Trump's embrace of MBS puts both countries at risk

How the bizarre relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia will play out is open to interpretation. It may be that the bigger bet is with Saudi Arabia on the US rather than the other way around. In this article written by James Foley, a former US ambassador, on Al Jazeera some possibilities are laid out. Trump's embrace of MBS puts both countries...
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Saudi crown prince on goodwill tour as royal family frets

This article looks at the ramifications for the Saudi Crown Prince (MBS) of the recent killing of Jamal Khashoggi and how he is trying to salvage his credibility, as well as for the country as a whole. Bruce Riedel November 26, 2018 Article Summary Saudi Arabia's king and crown prince are touring the country and region to drum up support for the he...
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Looking upwards and outwards

A review of my time in Yemen. And here's a photo of Sana'a, Yemen's capital, as it was then Imagine sitting on an uninhabited white sandy beach, with a turquoise sea and a turquoise sky. It sounds idyllic. Indeed, it should have been. But we were only on the beach as a bolt hole, for fear we would be shot at, like our colleagues the day before, som...
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Saudi Arabia tortured female right-to-drive activists, says Amnesty

Globally, there's been a lot of excitement about females being able to drive in Saudi Arabia. It's not nearly as straightforward as that, with women in Saudi Arabia saying that some can and some can't. There are age limits in place. Some of the women activists have also be imprisoned in the Kingdom, as Amnesty International points out, as reported ...
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Turkey and Israel: how the world sees them

The Middle East certainly dominates the news nowadays, so this article I read about Turkey and "fake news" and Israel and Palestine were intriguing to read, especially because I learned something. The first article appeared on the BBC and talks about how Turkey manipulates the news. Turkey is the world's largest jailer of journalists, ranking 157 o...
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US gives Iraqis an out on Iran santions

I don't understand sanctions on Iraq. Probably a lot of people don't. While three nuclear sites in Iran are exempt from sanctions this article also shows how the Iraqis are exempt on electricity sanctions from Iran. How does that work? This is how Al Monitor explains it. US gives Iraqis an out on Iran sanctions Bryant Harris November 5, 2018 Articl...
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UAE residents warned of phishing scam on VAT refunds

VAT was introduced in the UAE on 1 January 2018. I'm sure ex-pats find many items more expensive. Most were expensive before. Now, visitors to the UAE can claim back VAT but they are being warned about s phishing scam. This article was in Khaleej Times. The new phishing scam has come to light following e-mails being sent out to customers of a local...
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How VAT IN Bahrain impacts neighbouring GCC countries

Yemen is the forgotten story of the Middle East. The war between the Houthis, and the Saudis and the Emiratis and of course the US and the UK (although not directly) is ongoing. There is little sign of let up, despite the US imposing a 30-day deadline for the warring factions to resolve their differences. I spent time in Yemen, travelling around, a...
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Hariri turns witness for MBS defense

One of the forgotten issues in the Middle East is that Lebanon has been without a government since May. On 9 October, Saad Hariri, the Lebanese Prime Minister, said that if a government was not formed without 10 days he would resign. That hasn't happened and he still waiting. (Lebanese also has a complex power sharing structure so that all factions...
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Turkey jails more journalists than any other country

Turkey jails more journalists than China, Russia and Egypt combined. Yet Erdogan speaks about the need to uphold the truth. This doesn't add up. What does Erdogan want? For many Turks, Erdogan is authoritarian and a dictator who is trying to change Turkish society from a secular state to increasingly Islamic. What will happen? This is what The Wash...
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UN speech angers Israeli human rights activists

  The right-wing Israeli government has come into criticism at the UN. This is not surprising. My short time in Bethlehem exposed the difficulty of life for Palestinians, which is controlled on a day-to-day basis by the Israelis. Here's what Al Monitor said. UN speech angers Israeli human rights activists Shlomi Eldar October 23, 2018 Article ...
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Trump weighs Saudi Arabia's fate in Khashoggi affair

Will the US take "action" against Saudi Arabia for the alleged murder of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, at the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul, Turkey? It's unlikely that any retaliatory measure will be severe enough to put a USD $110 billion arms deal by the US at risk. More than that though. The US still sees Saudi Arabia as a key ally against the ...
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Filipina expat forced to work as prostitute in Arab country

There are many Filipinas/os in the Middle East, most of whom are looking for good employment opportunities so that they can send money back home- often to send their children to work. It’s a sad situation. Even more so, when we learn that the mother is forced into prostitution and documents taken away.

 I spotted this on the website of Khaleej Times, a national newspaper in the UAE.

 Filipina expat forced to work as prostitute in Arab country

Filed on September 19, 2018 | Last updated on September 19, 2018 at 05.58 pm

 

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What does an empowered Saudi woman look like?

 

 

 Being a woman in the Middle East is not easy, a single woman in Saudi Arabia in particular. I am an expert on that. But things are slowing changes so that woman from the West are yearning to go there. This article from the Brookings Institute explains how Saudi Arabia is changing.

 

What does an empowered Saudi woman look like?

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Secrecy in the Middle East; US Congress rebels

Until I read this article below I hadn’t realised there was a problem with transparency and the US over war in the Middle East. A problem with the US? This is surprising since all of the Middle East countries are accused of being less than transparent. This is what Bryant Harris in Al Monitor newslwtter had to say.

Congress rebels against Middle East war secrecy

 Article Summary

Fed up with increased restrictions on information and less on-the-ground access, some Democrats are seeking more transparency regarding the Donald Trump administration’s military operations throughout the region.

REUTERS/Hadi Mizban/Pool

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Billboards bashing social justice in Tel Aviv

BillIsrael is intriguing. We rarely hear about what goes on there, more often hearing about Palestine. What is interesting is the rise of the far right in that country, a phenemonon that the US and the West generally seldom speaks about. In this artice by Al Monitor we learn what is happening.

 Shlomi Eldar April 30, 2018

Article Summary

The far-right Im Tirzu group is behind a hate campaign targeting the US-based New Israel Fund.

The far-right movement Im Tirzu began a smear campaign against the New Israel Fund last week. The timing offers further evidence of the pivotal role Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plays in fanning flames of hate in Israel.

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Qatar hires Trump-linked lobbyist ahead of emir’s visit

The rift between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and the UAE has not yet been resolved. On the surface, it doesn’t appear to have moved it all. But according to this article from Al Monitor there are signs that the rift might be reducing. It’s even suggested that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are not as close as they once were.

Qatar hires Trump-linked lobbyist ahead of emir’s visit

By Bryant Harris

 Article Summary

Doha is turning to well-connected Republican operatives amid an intra-Gulf spat.

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Ankara summit focuses on Syria's fate once war ends

What will happen when the war in Syria ends is finally being discussed, as this article by Al Monitor shows. This has happened before. Back in 2013 there has a meeting by the Western allies in Dubai to discuss investment opportunities in post-war Syria. I was told that Assad would step down soon. What a waste of time that was.

At least the three countries- Turkey, Iran and Russia- seem to be more realistic as to what will happen post war, even if they have different end goals.

 Ankara summit focuses on Syria's fate once war ends

Maxim A. Suchkov April 6, 2018

Article Summary

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Why the top military brass in Saudi are leaving

The war in Yemen is often a forgotten war in the Middle East. The UN characterizes Yemen as the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world today.

I follow Yemen because I’ve travelled there. Yes, the group we were traveling with across the Wadi, from Haben to Aden, was kidnapped. Four of the party were shot dead. That was back in 1998.

I know the kidnappers were after Americans but the fact that people were of a different nationality didn’t matter. We were travelling with different tour groups.

This is what The Guardian newspaper said at the time.

“Three British tourists and one Australian were shot dead yesterday at their kidnappers' hide-out in Yemen when security forces stormed the site in a disastrous end to the country's worst hostage crisis.”

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Best VPNs for Dubai and the UAE

VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are popular, and big in places like Dubai. I lived there for some years and although a lot of my friends had one I never did. It was a mistake. I was tapped the whole time I was there, on my home landline anyway. A VPN would have prevented that. It would also have allowed me to use Skype, which the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) had banned.

So if you live in the UAE you probably already know how popular VPNs are as a means to access blocked websites and apps including Skype and WhatsApp or to connect to US Netflix and other streaming services.

This article (see below) takes a look at the best VPNs for Dubai or elsewhere in the UAE. It runs through some common concerns about using a VPN in the UAE and tries to clear up some misconceptions around legal issues with VPN use

As Comperitech (ctechemail.com) points out- which is a UK registered company and hopes to be opening its first US office soon- VPNs are popular with tourists and expats because it helps them to access apps like WhatsApp and Skype as well as streamingservices such as BBC iplayer, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video., all of which are restricted by the TRA. (Arguably, that’s how the telephone companies, particularly Etisalat, make lots of money).

The Comparitech.com brand and website is owned and operated by Comparitech Limited.

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