The group notably ignored advice from Tehran not to capture Sanaa back in 2014. Al-Houthi’s independence thus suggests that he is primarily driven by a domestic agenda rather than a desire to help Hezbollah and Iran exert control over the region. That could change, of course, if the Saudis leave him no choice but to increase his reliance on Iran.
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Aside from embezzlement and corruption, al-Otaiba was implicated in even more serious scandals. The Huffington Post, which was provided with another batch of the leaked emails, broke the story of al-Otaiba supporting a major effort to raise doubts about Qatar in the minds of Americans since 2014, a mission in which he has been largely unsuccessful despite the row between the Gulf state and several other countries, including the UAE, over its alleged support of terrorism that erupted in May 2017.
Bin Zayed grew up witnessing the rapid transformation of the UAE from huts to Hilton hotels and skyscrapers. Along the way, his father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan, elder brother Khalifa and he learned two valuable lessons: the UAE cannot survive without outside protection and they need to remain strategically significant to keep mainly their Western allies interested and on board. Moreover, the country’s geographical location puts it between two regional powers that historically have shown an interest in controlling it.
The Syrian Presidency announced in August 2018 that Asma had breast cancer, after which she was treated for an early stage of a malignant tumour, according to official Syrian statements. Asma took advantage of her illness to carry out a series of activities on social media and make various appearances wearing a scarf on her head as one way to demonstrate that she underwent chemotherapy. She participated in World Breast Cancer Awareness Day in a way that was described as spontaneous, engaging in chats with women undergoing cancer treatment at the hospital.
But the real question is, what will the Kurds do? Initially following Trump’s pull-out tweet, an SDF alliance with the regime of Bashar al-Assad and Russia seemed most likely. There were early signs of the SDF reaching out to both parties and protesting the US move. Within days, pro-al-Assad forces were reportedly moving into areas previously dominated by the SDF.
Obama wanted to calm the waters in the Middle East, then shift the burden of policing it to America’s partners there, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, as the United States had done during the Cold War. Hence, his policies were aimed at the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the region, forging an Iran nuclear deal and restarting negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. With U.S. forces gone from Syria, so is a check on Iranian ambitions to expand its military presence and political influence there – much to the horror of officials not only in the United States, but in Saudi Arabia and Israel as well.
It is now clear all those experts were wrong. While OPEC may not be as powerful as before, it is still very much alive. Its alliance with Russia enables the organization to cooperate with 10 other non-member states, which is vital to limiting global oil prices, since OPEC only accounts for 40 per cent of the world’s total supply.
President Trump has emboldened Saudi Arabia by relying on his personal diplomacy and focusing on jobs rather than broader American interests or ideals. If the Saudis are able to keep the United States out of the Khashoggi affair, then Trump has opened the door to further limits on U.S. influence in the Middle East.