Golfo Pérsico

A solar plant in Uyayna, Saudi Arabia, April 2018. Faisal Al Nasser / Reuters

In the last few years, the global energy outlook has been transformed. The rise of populist politics and a growing sense of urgency about climate change have roiled debates about energy policy in wealthy countries, generating a dizzying mix of new industrial policies. The COVID-19 pandemic made it far harder to predict fuel prices and consumption patterns and forced many countries to confront their connections to fragile multistate supply chains and legacy petrostates. Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine shattered any remaining fantasies of self-reliance, pushing Europe to reconsider its dependence on Russian resources and forcing the United States to acknowledge the Gulf’s persisting leverage in energy markets.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lebanese demonstrators burn a portrait of Abu Dhabi’s crown prince outside the Emirati Embassy in Beirut on Wednesday during a protest to denounce the Israeli normalization deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. (Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images)

On Sept. 11, the Kingdom of Bahrain became the fourth Arab nation to formally normalize relations with Israel. The plan resembles the mid-August announcement by the United Arab Emirates and Israel: the complete normalization of diplomatic, commercial, security and other relations between the respective parties, without any Israeli movement toward the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Supporters of the Emirati and Bahraini moves say these are landmark steps toward peace in the broader Middle East. My research suggests these moves instead reflect the new regional order that has emerged since the 2011 Arab Spring. Nearly a decade later, a shared interest in containing the power of external adversaries, particularly Iran, is the likely driver of these new rapprochements.…  Seguir leyendo »

There has been considerable cynicism worldwide about American claims that the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday were conducted by Iran.

Iran has denied the accusation, and on Twitter, the term “Gulf of Tonkin” trended alongside the “Gulf of Oman.”

That historical reference is telling. It was in citing the “Gulf of Tonkin incident” — the North Vietnamese were accused of attacking American destroyers in that gulf in 1964 — that President Lyndon B. Johnson persuaded the Congress to authorize greater American military involvement in Vietnam. Historians have concluded that the attack never happened and Johnson’s ploy is now seen as the quintessential false flag operation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mecca prepares for the emergency regional summits in May. Photo: Getty Images.

Senior representatives of all six Gulf states met in Mecca on 30 May as part of the three emergency summits – of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Arab League, and Organization of the Islamic Conference – called by Saudi Arabia to consider recent developments in the region. The Mecca meeting provided a timely snapshot of intra-regional relationships two years after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) joined with Egypt to launch a wide-ranging boycott of Qatar in June 2017.

While the political standoff remains unresolved, the Gulf States and their external partners, notably the US, have created a series of pragmatic workarounds to ensure at least a modicum of cooperation on issues of mutual interest.…  Seguir leyendo »

In 2011 Saudi Arabia and the UAE sent troops to Bahrain after unrest in the country. This marked the beginning of a more assertive foreign policy in the MENA region that later culminated in an ill-fated military intervention in Yemen and a boycott of Qatar. Bahrain is a crucial ally and client state of Saudi Arabia, which fears growing influence of Iran among the Shiite majority population of the country. Bahrain’s economic stability is important for its political stability. It is closely connected to oil prices, Saudi transfers, diversification efforts and economic reform.

Low oil prices since the second half of 2014 and domestic and regional political risks have impacted the credit risk and liquidity situation of Bahrain.…  Seguir leyendo »

FROM LEFT: Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmad al-Khalifa attend a Cairo news conference in July after their meeting that discussed the diplomatic situation with Qatar. (Khaled Elfiqi/Pool/European Pressphoto Agency)

Egypt is at the ideological center of the ongoing dispute between Qatar and its fellow Gulf Cooperation Council members Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, Egypt has been a bellwether for both political and economic reform in the wider Middle East and North Africa. It is also the focal point of experimental efforts of the gulf states to exercise policies of financial and political intervention. How the current GCC crisis unfolds in Egypt can tell us much about the new norms of foreign intervention ­— whether economic, political or military — in the region.…  Seguir leyendo »

En junio, Arabia Saudita, Bahréin, Egipto, los Emiratos Árabes Unidos, Libia, Maldivas y Yemen cortaron relaciones diplomáticas y económicas con Qatar. Esta crisis del Golfo terminará, de un modo u otro. Pero todavía está por verse que sea en un modo favorable a su principal instigador, el príncipe heredero saudita Mohammed bin Salmán (MBS).

Una solución extrema, pero improbable, sería un cambio de régimen por la vía militar, por el que el emir de Qatar, jeque Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, fuera sustituido con un miembro de la familia Al Thani más influenciable. Una posibilidad más cercana es que Qatar deje de ser refugio de unos pocos miembros de la Hermandad Musulmana y de Hamás, y prometa disimuladamente poner freno a Al Jazeera, la red de televisión financiada por el estado qatarí, que transmite en toda la región.…  Seguir leyendo »

Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, center, at an April 19, 2017, meeting with U.S. officials in Riyadh. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool via AFP/Getty Images)

Why did Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates begin the boycott of Qatar that has roiled regional politics for the past two months? Many recent studies of Middle East foreign policy subscribe to the idea that such decisions can best be explained by the preservation of regime security. However, recent events show how this decision-making may be more specifically about succession security.

Regional foreign policy is not just about preserving the survival of a particular monarchical regime but ensuring the leadership of a particular set of individuals within the ruling family.

A shake-up in the Saudi line of succession

Succession security has recently come to the fore because of the rapid ascent of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.…  Seguir leyendo »

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Credit Fayez Nureldine/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The spat between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which is accusing Qatar of supporting Islamist extremism and terrorism, remains perplexing. Perplexing not because Qatar is innocent — it has sponsored and hosted far too many jihadists for anyone to plausibly claim otherwise — but because it is the Saudis who are objecting to the funding of extremism. Qatar should be called out, but preferably by those who haven’t spent quite so much time and money advancing extremism themselves.

To be clear, it is not that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been directly funding terrorist organizations, and certainly not in Western countries.…  Seguir leyendo »

For more than two months, Qatar has been under a political and economic blockade led by Saudi Arabia. Just last week, Qatar approved a draft law that gives permanent residency status to certain noncitizens, including children of Qatari women married to non-Qatari men.

With everything the besieged country has been doing — changing its shipping routes, finding new importers of basic food products, and solidifying its defenses — why is Qatar spending time changing its residency laws?

Qatari leadership is using this crisis to its advantage

By pushing through domestic policy goals that will reshape not only the country but the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as a whole, this move is an indication that the Qatari leadership is using this crisis to its advantage.…  Seguir leyendo »

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani inspects a guard of honor upon arriving at the Bole International Airport during his official visit to Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, on 10 April 2017. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

How has the Gulf crisis affected security and stability in the Horn?

The Gulf and the Horn are intricately intertwined regions that face common threats and vulnerabilities: armed conflict, transnational jihadism and organised crime, including piracy, human trafficking and money laundering. The current crisis comes at a difficult moment for the historically conflict-prone Horn, much of which is either politically unstable, mired in internal armed conflict or still in a state of fragile post-conflict recovery. Turmoil in the Gulf has sharply escalated the region’s already dangerous militarisation as governments are pressed to side either with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) or with Qatar (and, indirectly, Turkey).…  Seguir leyendo »

Donald Trump attends the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh on 21 May. Photo: Getty Images.

Since becoming president, Donald Trump’s proclivity for ‘unpredictability’ has been on full display. Whether this is a carefully thought-through strategy or simply the gloss the president and his inner circle apply to his freewheeling, chaotic and seemingly strategy-free approach to political leadership, the effects of that approach are being felt keenly in Washington DC and across the world. Nowhere is this truer than in ongoing political crisis in the Gulf, where not knowing the US’s next move is being equated in some corners with the US not having one.

The standoff between Qatar, three of its GCC neighbours and Egypt is the first major foreign policy crisis of Trump’s term in office.…  Seguir leyendo »

As the GCC crisis, which saw Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt sever diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar, gathered momentum this June, social media users took to Twitter and Facebook to express support for both sides of the rift. Since then, active engagement with the issue on social media has been sustained by both governments and citizens, with pro- and anti-Qatar hashtags emerging in both English and Arabic as the crisis continues. The tweets have been wide-ranging in nature, demonstrating humour as well as frustration, anger and solidarity.

The buzzing online activity around the crisis demonstrates that social media, arguably Twitter in particular, is a crucial tool for political messaging in the GCC which goes beyond traditional routes of using state-controlled print and online news media.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nigeria: Growing Insecurity on Multiple Fronts

Nigeria is facing a time of uncertainty and peril. President Muhammadu Buhari’s failing health – he has spent more than 110 days battling an undisclosed illness in the UK – is prompting intense manoeuvring regarding who will run for president in 2019, particularly among loyalists and others seeking to preserve Northern rule. The eight-year-old insurgency by the radical Islamist group Boko Haram persists. An older problem, Biafra separatist agitation in the South East, is provoking dangerous domino effects in the north and Niger Delta, while deadly clashes between herders and farmers are escalating across the central belt and spreading southward.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Tuesday, President Trump spoke with Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said shortly after a visit to Washington by Oman’s minister of state for foreign affairs. Though a less visible negotiator than Kuwait, Oman has been active in efforts to mediate the crisis in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Can Oman continue to avoid taking sides in this conflict — and will its neutrality allow it to arbitrate effectively?

Oman’s role in the war in Yemen offers insight into its potential for mediating the Qatar crisis. During my recent research in Oman, it was clear that while it has benefited from Qatar’s economic and political isolation, Oman’s ability to fully pursue these opportunities cannot not be considered in isolation of its ongoing efforts to broker peace in Yemen, nor its domestic economic environment.…  Seguir leyendo »

A fence at the border between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Credit Valeriy Melnikov/Sputnik, via Associated Press

My country, Qatar, is a nation under siege. For the past month, its borders and airline routes have been closed off by a regional bloc consisting of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt. The authorities in the neighboring Gulf states have forced the repatriation of Qatari citizens, regardless of age and health.

The bloc has issued a list of wild accusations against Qatar. They include the hosting of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps in our capital, Doha; the funding of the pro-Iranian Lebanese militia organization Hezbollah; and support for the Islamic State terrorist group. This hardly makes sense since Hezbollah and the Islamic State are sworn enemies, at war with each other in Syria.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pocos pueden identificar dónde está el Estado de Qatar en el mapa, pero muchos están al corriente de que la palabra Qatar aparece en todas las camisetas patrocinadas por el Fútbol Club Barcelona. El acuerdo del Barça con el Qatar Sports Investment en 2011 fue histórico para el club, ya que era la primera vez que el club catalán aceptaba un patrocinador en su camiseta. Este año, sin embargo, llevar esa prenda podría ser peligroso si se viaja a través de Oriente Medio. Incluso algunos informes señalan que Arabia Saudí está castigando el uso de esta camiseta. Afortunadamente para los aficionados, el contrato con Qatar terminó el 30 de junio de este año, por lo que la palabra Qatar desaparecerá de las camisetas y los problemas a los que se enfrenta actualmente Qatar no afectarán al fútbol español.…  Seguir leyendo »

El 5 de junio, Arabia Saudí, Emiratos Árabes Unidos, Bahréin y Egipto anunciaban la ruptura de relaciones con Qatar. Su explicación no podía ser más contundente: Qatar es un país que apoya y financia el terrorismo islamista. Desde entonces, la crisis desencadenada amenaza con convertirse en la más seria y preocupante en el golfo Arábigo en lo que llevamos de siglo XXI.

Es imprescindible ir más allá de lo evidente para llegar a comprender las razones reales que se encuentran detrás de esta ruptura. El punto de partida más reciente hay que buscarlo en la cumbre entre Estados Unidos y los países árabes, celebrada en Arabia Saudí a finales del mes de mayo.…  Seguir leyendo »

The foreign ministers of Somalia and Qatar hold a joint press conference on 25 May. Photo: Getty Images.

Regional stand-off risks polarizing partners in the Horn

The Horn of Africa and the Gulf share close geographical, historical, cultural and political links. Increasing layers of engagement and the formalization of security, governance, trade and development ties between the two regions, particularly visible in the last two years since the war in Yemen began, mean that the longer the Gulf dispute goes on, the greater the ramifications will be for countries in the Horn of Africa.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have formed a strong alliance over issues of mutual importance. While Riyadh’s primary concern is opposing Iranian influence in the region, most visible through the Saudi-led coalition’s actions in Yemen, Abu Dhabi has worked to counteract political Islam, which it believes threatens security in the Gulf and for its Middle East allies.…  Seguir leyendo »

Is the GCC Worth Belonging To

Thirty-six years ago, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was put together at great speed in reaction to the profound regional uncertainty in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution and the start of the Iran-Iraq War. As a result, many issues of institutional design were left unaddressed, then and since. The current crisis splitting the GCC – with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain accusing Qatar of connections to Iran and Islamist groups and cutting off diplomatic ties – is now significantly testing the bloc. The longer the standoff goes on, the more the Qataris may wonder whether it is worth belonging to at all.…  Seguir leyendo »