The Gulf - Afro-Middle East Centre
By Afro-Middle East Centre The death of Saudi King Abdullah on 23 January, and the ascension to the throne of his half-brother Salman have generated a flurry of discussions and speculation globally. Much attention has being paid to gestures of condolences, and comments about Abdullah’s legacy and achievements (including some western leaders’ assertions of Abdullah as a ‘reformer’). The conversations have also included reflections on royal succession and the potential for Saudi domestic and foreign policy changes. The issue of succession has been feverishly discussed for the past few years, dogged by the question of who among the grandsons of…
By Afro-Middle East Centre Tensions are increasing between Qatar on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the other. In the latest dispute, which began on 5 March, the three states recalled their ambassadors from Qatar, demanding that it ends its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, and that it stops interfering in their internal affairs. Qatar shot back that the disagreement had to do with concerns in countries outside the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), whose members are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait. Subsequently, the pressure on Qatar, led by Saudi Arabia,…
By Afro-Middle East Centre The uprisings that spread across the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region from the beginning of 2011 not only caught global and regional powers unaware, but also upturned seemingly entrenched regimes that had maintained a veneer of strategic stability for western powers. In the ensuing tumult of uprisings that saw a re-shuffling of alliances and power blocs, spaces opened for regional players to jostle to assert their agendas and scramble for ascendancy. In the ensuing scuffle, few would have predicted that tiny Qatar would emerge alongside Iran and Turkey as a significant player. Interestingly, because of…
ByAbdulazizAl-Heis The decision to allow women to participate in the Shura Council and municipal councils of Saudi Arabia is an important step forward, especially given that Saudi Arabia is in dire need of any movement on this issue. At the same time, however, such a step is not expected to bring about the desired concrete and effective changes, given the limitations of the realities on the ground. Furthermore, the predominant popular and cultural impression of the Shura and municipal councils in the Kingdom is that they offer no space for any real and meaningful participation in the political decision-making of…
By Afro-Middle East Centre Introduction Despite the chronic under-reporting on popular protests in Bahrain, the uprising in the small Gulf state that left over thirty dead and hundreds arrested in a brutal government crackdown offers a potent reading of the regional and global dynamics and interests at play. Mainstream coverage of the uprising has mostly portrayed the Bahraini uprising as an extension, or a natural continuum, of the 'Arab Spring' that has swept across the region. Even though the Bahraini protests might have found inspiration in the tidal wave of calls for democratisation elsewhere in the region, and reflect similar…
By Afro-Middle East Centre The uprising in Yemen that started in January 2011 was largely inspired by the popular protests that swept the region - in particular the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings that respectively saw the ousting of Hosni Mubarak and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Despite certain socio-economic and political causal similarities to other uprisings in the region, the Yemeni protests reflect the contextual particularities of Yemen. As such, any reading of the uprising needs to be located and understood from within the complexities of that country's political and cultural milieu.

Bahrain’s rocky road to reform

By International Crisis Group Unless all sides to the conflict agree to an inclusive dialogue in order to reach meaningful reform, Bahrain is heading for prolonged and costly political stalemate. Popular Protest in North Africa and the Middle East (VIII): Bahrain's Rocky Road to Reform, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines the situation in the island kingdom five months after the outbreak of the mass protest, which was followed by brutal government repression. The spasm of violence further polarised a society already divided along sectarian lines and left hopes for genuine political reform in tatters, raising serious…
By Lamees Dhaif At the beginning of July 2011, more than 300 representatives of Bahrain's political and civil society gathered in the country's capital, Manama, for the launch of a 'national dialogue'. Many questions pervaded the atmosphere on the eve of this dialogue, the most important being whether the national dialogue could pull Bahrain out of the political crisis which started on 14 February? Questions were also raised about whether the opposition's participation – described as 'reticent and pessimistic' – would lead to a political solution, considering its constant claim that the dialogue was not based on true popular representation,…
By Abd al-Jalil al-Marhun  The events in Bahrain, unfolding at an increasing pace, have in many respects forced themselves on both the local and the regional arenas and contexts. In addition, they have attracted unexpected and extensive international attention. What was the spark that ignited these events? How did they develop? What are the stances adopted towards them by the various political groups? And, where is Bahrain heading?
By Kenneth Katzman Members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have been loyal and crucial allies of US policy in the Gulf region for over three decades. Some Gulf states, such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, have been pillars of US Gulf policy since the end of World War II. Furthermore, the Gulf states have fully supported all US interventions in the region in which their interests matched those of the United States. The 1991 Persian Gulf War against Saddam Hussein is one such example. Perhaps more significant is that the Gulf states have even supported the United States in…

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