Afghanistan highlights link between religious soft power and Gulf security – Modern Diplomacy

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When Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed Abdulrahman Al-Thani this week described the Taliban’s repressive policies towards women and brutal administration of justice as “very disappointing” and taking Afghanistan “a step backwards,” he was doing more than holding Qatar up as a model of Islamic governance and offering the militants cover to moderate their ways.
Sheikh Al-Thani was seeking to shield the Gulf state from criticism should Qatari efforts fail to persuade the Taliban to shave off the sharp edges that marked their rule 25 years ago before they were toppled by US military forces and characterize their governance since they retook control of Afghanistan in mid-August with the US withdrawal.
The minister was implicitly referring to the Taliban’s refusal to allow Afghan female secondary school students to resume their studies two weeks after schools opened for boys and hanging the bloodied corpse of a man accused of kidnapping on a crane in the main square of the western Afghan city of Herat. Elsewhere in the city, three other men were also strung up for public viewing.
Sheikh Al-Thani’s effort to position his country as a model of Islamic governance was not only an effort to offer the Taliban an alternative but also a bid to garner brownie points in a competition with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for religious soft power in the Muslim world and international recognition as an icon of an autocratic, yet ‘moderate’ interpretation of Islam.
Sheikh Al-Thani’s remarks constituted his first sharp rebuke of the Taliban and have gone further than statements issued by the kingdom and the Emirates that so far primarily urged the group to ensure regional security and stability.
“We have…been trying to demonstrate for the Taliban how Muslim countries can conduct their laws, how they can deal with the women’s issues,” Sheikh Al-Thani said. “One of the examples is the State of Qatar, which is a Muslim country; our system is an Islamic system (but) we have women outnumbering men in workforces, in government and in higher education.” The minister warned that the Taliban risked misusing Sharia or Islamic law.
Hoping for Taliban moderation may be wishful thinking. “Policies are pitched at the group’s lowest common denominator to preserve concord. That makes it difficult for the Taliban to change,” The Economist reported.
Against the backdrop of the rivalry, the stakes are higher for Qatar’s religious soft power rivals to be seen as distancing and differentiating themselves from the Taliban. To be sure, the UAE competes with Qatar in having made significant progress on women’s rights while Saudi Arabia has substantially enhanced women’s professional and social opportunities since the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Yet, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were alongside Pakistan the only three countries to recognize the first Taliban government in 1996. Saudi Arabia, moreover, together the United States, created the Taliban’s cradle by funding and arming the mujahedeen who forced the Soviets to withdraw from Afghanistan in the late 1980s.
“In the name of common decency as well as political expediency, the Gulf states must exert their maximum leverage, whether financial, political, or moral, on the Taliban to dissuade them from reimposing the barbarous regime of twenty years ago. Through their financial support of the mujahideen, the Gulf has been inextricably linked with Afghanistan from the beginning of its troubles in the 1980s and own what happens now,” said former US ambassador to Qatar Patrick Theros.
While the same could be said about the United States, Mr. Theros’ remarks appeared to include a dig at Saudi Arabia and the UAE despite an agreement in January to end a 3.5 year-long diplomatic and economic boycott of Qatar led by the kingdom and the Emirates. To be fair, Mr. Theros buffered his criticism of Gulf states by noting that they needed to bury their differences to confront the threat posed by Iran.
Mr. Theros is a strategic adviser for the Washington-based Gulf International Forum, a Qatar-linked thinktank, launched in 2018 days after the U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue, an annual series of bilateral meetings between high-level U.S. and Qatari officials was inaugurated.
Former Saudi intelligence chief  Prince Turki al-Faisal, in a bid to distance Saudi Arabia from the Taliban, recently distinguished Wahhabism, the kingdom’s ultra-conservative strand of Islam, and Deobandism, another ultra-conservative interpretation of the faith that originated in India and constitutes the theological wellspring of the Taliban.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed’s social reforms have shaved off sharp edges of Wahhabi practices but have not involved attempts to tinker with Islamic jurisprudence that justified them. Likewise, decades of Saudi theological influence and funding shaped the evolution of Deobandism in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan.
Media reports suggested that Prince Turki secretly met Taliban leaders in August. Prince Turki reportedly seemingly unsuccessfully sought to convince the group to moderate its policies and put flesh on the notion of a changed Taliban 2.0.
As head of Saudi intelligence from 1979 to 2001, Prince Turki dealt with the mujahedeen during the war against the Soviets and sought to persuade the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden after Al-Qaeda bombed US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
The need to distance Islam as practised in conservative Gulf states from the Taliban’s interpretation of the faith takes on added significance amid doubts about US reliability reinforced by the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the United States rejiggering its commitment to guaranteeing security in the region. It is where religious soft power meets defence and security policy in a court of public opinion that may not delve into the nuanced differences between Wahhabism and Deobandism.
“The unsavoury reputation of Gulf regimes’ human rights practices has lessened the American public’s appetite for committing troops to their defence over the past decade. The Gulf states must come to grips with the possibility that the US willingness to fight Iran in their defence has significantly declined and may well disappear over the coming years… If the intellectual and political elite of the region do not start thinking about how to manage the future, it will turn and bite them,” Mr. Theros said.
Most immediately, Saudi Arabia fears that Houthi rebels in Yemen may take a page out of the Taliban playbook and fight the war in Yemen till victory while paying only lip service to a negotiated end to the war.
US President Joe Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, met on Monday in the kingdom with Prince Mohammed to discuss the war 6.5-year-old Saudi intervention in Yemen. It was the first encounter between a senior official of the Biden administration and the crown prince, whose image has been severely tarnished by the 2018 killing in Istanbul of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
MENA Has a Food Security Problem, But There Are Ways to Address It
Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog, a book with the same title, Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario and three forthcoming books, Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africaas well as Creating Frankenstein: The Saudi Export of Ultra-conservatism and China and the Middle East: Venturing into the Maelstrom.
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Food insecurity in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is a growing challenge. Even before COVID-19, UN agencies estimated that over 55 million of its population of 456.7 million was undernourished. The pandemic, protracted conflict and other factors make hunger more common. In 2020, MENA’s share of the world’s acutely food insecure people was 20%, disproportionately high compared to its 6% share of the population. 
The situation is worse where there is conflict, such as in Yemen and Syria. The UN estimates the number of Yemenis afflicted by food insecurity reached 24 million – ~83% of the population – in 2021, with 16.2 million needing emergency food. The war in Syria has had devastating consequences: over 12 million Syrians are food insecure, an increase of 4.5 million in 2020 alone. 
Added to this, half of Syrian refugee households in Lebanon were food insecure in 2020, up by 20% from 2019. Refugee populations are especially vulnerable: according to the Food Security Information Network, a quarter of the 0.7 million Syrians registered by the UN in Jordan are in immediate need. 
Iraq has also seen a rise in food insecurity, caused by intermittent conflict and fluctuating global oil prices, with over 4 million Iraqis today needing humanitarian help. In Lebanon, food insecurity has mainly been driven by hyperinflation. 
In the Maghreb, Egypt, and Djibouti, the number of people who were food insecure was stubbornly stable before the pandemic. Food insecurity is thought to have risen since, with the recent increase in poverty in the region – the effects of the pandemic threaten to push another 16 million people into extreme poverty. 
Challenges 
We remain very concerned: The region is having to contend with structural challenges that make feeding a growing population particularly difficult. The first is climate change; an increase in the frequency of extreme weather and higher temperatures is affecting local agriculture. Half of the population of MENA already lives under conditions of water stress; with the population expected to grow to nearly 700 million in 2050, per capita water availability will be halved. 2020 also saw one of the worst desert locust outbreaks in over 23 countries, including Yemen and Djibouti, affecting livelihoods and food security for millions of people. 
The second challenge facing our region is the population growth rate itself, the highest worldwide, and the growth of urban areas, with 66% of people expected to be living in cities by 2030. Agriculture productivity rates are not keeping up with population increase, with the exception of Egypt, where productivity gains are above the world average. 
The third challenge is diet and nutrition. We are exceptionally dependent on food imports, especially of wheat and other staple grains. Half of MENA’s food is imported, rising to 90% in Gulf Cooperation Countries. One third of the calories people consume are wheat products subsidized by governments. Between a quarter and one-third of the region’s adult population is obese. 
Our food system is failing to support people’s health. The food provides calories but insufficient nutrition. As a result, people suffer from the double burden of malnutrition, both stunting and obesity. 
Nearly half the children in Yemen and one-third in Djibouti are underweight for their age, with long-term consequences on their individual cognitive development and the economic trajectories of their countries. 
Trends 
So, what can we do to reverse these dire trends in food insecurity? 
One intervention will be to reduce risks related to MENA’s high dependence on food imports, which means countries having to manage economic risks related to fluctuating food prices. Governments can reduce commodity price volatility, stabilize their budgets, and add predictability to the cost of food imports by using instruments designed for commodities’ markets and hedging. 
Improving the efficiency of importing food and storing it helps manage risk as well. Egypt, for example, is modernizing its food import control framework, piloting a risk-based system with its National Food Safety Authority, where categories of food with a documented history of food safety compliance are less likely to be delayed for sampling on arrival at its borders and more likely to be cleared. 
Domestic agriculture and food can be engines of economic growth, creating jobs for entrants to the labor market. MENA can regain its ancient leadership in agricultural innovation by investing in the cutting-edge practices and technologies responsive to a changing climate, such as hydroponics, conservation agriculture, and the safe use of treated water. 
It is also well-positioned to use digital technology in the agri-food sector and develop novel financial models to leverage private investment in agriculture if public spending and other policies on it are revisited by governments. Development interventions are needed to support farmers to adopt more productive, sustainable systems resilient to drought, floods, and other risks. 
There is plenty of scope to improve the quality of agricultural jobs and make the region’s agri-food sector more attractive. We see this in Morocco, with training in entrepreneurship and climate-smart practices. In Yemen, the World Bank is funding projects that deliver immediate support through cash-for-work programs and the provision of nutritious food but also build long-term resilience by restoring agricultural production and value chains. 
Social protection measures, such as safety nets and food aid programs targeted at the most vulnerable remain key to making sure food is affordable, especially in emergencies. 
We cannot—and should not—fail to see the current crisis brought on by the pandemic as a golden opportunity to build stronger, more inclusive systems that deliver healthy food and better jobs and make more sustainable use of MENA’s scarce natural resources. 
*Ayat Soliman is the Regional Director for the World Bank Group’s Sustainable Development Department for the Middle East and North Africa region.
First appeared in Asharq Al-Awsat, via World Bank
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For at least the last two decades, the United Arab Emirates, aided by some of the world’s foremost consulting and public affairs companies, has waged one of, if not the Middle East’s most successful nation branding campaign.
The campaign has been supported by cutting edge technological and economic initiatives; a bold and assertive foreign policy backed by the UAE’s financial and military muscle; a degree of economic diversification away from oil; socially liberal policies that make the UAE the desired destination for Arab youth and non-Arab expatriates; embracing values of religious tolerance, and positioning of the Emirates as a key node in global humanitarian aid efforts.
For the longest period, this branding deflected criticism of the UAE’s tarnished domestic human rights record; intrusive surveillance of Emirati and non-Emirati dissident voices, journalists, scholars, and activists in the UAE and elsewhere; criticism of its backing of militias in Libya and Yemen and Russian private military companies in Libya; and its willingness to risk encouraging Islamophobia by lobbying in Europe for a crackdown on non-violent political Islam.
However, a series of setbacks in recent weeks raises the spectre of the UAE’s decades-long, multi-million-dollar campaign fraying at the edges, 15 years after it learnt lessons from a debacle in 2006 when Dubai-owned DP World sought to acquire Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O).
The acquisition sparked controversy on national security grounds in the United States. Many questioned the handover of the management of six major US ports to a Middle Eastern company as part of the takeover. A humiliating debate forced DP World to sell the US portion of the acquisition involving the port management to an American finance and insurance company.
Since then, the 705-member European Parliament, in perhaps the most stinging dent of the UAE’s projection of itself, earlier this month voted 383 to 47 votes on a resolution urging European Union member states and potential international sponsors to boycott next month’s Dubai Expo 2020 “in order to signal their disapproval of the human rights violations in the UAE”.
The non-binding resolution also demanded the immediate release of imprisoned Emirati activists Ahmed Mansoor, Mohammed al-Roken, and Nasser bin Ghaith. It furthermore noted UAE violations of the rights of women, foreign workers and prisoners despite significant progress at least when it comes to women’s rights.
Similarly, the UAE, a year after establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, has, beyond persuading the Jewish state to indefinitely put on hold Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank, little to show for its claim that the bold move would advance a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett most recently signalled his disinterest in negotiating a settlement and his opposition to the creation of an independent Palestinian state with his speech this week to the United Nations General Assembly. Mr. Bennet didn’t utter the word Palestine even once and referred to Palestine-related issues only in the context of the threat posed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.
Likewise, UAE hopes to export oil to Europe via a leaks-prone Israeli pipeline have hit environment-driven Israeli snags. Former Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s government approved a deal between Israel’s state-owned Europe Asia Pipeline Company and an Emirati-Israeli consortium to pump UAE oil from the Red Sea port of Eilat to Ashkelon on the Mediterranean from where it would be shipped to Europe.
The project is opposed by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, environmental groups, scientists and local residents who fear a repeat of Israel’s largest environmental disaster caused six years ago by a leak in the pipeline. Thousands have signed a petition against the deal and hundreds demonstrated against it last Friday across Israel.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, whose Tel Aviv home was one of 50 venues targeted by protesters, said the government was investigating the deal. “The UAE, the relevant government ministries, the environmental organisations — will want to know that a thorough, deep, serious examination has been carried out before decisions are reached. We will make sure that nobody tries to approve a decision beneath the radar while the examination is going on,” Mr. Lapid said.
The UAE’s image has repeatedly been tarnished by allegations that it has used Israeli software and employed former US intelligence officials to spy on its Emirati and non-Emirati distractors.
Those allegations took on greater significance with the admission to the US Justice Department by three former intelligence operatives that they had carried out hacking operations on behalf of the UAE, the indictment of Thomas J. Barrack, the head of former President Donald J. Trump’s 2016 inaugural committee, on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent on behalf of the UAE, along with new evidence of Emirati spying on dissidents in Britain.
Mr. Barrack’s indictment, according to Bloomberg News, charges that he was tasked by several unidentified top Emirati officials that include Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed; his brother, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed, the UAE’s national security adviser; and Ali Mohammed Hammad Al Shamsi, director of the Emirati intelligence service. Bloomberg reported further that the indictment also references Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to the United States, but identifies him only as ‘Emirati official 5.’
None of the Emirati officials referenced in the indictment have been charged with any wrongdoing. Mr. Barrack has pleaded not guilty.
The UAE’s human rights record became this week a matter of public discussion in Australia following a documentary by Four Corners, a flagship program of public broadcaster ABC. Focussing on foreign owners of Australian soccer clubs, including Emirati Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, a brother of the UAE crown prince whose franchise acquired Melbourne FC, Four Corners spent half of its 42-minute program questioning the Emirati human rights record, going back at least a decade, as well as its way of doing football business.
Said a European diplomat: “The UAE has enjoyed a surprisingly long period in the sun. The clouds are starting to gather. There are things the UAE can do to head off the clouds, yet there is little indication that the UAE accepts that people’s concerns will not go away. It may be that the UAE believes that those concerns will count for less as China and Russia’s influence expands. That could be true, but so could the opposite.”
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A year of diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel has proven to be mutually beneficial. The question is whether the assumptions underlying the UAE’s initiative that led three other Arab countries to also formalise their relations with the Jewish state will prove to be correct in the medium and long term.
UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed laid out the strategic assumptions underlying his establishment of diplomatic relations, as well as its timing, in a conversation with Joel C. Rosenberg, an American-Israeli evangelical author and activist, 18 months before the announcement.
Mr. Rosenberg’s recounting of that conversation in a just-published book, Enemies and Allies: An Unforgettable Journey inside the Fast-Moving & Immensely Turbulent Modern Middle East, constitutes a rare first-hand public account of the Emirati leader’s thinking.
Mr. Rosenberg’s reporting on his conversation with Prince Mohammed is largely paraphrased by the author rather than backed up with quotes. The UAE’s interest in building good relations with American Evangelicals as part of its effort to garner soft power in the United States and project itself as an icon of religious tolerance, and Mr. Rosenberg’s willingness to serve that purpose, add credibility to the author’s disclosures.
Mr. Rosenberg’s reporting, wittingly or unwittingly, has laid bare the potential longer-term fragility of the relationship that is evident in Prince Mohammed’s timing for the UAE’s recognition of Israel as well as the assumptions on which the Emirates has argued that relations would contribute to a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
What emerges is that the UAE and Israel have a geopolitical interest in cooperating to contain Iran and militias in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen that are associated with the Islamic republic. They also reap economic benefit from the formalisation of a relationship that has long existed de facto.
When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, however, the implication is that public support for the relationship could prove to be fickle even though comment on social media in a country that tightly polices freedom of expression was dominated by supporters of the Emirati government.
Prominent Emirati political analyst Abdulkhaleq Abdulla described the public backing as “a show of support for the government rather than a show of support for ‘normalization’ (with Israel) as such.” Mr. Abdulla was speaking in May as Israeli warplanes bombarded the Gaza Strip in a conflict, sparked by protests in East Jerusalem, with Hamas, the Islamist group that governs the territory.
He noted that “no matter what your national priorities are at the moment or regional priorities are at the moment, when stuff like this happens, the Palestinian issue comes back and hits you.”
It was this sensitivity that persuaded Prince Mohammed that the door would close on establishing diplomatic relations with Israel without a solution to the Palestinian problem if then Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu were to go ahead with his plans to annex parts of the West Bank occupied by Israel during the 1967 Middle East war.
“The only way to stop Netanyahu from grabbing what the Emiratis saw as Palestinian land was to go full Godfather and make Bibi an offer he couldn’t refuse,” Mr. Rosenberg wrote referring to Mr. Netanyahu by his nickname.
A proposal by the Trump administration that the UAE and other Arab states sign a non-aggression and non-belligerency pact with Israel without establishing diplomatic relations with the Jewish state gave Prince Mohammed the opening to push his plan.
“MbZ was open to the idea, but he now realized it would not be enough to pull Netanyahu away from his desire to annex large swaths of the West Bank. The only way to get what he wanted, MBZ recognized, was to give Netanyahu what he wanted most – full peace, full recognition, full normalization. But MbZ would have to move fast” to pre-empt the Israeli prime minister Mr. Rosenberg summarised, referring to Prince Mohammed by his initials.
Quoting then Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, rather than Prince Mohammed, Mr. Rosenberg regurgitates hopes publicly expressed by Emirati officials that the establishment of diplomatic relations would reinvigorate moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The establishment of diplomatic relations promised to be “a 360-degree success, one that goes beyond trade and investment,” Mr. Rosenberg quoted Mr. Gargash as saying.
Emirati economy minister Abdulla Bin Touq said the UAE hoped to boost trade with Israel to US$1 trillion over the next decade. Emirati officials were further banking on the fact that strong cultural and people-to-people ties – absent in Israel’s initial peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan in the 1980s and 1990s – would put flesh on a skeleton of Arab-Israeli relations and ensure that Israel refrains from acts like annexation that would upset the apple cart.
Mr. Netanyahu’s successor, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, has put those hopes to bed. He has unequivocally rejected the notion of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, refused to negotiate peace with the Palestinians during his term, and suggested that the improvement of social and economic conditions would satisfy Palestinian aspirations.
That could prove to be a risky bet given a shift to the right in Israeli public opinion, the growing influence of conservative religious segments of society, and the fact that some 600,000 Israelis who populate settlements built on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem make a two-state solution de facto impossible. That would leave a one-state solution as the only solution.
For that to work, Palestinians would have to buy into Mr. Bennett’s approach that is informed by the concept of “shrinking the conflict” that seeks to marginalise the Palestinian problem, put forward by Micah Goodman, an Israeli academic who chose to build a home in a West Bank settlement.
“Twenty per cent of Israelis are on the extremes, for either withdrawing from the territories or annexing them,” Mr. Goodman says. “The remaining 80 percent who don’t want to rule over the territories or relinquish them don’t have a way to talk about the conflict, so they just don’t think about it. Which is the tragedy of the Israeli center.”
Shrinking the conflict, rather than solving it, is what Mr. Goodman calls “replacing indifference with pragmatism.” He suggests that initiatives such as the creation of corridors between Palestinian enclaves on the West Bank and a border crossing to Jordan “up to the level that the Palestinians feel they are ruling themselves, without the capacity to threaten Israel” would tempt Palestinians to buy into his concept. Mr. Goodman’s plan would ensure, in his words, that Palestinians “don’t get anything like the right of return, a state or Jerusalem.”
Prince Mohammed appears, based on Mr. Rosenberg’s account of his conversations with the UAE leader and other Emirati officials, to have adopted the approach.  
“MbZ believed that by breaking the mould and making peace with Israel without giving the Palestinian leadership veto over his freedom of movement, he could open the door for other Arab countries to see the benefits and follow suit,” Mr. Rosenberg wrote.
Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco were quick to follow the UAE’s example. Some 300 Iraqi tribal and religious leaders, activists and former military officers called last week for diplomatic relations with Israel in a gathering in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil.
“Just as we demand that Iraq achieve federalism domestically, we demand that Iraq join the Abraham Accords internationally. We call for full diplomatic relations with Israel and a new policy of mutual development and prosperity,” said Wisam Al-Hardan, a spokesman for the group and onetime tribal militia leader that aligned with the United States to fight al-Qaeda in 2005.
Mr. Rosenberg noted that “as more Arab states normalized relations with Israel, MbZ and his team believed it could create the conditions under which the Palestinians could finally say yes to a comprehensive peace plan of their own with Israel.”
That may prove to be over-optimistic. Addressing the United Nations General Assembly this week, President Mahmoud Abbas warned that the Palestine Authority would withdraw its recognition of Israel and press charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court if Israel did not withdraw in the next year from the West Bank and East Jerusalem and lift the 14-year-long blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The assumption underlying Prince Mohammed’s hopes that Palestinians as well as Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon for that matter, would ultimately fall into line, creates a false equation between most Arab states and those bordering on Israel or under Israeli occupation.
Most Arab states like the UAE have existential issues with Israel that need to be resolved, which makes public opinion the potentially largest constraint on recognition of the Jewish state. There is no doubt that for Palestinians the issue is nothing but existential. The same is true for Jordan that has historic connections to the West Bank and whose population is more than half of Palestinian descent.
Similarly, Lebanon and Syria host large numbers of Palestinian refugees. Syria, moreover, has its own issues with Israel given the latter’s occupation of the Golan Heights since 1967.
Improving the social and economic conditions of the Palestinians are unlikely to satisfy their minimal needs or those of Israel’s immediate neighbours. Not to mention what the accelerated prospect of a de facto one-state solution to the Palestinian problem would mean for an Israel confronted with the choice of being a democratic state in which Palestinians could emerge as a majority or a Jewish state that sheds its democratic character and claim to be inclusive towards its citizens.
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