Category Archives: Foreign Policy & IR

Human Rights and Syria: An Original Position for the Gulf?

Commentary by Riccardo Dugulin – 26 March 2012


On February 29, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted by an overwhelming majority a resolution condemning the flagrant violations of human rights in Syria. Regardless of the fact that the HRC cannot generate legally binding resolutions, the move of the council must be read as a major step forward in the international push to limit Bashar al-Assad’s ability to further wage war on his own population. Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been instrumental in drafting and garnering support for the resolution. The Syrian crisis represents the first event in Middle Eastern recent history in which local Arab powers, along with Turkey, openly take a position and lead the way in denouncing crimes committed by an Arab government against its own population through a UN resolution. Continue reading

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Republican Foreign Policy and the Changing Middle East

Commentary by Wajdi Mallat – 19 February 2012


The Republican Party has for a long time been known as the more credible party on foreign policy in the United States. While the Republicans are typically against heavy spending on government, they have always been adamant that military spending should not be cut. George W. Bush based a large part of his reelection campaign on his and his party’s strength on foreign policy, especially in the difficult times following the attacks of 9/11 and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. His campaign frequently attacked Democratic candidate John Kerry for being too soft to be able to lead the country. Whether or not the Republican Party has earned its strong reputation on foreign policy is another issue, yet the impression in the United States makes it clear that it is considered the stronger of the two when it comes to foreign relations. Continue reading

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Tangible Support for the Syrian Opposition: An Alternative to a Risky Intervention in Syria

By Riccardo Dugulin – 11 February 2012

Source: (Sezayi Erken/AFP/Getty Images)

The specter of a civil war is looming over the Syria as the rift between the government, along with its supporters, and the anti-Assad demonstrators is beyond repair. The death toll of the regime’s ruthless crackdown on the uprising is enormous, with conservative figures placing the number of deaths at 6500. Continue reading

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What the ‘End’ of the European Union Could Mean for the Middle East

By Riccardo Dugulin – 27 November 2011

At the beginning of September, President Sarkozy and Mr. Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, visited Libya. For better or for worse, France and the United Kingdom will remain intrinsically linked to the Libyan conflict. On another level, European institutions have grown largely ineffective with regard to the Syrian quagmire. Restrictions and sanctions have been implemented through decisions taken by the Council of the European Union, with the last round of sanctions implemented on the 14th of November. 2011. Banning arm sales and imposing travel restrictions and asset freezes to a very limited number of regime officials, does not send a message of strength and determination from EU officials. These two tendencies present a clear dichotomy: the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty first was represented by an increased presence of the EU in the broader region through the development of its European Neighborhood Policy. Recently, this mindset has diminished, with national governments slowly retaking their share of foreign policy independence. Amidst the worst political and economic crisis the EU has known since its inception, national interest, both domestic and foreign, is forcing its way back into the game. Continue reading

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Interview: Anthony Shadid on the Political Reconfiguration of the Middle East (Part II)

Interview – 9 November 2011

Source: Associated Press/ Amr Nabil

This is the second part of an interview conducted by Shereen Dbouk with Anthony Shadid in Beirut, on the 2nd of November, 2011. Click here for the first part of the interview. Continue reading

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Filed under Arab Spring, English, Foreign Policy & IR, Interview, Lebanon & Syria, Libya, Palestine & Israel

Interview: Anthony Shadid on the Political Reconfiguration of the Middle East (Part I)

 Interview – 7 November 2011

Anthony Shadid

Anthony Shadid is the Beirut bureau chief for The New York Times. Before joining the Times, Mr. Shadid served as the Baghdad bureau chief of The Washington Post. Over a fifteen-year career, he has reported from most countries in the Middle East and broader Arab world. Anthony Shadid was awarded the Pulitzer Prize twice, in 2004 and 2010, for his coverage of the war in Iraq. In 2007, he was a finalist for the same prize for his coverage in Lebanon. Anthony Shadid is also the author of two books, “Legacy of the Prophet: Despots, Democrats and the New Politics of Islam,” (2000) and “Night Draws Near: Iraq’s People in the Shadow of America’s War” (2005). This interview was conducted by Shereen Dbouk in Beirut on the 2nd of November, 2011. Continue reading

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Filed under Arab Spring, English, Foreign Policy & IR, Gulf states, Interview, Turkey

A War for Nothing? The Gloomy Aftermath of America’s Withdrawal from Iraq

Commentary by Riccardo Dugulin – 5 November 2011

The start of the Iraq war in 2003, with all the protests that it sparked, the diplomatic ballet that it unleashed, and the dictator that it toppled, is an event that marked a generation. Chances are that the end of the US military mission in Mesopotamia, marking the last stop of Washington’s second longest armed engagement to date, will not stir as much attention. Victory during WWII had its imagery and so did the US’s defeat in Vietnam. Iraq will most probably fade away. Moqtada Al Sadr promised that there won’t be any major attack on US troops while they are leaving Iraq. Aside from the incidental threat posed by Al Qaeda in the region, US servicemen and servicewomen should not expect any widespread violence as they prepare their drawdown after more than eight years of engagement. Continue reading

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