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  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 16, Bahraini security forces used brute force to clear democracy protestors from Manama's Pearl Square, on orders from a regime seemingly undaunted by international media coverage and the near-instantaneous self-reporting of Twitter-generation demonstrators. Although the relatively small size of the crowds (compared to recent protests in Egypt and Tunisia) facilitated the crackdown, the action is best explained by the regime's long-held mindset regarding dissent. Specifically, the Bahraini ruling elite believe that any political challenge by the island's Shiite majority must be quickly suppressed -- a view backed by the royal family in neighboring Saudi Arabia and violently enforced in Bahrain despite significant Sunni participation in the protests. This Saudi factor, and the looming presence of Iran across the Persian Gulf, elevates the Bahrain crisis to a U.S. policy challenge on par with events in Egypt.
  • Topic: Democratization, Insurgency, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Island, Tunisia
  • Author: Simon Henderson, David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Following this weekend's widespread disturbances in Libya, Muammar Qadhafi could lose power within hours or days as his military units and security services crumble in the face of popular discontent. Alternatively, he could decide -- in the ominous words of his son Saif al-Islam -- to "fight to the last bullet," which suggests even more horrific levels of violence and anarchy. In a rambling television broadcast today, February 22, the colonel pledged to "die as a martyr."
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Libya, Arabia, Arab Countries, North Africa
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Among the policy suggestions for heading off Iran's emergence as a military nuclear power is the notion that Saudi Arabia should use its position -- as the world's largest oil exporter and effective leader of the OPEC oil cartel -- to apply pressure. The kingdom is increasingly concerned that nuclear weapons capability would confer on Iran the status of regional hegemon. But any hope that Saudi Arabia would intervene to stop that possibility, by pumping extra supplies to lower prices and decrease Iran's oil revenues, is probably misplaced.
  • Topic: International Organization, Oil
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Today, oil ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meet in Vienna to discuss a possible production cut. Originally planned for November, the meeting was brought forward because of falling oil prices. With the perilous state of world financial markets, seldom has an OPEC meeting been so critical for both itself and the world. Although hard hit by falling revenues, oil market conditions give Saudi Arabia the opportunity to show strong leadership, most likely by limiting any production cut. But the oil-consuming nations would prefer no cut at all, so any reduction would discomfit relations between Washington and Riyadh. The kingdom was unhelpful as prices rose above $100 per barrel months ago, and both presidential candidates have called for independence from foreign -- implying Saudi -- oil.
  • Topic: Oil
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 21 and 22 as many as three thousand foreign construction workers rioted in the Persian Gulf emirate of Dubai in protest at conditions on the site where the world's tallest building is being built. Cars and construction machinery were wrecked and office windows broken as the workers demanded higher wages and improved conditions. The unrest highlights the desperate conditions faced by the expatriate labor that performs most of the manual work in the oil-rich Gulf Arab states.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: Arab Countries, Dubai, Persia
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 1, British prime minister Tony Blair will host a conference in London dedicated to garnering support for the Palestinian Authority (PA). The summit is intended to help the new Palestinian leadership strengthen PA institutions, with a special focus on facilitating economic development, encouraging donor pledges, and identifying investment opportunities. Israel will not be participating, but Saudi Arabia and several other oil-rich Arab countries will attend. These countries reaped unexpectedly high government revenues in 2004 due to increased oil prices—excluding Iraq, the Arab members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) saw $45 billion in additional revenue compared to 2003. How much of this windfall is offered to bolster the Israeli-Palestinian peace process will be seen, at least in Washington, as a key indicator of the willingness of the Arab world to secure a settlement.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The December 6 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in the Saudi port city of Jeddah, which killed five non-American staff members, was a worrisome display of al-Qaeda's careful planning, detailed timing, and audaciousness. Worse still, the assault contradicts Riyadh's claims that it has contained the threat of terrorism. The incident, which comes at a time of persistent high oil prices, has only exacerbated concerns about some of the most senior members of the ruling al-Saud family with regard to their health and ability to govern.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The November 2 death of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan -- president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and ruler of its largest emirate, Abu Dhabi -- had been widely anticipated, and the succession of his eldest son, Khalifa, to both positions has been smooth and faster than expected. Yet, filling the gap left by the man whom local newspapers describe as "visionary" and "sage of the Arab world" is likely to challenge both the al-Nahyan family and its relations with the ruling families in the other emirates.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries, Abu Dhabi
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: British prime minister Tony Blair arrives in Washington on November 11 -- the first foreign leader to visit following President George W. Bush's reelection. The visit confirms Britain's status as America's most supportive ally and Blair's status as the president's closest foreign confidant. But the British leader is likely to use the two days of talks to place distance between himself and Bush. Unless obscured by diplomatic platitudes, the public differences will be most acute over the pace and direction of the Middle East peace process.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: America, Washington, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Municipal elections in Saudi Arabia, scheduled to begin in November, have been postponed until 2005. Given that these will be the first public political elections ever to take place in the kingdom, their introduction has been keenly watched, both domestically and from abroad. The latest delay, the second since the original announcement in 2003, indicates that the Saudi royal family is divided over the present usefulness of the sort of broadened political participation that the United States considers vital to combating the militant Islamism of al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. No official reason was given for the change, which was reported on September 12 as being a rescheduling rather than a postponement.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia