When it comes to the Middle East, everything happens at a pace that is too fast to comprehend. Proxy wars, manipulations and unjustifiable violence — unfortunately, a region so blessed and so beautiful is nowadays mostly known for all the wrong things.
As of now, Iran-Arab relations are turning from bad to worse with sectarian rhetoric and regional rivalries resulting in a weird form of power struggle that will have many losers, and probably zero winners. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia have entered into a stare-down in Yemen, and with nearly all the major states of the region taking sides, the flames of these tensions are reaching as far as Turkey and Pakistan. Add to it the fact that the recent nuclear deal between P5+1 and Iran can affect regional strife even further, and the chances of a zero sum game look even bleak.
At this point, one needs to wonder: what can be the possible solution for Middle East? Continue Reading
Of late, countries at the centre of the world — Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya and even Lebanon for that matter — are going through troubles and disturbances. Be it the Arab Spring or militant insurgency, the overall atmosphere in most countries of the region has been turbulent, to say the least.
However, right next to these countries, the Gulf states, in spite of all their internal and external problems, have enjoyed relative comfort. Partly due to the fact that the natives of Gulf tend to prefer political stability over chaos, and partly on account of the cash reserves that oil and hydrocarbons keep generating, the Gulf states have, by and large, kept insurgency and instability away from their respective territories.
Yet, this does not imply that life is a bed of roses for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). In fact, recently, the GCC has been doing its share of research and brainstorming over security and diplomacy issues. As of now, the security calculations of Gulf countries are being radically shaken. Continue Reading
As we approach the end of 2014, world economy, the energy sector to be more precise, lies in a dismal state. Back in June, oil prices were at an all-time high. They have been slashed by nearly 40% since then. This rapid collapse of oil prices has had an adverse effect on various economies, such as that of Russia and Iran.
Russia, in particular, is having a bad outing — shrinking energy prices are followed by a rather crucial monetary crisis. The exchange rate of Russian rouble in relation to the American dollar has fallen by over 50% this year, and in the past week itself, Russian currency lost 17% of its value.
The question that now arises is: will the plummeting oil prices and a sinking currency spell doom for Russian plans of world domination? Continue Reading
Democracy is the worse form of government, except for all the other forms that have been tried from time to time.
— Winston Churchill
Churchill’s above statement provides a sweeping, and possibly one-sided picture, of democracy as a mixed blessing — a system with its boons and banes that just somehow works. Such a generic observation claims, on one hand, that democracy is better than any other non-democratic system, and at the same time points out that it still is not the God-given mandate to all problems that this world is currently facing. Unfortunately, a good number of Americans tend to agree with the first interpretation of Churchill’s statement, but overlook the second one.
Much like any other form of governance, democracy too is vulnerable. However, one can find solace in the fact that a democratic setup offers us the chance to have second thoughts about mistakes of the past: replace one set of fools with a new set of fools, for instance. The elected leaders serve for a given time period — such a time limit can control the amount of damage that they can do to their country or, in the case of USA, to other countries as well. Continue Reading
Scotland recently rejected freedom, and voted in favor of staying in the United Kingdom. Of course, this was not the last time we have heard from Scottish nationalism, and voices for self-determination and recognition will continue to be heard, until sovereignty is achieved and Scotland earns its rightful place among the nation-states of the world.
However, apart from setting a paradigm in self-determination for the rest of the world, the Scottish referendum also gave us a lesson in the ground realities of history and nationalism. Continue Reading
Scotland is barely a few months away from the all-important date of September 18, when its citizens will vote to decide the future of their country. The stakes are high: on one hand, there are supporters of an independent Scotland, whereas on the other hand, there is UK Prime Minister David Cameron who will be left “heartbroken” if Scotland chooses to be independent.
To save his heart, and to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom, David Cameron is even willing to offer 500m British Pounds (roughly $850m) to Glasgow. But nothing seems to quell the spirit for freedom in Scotland. Continue Reading
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) recently published a study titled The Arab Integration: A 21st Century Development Imperative. Prepared by over two dozen writers and intellectuals from the Arab World, this report (spanning more than 300 pages) talks about the social, political and economic challenges that the Arabs are facing nowadays.
More importantly, the UNESCWA Report also addresses the problems that lie ahead in the Arab integration roadmap. Continue Reading
As we speak, Kuwait is hosting its first Arab League Summit. The slogan for this year’s Summit is “Solidarity For A Better Future”. Question is: will the Kuwait Summit ensure solidarity for the region?
It is a well known fact that the Arab World has seen its own share of regional alliances formed on the basis of ideological, sectarian and regional dynamics. With the recent cases of the Arab Spring, such dynamism has become all the more complicated and thus, regional solidarity is surely a challenging task to accomplish. Continue Reading
Now that Crimea has decided to unite with Russia and Russians have welcomed Crimea’s move with happy hearts, the Western half of the world, especially USA and European Union, are talking at length about imposing sanctions against Russia in order to bring Vladimir Putin to his senses. However, the task seems easier said than done — Uncle Sam is simply not in a position to impose long-term sanctions against Russia.
Economic and political ties between the United States and Russia are surely not exemplary. Yet, one key American industry relies heavily on a particular import from Russia: fuel for nuclear power plants. Continue Reading
Past few months have kept Iran busy. Apart from elections and a new President, a proposed nuclear deal is also in the air. With USA and its allies planning to end their disastrous outing in Iraq, Iran’s role in the region seems to be growing with each passing day.
Furthermore, the Iranian nuclear deal might just put an end to the status quo between the Gulf countries and Iran. If so, how is the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) going to react? Continue Reading