Remarks at United Hebrew Congregation, Singapore, 3 October 2017

There are no nice guys in the Middle East, a region that is in the sixth year of transition. It’s a transition that is likely to take up to a quarter of a century. It’s a transition that is being exacerbated by states that are battling either one another for regional hegemony or to maintain an unsustainable status quo or to shape the region in their mould. There are no good or bad guys in this battle, at best there are bad and worse ones.

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Saudi Arabia’s lifting of a ban on women’s driving raises a host of questions that transcend the issue of women’s rights and go to the core of the standing of the kingdom’s religious scholars and its impact on conservative opposition to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s economic and social reforms.

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Optimists see hopeful signs that the Middle East may be exiting from a dark tunnel of violence, civil war, sectarian strife, and debilitating regional rivalries.The Islamic State (IS) is on the cusp of territorial defeat in Syria and Iraq. Saudi Arabia may be groping for an exit from its devastating military intervention in Yemen. Gulf states are embarking on economic and social reform aimed at preparing for the end of oil.

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Interview with Dr. Matthew Crosston about the situation in Yemen, conducted by journalist Mohammad Homaeefar for the Tehran Times in Iran. August 2017

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Saudi Arabia, with the Islamic State on the ropes in Iraq, is forging ties to Iraqi Shiite leaders and offering to help fund reconstruction of Mosul and other predominantly Sunni Muslim cities that were devastated in the military campaign against the jihadist group.

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The crisis between Qatar and much of the new "Sunni" NATO - as some US media already call it today - consists in a formal series of 13 requests  that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, the Emirates, Bahrain, and even Mauritius, have made - as an ultimatum - to Qatar:

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U
S president Donald Trump receives warm welcome by King Salman as he seeks to repair ties with Washington's closest Arab ally. On the first leg of his first foreign trip since taking office as the custodian of White House and in a crucial test abroad as political scandals mount at home, President Donald Trump has arrived today in Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip since becoming president. His eight-day shuttle trip will also take the Palestinian territories, in Israel, Brussels, the Vatican, and Sicily.

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017 will be a challenging year for Saudi Arabia, who is losing its leadership in the Middle East and faces looming economic challenges stemming from low oil prices.

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