Oriente Próximo

The families of the slain Australian soldiers firmly oppose Hekmatullah’s release. © Dave Hunt / AAP

An Afghan soldier convicted of murdering three Australian soldiers is among six high-value prisoners who have been flown to Qatar ahead of the September peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government. Hekmatullah has spent seven years in jail after killing the three soldiers he worked with in 2012 — Lance Corporal Stjepan Milosevic, Sapper James Martin and Private Robert Poate.

For a long time, the Afghan government vowed not to free 600 prisoners it considered too dangerous, including murderers and foreign fighters. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called them a “danger” to the world. But last month, an assembly of Afghan elders, community leaders and politicians called a “loya jirga” approved the release of the last 400 Taliban captives and hundreds have been set free.…  Seguir leyendo »

Meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors of the G20 nations in the Saudi capital Riyadh on February 23, 2020. Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images.

The G20 summit in November was to be a moment when the world focused its attention on Saudi Arabia. As the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies came together for the first time in an Arab capital and presided over the world’s greatest challenges and opportunities, King Salman would have taken centre stage with his son and crown prince Mohammed bin Salman not far behind in the spotlight.

However this will now be a virtual summit, and that is probably a blessing in disguise for the kingdom and its leadership which has not enjoyed a good year. It shares responsibility for crashing the price of oil, which, in conjunction with COVID-19, has brought the global economy to its knees.…  Seguir leyendo »

Safa Al Hashem MP holds a red rose to mark Valentine's Day at the National Assembly in Kuwait City on February 14, 2017, the year a domestic violence bill was first introduced. Photo by YASSER AL-ZAYYAT/AFP via Getty Images.

Domestic violence has always been a complex issue in Kuwaiti culture, often tied to norms and beliefs relating to family structures and concepts of guardianship, honour and discipline. As with other forms of abuse within the family, it is also considered a private matter and therefore not addressed publicly.

Despite a lack of up to date figures, the problem is widespread, affecting 53.1% of women in Kuwait according to a 2018 study. But Kuwait’s last submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) showed only 447 domestic violence cases had been through the court system in 2016, and only 76 of those resulted in a conviction.…  Seguir leyendo »

El primer ministro israelí Benjamín Netanyahu celebró el acuerdo que normaliza las relaciones entre Israel y los Emiratos Árabes Unidos —que ambos países firmarán en una ceremonia en la Casa Blanca el 15 de septiembre— como un paso histórico igual a los anteriores acuerdos de paz de Israel con Egipto y Jordania. El líder israelí también presumió de que el acuerdo con los EAU reivindicó su «doctrina Netanyahu» de paz a cambio de paz, en vez de tierras a cambio de paz.

Pero incluso lograr la paz con un país con el que Israel no comparte ninguna frontera y nunca estuvo en guerra obligó a Netanyahu a renunciar a sus planes de anexar gran parte de Cisjordania.…  Seguir leyendo »

Es normal que los países con profundos desacuerdos de todos modos mantengan relaciones diplomáticas, mercantiles y comerciales. Sin embargo, también hay circunstancias en las que se considera que esas relaciones carecen de sentido. Por cierto, ése es el caso de la mayoría de los países frente a Corea del Norte, pero también describe la postura previa de Estados Unidos con Cuba, y ahora con Venezuela, así como la política de Israel con Irán, la de Arabia Saudita con Qatar y la de gran parte del mundo árabe con Israel.

Dada la importancia del diálogo entre los países, siempre se plantea el interrogante de cuándo perseguir o terminar relaciones normales con un actor “malo”.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Iraqi woman shows photographs in May 2003 of her two sons, thought to be killed during late president Saddam Hussein’s rule. A trove of Hussein-era files has been returned to Iraq, prompting some to hope of learning the fate of long-lost relatives. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)

On Aug. 31, the United States returned a final batch of Baath Party archives to Iraq. These documents detail the inner workings of the party that ruled Iraq from the 1960s until 2003, when a U.S.-led coalition invaded and deposed longtime dictator Saddam Hussein. Coalition forces removed these papers from Iraq in 2005, and the archives eventually ended up at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute.

What makes these documents so important — and a source of controversy? They detail the crimes of an authoritarian state, from the collaborations of citizens to the predations of state officials. My research demonstrates how these crimes affected historic institutions, including the Shi’a religious establishment, in peacebuilding post-2003.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hay que salvar a Beirut

Durante miles de años el Líbano ha sido el punto de reunión de distintas culturas y pueblos, y víctima de luchas regionales de poder que han impedido una paz duradera. Sin embargo, incluso durante la prolongada guerra civil del país (1975-90), su capital, Beirut, se las arregló para mantener una cultura abierta. Como bastión de medios de comunicación libres, foros literarios creativos e instituciones académicas de renombre, es la perla de Oriente Medio.

Pero las heridas históricas no sanan fácilmente; a pesar de haber adoptado una nueva constitución y lograr una renovación nacional después de la guerra, el sistema político libanés siguió plagado por la corrupción y dejó al Estado debilitado y a la economía en una situación disfuncional.…  Seguir leyendo »

The flags, from left to right, of Bahrain, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United States fly along a road in the resort city of Netanya, in central Israel, on Sept. 13. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

At the White House on Tuesday, Israel will formalize peace with the United Arab Emirates and sign a declaration of peace with Bahrain. For some, this event symbolizes the advent of a new day in the region. Others bemoan it for rewarding the Israelis and doing little to end the occupation of the Palestinians.

The latter tend to ignore that at least in the UAE’s case, its decision stopped Israel’s unilateral annexation of the territories allotted to it by the Trump peace plan. As such, they overlook that it very clearly applied the concept of linkage in any Arab moves toward Israel: for partial or full normalization by Arab states, Israel will need to take positive — or in the UAE’s case, avoid negative — steps toward the Palestinians.…  Seguir leyendo »

In July, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio joined three Democratic colleagues, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, in a letter to President Trump urging action on a case that has gotten far too little media attention — the apparent detention of the son and daughter of Saad al Jabri.

The lawmakers expressed grave concern that Omar and Sarah al Jabri were being held against their will to compel their father’s return from Canada to Riyadh to face charges of corruption.

Mr. al Jabri served under former Minister of Interior Muhammad bin Nayef (widely known as MBN), the onetime next-in-line for the Saudi throne who has been displaced by now-Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS).…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters in Lebanon and Iraq in the last year have turned their ire not only against conditions in their own countries, but against Iran’s corrosive influence in them. Past Palestinian protests in Gaza against the Iran-supported terrorist group Hamas, and protests in Iran itself, against the use of scarce Iranian resources for its leaders’ foreign malign expeditions, have voiced similar frustrations. Syria has been virtually destroyed by a now over nine-year civil war in which much of the population has fought the Iran-backed Syrian leadership.

These flashpoints are revealing the fury of Arabs — and Iranians — with the leaders of the Iranian regime.…  Seguir leyendo »

What took so long?

The U.S.-Taliban agreement signed in Doha, Qatar on 29 February specified that peace talks among the Afghan parties to the conflict would begin on 10 March. After months of delay, these intra-Afghan talks are finally set to commence, also in Doha, on 12 September.

A number of factors contributed to the postponement, some arising immediately after the U.S.-Taliban agreement was signed. The Afghan government showed reluctance to implement a provision calling for the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners, for fear of losing domestic standing as well as its negotiating leverage, while the Taliban re-escalated violence across the country in hopes of maintaining theirs.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Emirati, U.S. and Israeli flags are pictured attached to an airplane of Israel's El Al upon its arrival at the Abu Dhabi airport in the first commercial flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates on Aug. 31. (Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images)

Some observers seem to assume that the recent agreement to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates means the end of efforts to achieve a reasonable, two-state outcome to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Some Israelis may hope that improving relations with Arab states would obviate the need for further negotiations with the Palestinians.

Yet the Palestinians are not going anywhere, and the reality is that Israel cannot retain its core character as both a Jewish and democratic state if it ignores the Palestinian issue. Fortunately, those who still seek a two-state solution have no cause for despair. The Emirati-Israeli breakthrough could be a much-needed bridge to overcoming the current impasse.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last week, an Israeli flight made its way from Israel to the United Arab Emirates in what was regarded as a historical journey. Credit Christopher Pike/Reuters

Last week, an Israeli airliner made its way from Israel to the United Arab Emirates in what was regarded a historical journey. The first ever such flight, the direct flight was the outcome of a deal made last month between the two countries.

While Israel and the Trump administration celebrated the moment, Palestinians sounded an opposite note. The Palestinian prime minister, Muhammad Shtayyeh, declared the flight “a clear and a blatant violation of the Arab position toward the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

“We had hoped to see an Emirati plane landing in a liberated Jerusalem, but we live in a difficult Arab era,” he said.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Ethiopian migrant worker waits outside her country’s embassy in Beirut. Photograph: Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images

It is just over a month since the Beirut port explosion, and the footage from that day remains as shocking as it was when it first began to appear on our TV screens and social media. In fragments of video, the world saw Beirut life freeze in confusion at the unfamiliar sound of the explosion, then shatter as its impact hit. Among those bits of film we saw one scene, captured on domestic CCTV, that was replicated across the city – an African nanny instinctively scooping children up out of harm’s way, and protecting them with her body.

Many of these nannies are now sleeping on the streets of Beirut.…  Seguir leyendo »

“Some regimes oppress people so much that, one day, they are toppled for reasons that never occurred to them,” journalist Bahman Ahmadi Amouee writes in his devastating memoir, “Life in Prison,” in which he chronicles the years he spent as a political prisoner in Iran, from 2009 to 2014. Those words hold an important lesson for Iran today.

The arrest and long-term detention of prisoners of conscience is a tradition that goes back centuries in Iran — as it does everywhere. Now, mass arrests are experiencing a tragic revival, putting at risk thousands of people guilty of no other crime than protesting the Islamic Republic’s abuses of power.…  Seguir leyendo »


El anuncio de un acuerdo de asociación estratégica con Irán pone en evidencia la voluntad de China de asumir un papel geopolítico más decidido, incluso si ello implica desafiar a EEUU directamente.


El reciente anuncio de un acuerdo de asociación estratégica entre China e Irán ha encendido las alarmas en EEUU sobre las implicaciones de una posible alianza entre sus principales rivales. Si bien no se ha firmado todavía un texto oficial y las filtraciones de un supuesto protocolo secreto sobre cooperación en materia de defensa y seguridad deben ser tomadas con cautela, las implicaciones geopolíticas de tal iniciativa tienen tal relevancia que alterarían sustancialmente los actuales parámetros del orden internacional.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the six years since Abdel Fatah al-Sissi assumed the presidency in Egypt, the country has devolved into the deepest human rights crisis it has experienced in decades. In the face of this downward spiral, it’s not surprising that many in the West have stopped paying attention. As more and more activists are exiled or jailed, human rights abuses in Egypt have become a dog-bites-man story.

But last week, the government crossed a dangerous new threshold in its crackdown on peaceful dissent, one that all who care about the global struggle against authoritarianism should note and condemn.

On Tuesday, for the first time since their creation, Egypt’s special counterterrorism courts sentenced a prominent human rights activist to the maximum penalty under provisions of a draconian new cybercrime law: 15 years in prison for criticizing the Sissi regime.…  Seguir leyendo »

Algo tiene la tumba de Jufu, ese faraón al que los griegos llamaron Keops, que seduce. Motivos no le faltan, porque con sus 146,6 m de altura y sus 230 m de base cuadrada (lo cual equivale, aproximadamente, a la fachada principal del estadio Santiago Bernabéu y la altura de la torre Picasso) durante casi cuatro milenios fue el edificio más alto del mundo. Tan grande es esta montaña artificial que los griegos la incluyeron en su lista de las siete maravillas del mundo y la iban a visitar con asombrados ojos de turista, como después harían los romanos. El problema es cuando la seducción se convierte en obnubilación y para intentar comprender los motivos de su existencia se comienzan a soltar paparruchas sin cuento ni apoyo ninguno en los datos históricos y arqueológicos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Siempre ha habido en Beirut una especie de latido plutónico. Algo moviéndose de manera invisible. Una resaca mecánica de ese particular sistema planetario que es Líbano, rigiéndose por su propio e inexorable magnetismo. Ese movimiento, sin embargo, es solo una fuerza evanescente que no produce avance alguno. Porque Beirut, como Líbano, es víctima del efecto despiadado de la Reina Roja.

El enunciado de este fenómeno proviene del pasaje en el que la Alicia de Lewis Carroll corre sin parar arrastrada de la mano por la Reina Roja, que le grita “¡más rápido!”. Alicia no tarda en darse cuenta de que a pesar de llevar un buen rato corriendo su posición no ha variado un ápice.…  Seguir leyendo »

Desde el día fundacional de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos, la mujer ha jugado un rol fundamental en el desarrollo histórico de nuestro país. La igualdad de derechos de la mujer y el hombre está consagrada por nuestra Constitución, y ha sido siempre una máxima en el desarrollo de políticas por parte de nuestro Gobierno. Es por ello que el 28 de Agosto de cada año, celebramos y reconocemos la labor de la mujer emiratí por hacer de nuestro país un modelo de sociedad tolerante y abierta.

Nuestro Gobierno ha enfatizado, a lo largo de nuestra historia, la necesidad de empoderar a la mujer emiratí.…  Seguir leyendo »