africa Politics

After Coalition Collapse, Israel faces its Fourth Election in Two Years

On Tuesday 22 Dec. 2020, the Knesset failed to pass an annual budget, automatically triggering an election. Israelis will head to the polls on 23 March 2021, facing an election during a pandemic for the second time. While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has had a string of electoral successes over the past decade, his path to retaining power does not look smooth. The Prime Minister has frequently referred to his opponents in previous elections as ‘weak leftists’ however his rivals in this election share his conservative beliefs.

Middle East/North Africa Politics Security

Israel Continues to Gain Alliances Through US Deals

The strengthening of former diplomatic ties and the establishment of new ones, have poised Israel for greater security amongst its regional counterparts. As Israel’s evolving role in global politics is continuously being shaped by the policies of the countries around it, the ardent support by the US has allowed for this nation to gain more legitimacy in the eyes of its former enemies.

Economics Middle East/North Africa

What is next for Turkey?

With the Turkish lira at a record depreciation amid the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic,Turkish leadership is struggling to deal with an economic impasse and a seismic foreign relations shift as a result of the US election. 

Middle East/North Africa Politics

Morocco and Western Sahara – Military Posturing and Diplomatic Offensives

Whilst there has been no direct military confrontation between the Polisario Front and Morocco regarding the future of Western Sahara for a number of years, both Morocco and their opponent, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) have been deploying diplomatic overtures to sway opinion in their favour across the African continent and beyond. 

Middle East/North Africa Politics

What does a Biden presidency mean for the Middle East?

After a tense and lengthy electoral battle, Joe Biden has come out on top and is set to become the 46th President of the United States of America. Given the US position as the world’s only superpower, there are question marks over what this might mean for the rest of the world. The Middle East, as a region of great strategic interest but also extensive turbulence, is an arena into which Biden will certainly be drawn.