Yemen Crisis: Climate and Water Scarcity

Yemen Crisis: Climate and Water Scarcity

In addition to climate change, most acutely felt in the desert and polar regions of the earth, experts previously warned that Yemen could be the first country to run out of the water as a consequence of global warming since it has no rivers, rainfall has been decreasing; thus underground aquifers are not being replenished. Even if water were available, the infrastructure to drill and access underground water tables is inaccessible further exacerbating water insecurity.

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Palestinians Learn from Israel’s History of Making Handmade Weapons For Use Against an Occupying Power

"Carlo" - Handmade Imitation of the Swedish Carl Gustav M/45 Sub-machine Gun, Source: The Truth About Guns.com

"Carlo" - Handmade Imitation of the Swedish Carl Gustav M/45 Sub-machine Gun, Source: The Truth About Guns.com

ISRAEL - It’s been said that history has an uncanny tendency of repeating, and that those who don't know history are damned to relive it. But, sometimes the repetition of the past is deliberate, especially when the lessons from it are used as a proverbial playbook to frame current actions and strategies. When this happens, it can lead to some interesting conclusions. An example of this phenomenon can be found through the study of the similarities of recent events in the decades-old conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Daniel Kurtzer, the former U.S. ambassador to Egypt and Israel, and the S. Daniel Abraham Professor of Middle East policy studies at Princeton University, published an op-ed critique in the Washington Post of the book ‘Anonymous Soldiers: The Struggle for Israel, 1917-1947’ by Bruce Hoffman (Knopf). He writes about the deftness with which Hoffman draws parallels between the Jews struggle for freedom from the occupying power of British rule and those of the Palestinians today.  

“Palestinian and Israeli narratives have always been more reflective of each other than contrasting. Both peoples suffered exile from their homeland and the experience of being refugees. Both believe they have been the victims of historical injustice. Both claim the same land and have a primordial attachment to that specific land. And members of both have engaged in acts of terrorism in the pursuit of national self-determination and independence.”

At the risk of giving too much away, or even straying from the focus of this article, and in the interest of transparency, in his book, Hoffman does highlight the differences in how Jewish terrorists resisted the British versus tactics employed by the Palestinians today. 

Despite this, Kurtzer acknowledged that “…One person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter, and Hoffman's study will undoubtedly add to the partisan debate over who exactly was and is a “terrorist,” and whether violence associated with the struggle of one people for national independence is more legitimate than the struggle of another people.”

The weapons used by the Israelis between 1917 and 1947 to fight against the British were often handmade because of a lack of access to arms dealers. Fast forward to the current conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and it has become evident that there is a marked increase in terrorists attacks in which handmade weapons have been utilized in attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces. Of these new and potentially lethal firearms, a cheap imitation of the Swedish Carl Gustav M/45 sub-machine gun (better known by its street name, the “Carlo”) has emerged as one of the most popular handmade weapons.

The “Carlo” has been tied to a string of recent attacks, including one this past February, which took the life of a 19-year-old Border Police officer, Hadar Cohen. Though crude and inaccurate - the firearm was highly effective. It was constructed from cheap and readily found materials, and in this case the barrel of the gun used in this particular case was crafted from a commercially available water pipe. Other such weapons, used in similar recent attacks throughout the country, have been constructed from blueprints found on the internet and assembled out of household items such as fridge pipes, metal hoses, and other random pieces of metal.

Jewish militants, fighting for their independence also worked secretly and around the clock to produce a series of handmade weapons for use against the opposing British forces. Like the “Carlo,” which is now favored by Palestinian militants, a favorite firearm produced by the Jewish resistance was the Sten sub-machine gun. Cheap to produce, this weapon was essentially a hollowed-out metal tube which could spit out bullets. Yet, it became the scourge of British troops who often fell victim to its deadly simplicity.

The weapon was a favorite among the pre-state militias, such as the Lehi and the Irgun, who manufactured and used the weapon with devastating effectiveness. All too common were attacks like one in which a British police sergeant was killed, and three other police officers wounded when ambushed while sitting in a cafe.

It was the relative ease of construction and an inability to control the everyday items from which the weapons were fashioned which has led to escalating concern among local security and military officials. Similarly, the "Carlo,” a handmade Imitation of the Swedish Carl Gustav M/45 sub-machine gun, is a simple design easily constructed from discarded material.  It is comprised of three separate components: an internal mechanism, a barrel, and ammunition, and of all these the ammunition is the least complicated to compound. All other pieces can be manufactured by using common machinery; such as pipe-cutters and lathes, operated by a single person or small group of individuals.

The period in which this weapon was originally manufactured, from the 40’s to the 60’s, lends itself to uncomplicated duplication and inexpensive cost to produce. Consequently, they are readily obtainable on the black market for as little as $750. Perhaps most troubling, is that this also makes it untraceable which further complicates efforts to keep peace in the region. As use of this weapon becomes much more prevalent, and as Security officials seek ways to stop its manufacture and spread, it takes us back to the beginning of the article and to the premise of the oft penchant for humans to repeat history.

Like the Palestinians, the Israelis similarly manufactured and distributed illegal arms for use in its battle against the English occupiers. A war that sought to expel the colonialists from a region that was governed under the British Mandate prior to the creation of the modern State of Israel in 1948. Eerily, it seems that the Palestinians have studied and employed a few lessons in warfare from the history of Israel’s struggle against its own former occupier, and that they are equally determined.

Ironically, like the British, Israeli security officials now find themselves in a difficult but strangely reminiscent position that the colonialist must have certainly confronted. The reality that the efficacy of their efforts to hinder the production of the handmade weapons by the Israelis may not have been as effective or swift as they desired or required.  

The question remains, now that the Palestinians are manufacturing and distributing the “Carlo” for use in their resistance against what they see as an occupying ruling government, can the Israelis succeed where the British ultimately failed? Can they control the production and spread of similar handmade weapons used by the Palestinians to attack Israelis, or will they find themselves on the opposite side of a dynamic which may portend a repeat of history of their own independence?

Contributing Journalist: @JonEizyk
LinkedIn: Jon Eizyk

Women in Bahrain: Living and Working in this Part of the Middle East

Women in Bahrain: Living and Working in this Part of the Middle East

Bahrain has always been believed that Bahrain is different from its other Gulf counterparts. It is true especially when it comes to women and their participation towards the economic growth of the country. According to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, Bahrain is counted amongst the fastest growing economies of the Middle East. This is due to the country’s emphasis on offering more opportunities for education and providing more rights to women.

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The History of American Aid for Jordan

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with King Abdullah II of Jordan at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on January 18, 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with King Abdullah II of Jordan at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on January 18, 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

JORDAN, Amman - The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, one of the Unite States' key ally in the troubled Middle East. It is also one of more than 200 other countries and territories across the globe that consistently receive annual U.S. aid to help face their political and economic hardships. However, despite all this financial support Jordan has received from the second half of the last century up to today, the country has incurred heavy debt of almost $24 billion or around 90 percent of its GDP.  

Based on USAID’s data, this article sheds the light on the extent to which America financed the support Jordan for over the past 16 years, in effect bolstering the reign King Abdulla who ascended the throne in 1999 and continues to rule.

Money received

Jordan has received almost $13 billion during Abdulla's reign, which accounts for 46 percent of the total amount of aid given by America since 1951. When Abdulla inherited the throne of Father King Hussain, as the new ruler he took a more aggressive approach to broadening the country's relationship with the U.S. It appears that the relationship was quid pro quo, giving the appearance that America purchased the country to strengthen its presence in the Middle East. This in effect was how Jordan became a key alley to the U.S, during its invasion of Iraq in 2003, and established the foundation of a joint venture in the war against terrorism in the Middle East.

U.S giving aid to Jordan in 1951, resulting in the cumulative amount of aid given to the country at an astounding $28 billion. The data also shows that Jordan has received approximately $700 million per annum. In 2003, the year of the U.S invasion of Iraq, Jordan received its highest amount in aid which topped out at $1.5 billion.

Another notable fact was that during the intervening years of the civil war in Syria, the U.S. has exponentially increased both its presence in the region and aid to Jordan. Between 2012-2014, the country was given around 4 billion dollars, more than one billion each year in aid or roughly 14% of the total amount of aid the U.S. has given to the country since 1951.

During those three years, Jordan has also tried to absorb more than half a million refugees from neighboring Syria, while actively participating and supporting its allies in the war against ISIS.

In general, the data shows that the amount of aid has tripled over the examined period, increasing from almost $300 million in 1999 to more than $800 million in 2015.


Aid by category

Analyzing the data based on the category of the type of aid received, both economic or military, shows that economic aids was consistetly higher than that allocated to the military.

Aid by sector

Over the past 16 years, the lion share of the aid, around $3 billion or 26%, was channeled into Security System Management and Reform. Second on the list was General Budget Support, around $2 billion (18%) of the aids.Other sectors of the government have also been allocated aid during the examined period totaling five billion dollars. Second, came the category called “Other” which totaled around $3.5 billion. Of this number, the lowest awards were earmarked for education and economic growth and totaled around $300 million each. Despite the billions of dollars in aid to ostensibly improve governance, the country has failed to date to make any significant political reform.

Though initially seen as migrating toward a democracy, the government was actually more akin to a plutocracy. Now, King Abdullah rules as an autocratic monarch, a role which was codified by recent constitutional amendments which increased his powers to appoint and dismiss senior government employees. Most recently these included the president of the judiciary council, the president and the members of the constitutional court. Taken in tandem with his power to both handpick an appoint the prime minister, the chief of the staff and the president of the intelligence department, he has become the rule of law. A king who actually controls both the judiciary and executive branches of government giving him absolute power. This is in addition to his control of the army and security forces.

Transparency International, an organization with "chapters in more than 100 countries and an international secretariat in Berlin, is leading the fight against corruption to turn this vision into reality." A database of Corruption by Countries/Region, which includes a number of data points, including a "Corruption Perception Index” which assesses the amount of corruption perceived or actual which exists in any given countries' public sector. In 2015, on a scale of 168, the Kingdom scored 45, which is counter-intuitive to the fact that so much aid has been awarded to the country with a particular emphasis on political reform. The organization had another revealing indicator which measured the “control of corruption,” which reflects how much public power is exercised for private gain. The index includes both petty and grand forms of corruption, as well as "capture" of the state by elites and private interests. Jordan also scored quite low at 0.040 where the highest rank is 2.5 and lowest -2.5. (Source: World Bank)

Thus, the question remains, what has been gained by the magnanimous support of $38 billion given by America? Since it hasn't resulted in economic stability, as the country is poised on the precipice of insolvency, the priority is evidently focused on military efforts to maintain stability in the region. Hopefully in the future, once the eradication of the shared enemy, ISIS, has been accomplished and the war is won, additional aid will be tied to specific goals and milestones. One requirement may be to pay down the debt, as well as a shift toward more equitable and balanced governance, with a return to the separation of important branches of the government. But for now, Jordan like many other countries around the world has entered into a quid-pro-quo relationship with the U.S. It isn't all bad, nor as nefarious as some could make it, but what has been bought and paid for is a location from which to wage war against one of the most dangerous terrorist organization that threatens the West and the Middle East. It also provides direct on the ground access to the region which vastly improves intelligence gathering efforts. This is all good.

However, in these days and times when enemies form partnerships to achieve shared goals, governments need to take note of the potential price which may ultimately be exacted. Allies purchased through economic aid should be cautious and cognizant of the fate of many leaders in the Middle East and around the world who have benefited from Western largess, military arsenal, and technologies. The infusion of capital and assets often remains at the top and is purchased at the price of the ordinary citizens. People who end up suffering under the whims of dictators and authoritarian regimes supported by the U.S. for political expediency. In the Middle East alone this included Ruhollah Khomeini who governed Iran from 1979 - 1989, Hosni Mubarak who governed Egypt from 1981 - 2011, and Saddam Hussein who governed Iraq from 1979 - 2003 when he was executed. Of course there are many other oppressive regimes around the world that are supported by America, most notably in Africa, but the challenges and questions remain the same.

Does the need of the U.S. for political, military, or economic gain far outweigh the potential abuse of human rights? This is a question we all need to ask, and perhaps even pose to our government.

Contributing Journalist: @ImadSulieman
LinkedIn: Imad Alrawashdeh

A Call to Reason and Cooperation in Dealing with Increasing Global Terrorism

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (C) shakes hands with Israeli President Shimon Peres (L) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa at the King Hussein Convention Centre, at the Dead Sea May 26, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Young

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (C) shakes hands with Israeli President Shimon Peres (L) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa at the King Hussein Convention Centre, at the Dead Sea May 26, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Young

ISRAEL - It is always the innocent who end up suffering the most, no matter what the conflict happens to be. This is a sad reality of the world we live in, and one in which we are confronted with daily, because of an increase in global conflict, terrorism, and the instability of nations. Weaponized hatred and terror has significantly increased in the present day, as leaders of extremists’ groups radicalize individuals and deploy them in unexpected attacks which are difficult to predict. The inability to anticipate these attacks has resulted in nations being forced to introduce stringent security measures that are more restrictive on innocent citizens, but at the same time fail in curtailing the acts of real terrorists, who often slip through undetected.

The recent terror attacks in Paris and Brussels are both examples of radicals who inflicted mayhem in a misguided attempt to express their loyalty to groups like ISIS. These individuals were easily manipulated into committing a series of reprehensible acts; acts which were concocted without any real goal in mind other than to instill terror, confusion, and suspicion. Unlike true revolutionaries, who have set and clearly defined objectives (which may at times result in violence), and whose methods are usually meant to garner support for their cause, these radicals are primarily focused only on differentiating themselves from whatever element they strove to rebel against. In short, their acts of terror promise peace if only the citizens would choose their cause over that of the incumbent government. Usually, nothing could be farther from the truth as citizen’s usually replace the devil they know with an equally deceptive regime.

It is a sad matter of fact, but domestic and international terrorists are only increasing in their attempts to target America, the E.U., Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Indeed, few places in the world now seem off limits. At times, it seems as if these terrorists enjoy a twisted pleasure in targeting innocent men, women, and children- regardless of their country of origin, background, or religion. When people think of terrorism, they usually associate it with organization such as ISIS or Al-Qaeda. In reality, however, these groups are not always behind the attacks. There are just as many attacks by ‘lone’ wolves (individuals who act on their own accord) who seek revenge for real or perceived offences. Such was the case with Yosef Haim Ben David, an Israeli settler who orchestrated the murder of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdair, who was beaten and burned alive in the summer of 2014. By his own admission, Ben David admitted that Khdair’s murder was largely in response to Hussam Qawasmeh’s kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in the West Bank in that same year. These examples are particularly worthwhile to note, because they go to highlight the fact that acts of terror are not always attributed to any one side or the other. Instead, they should be seen for what they are - baseless crimes of hate. Blame for these actions should be placed squarely on the person or persons who are solely responsible for perpetrating these heinous acts.

On Tuesday, 19 April 2016, the BBC News reported that the ringleader in the murder of Abu Khdair was found guilty by an Israeli court. Ben David has yet to be sentenced, but judgement is anticipated to be harsh and followed by a lengthy prison sentence.  Meanwhile, in a similar case, The New York Times reported on January 6, 2015 that Hussam Qawasmeh, the Palestinian behind the Kidnap and Murder of the 3 Israeli teens, received 3 consecutive life sentences for his role in the murders. Both cases are extreme examples of people who acted on their own accord; individuals who took out their anger on innocent bystanders, in a misguided attempt to inflict pain on those whom they perceived as having harmed or insulted them. While they truly believed they were furthering the agendas of their governments, the fact of the matter is that in reality they had little or no insight into the broader political and security process which governments take into consideration when combating terrorism. The heinous acts committed by these men are theirs alone, and for these crimes they have been judged and found guilty. It is a case in which respect for and protection of human rights trumped all other agendas.

By the same note, it is the job of respective governments to strive to put aside their differences when confronting the global threat from extremists. World powers must unite in this endeavor, and the responsibility of overcoming these threats must be shared. Great examples of this can be seen through the workings of countries such as India and Pakistan, who have recently learned to cooperate in tackling this issue. Just this past month, for example, The Indian Express reported that intelligence from Pakistan’s security apparatus was shared with its long-time rival, India, in preventing a large-scale terror attack from being carried out on Indian soil. This selfless act undoubtedly helped to save lives and must be praised for showing what can be achieved when countries work in setting aside their personal differences, and instead choose to protect innocent civilians - regardless of their creed or nationality. Countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East can (and indeed should) all learn to follow suit, because It’s not too late.

What people must now come to a consensus on is that tragedy should cease to be politicized. Pain is not a zero-sum game. One tragedy, should not work in taking away from another. Nor should it justify it. In this sense, the pain and strife which has befallen the Palestinian people, for example, should not take away from the pain and strife which is now unfolding in Israel. Both sides are equally right in hurting, and both sides must learn to empathize with the other. Only in this way, will real progress be made. Not only in the now decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also throughout the traumatized region.

Contributing Journalist: @JonEizyk
LinkedIn: Jon Eizyk

Will the ‘Enemy of my Enemy’ Strategy Foster Cooperation in the Middle East

Dome of the rock, jerusalem, israel

Dome of the rock, jerusalem, israel

ISRAEL, Jerusalem – Israel is a country which is well-recognized by both economists and global experts because of the extraordinary pace of the development in its technology, business, and tourism sectors. This economic growth has benefited Israelis as well as the growing number of immigrants who have become integrated into the Israeli society. This unprecedented growth illuminates a dynamic shift in the relationship which Israel maintains with its various allies.

Israel can be seen as dichotomous when viewed from the perspective that two of its most popular attractions; the famous Holy City of Jerusalem, with its religious significance to Jews, Muslims, and Christians, versus the more secular, rapidly moving and vibrant metropolis of Tel Aviv are attractive to tourists, both religious and secular, who annually vacation in the country.

But, this is only part of the story because most people who live outside of the region only associate Israel with terrorism, bombings, and its swift and violent responses to continuous threats from its Arab neighbors. In addition to this, the strong relationship which Israel maintains with America, one which has benefited the country in a number of ways, most notably in its access to advance weaponry which secures its position in the region as a formidable military force, is viewed by other Middle East nations with disdained because this support is viewed as providing the country with an unfair advantage.

It is this precarious balance between military might and advance technology that seems to thwart Israel’s continued efforts to reach a peaceful solution with its Arab neighboring nations. The lack of an accord in the Middle East is the result of recalcitrance on both sides of the proverbial negotiating table. But, in all of this people forget that Saudi Arabia also benefits mightily from its alliance with the United States. This relationship is complex, but provides the U.S. with a presence in a power Arab nation in the Middle East where continued relations and open dialogue with the ruling family provides entrée into and a voice in decision making affairs in the region from which the U.S. would otherwise be unaware.

Progress to Date

Despite numerous efforts toward securing peace in the Middle East, many of the negotiations brokered in large part by several U.S. Presidents and Secretaries of State, conflict persists as talks between Israel and its Middle East neighbors continually break-down due to the intractable positions which hardliners on both side are unwilling to relinquish. One such issue is the ownership and occupancy of the Dome of the Rock, considered one of the holiest and most revered piece of real-estate in the country and is considered the location of the Foundation Stone.

The Dome of the Rock is now owned by the Ministry of Awqaf Islamic Affairs and Holy Places. But, Israel also lays claim to the mountain because it is also considered the site of the Holy of Holies, which is the inner chamber of the sanctuary in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, separated by a veil from the outer chamber. It was reserved for the presence of God and could be entered only by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement.

Muslims by contrast revere this location as holy because “according to some Islamic scholars, the rock is the spot from which the Islamic prophet Muhammad ascended to Heaven accompanied by the angel Gabriel. Further, Muhammad was taken here by Gabriel to pray with Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.” (Source: Temple MountThus, for the religious right on both sides, this is the most contentious issue, but for the secularist the true divide is the lack of a two state solution. For example, people had great hopes in 1993 that such a solution would be achieved when former U.S. President Bill Clinton brokered the Oslo Peace Treaty which failed to coalesce according to each side because it was felt that their needs and promises asserted as necessary to achieve and maintain peace were insincere and therefore would be unsustainable.

However, in the intervening decades the isolationist policies of some nation states have begun to dissolve as many recognize the inevitability of globalization and the need for nations to form alliances in order to maximize the vast potential for economic advantages, especially for countries with emerging economies. Though the ruling governments of nations entering into diplomatic discussions may espouse vastly different political, military, or even religious objectives, the greater opportunities often take precedence of potential future conflicts even as these nations enter into discreet agreements to meet internal goals and implement long-term strategies.

It is for such reasons of necessity that the leadership of many moderate Arab nations and Israel have reopened diplomatic discussions in earnest. However, instead of these negotiations being initiated by outside parties, Israel and its Arab neighboring nations have come to the table to dialogue about and formulate strategies to address the common threat of Iran. It is as the old proverb, an alliance built out of necessity because “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

On 4 January 2016 an article appeared in the Voice of America online news site highlighting the violent relationship that exists between Saudi Arabia and Iran, one that poses a grave threat of destabilizing the region especially after the lifting of U.S. sanctions. According to the report, on “Saturday [2 January 2016] protesters in Tehran attacked the Saudi embassy, ransacking and burning it as Iran ignored or refused Saudi requests to protect the building. Saudi Arabia formally broke off diplomatic relations with Iran on Sunday, on Monday saying it would cut commercial ties and ban Saudi travel to Iran as well. Sudan and Bahrain, both Saudi allies, severed ties as well.” (Source: VOX)

Speculation on the Future

Iran’s nuclear program continues to be a source of anxiety for the Middle East, and especially for the six energy rich monarchies that comprise the six member countries of the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC). Ironically it is this uncertainty which has helped to strengthen these GCC nations’ bonds with Israel. Presently, the bond between the GCC and Israel are both economic as well as diplomatic. This desire to achieve this common objective has led to a number of Israeli corporations establishing corporate headquarters in economically vibrant destinations such as Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Doha.

These bold step will go a long way toward paving the way for future cohesiveness in the region. It is these commonalities which will encourage and foster growth opportunities in various economic sectors throughout the Middle East. Ultimately this will result in greater market demand for skilled and unskilled labor both foreign and domestic who will be able to take advantage of increased employment opportunities in the region.

All of these developments prognosticate a bright future and may be the economic impetus that unifies the region despite the ongoing challenges to a permanent peace solution. Perhaps the allure of increased economic prowess and greater influence in the geopolitical landscape is a commonality upon which many successful accords may be reached between all Middle East nations.

Middle East Correspondent: @AnshumanKukreti
LinkedIn: Anshuman Kukreti

The Complicated Dynamic of Arab’s Love-Hate Relationship with the Rest of the World

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry & Arab League Secretary-General Dr. Nabil Elaraby,, Photo by U.S. Department of State

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry & Arab League Secretary-General Dr. Nabil Elaraby,, Photo by U.S. Department of State

MIDDLE EAST - The relationship the Middle East maintains with other global nations is complicated. Whether political relations or social ties, trying to understand the depth of Arab’s love-hate relationship with other countries sometimes seems like an impenetrable task.

Without taking into consideration foreign nations, the countries that make up the Middle East are themselves strategically aligned despite differences in terms of social issues, beliefs, regulations, and political dominance. The conflicts and alliances within the boundaries of Arab nations impacts the global landscape in innumerable ways and has great significance.

The Middle East maintains a very definite and elaborate relationship with the rest of the world. Some of these relationships are cordial, others born of necessity and political expediency such as Gulf security, while others are mutually beneficial and actively nurtured. It is very interesting to study and understand the relationship between Arab nations and rest of the world.

Here is a snapshot of the relationships shared with different countries:

With The USA

This relationship depicts an underlying distrust of the fundamentalist values that govern most Arab nations, juxtaposed with an insatiable dependence upon Arab’s vast oil reserves. This high energy consumption is a primary reason that the United States walks a delicate balance in maintaining cordial relationships with Middle East countries despite periodic conflicting priorities. For instance, after 9/11 there were numerous allegations by the U.S. government that some of terrorists originated from Saudi Arabia. This caused a potential rift in relations, but unlike Iran, the dependence on the oil and Saudi Arabia as a formidable ally in the region, the U.S. negotiated terms under which it could continue to receive the much needed petroleum.

"The United States imported approximately 9 million barrels per day (MMbbl/d) of petroleum in 2014 from about 80 countries. Petroleum includes crude oil, natural gas plant liquids, liquefied refinery gases, refined petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel fuel, and biofuels, including ethanol and biodiesel. In 2014, about 80% of gross petroleum imports were crude oil, and about 44% of the crude oil that was processed in U.S. refineries was imported.

The top five source countries of U.S. petroleum imports in 2014 were Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Venezuela, and Iraq.  The country rankings vary based on gross petroleum imports or net petroleum imports (gross imports minus exports)." (Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration)

The intricate relationship between the U.S. and Saudia Arabia started with ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Ibn Saud’, the founding monarch of Saudi Arabia. The event was initiated by most respected American president, Franklin D. Roosevelt in the year 1951. The outcome of these negotiations forever connected Arab’s oil with American national security.

In the current climate in the Middle East as well as the continuing instability in the entire region, the increasingly interdependent relationship between the kingdom and the U.S. is largely driven by the supply of cheap oil in in exchange for American protection. The ‘hate’ factor cannot be denied as well; as xenophia against all Arabs is rampant in the U.S. in some instances with cause, but in many it is the result of a lack of education and exposure.

With China

The relationship between the Peoples' Republic of China and Saudi Arabia goes beyond the love for ‘oil’ or rather the greed for it. The mutually beneficial relationship is predicated by an exchange of goodsfor petrol. This success of this relationship can be seen in the ubiquity of Chinese goods being sold in throughout the Middle East. Like most countries that are voracious consumers of the low price goods manufactured in China, Saudi Arabia procures many of these items through bilateral agreements in which China gets oil in exchange. In addition, there are a number of infrastructure projects being undertaken by the two countries which include:

  • Saudi Arabia has become increasingly important as an investment location for the Chinese (with the Saudi reciprocating the interest by increasing their presence in China as part of King Abdullah’s “Look East” strategy).
  • Chinese firms have begun to invest in infrastructure and industry in Saudi Arabia, including in an aluminum smelter in the southern province of Jizan, at a cost of US$3 billion.
  • Direct flights from China
    • Beijing-Jeddah (4 flights weekly)
    • Guangzhou-Jeddah (1 flight weekly)
    • Guangzhou-Riyadh (3 flights weekly) (Source: China Briefing)

The Middle East clearly understands that China’s global rise is a force to be reckoned with and that a strong relationship between the two will be mutually beneficial. The price for this relationship is built upon economic and infrastructure interests versus the quid pro quo relationship that exists between the Saudi Arabia and the U.S. which trades oil in exchange for Gulf security.

With India & Other Asian Countries

India has become a major business partner with Saudia Arabia. Like other nations the relationship between the two countries is primarily a "buyer-seller" relationship with oil being the primary commodity. The recent visit of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to New Delhi boosted strategic ties and the two countries agreed to explore ways and means to transform their buyer-seller relationship. According to Saudi Arabia is India's fourth largest trading partner at $43.78 billion in fiscal 2012-13. In the April-November period of the current fiscal, the two-way trade was $32.7 billion. Imports of crude by India form a major part of this trade. Almost one-fifth of India's oil imports come from Saudi Arabia. (Source: Times of India)

Further, India provides companies stationed in Arab nations like the UAE and Qatar with an efficient and cost effective laborer force and the Gulf employment market has benefited immensely from this exchange.

In summary, each of these relationships was initially established on a foundation of oil trade, but have since diversified their partnerships to the mutual benefit of each nation. Call it the greed for oil or the Middle East’s initiative to achieve economic diversification, the ‘love-hate’ relationship that exists between it and other nations will continue to balance on a delicate fulcrum. These relationships, though fraught with dangers, will ultimately result in greater interdependence, increased stability in the region,  and the development of alternate sources of revenue.

Middle East Correspondent: @vinita1204

Portrait of a Suicide Bomber, DNA Identifies Turkey ISIS Terrorist who Killed 32 People

remains of suicide bomber, kabul, afghanistan, photo by us air force tech sergeant brenda nipper

remains of suicide bomber, kabul, afghanistan, photo by us air force tech sergeant brenda nipper

SURUC, Turkey - The recent suicide bombing which occurred in the town of Suruc was a highly publicized terrorist act, one of the worst perpetrated in this predominantly Muslim country.  Israel has long been victimized by suicide bombers, but now this killing strategy is unfortunately a worldwide phenomenon and increasingly prevalent in the Middle East, Eurasia, and Africa.

No nation is immune from this type of terrorism, even in Europe which has in recent years witnessed devastating attacks in London, France, Spain, and Norway. The United States has suffered major attacks as well, including the infamous Sept. 11th attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by Al Qaeda operatives killing 2,996 and injuring more than 6,000. The latest such attack occurred in Boston in 2013 in which 3 people were killed and 264 injured during a marathon on April 15th of that year.

There is no set demographic for the profile of the terrorists who have been young and old, men and women, elderly and young people, but the similarity exists in that each has been radicalized and dispatched to wreak havoc and in the process kill themselves and many innocents.

In Turkey a 20-year-old university student named Seyh Abdurrahman Alagoz, was identified as the suicide bomber through DNA tests. Alagoz's attack was even more disconcerting because of the fact that he took the lives of 32 people who were roughly his same age.

According to the New York Times, "The investigation is ongoing, but we have evidence that the suspect was linked to Daesh" the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government protocol and using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL."

Authorities say that the suspect, who had been on foot, blended into the crowd which enabled him to inflict the maximum damage once he blew himself up, leaving debris and carnage in his wake. Though there isn't clear evidence for the motive of this attack; it is surmised that it was some kind of retaliation by ISIS because of the recent victory of Kurdish military forces in driving out the militants from the town of Kobani which is directly across the border in Syria.

The young people killed were activists who were presenting speeches, holding a news conference, and gathering supplies and donations to help rebuild the lives of Syrian Kurds. Witnesses said that the bomber detonated himself in the Amara Cultural Centre while attendees were engaged in humanitarian efforts to relieve the suffering of the citizens of Kobani, Syria where Kurdish fighters in January of this year successfully drove out Islamic State (ISIS) militants.

In effect, Alagoz killed young people who sought peace and were attempting to provide much needed aid to people who had been tyrannized by ISIS, and perhaps in this respect they thought they had achieved their objective, but such is not the case, as the dead will be mourned, but their mission will not be silenced nor their efforts in vain.

Contributing Journalist: @toritorinicole