Faces have names. We hear about them but do not get the entire picture.
Get to know these influential people in Fanack’s ‘Faces’ section.
Below is a list of the most recently added profiles, move to the sidebar to navigate to the respective countries.
Foremost among the consequences is a growing sense that the Saudis, along with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, are now pursuing de facto normalization with Israel by means of closer security and political coordination to contain the growing Iranian threat. But while the Arabs have remained tight-lipped on the matter, the Israelis have been speaking about it publicly.
Foreign investment was trending up again in the second quarter of 2017, but it remains to be seen how investors will react to political developments. The political turmoil, which has seen the arrests of dozens of princes, ministers and businessmen in what has been presented as an anti-corruption sweep led by the crown prince, prompted an increase in oil prices but also may have unsettled potential investors
Egyptian media have reported several times on actors signing the petition. Egypt Today, which is affiliated with the notorious pro-regime Youm7 newspaper, wrote, ‘The To Build It campaign has attracted a vast turnout from leading figures,’ and published pictures of famous actors including Hany Salama and Wafaa Amer signing the petition.
The brutal civil war in Yemen has become further complicated after Saudi officials announced on 4 November 2017 that they had intercepted a missile fired by Houthi rebels in Yemen near Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport. The officials blamed Iran for the missile attack. However, the Saudis cut off access to all of Yemen’s ports, which have been blockaded since a Saudi-led coalition launched Operation Decisive Storm in March 2015.
In 2016, Barzani announced that once the Kurds had their own state he would step down. Riding high after the defeat of IS in Iraq’s cities, he made his move in 2017. Calling a referendum that he hoped would pave the way for an independent state, he ramped up pro-Kurdish rhetoric at home, incurring the wrath of nervous neighbours as well as long-term allies. While he went ahead with the vote and won a landslide victory at the polls, retribution soon followed. His ambition on behalf of the Kurdish people has ultimately led to his downfall, with the Kurdish project in its worst position for years.
Like reformists before him – such as Muhammad Abduh and Jamal al-Din al-Afghani – al-Qaradawi has attracted a massive following by reconciling Islamic practices with the modern world. However, his politics are considerably sectarian, making him an uncomfortable and divisive figure among Western governments and regional analysts.
By pulling Hariri out of office, the Saudis may hope to ensure that Hezbollah gets the blame and responsibility for Lebanon’s challenges, from pressing social and economic needs to caring for Syrian refugees to mopping up al-Qaeda and IS. This will likely exacerbate tensions in the country, but it will also alienate Hariri’s camp from Hezbollah.
Bahrain is promoting its relations with Israel under the banner of fostering ‘religious tolerance’. During an event in September at the unabashedly pro-Zionist Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, Bahrain’s crown prince joined 400 representatives of various religious faiths. The Bahraini National Orchestra also played HaTikyah – the Zionist national anthem – which calls for everyone with Jewish ancestry to return to their homeland in the form of the state of Israel. However,These overtures towards Israel are now inciting a backlash from Bahrainis.
At the root of the conflict between Iran and its Arab neighbours lies the Shia-Sunni divide, as the patrons of the two Muslim sects, Tehran and Riyadh respectively, are both prepared to promote and support their sectarian beliefs. Conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Bahrain can be viewed in this light. Yet it is also the result of an ordinary struggle between two regional powers.
Historically, Saudi Arabia and Iran have not stood head-to-head, and while several factors played into the historical deterioration of relations between the two regional powers, oil was the main cause. The consequences of the economic face off are felt by both nations, and, most importantly, their populations.
The resolution is seen as a victory for Palestinian diplomacy, but was cited by Israel as a fresh example of what it sees as the UN’s anti-Israel bias. Even before the vote, which was fast-tracked on the basis that the site is under threat, Israeli officials blocked a UNESCO delegation from visiting Hebron.
In the meantime, a recently formed civil council has divided the city into 16 neighbourhoods in order to coordinate the clean-up with the help of different organizations. While it relies mostly on civil associations and residents, the question of who will pay for it and who will be in charge of the actual reconstruction still remains unanswered.
Erdogan has cemented his place in the history books as modern Turkey’s second-most notable ruler, but he seems determined to better that. Even after last year’s referendum, he has orchestrated a purge of elected AKP officials in cities where results from the vote were lower than expected. Loyalty to Erdogan seems to be the sole determinant of survival in this latest reshuffle of Turkish politics. If Turkey’s future seems unsure, one thing is certain: Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be at its centre.
On 30 September 2017, a small protest was unsurprisingly dispersed by the police. Another protest against ENTV in front of the state’s Regulatory Authority for Audi-ovisuals (ARAV) on 7 October 2017 was likewise dispersed by security forces and plain-clothed police officers. Although the civil war is officially over, its legacy and the impact of the charter is still the subject of an ongoing and highly emotional public debate. Although incidents like the recent ENTV scandal continue to spark controversy, the government continues to highlight its achievements in settling the conflict.
The blame game is likely to continue as long as there is no prospect for a solution. In his UN speech, Abbas had a thinly veiled warning for the Israelis: failure to reach a two-state solution would inevitably lead to what some have called the one-state solution : a bi-national state on the territory of historic Palestine that includes both Gaza and the West Bank – anathema to the vast majority of Israelis.
A century on, the importance of the Balfour Declaration and the policies that accompanied it cannot be overstated. British rule of Palestine enabled massive Zionist immigration until the late 1930s. This laid the foundations for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that continues to this day. The interests of Palestinian Arabs were sacrificed for Britain’s own imperial interests.
Indeed, the Trump factor is giving hardliners an ideal platform to enforce the anti-American views they have championed for four decades. Even if the current tensions between the two countries do not result in military confrontation, the shifting political dynamics and social attitudes brought about by Trump are likely to have consequences for years to come.