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Protest in Iran: A Middle Eastern déjà vu with a twist of irony

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  By James M. Dorsey To watch a video version of this story on YouTube please click  here. A podcast version is available on Soundcloud,   Itunes ,  Spotify ,  Spreaker , and   Podbean. A recent survey of Iranian public opinion suggests that the lack of confidence in a Middle Eastern regime is starkest in Iran, although crisis-wracked Lebanon, Egypt, or Syria may compete. Surveyed in late December by the Netherlands-based Gamaan Institute, an overwhelming majority of the 158,000 respondents in Iran and 42,000 Diaspora Iranians in 130 other countries, rejected Iran’s Islamic regime. The poll was published days before Iran commemorates the 44 th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution. The poll’s reach was achieved in part by Voice of America and London-base and Saudi-backed Iran International TV helping with the distribution of questionnaires. Iran International made no mention of its involvement in its reporting on the survey. Iran, which has accused Iran Internatio

Israelis and Palestinians do what they do best, but for the wrong reasons

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  By James M. Dorsey To watch a video version of this story on YouTube please click  here. A podcast version is available on Soundcloud,   Itunes ,  Spotify ,  Spreaker , and   Podbean. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has put Israel’s closest allies and some of his key partners on the spot. So has a generation of Palestinian youth that has nothing to lose and no longer sees fruitless engagement with and acquiescence of the Jewish state as a means of realizing their national and socio-economic aspirations. It’s not that young Palestinians have necessarily given up on a compromise resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the contrary, however, they believe that armed resistance with the Jenin refugee camp on the West Bank as its focal point will provoke a situation the international community will no longer be able to ignore. Jenin is home to a black market for pistols, AK-47s, Kalashnikovs, and M16s, and thousands of youths caught in a Catch-22 in which they ar

Shaping a 21st-century world order amounts to a patchwork

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  By James M. Dorsey To watch a video version of this story on YouTube please click  here. A podcast version is available on Soundcloud,   Itunes ,  Spotify ,  Spreaker , and   Podbean. What do Moroccan arms sales to Ukraine, a transnational Russian Iranian transit corridor, and US assistance in developing a Saudi national strategy have in common? Together with this week’s Russian-Iranian financial messaging agreement and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s December visit to Saudi Arabia , they are smaller and bigger fragments of a 21 st -century world order in the making that is likely to be bi-polar and populated by multiple middle powers with significant agency and enhanced hedging capabilities. So is the competition between rival US and Chinese technologies for which the jury is still out. For the two likely dominant powers, the United States and China, the building blocks are efforts to line up their ducks in a bipolar world. For Russia, they involve hanging on to its

‘Saudi First’ aid policy marries geopolitics with economics

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  By James M. Dorsey To watch a video version of this story on YouTube please click  here. A podcast version is available on Soundcloud,   Itunes ,  Spotify ,  Spreaker , and   Podbean. When Mohammed al-Jadaan told a gathering of the global political and business elite that Saudi Arabia would, in the future, attach conditions to its foreign aid, the finance minister was announcing the expansion of existing conditionality rather than a wholly new approach. Coined ‘Saudi First,’ the new conditionality ties aid to responsible economic policies and reforms, not just support for the kingdom’s geopolitics. For the longest time, Saudi Arabia granted aid with no overt strings. The aid was policed by privately demanding support for the kingdom’s policies, often using as a carrot and stick quotas for the haj, the yearly Muslim pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca allotted to countries across the globe. As a result, over the years, Saudi Arabia poured tens of billions of dollars i

Stepping back from the abyss: A conversation with Indian Muslim thinker A. Faizur Rahman

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  By James M. Dorsey Hindu Muslim relations are in a rout. Fear and prejudice have been weaponized. Hindu nationalists fuel intercommunal strife by emphasizing an imaginary demographic threat. Muslims believe themselves to be in a situation similar to that of Jews in Germany in the 1930s that led to genocide. India's far right Hindu nationalist movement, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS, the ideological cradle of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cohorts, speaks of a 1,000-year war. While professing an interest in dialogue, the RSS is widely viewed as a catalyst of anti-Muslim violence and discrimination in India. The movement speaks to individual Indian Muslim leaders, but those conversations are mostly private, and the Indian Muslim community has been unable to develop a leadership that can channel a dialogue that could produce results. Stepping into the breach is Indonesia's Nama, arguably the world's most moderate Muslim civil society movement in the worl