Blog archive: All

  • 24th May 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Hot on the heels of Donald Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia and the festivities surrounding it, a new feud has erupted among the Arab Gulf states. The Saudis and Emiratis are blocking the websites of al-Jazeera and other Qatari news sources. Qatar, meanwhile, says reports of a controversial speech...
  • 18th May 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    For more than a week clashes have been taking place in Awamiyah, a town in Saudi Arabia's predominantly Shia Eastern province. What began – ostensibly – as a redevelopment project is now being portrayed in Saudi media as an anti-terorrism operation. Awamiyah has long been a centre of...
  • 15th May 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    There are three possible outcomes to the war in Yemen: reconstruction as a single state, partition into two states – north and south – or fragmentation into multiple statelets. Of these, only a single state can offer some hope of a more secure future for the Yemeni people but the prospects for...
  • 9th May 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    For the last two years a Saudi-led coalition has been waging a war in Yemen to restore the "legitimate" government headed by Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. But that goal is now in doubt because Hadi's lacklustre performance has opened up a rift between Saudi Arabia and its key ally in the conflict,...
  • 8th May 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Freedom of thought needs an atmosphere of tolerance where people can speak their mind and no one is forced to accept the beliefs of others. In the Middle East, though, tolerance is in short supply and ideas that don't fit the expectations of society and governments are viewed as a threat. Where...
  • 4th May 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Findings of the annual Arab Youth Survey were released in Dubai yesterday amid the customary fanfare. Once again, the survey asked young Arabs which country they would like to live in if they had a choice and, once again, the United Arab Emirates topped the list. Indeed, according to the survey...
  • 2nd May 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Belgian government has admitted supporting Saudi Arabia's election to a UN body which champions women's rights – and now says it regrets doing so. Meanwhile, numerous other countries supposedly committed to gender equality are refusing to say how they voted. Saudi Arabia has a long history...
  • 27th April 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    It is now abundantly clear that the Syrian regime was responsible for the Sarin attack that killed dozens of people in Khan Sheikhoun earlier this month.  A declassified intelligence assessment released by the French government yesterday establishes beyond any reasonable doubt that the...
  • 26th April 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Among the 22 countries belonging to the Arab League, 17 are ranked as "bad" or "very bad" in the annual World Press Freedom Index published today by Reporters Without Borders. The eight classified as "bad" are Algeria, Jordan, Iraq, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar and the United Arab...
  • 24th April 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Last week, unnoticed by most of the world's media, Saudi Arabia was elected to the UN's Commission on the Status of Women – with support from at least three EU countries. The commission is described on its website as "the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to...
  • 23rd April 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Since leaving the diplomatic service Peter Ford, a former British ambassador in Damascus, has become an outspoken critic of western policies towards Syria and has described calls for President Assad to step down as "child-like". During the conflict Ford has also repeatedly disputed...
  • 19th April 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A decorative concrete structure which had stood for more than 25 years at the entrance to a government building in the Saudi city of Buraydah was abruptly demolished at the weekend because of its alleged connection with Christianity, according to local media.  The structure, which...

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