Why have the Gulf states intervened militarily in Yemen?

The rise of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states as regional powers with international reach raises a new set of challenges for policymaking in the Middle East and North Africa as the region emerges unsteadily from the Arab Spring. Chief among them is the growing evidence that Gulf officials increasingly seem prepared to “go it alone” and act unilaterally or, at best, as a loose regional bloc to secure their interests in transition states. Continue Reading

The return of Qatari mediation

The latest attempt at securing a ceasefire in Gaza may have broken down, but behind-the-scenes diplomacy to resolve the conflict has once again shone a spotlight on Qatar’s mediatory role in conflict resolution. The country is attempting to restore its battered Arab Spring reputation as the ideal interlocutor that is uniquely placed to bridge divides and bring ostensible adversaries together. Thirteen months after the change of leadership in Doha, the new emir and foreign minister are adopting a far quieter, low-key approach to mediation. Eschewing the fanfare of their predecessors’ frenetic forays into the regional arena, Qatari officials are going “back to basics” and returning to the style of mediation that propelled the country to international prominence in the 2000s. Continue Reading

A century on, World War I casts a long shadow across the Middle East

June 28 marks exactly 100 years since the assassinations in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary and his wife, Sophie, by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip. The fallout from the killings ricocheted through the web of European alliances and culminated in the outbreak of World War I between July 28 and August 4, 1914. With the passing of the last surviving participants, World War I has moved from the fringes of personal experience into the history books. Yet in the Middle East, overlain by subsequent conflicts and decades of bitter contestation, the aftermath of decisions made during the war continue to reverberate across the region. Continue Reading