S. Rob Sobhani

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Bahrain, an island of stability amid Mideast chaos

This month marks the fourth anniversary of the so-called Arab Spring. The chaos in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Libya suggests that for the most part this desire for change has led to more, not less, instability in the Middle East. Luckily for the United States, chaos has not affected the Kingdom of Bahrain, and this reliable military, economic and diplomatic partner of America has weathered the storm.

The fundamental reason why Bahrain has transitioned through the tumult of what some are now calling the “Arab Storm” is the leadership of King Hamad Al-Khalifa. By practicing good governance, this U.S.-educated monarch has prevented his country from becoming another failed state.…  Seguir leyendo »

The world lost a leader of consequence this past Friday. King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia was unique among world leaders.

He was a pious man whose word was his bond. The sixth king of this long-time American ally held the keys to the world’s largest oil reserves but never used this enormous power as a weapon against others. He was the custodian of Islam’s two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, but preached moderation, tolerance and interfaith dialogue among peoples of faith. He stood up against religious extremists and called them out for what they are. This past Friday the people of Saudi Arabia lost their father-figure and the world lost one of the main pillars of global stability.…  Seguir leyendo »

A young leader inherits a compact peninsula of progress

With tensions increasing in the already-volatile Middle East as Western capitals vow military intervention in Syria, a calm and promising transfer of power in one of the region’s key states is particularly noteworthy.

Earlier this summer, Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad al-Thani’s abdication of the throne in favor of his 33 year-old son, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, received scant attention in the global media. Given Qatar’s critical role as a mediator and moderating influence in global affairs, now is the right time for policymakers to ask: “Who is Sheikh Tamim, and will he carry his father’s legacy forward?”…  Seguir leyendo »

As the world focuses on the passing of Hugo Chavez and the impact of his socialist policies on oil-rich Venezuela, halfway around the globe a different kind of leader has been quietly transforming his country into a prosperous and reliable partner of the West. Since assuming the presidency in 2003, Ilham Aliyev, the 52-year old Azerbaijani head of state, has used his country’s vast energy resources to make the transition from a centrally planned economy to a free and prosperous one. While socialism has ruined Venezuela’s enormous potential, Mr. Aliyev’s adoption of market capitalism has transformed his country into the Kuwait of the former Soviet Union with an average annual gross domestic product growth rate of 24 percent over the past 10 years.…  Seguir leyendo »

The decision by a federal judge in Orlando to deport a former top Salvadoran general accused of overseeing widespread torture and murder during the country’s 12-year civil war is welcome news for many Salvadorans, including those who escaped and came to the U.S. years ago.

During the 1980s, El Salvador’s military leaders — bolstered by extensive U.S. financial support — carried out a campaign of massacres and terror in an effort to stamp out a left-wing revolutionary movement. The conflict left more than 75,000 people dead. More than a quarter of the nation’s population was displaced by the fighting and many chose to resettle in this country.…  Seguir leyendo »

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses members of Congress on Tuesday, he will get a rousing reception and - no doubt - a standing ovation if he suggests a military strike on Iran to destroy that country’s nuclear weapons facilities. Mr. Netanyahu rightly will point out that Iran is the No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism, a supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah and a threat to the Jewish state.

Members of Congress would be well-advised to take stock of the history between Iran and the Jewish state before giving the Israeli prime minister a green light to attack Iran. This 2,500-year-old history suggests that the character of the regime in Tehran has had the most immediate influence on Israeli-Iranian relations: Secularists have welcomed ties to the Jewish state, whereas Islamists have opposed cultivation of closer ties to Israel.…  Seguir leyendo »