US Opinion and Commentary

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The United States Shouldn’t Take Sides in the Sunni-Shiite Struggle

Posted January 8th, 2016 at 12:51 pm (UTC-4)
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In general, the United States should support Saudi Arabia in resisting Iran’s encroachments in the region, but it should not take sides in the broader sectarian struggle. This is someone else’s civil war.

Saudi Arabia’s Last-Ditch Effort to Stop America’s Pivot to Iran

Posted January 6th, 2016 at 10:09 am (UTC-4)
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[The] Obama administration has effectively decided that upholding the nuclear accord with Iran is more important to U.S. interests — and to the president’s historical legacy —  than safeguarding a decades-old alliance with Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Executions Strain Decades of US Ties

Posted January 5th, 2016 at 3:44 pm (UTC-4)
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The turmoil set off by Saudi Arabia’s decision to execute 47 prisoners – among them, a prominent Iranian Shia cleric – has put the Obama administration in a tight spot. Allies since the 1930s, one American administration after another has maintained strong ties with the Saudi kingdom. President Barack Obama appears to have been pinning his hopes on bringing long-time enemies, Saudi Arabia and Iran, together to help solve Syria – and by extension – extinguish the threat posed by ISIS. The United States is not deaf to human rights activists who prove over and over again that Saudi Arabia has silenced political dissent, in this most recent case, by beheading. But the U.S. has banked on the Saudis for cheap oil and influence in the Middle East. In turn, the Saudis had a regular customer and political cover when needed. The Saudis knew this execution would further stoke Shia-Sunni sectarian tensions in the region. What will it do to the cozy relationship between Riyadh and Washington?

Saudi Arabia’s Barbaric Executions

Posted January 5th, 2016 at 12:35 am (UTC-4)
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America’s longstanding alliance with the House of Saud is no reason for the Obama administration to do anything less than clearly condemn this foolhardy and dangerous course with a more robust response than its call Monday for both sides to exercise restraint.

Saudi Plays Dangerous Regional Game with Executions

Posted January 4th, 2016 at 12:37 pm (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin Just when a U.S.-led coalition in Iraq appears to be making headway against the group that calls itself the Islamic State (ISIS), Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Saudi Shi’ite cleric threatens to harden the sectarian divide fueling the region’s conflicts. Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who led Saudi Arabia’s Shi’ite minority in protests […]

Why ISIS Is Winning

Posted November 23rd, 2015 at 5:52 pm (UTC-4)
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The U.S. needs to assume a stronger role in coordinating the anti-ISIS coalition and step up its intervention in the region, both military and diplomatic. At present, ISIS is benefiting greatly from the strategic confusion among its opponents.

Partition Syria to Crush the Islamic State

Posted November 2nd, 2015 at 12:32 pm (UTC-4)
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… [R]epresentatives of all the Syrian factions should assemble under United Nations auspices to design the future Syrian state. Given the differences among these factions, this process could take years. In the interim, each faction should govern the territory it holds …

Saudis Should Reveal a Political Endgame for Yemen

Posted October 8th, 2015 at 4:55 pm (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin As Saudi planes continue to bombard one of the world’s poorest nations, it is time for the Barack Obama administration to use its leverage as the Kingdom’s major arms supplier to put pressure on Riyadh to enter negotiations on a political solution to the conflict in Yemen. Testifying this week before the […]

Saudi-Iran Talks Key to Resolving Middle East Wars

Posted September 16th, 2015 at 4:32 pm (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin As desperate migrants from wars in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East keep pouring onto the European continent, it is hard to imagine diplomatic solutions that can diminish this massive exodus anytime soon. But if the wars are ever to end, one prerequisite is a willingness on the part of […]

Triangulation: Russia, Syria and the United States

Posted September 14th, 2015 at 1:16 pm (UTC-4)
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President Obama said Friday there will be a “long discussion” involving Russia’s move to provide military assistance to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. While the assistance may seem modest — 200 naval infantrymen, modular housing for 1,500 troops, howitzers, a short-range guided-missile controller and a dozen armored vehicles according to the Pentagon — it’s seen as another audacious gesture by Russian president Vladimir Putin. There is concern that Putin is creating facts on the ground similar to the situation in Ukraine with Washington unable, or unwilling, to confront Moscow. And there are those who suggest Russia should take note of history and its unsuccessful invovlement in Afghanistan? There are plenty of suggestions for all sides on how to stop the war in Syria.

Iran Nuclear Deal: Inviting War or Securing Global Safety?

Posted August 12th, 2015 at 10:16 am (UTC-4)
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The arguments for and against the nuclear accord between Iran and the United States and the rest of the P+5 countries have ramped up per the open letter signed by three dozen retired generals and admirals supporting the pact and urging Congress to do the same. Others are decrying one of President Obama’s main justifications for the pact: there exists no other alternative – except war.

For the U.S., the Choice Between Saudi Arabia and Iran Should be an Easy One

Posted July 14th, 2015 at 2:59 pm (UTC-4)
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The turmoil in the Middle East in recent years has forced many nations to reevaluate their relations with the countries of the region. It is only natural that the U.S. would do so as well. However, and despite their ideological and sometimes political differences, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have managed to sustain what has been a mutually beneficial relationship.

Riyadh Looks to Moscow

Posted June 18th, 2015 at 11:39 am (UTC-4)
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Prince Muhammad’s visit to Russia will increase speculation that Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the United States is changing.

How Pakistan Plays the Middle East

Posted May 7th, 2015 at 2:50 pm (UTC-4)
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The Middle East landscape does appear increasingly complex, but for Pakistan the game remains much the same. It will always leverage opportunities to its own advantage, and its loyalties will usually go to the highest bidder.