By James M. Dorsey

This month’s indictment of a billionaire, one-time advisor and close associate of former US President Donald J. Trump, on charges of operating as an unregistered foreign agent in the United States for the United Arab Emirates highlights the successes and pitfalls of a high-stakes Emirati effort to influence US policy.

The indictment of businessman Thomas J. Barrack, who maintained close ties to UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed while serving as an influential advisor in 2016 to then-presidential candidate Trump and chair of Mr. …


by James M. Dorsey

China may have no short-term interest in contributing to guaranteeing security in parts of a swath of land stretching from Central Asia to the East coast of Africa, but that does not prevent the People’s Republic from preparing for a time when it may wish to build on long-standing political and military relationships in various parts of the world to project power and maintain an economic advantage.

Determined to exploit the principle of allegedly win-win relationships that are underwritten by economics, trade, and investment as the solution to problems, China has so far delayed if not…


By James M. Dorsey

A recent unprecedented alliance between Muslims and Evangelicals takes on added significance in a world in which human rights are on the defensive, religious groups tend to forge political as well as ideational partnerships, and the role of the clergy in multiple Muslim-majority countries has come under scrutiny.

The alliance potentially could create a platform for voices in the Muslim world, particularly the Middle East, in which significant segments of the youth who constitute a majority of the population, increasingly reject state-controlled, ritualistic forms of religion and distrust clerics subservient to the government.

It could also…


By James M. Dorsey

A major Muslim and Evangelical organization joined forces this week to significantly advance hitherto state-backed ceremonial inter-faith dialogues that seldom go beyond platitudes and lofty statements.

This week’s launch at a Washington DC mosque of an inter-faith alliance and a book published by the Institute for Humanitarian Islam and the Germany-based World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) as well as the Center for Shared Civilizational Values constitutes an Evangelical endorsement of Humanitarian Islam.

It also amounts to a rare Muslim celebration of an Evangelical authority, WEA secretary general Archbishop Thomas Schirrmacher, who played a key role in building…


by James M. Dorsey

Personality as well as the conflation of genuine national interest with personal ambition contribute to the widening gap between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

It was only a matter of time before Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would want to come out on his own and no longer be seen as the protégé of his erstwhile mentor and Emirati counterpart, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed.

By the same token, there was little doubt that the Saudi prince and probable next monarch would want to put to rest any suggestion that it was the…


Pakistani PM Khan’s ultra-conservative inklings raise eyebrows

By James M. Dorsey

Widely seen as a populist with ultra-conservative inklings, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan increasingly appears to reinforce widespread traditionalist attitudes that reject religious tolerance as well as the rights of women and minorities.

In doing so, Mr. Khan is aligning Pakistan in religious and social terms closer to Turkey than his country’s traditional allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has bolstered religious education at home as well as in Turkish schools abroad and recently withdrew from an international women’s rights convention.

Mr…


By James M. Dorsey

When Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid recently sparked a war of words with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki he was doing more than resisting Central European attempts at rewriting the history and legacy of the Holocaust and right-wing nationalistic flirting with anti-Semitic tropes.

The war centred on a bill debated in the Polish parliament that makes it essentially impossible for Jews to claim property they owned before the Holocaust. Mr. Lapid denounced the law as “immoral” and warned that “it will seriously harm relations between (our) countries.”

The foreign minister went on to say that “on…


By James M. Dorsey

Recent announcements by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of plans to turn the kingdom into a transportation and logistics hub that connects continents take to a new level Saudi efforts to replace the United Arab Emirates and Qatar as the Middle East’s go-to addresses.

Prince Mohammed’s plans, which include the creation of a new national carrier alongside Saudia, currently the kingdom’s aviation flagship and construction of a new airport for the capital, Riyadh, aim to position Saudi Arabia as the Middle East’s hub at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe.

The UAE, bolstered by Emirates…


By James M. Dorsey

US President Joe Biden may have little appetite for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking but seems determined to prevent some third parties from exploiting the regional stalemate to their advantage. That seems to be one message contained in ensuring that King Abdullah of Jordan will be the first Arab leader to visit the White House since Mr. Biden took office.

The message takes on added significance with the beginning earlier this month of court proceedings against two senior Jordanians accused of sedition and plotting with former Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, a half-brother of King Abdullah II, to destabilize…


By James M. Dorsey

The rise of hardline President-elect Ebrahim Raisi has prompted some analysts to counterintuitively suggest that it could pave the way for reduced regional tensions and potential talks on a rejiggered Middle Eastern security architecture but getting from A to B is likely to prove easier said than done.

Hopes that a hardline endorsement of a return to the 2015 international agreement that curbed Iran’s nuclear program will pave the way to wider security arrangements are grounded in a belief that Iranian domestic politics give Tehran a vested interest in a dialing down of tension. …

James M. Dorsey

James is an award-winning journalist covering ethnic and religious conflict. He blogs using soccer as a lens on the Middle East and North Africa's fault lines

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