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Issue 617 - 10 August 1999

Cyber-tide in the Gulf


Internet connectivity has grown very slowly in the Middle East and the Gulf but every country in the region, bar Iraq and Libya, now provides some form of connectivity for citizens. Part of the reason for the slow growth has been technical and economic but

Issue 616 - 27 July 1999

Khatami under Pressure


A wave of unrest swept Iran this month. In the confused series of clashes that rocked the country, the hard-line followers of the Imam’s line, the Ansar-e Hizbollah, found themselves working with their bitter enemies in the Mujahideen-e Khalq to crush students loyal to reformist President Mohammed Khatami. Such bizarre alliances of convenience demonstrate just how complex is the current

Issue 615 - 13 July 1999

Kuwait’s Election


It is too early yet to draw long term conclusions from the results of Kuwait’s 3 July parliamentary elections. However, at first glance it does appear as if the government suffered a stunning setback which will mean that the new National Assembly will, if anything, be more recalcitrant than the previous Assembly.

Issue 614 - 29 June 1999



Now that the immediate crisis in Kosovo is over, the UN Security Council can turn its attention t Iraq. More to the point, US strategists can focus Iraq. If the Clinton Administration can leave office having not only “won” the Kosovo War but having “beaten” Saddam, then Al Gore may actually make it into the White House. Arab fears that Iraq

Issue 613 - 15 June 1999

Organising the Opposition


As expected, the INC visit to Washington at the end of last month resulted in promises of limited US aid and further exhortations from the US Administration that the opposition unif and organise itself. For now, though, there seems little prospect of the US providing direct military support to the exiled opposition.

Issue 612 - 01 June 1999

Saddam and the Shia


Even as Iraqi exiles continue their highly public manoeuvres in London and Washington, on the ground in Iraq dissident forces are scoring successes that, little by little, are putting the regime on the defensive. It may well be these less publicised activities that chip away at and ultimately undermine the regime – leaving Iraq’s argumentative exiles to bicker amongst themselves.

Issue 611 - 18 May 1999

A Fragile Democracy


Kuwait’s intellectuals and parliamentarians like to boast of their country’s democracy. While they acknowledge how limited the franchise remains, encompassing no women and only 115,000 “first class” Kuwaiti male citizens, they nonetheless scorn the powerless majales of their GCC neighbours and portray themselves as leading the march towards political “modernisation” in the Gulf.

Issue 610 - 04 May 1999

Turkey’s Divisions


The ambiguous outcome of Turkey’s parliamentary elections is bad news for the Gulf and the wider Middle East. The election left Turkey without a clear parliamentary majority and therefore with no strong government. Worse still, the election result demonstrated a polarisation of political opinion that bodes ill for Turkish stability. An unstable coalition government under pressure from nationalists,

Issue 609 - 20 April 1999

Jordan’s Ambitious Agenda


King Abdullah of Jordan has made an ambitious start to his reign. At home, his government has announced a sweeping policy programme. Abroad won plaudits during a tour of the Gulf and reportedly even initiated discussion on possible Jordanian membership of the GCC.

Issue 608 - 06 April 1999

Reaching an Accommodation?


In recent weeks, the US has shifted the focus of its awesome arsenal of air and missile power to Yugoslavia. This shift necessitated the transfer of some aircraft from Turkish bases, from where they were operating over northern Iraq. Nonetheless, the programme of US air strikes on Iraq has persisted.

Issue 607 - 22 March 1999

The Changing of the Guard


The death of Bahrain’s Emir, Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifah, on 6 March marked the start of a new era in Bahraini politics. Sheikh Isa’s death was however of wider relevance since his departure was a reminder of the mortality of the GCC’s other elderly rulers. In typical slow-motion fashion, power in the GCC states is passing from the founding fathers to the newer generation. Whether the new rulers will be able to cope with the complex demands of ruling their societies in a rapidly changing world remains to be seen.

Issue 607 - 22 March 1999

America and the Gulf


The recent tour of the GCC states by US Secretary of Defense William Cohen had a number of familiar features. Perceived widely in the Arab world as the latest US attempt to sell arms through scare-mongering about Iraq and Iran, the tour inflamed the Arab press. Worse yet, it drew attention to growing Arab uneasiness over the escalating Anglo-American air strikes against Iraq.

Issue 606 - 08 March 1999

Yemen’s Nascent State


The Republic of Yemen has most of the trappings of a modern nation state. Since the Civil War it has a unified territory, one government, one army and all the bureaucratic apparatus that a modern state should have. With the encouragement of international bodies such as the IMF and World Bank it has even been reforming its legal system to improve efficiency

Issue 605 - 22 February 1999

Recycling the Iraqi Opposition


The Iraqi opposition's latest plan of action can be summarised in a few sentences: when everything else fails re-cycle the same old ideas about knocking Saddam off his perch through the creation of a safe-haven – but in the south this time not in the north. Pray that disaffected army units and a few pro-West generals will take refuge in this safe haven and eventually encourage the army to revolt. Talk about uniting the Iraqi opposition and even appoint a special US representative for Iraq's transition. And just to make sure Saddam is well informed, publish articles about your plans in the western press.

Issue 604 - 08 February 1999

Iraq: Keeping up the Pressure


January ended with a draw in the confrontation between Iraq and the USA. Baghdad’s marginalisation at the Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo was swiftly followed by a US own goal when American strike aircraft accidentally hit civilian targets in southern Iraq. Tragic as the Iraqi deaths were, Washington was correct to take them in its stride. The worst option now would be to waver at a time when the Saddam regime is facing increasing isolation.