Showing posts from January, 2022

NBN Book Author Interview: Libya and the Global Enduring Disorder by Jason Pack

  Libya stands out as an example of a complex, internecine Middle Eastern and North African conflict in which regional and global powers as well as jihadists exploit tribal and sectarian rivalries. The rivalries fuel a seemingly endless wave of chaos and violence in a part of the world that is pockmarked by ungoverned spaces. In  Libya and the Global Enduring Disorder  (Oxford University Press, 2021), Libya expert Jason Pack demonstrates that this tortured and war-ravaged, oil-rich North African nation is about much more. It is about the collapse of the post-World War Two and post-Cold War international order. Furthermore. it is about the free-for-all that emerges in the vacuum as the world struggles for a new equilibrium in which one or more new powers shape a new world order with or without the United States, the dominant power for the past seven decades. Few people are better positioned to discuss Libya. Jason brings to the book not only the lens of a historian and a Middle East

The Middle East Rush to Bury Hatchets: Is it sustainable?

  By James M. Dorsey How sustainable is Middle Eastern détente? That is the $64,000 question. The answer is probably not. It’s not for lack of trying. Gulf states and Egypt have ended their debilitating 3.5-year-long economic and diplomatic boycott of Qatar. The UAE has moved at lightning speed to establish formal ties with Israel and repair relations with Iran and Turkey. Saudi Arabia is moving in the same direction, albeit in a more plodding manner. Meanwhile, Turkey is also seeking to repair its long-strained relations with Egypt and Israel. Recently, Saudi Arabia granted visas to three Iranian diplomats to represent the Islamic Republic at the Jeddah-based, 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation. In 2016, Saudi Arabia broke off diplomatic relations with Iran after its embassy in Tehran was attacked in protest against the execution of Saudi Shia activist and cleric Nimr al. Nimr. The recent granting of visas is expected to be followed by visits by officials to the two c

Ukraine crisis could produce an unexpected winner: Iran

By James M. Dorsey Iran potentially could emerge as an unintended winner in the escalating crisis over Ukraine. That is, if Russian troops cross the Ukrainian border and talks in Vienna to revive the 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement fail. An imposition of tough US and European sanctions in response to any Russian incursion in Ukraine could likely make Russia more inclined to ignore the fallout of violating US sanctions n its dealings with Iran. By the same token, a failure of the talks between Iran and the United States, Russia, China, the European Union, France, Germany, and Britain to revive the accord that curbed the Islamic republic’s nuclear program would drive Iran closer to Russia and China in its effort to offset crippling US sanctions. US and European officials have warned that time is running out on the possibility of reviving the agreement from which the United States under then-President Donald J. Trump withdrew in 2018. The officials said Iran was weeks away from acquiring

UAE schoolbooks earn high marks for cultural tolerance, even if that means praising China

By James M. Dorsey An Israeli NGO gives the United Arab Emirates high marks for mandating schoolbooks that teach tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and engagement with non-Muslims. “The Emirati curriculum generally meets international standards for peace and tolerance. Textbooks are free of hate and incitement against others. The curriculum teaches students to value the principle of respect for other cultures and encourages curiosity and dialogue. It praises love, affection, and family ties with non-Muslims,” the 128-page study by The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) concluded. However, at the same time, the report appeared in its evaluation of Emirati textbooks to hue closely to Israeli policy towards the UAE and, more generally, most states that populate the Middle East. As a result, the report, like Israel that seemingly sees autocracy rather than greater freedoms as a stabilizing factor in the Middle East, skirts the issue

Putin’s post-Soviet world remains a work in progress, but Africa already looms

By James M. Dorsey Russian civilisationalism is proving handy as President Vladimir Putin seeks to expand the imaginary boundaries of his Russian World, whose frontiers are defined by Russian speakers and adherents to Russian culture rather than international law and/or ethnicity. Mr. Putin's disruptive and expansive nationalist ideology has underpinned his aggressive  approach to Ukraine since 2014 with the annexation of Crimea and the stoking of insurgencies in the east of the country. It also underwrites this month's brief intervention in Kazakhstan, even if it was in contrast to Ukraine at the invitation of the Kazakh government. Mr. Putin’s nationalist push in territories that were once part of the Soviet Union may be par for the course even if it threatens to rupture relations between Russia and the West and potentially spark a war. It helps Russia compensate for the strategic depth it lost with the demise of communism in Europe and the collapse of the Soviet Union.