Post-9/11 events have shaken Riyadh’s and Abu Dhabi’s faith in the durability of Washington’s support. As part of our series, The Legacy of 9/11 and the “War on Terror”, Dina Esfandiary says U.S.-Gulf ties will likely not regain the strength they had twenty years ago.
Originally published in Foreign Affairs
The Gulf Arab states have perceived threats from Iran since the 1979 revolution. Frictions have lessened of late, offering an important opportunity. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi should keep engaging Tehran with an eye to initiating the broadest possible talks on regional peace and security.
Iran has a new president, consolidating the hardliners’ control over the centres of power. What will he do about the country’s numerous crises? One answer is clear: the 2015 nuclear deal’s fate remains the most pressing issue for Tehran and its foreign interlocutors.
The huge demonstrations that rocked Iraqi cities two years ago reverberate still, with the main grievances unaddressed. Protests could arise anew at any time, risking another lethal crackdown. The government should hold those who harmed protesters accountable and work to ensure clean elections in October.
International efforts to end the war in Yemen are stuck in an outdated two-party paradigm, seeking to mediate between the Huthis and their foes. As it pushes for renewed talks, the UN should broaden the scope to include Yemeni women’s and other civil society groups.
The 2015 nuclear deal enters 2021 clinging to life, having survived the Trump administration’s withdrawal and Iran’s breaches of its commitments. When the Biden administration takes office, Washington and Tehran should move quickly and in parallel to revive the agreement on its original terms.
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis remain uprooted and unable to go home after the war to defeat ISIS. The worst off are those, mainly women and children, perceived to have jihadist ties. Iraq and its partners should find ways to end their displacement.
The Huthis [in Yemen] have gone from being a relatively contained rebel movement to de facto authorities who (control) the capital and territory where more than 20 million people live.
The US and other Western countries welcome Qatari mediation because of their [own] limited interactions with the Taliban [in Afghanistan].
Tehran and Washington will remain at daggers drawn, and under those circumstances, Iran-Saudi de-escalation is unlikely, if not impossible.
So the majority of the [Iranian] population is either disillusioned with the system or, at this point, completely alienated, and we have huge parts of the society that almost have nothing to lose.
[Saudi Arabia can] reassert its role, particularly in the charity aid sector, which it always has been traditionally proud of [...] I think we can see [Saudi Arabia] expanding its aid into more Covid diplomacy.
The Houthis appear to calculate that if they win in Marib, they will have won the war for the north of Yemen while humiliating the internationally recognized president. That is a considerable prize for their side, as it would also allow them to dictate terms for an end to the war.
In his prologue to The Geopolitics of Iran, edited by Francisco José B. S. Leandro, Carlos Branco, and Flavius Caba-Maria, our Middle East expert Joost Hiltermann says policymakers should come to grips with the country's lived experience to understand why dialogue and diplomacy are the best way to deal with the Islamic Republic.
U.S. efforts to uproot al-Qaeda’s Yemeni franchise often overlooked the country’s mercurial politics. As part of our series The Legacy of 9/11 and the “War on Terror”, Peter Salisbury explains that the sectarianism the group espoused is still rife on all sides of Yemen’s war.
Originally published in World Politics Review
The Taliban’s return to power raises questions not only about how the movement will use its newfound authority but also about what Afghanistan’s neighbours will do in response. Crisis Group experts offer a 360-degree view of these countries’ initial reactions and what is behind them.