This week, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Doha, citing Qatar’s apparent failure to heed the terms of a security agreement made at a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting late last year. The two issues in the dispute are Qatar’s perceived backing for the Egyptian Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the coverage on Qatari pan-Arab news channel Al Jazeera, which has been favourable to the Brotherhood and its challenge to the Egyptian authorities after the military ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi last year.
Saudi media claim that the new emir, Tamim bin Hamad, agreed to the terms of the security agreement, although whether he did or not is another question. Arab media have carried reports of sharp conversations between Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal and Tamim at this week’s GCC meeting in Riyadh, during which
Moscow was shocked by the Ukrainian parliament’s dismissal of President Viktor Yanukovych on 22 February in response to pressure from the Maidan movement. Even though Yanukovych was never the pro-Russian president Moscow had hoped for, he was a typical post-Soviet leader. Corrupt, self-interested, and malleable, he fit in well with the norms of Russian politics. But with his ejection, Moscow suddenly had no man in Kyiv any more. Up until then, apart from putting pressure on Yanukovych to resolve the situation on the Maidan (by force if necessary), Putin had more or less observed events from afar. Even when the foreign ministers of Germany, Poland, and France intervened in the internal Ukrainian conflict to prevent a bloody civil war, Putin did not send a hardliner to negotiate. Instead, he sent the experienced and cautious diplomat, Vladimir Lukin. All this shows that Putin
In January 2014, HSBC’s flash purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for China showed its first contraction in six months. PMI fell below the 50 percent threshold, and it has continued to decline, from 49.5 percent in January to 48.3 percent in February. If growth weakens, China could be heading towards a domestic debt crisis. Will the reforms announced in November after the Third Plenum of the 18th Chinese Communist Party Central Committee lead to a more sustainable model? In the short term, the reform programme does imply slower growth. This week’s session of the National People’s Congress (China’s parliament, which meets once a year in March) could provide some important indications on how to read the weaker PMI and what reforms to expect in the near future.
A recent informal meeting between representatives of major German firms and a group of China-watchers gave evidence of the
United Kingdom: a country once admired in the European Union, but now in the dumps. Brexit: the term used for the UK’s exit from the European Union, a real possibility in view of what the polls are saying about the mood of British public opinion. Referendum: an instrument of direct democracy that may turn against its promoters. Tory: a dangerous creature with well-known propensities for ousting prime ministers at the cost of EU policy. Cameron: British prime minister who thinks he can ride a tiger. Blackmail: the perception now dominant in Europe about what defines David Cameron’s EU policy.
Stir up all these elements and you get an idea of the turn taken by the debate on the UK’s possible exit from the EU. I have recently returned from London surprised at the hostility that pervades relations between the British government and the European Union. London has been stumbling forward
Development Aid and the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict: Testimony to the British Parliament’s International Development Committee
The British Parliament’s International Development Committee has launched an inquiry analysing the United Kingdom’s development work in the Middle East, specifically in regards to the Department for International Development’s (DFID) programme in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs).
These are undertaken every few years and last week I was invited to address a hearing of the Committee as an expert witness. Committee members pursued several areas of questioning, from the validity and usefulness of funding the Palestinian Authority and accusations of PA incitement to the situation in Gaza and the question of boycotts and the now (in)famous Sodastream settler factory.
On the panel alongside me was Margot Ellis, the Deputy Commissioner-General of
On the nature of the reform agenda.
The EU should support the new Ukrainian government.
Relations between China and its neighbours changed dramatically
Qatar's foreign policy after a sudden regime change
A comprehensive assessment of European foreign policy
What Russia will do and how Europe can respond
Why the EU needs to develop a new policy towards Egypt
Formal rules and arbitrary power
Towards a new EU foreign policy
Why Europe needs a new Asia strategy
How sectarian agendas shape the politics of the Middle East