Is an US-Iran war likely?

I often get asked about Iran and the US and if the two will engage in war. Yes, is the answer, over time. The shooting down of a Ukrainian aircraft carrying many Iranians, many of whom lived in Canada, has merely delayed the inevitable. A US war with Iran. After living in the Middle East for some years and writing about the politics of the region, ...
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Lebanon forms a new government

Lebanon has a new government, finally. This was announced only a few hours ago. But have the protestors, who wanted an end to corruption and nepotism, really won? Is the new government significantly different from the old one? Al Jazeera reported the new government like this. Lebanon has formed a new government, its presidency announced after Hezbo...
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Will Lebanon's political system get the overhaul it so needs?

Lebanon is in political and economic turmoil. The protests against corrupt governments continue and have turned violent. Poverty is a way of life in Lebanon now and cash can now be withdrawn up to USD 300 a month, not enough for businesses, and many individuals, to survive. Many Lebanese live abroad, in the UAE, the US and the UK in particular. How...
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8 truths to remember before starting another military campaign

The threat of war in the Middle East is closer than ever, mainly because tensions between Iran and the US are rising. Nobody ever wants war; nobody will benefit; all sides will lose. And it will be a cost to all countries involved. Is it worth it? I read this today about the cost of war to the US. Here are eight principles that the US should rememb...
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What's next for Oman following Sultan Qaboos' death?

The death of Oman's 50-year ruler Sultan Qaboos raises many questions, the most important of which is: "Will his successor, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, continue Sultan Qaboos' work?" This entails taking not only an impartial approach to politics but being a negotiator and mediator. This balancing act is described well in the following article...
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The death of Oman's ruler and what the country does for Yemen

The death of Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin said bin Taimur al Said on 10 January 2020 is not only a blow to Oman but to the entire Gulf region. He ruled the small Sultanate of Oman, which has about 4.5 million people, for five decades and transformed the Oman from being a backwater in the Arabian Gulf to a thriving community with oil and the country wit...
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Will Western expats leave the Middle East?

There is confusion about what will happen in the Middle East, as tension between the US and Iran escalates. In response to the killing of the head of the Quds Defence Force, Qasem Soleimani, Iran has attacked an US-led coalition airbase in Iraq. It appears no one was killed, and President Trump is expected to make a statement soon. What a mess! Wha...
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How will Iran retaliate following the assassination of Qasem Soleimani?

The US and Iran conflict continues. The fallout from the killing of Qasem Soleimani in Iraq last week is likely to continue for weeks, months and even years. What it means for the Middle East is unknown but it is likely that armed conflict within the region will follow. There is no doubt that Iran will avenge the killing in some war, although outri...
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What does the killing of Qasem Soleimani mean for the Middle East?

Following the killing of Iran's rockstar commander, Qasem Soleimani, the second most important person in Iran, by the US, war in the Middle East is that much more likely. Which country will side with whom? Even though the UAE and Saudi Arabia are allies of the US when it comes to the possible destruction of the Middle East, their alignments may wel...
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How age helps to determine the way we vote

The UK election result has many people considering the future of democracy in the country. How is the democratic will best represented? Is it by the older or the younger generation? Is it by the urban or rural populace? Or is it by the Northerners or Southerners? In this column, I will focus on the first of these: how age determined the outcome of ...
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Saudi Arabia: the latest news

One issue that caught my attention over the last few weeks is that of Saudi women no longer being segregated in restaurants. Women and families no longer have separate entrances from men, nor do they have to sit behind partitions. Sounds great? In practice, at certain restaurants and hotels the unwillingness to implement a segregation policy has be...
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Lebanon launches "The intellectuals" newspaper

The protests in Lebanon are ongoing, although we hear less about them. The protestors are not only railing against their poor standard of living, with the price of goods becoming more expensive, but also against corrupt politicians. When I was there, I was told by numerous people, who were supporters of all sides, that the politicians accepted loan...
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What next for Israel?

Although I've just arrived back from Vietnam, I've been following what is going on in the Middle East. Most of Asia is deeply unstable. You just don't hear about it in the same way that you do the Middle East. I presume it's because this region is more important geo-politically than Asia to the rest of the world, particularly with its abundance of ...
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What is Turkey's attitude to Syrian Kurd refugees?

The issue of refugees has been an ongoing problem since the war in Syria began eight and a half years ago. There are Syrian refugees, and others, heading to Europe as well as many making Lebanon and Turkey their home. Now there are Kurdish refugees who are victims of Turkey's ongoing onslaught in Northern Syria, about 10,000 and half of them childr...
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Differences between cultures in attitudes of old age

Living in Vietnam has interesting cross-cultural insights. I've also lived in Dubai, London, New Zealand, and, for a shorter time in the US. The approach to age is different in all these places. In Vietnam, it seems that anybody over 30 years (and Westerners look older than Vietnamese) is considered "old" and you are expected to retire by 50. Famil...
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​Are Middle Easterners conformist?

Do you have to conform to survive in the Middle East? By conform I mean abiding by the religious norms and to the dress code. The answer is a resounding "yes" but is that not true of most societies?   This is what I wrote on conforming for Behavioural Shift. Unwilling to conform? That's what happens as you age Is the "younger generation" confo...
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Yemen and Saudi Arabia: the Riyadh Agreement

We can read about the complexities of Yemen and it sounds such a scary place. It isn't. I spent three weeks there in 1998, and some of our travelling companions were kidnapped and killed in the process of being freed. That rarely happened in Yemen as those who were kidnapped were usually released after the kidnapping ransom- usually in the form of ...
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Airshows and what they mean

Airshows are an important indication of how the aviation sector is faring. The number of orders that Airbus and Boeing receive are important to commentators and journalists alike who write thousands of words on which airline is buying what. I've been at the Dubai Airshow many times and when I was attending in about the late 2000's to 2014 the airli...
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Saudi and Israel in the news

Saudi Arabia is hitting the headlines because of Saudi Aramco's planned initial public offering. The IPO values the company at USD1.7 trillion, but the country's de facto ruler, Mohammed Bin Salman, had wanted a valuation of USD2 trillion, however. Saudi Aramco made net income of USD 111 billion for 2018. With the IPO valuation it is the world's mo...
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The future of the Middle East

Two politicians shake hands with Egyptian and Sudanese flags in the background The Middle East will always be subject to changes in geography (that's the nature of the region) and foreign intervention – usually on a country basis- has often led to these changes. What will happen over the next few years? It may be that the region changes geographica...
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