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The Der Spiegel affarir (cont.) 29, May 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Lebanon.
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Michael Young of the Daily Star in Lebanon as usual offers the best insight and analysis on Lebanese events. Read his article on the Der Spiegel affair for what is probably the most authoritative account yet.

Article catch up 25, May 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Kuwait, Lebanon, LNG, Middle East, Qatar.
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Here’s a selection of the weekend’s best articles that caught my attention:

  • Brian Ulrich has an excellent article, summarised on this blog and in full on the Arab Media and Society journal, discussing blogs as but the latest communicative media in the Middle East. It is wide-ranging, interesting and well worth a read.
  • The Arabist quotes Guy Gabriel at the Palestine Chronicle and his trawl of all available media stories concerning the supposed Israeli attack on the arms convoy in Sudan.
  • Der Spiegel highlights new evidence that the assassins of Hariri in Lebanon was actually Hezbollah’s special forces and not directly Syrian backed…But many in the media, including Joshua Landis are less than convinced about this story’s veracity. He eloquently sketches out the (many) reasons for his scepticism here.
  • Foreign Affairs has an article discussing the various lobby groups operating in Washington DC.
  • The FT on the great scramble for African land:  “they’re almost giving it away.”
  • Qatar’s ever closer investing, importing and exporting relationship with Indonesia.
  • The Economist on Kuwait’s elections and future difficulties.

A Saudi-Syrian Rapprochement? 10, March 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Saudi Arabia, Syria.
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The Khaleej Times has an interesting article discussing Saudi attempts to affect a rapprochement with Syria. It is no secret (to put it mildly) that as a rule Saudi and Syria often find themselves on opposite sides of the fence. Relations plummeted after the (alleged…) Syrian backed killing of Rafik al Hariri, the Saudi citizen and general Saudi protégé, in Beirut in 2005. Their relations were further frozen when Saudi, amongst others, pressured Syria to withdraw from Lebanon the same year.

Such a reconciliation and potential augmentation of their relationship would dovetail perfectly with Saudi’s grand strategy to weaken Iran or at least, improve their hand against Tehran. With Syria and Iran being close allies for nearly three decades now, their alliance of interest, commonality and practicality, will be difficult to break up. However, Saudi has the money to potentially have a reasonable go at doing just that. Indeed, this is something that Iran can most certainly not offer Syria: ready cash. Just how much money talks, however, remains to be seen. It is worth remembering that American  is seeking to get Syria onside too. Thus Syria has two potential cash cows to milk, should they choose to. Needless to say, Assad will have to walk this particular tightrope very carefully. Being seen as giving in to America (akin to Libya, for example), abandoning their traditional ally Iran when they are clearly standing up to the Americans and siding with the ‘half-men’ of hereditary rule in the Gulf, whom the Syrian President ridiculed recently, would lose him significant credibility which, being unpopular domestically in Syria already, he can ill afford.