14/01/2018 (Al Arabiya News – UAE by Hassan Al Mustafa*): The first week of January witnessed the reception of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz to the family of the judge of the Department of Endowments and Heritage in Qatif, Sheikh Mohammed al-Jirani, to present his condolences to the family of the deceased, who died after being kidnapped by a group of terrorists who killed him. The broadcasting of some pictures of the reception by the Saudi media and the official news agency has its own significance. It is a reception for the family of a Saudi-Shiite judge, who has been subjected to violence and terror from people of his own city and who share the same Islamic doctrine he embraced. Nevertheless, that did not prevent them from killing him in an act that violates the law and human rights…
*Hassan AlMustafa is Saudi journalist with interest in middle east and Gulf politics.
05/01/2018 (Al Arabiya News – UAE by Azeem Ibrahim *): This is not how things were supposed to go in Iran. Iranians went to the polls in 2013 and elected Hassan Rouhani to serve as President of the Islamic Republic filled with hope after the harsh and belligerent tenure of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Rouhani was billed as a moderate who would relax the excesses of the religious hardliners, and would mend his country’s relations to the rest of the world – especially the West. Doing so would be followed by sanction relief and economic boom, which would lift the country out of its long economic stagnation. And it was not all just empty rhetoric. Just two years later, the Iran nuclear deal with the US, Russia, China, the UK, France and Germany came into force, and economic sanctions have been subsequently eased, as Iran has stuck to its side of the bargain…
*Azeem Ibrahim is Senior Fellow at the Centre for Global Policy and Adj Research Professor at the Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.
23/12/2017 (Al Arabiya News – UAE by Ibrahim Al-Othaimin*): The resignation of Saad Al-Hariri less than a year after being elected prime minister of Lebanon came as no surprise to many observers of the political scene. There are many overlapping domestic, regional and international factors that can be reflected in the following points. Firstly, fragile government and grave crisis: State institutions in Lebanon were almost paralyzed by the failure of the two dominant Lebanese parties, March 8 Alliance and March 14 Alliance, to agree on the election of a president. In an attempt to put an end to the two-year-long presidential vacuum, spare Lebanon from regional crises and resume political life, Hariri and his political team came to accept Hezbollah’s first candidate, Michel Aoun. Hence, a fragile deal was agreed, whereby the former would be named prime minister and the latter would be appointed president until new parliamentary elections were held…
*Ibrahim Al-Othaimin is a Middle East affairs specialist and security analyst based in Riyadh.
16/12/2017 (Al Arabiya News – UAE by Shehab Al-Makahleh*): Hamza bin Laden, the son of Osama bin Laden, appeared in a video broadcast by al-Qaeda’s ‘al-Sahab’ media channel in which he criticized Saudi Arabia and its alliance with the United States. This video raises many questions about the timing, the motives and future developments, as Hamza may be in the process of being groomed for a senior role. Hamza bin Laden seems to be emerging in circumstances similar to those in which his father came to prominence, following the invasion of Kuwait in 1990 after he escaped from house arrest in Saudi Arabia and reached Sudan to raise ‘Arab Mujahideen’ for his new terrorist group later known as al-Qaeda…
*Shehab Al-Makahleh is Director of Geostrategic Media Center, senior media and political analyst in the Middle East, adviser to many international consultancies.
08/12/2017 (Arab News – KSA by Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor*): Almost all of America’s closest allies had cautioned US President Donald Trump against recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, warning of potentially grave repercussions. France, the United Kingdom, the European Union and Turkey have all urged him to reconsider. Senior US officials are said to disagree with his decision. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sounds less than enthusiastic. Last week, 151 UN member states voted in favor of a resolution condemning Israel’s claim to an undivided Jerusalem; only six countries voted against. A new poll conducted by the University of Maryland found that 63 percent of Americans oppose relocating the American Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv…
*Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor is a prominent UAE businessman and public figure.
02/12/2017 (Arab News – KSA by Eyad Abu Shakra*): One thing that seems beyond doubt is that the days of double talk are over. It is no longer possible to get away with fake slogans amid dangerous realities in more than one area of the Arab world. As such, wise observers have become aware of what is going on and will not be fooled easily. Post-1920 political entities, post-1979 political Islam (Sunni and Shiite), the relationship between state and non-state militias and armed groups, and various types of liberation and revolutionary slogans are now all under scrutiny. A few days ago, my colleague and friend Amir Taheri uncovered an important side of the problems afflicting the region, almost all of which revolve around the Iranian role throughout the Arab world…
*Eyad Abu Shakra is managing editor of Asharq Al-Awsat.
25/11/2017 (Arab News – KSA by Abdellatif El-Menawy *): In response to Friday’s senseless slaughter of at least 235 Egyptians at the hands of terrorists, the Eiffel Tower has extinguished its lights. US President Donald Trump denounced the terrorist actions and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a statement of condemnation. As the world leaders rushed to issue statements of condemnation and messages of condolence to the Egyptian people, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi shared the grief and shock of his people. “Egypt is standing alone to fight terrorism on behalf of the world,” he said. The Egyptians feel angry, bitter and frustrated because the statements of sympathy have not translated into concrete support for Cairo in its war against terrorism…
*• Abdellatif El-Menawy is a critically acclaimed multimedia journalist, writer and columnist who has covered war zones and conflicts worldwide.
18/11/2017 (Al Arabiya news – UAE by Amir Taheri* ): Last week two events injected energy and excitement into what was beginning to look like an anemic end of the year in the Middle East as far as political developments are concerned. The first event was the decision by the Saudi leadership to create a new mechanism to deal with alleged cases of corruption, embezzlement and influence-peddling. The sheer number of cases referred to a special court on those charges was enough to capture the headlines. The fact that the 208 people under investigation included princes, prominent bureaucrats, and business tycoons intensified the event’s headline-grabbing potential. But what really attracted world attention was the unexpectedness of the Saudi move…
*Amir Taheri was the executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979.
11/11/2017 (Al Arabiya News – UAE by Eyad Abu Shakra*): For some in ‘occupied’ and ‘subjugated’ Lebanon the nightmare is over; for others, the country is approaching a regional cliff edge. In fact, Lebanon is going through a second ‘March 14th’ uprising, this time against direct Iranian ‘hegemony’ which was always the real thing, compared to the first uprising against Syria’s ‘security custody’ which was very much a mere shadow of that real thing. Many have viewed the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri from a post that was always a flimsy cover of the above-mentioned hegemony, as a step in the right direction. If anything, his resignation may have been overdue, since his only task was rubber-stamping, without questions or reservations…
*Eyad Abu Shakra began his media career in 1973 with Annahar newspaper in Lebanon.
03/11/2017 (Al Arabiya News – UAE by Mamdouh AlMuhaini*): We always wonder how Europe and America reached this level of rationality and religious tolerance. Dozens of religions, sects and beliefs peacefully co-exist there. There are open debates about religions and their history in universities across Paris, London and New York. Their libraries are full of books and magazines about philosophy, psychology and anthropology, which study the phases of human development since thousands of years. Martin Luther, a German priest born more than 500 years ago, is one of those who contributed to the West’s prosperity and progress. His ideas, which changed the face of Europe and the entire world forever, are being recalled these days…
*Mamdouh AlMuhaini is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya News Channel’s digital platforms.