The Dhow: A Weekly Newsletter from AGSIW

Upcoming Event 
The Saudi-Iranian Confrontation: What Lies Ahead?

Tuesday, January 12, 2015
12:00 - 1:30 pm
1050 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste. 1060
Washington, DC 2003
David Ottoway, Barbara Slavin, Randa Slim, Hussein Ibish (Moderator)

How far will the Saudi-Iranian confrontation grow? Is the Middle East trapped in a sectarian confrontation, or can other factors provide an alternative framework that enhances regional stability? What will the impact be on a wide range of American policy goals, including the battle against ISIL and other terrorist groups, the quest for peace in Syria, and vital issues involving Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, and other regional hotspots? How will Washington manage its increasingly tense relationship with a traditional ally, Saudi Arabia, while seeking a new relationship with a traditional foe, Iran, in the context of the nuclear agreement? And how will these two states manage not only their relations with each other, but also with the United States?
The Bridge blog
What's Behind the Saudi-Iranian Flare-up?

By Hussein Ibish

The January 2 execution by Saudi Arabia of 47 people on terrorism charges and the backlash it provoked have sent shockwaves through the diplomatic and political landscape of the Middle East. Forty-three of the condemned were Sunni extremists, mostly associated with al-Qaeda. However, four were Shia activists, including the prominent dissident cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, who had emerged over the past few years as a leader of the protest movement among Saudi Shias in the restive and oil-rich Eastern Province. Nimr's execution has significantly inflamed the already volatile sectarian tensions throughout the region, and led to a diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia and Iran – each backed by their allies – that will almost certainly prove difficult to repair and possibly even contain.
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Market Watch 
Market Watch: New Year, Same Economy

By Karen E. Young

Flaming tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia this week did little to spike oil prices. In fact, the execution of the Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi Arabia may have been politically inflammatory, and especially unhelpful to regional diplomatic efforts in Syria and Yemen. However, it did function to test the conflict sensitivity of oil markets. After a brief surge early Monday, oil prices are again back to a new low of $35 a barrel in trading on January 6, a price not seen since 2004.
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Is North Korea aiming to capitalize on Mideast instability?

By Sigurd Neubauer

Amid increasing tensions in the Middle East - with potential consequences for the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen - North Korea claimed to have successfully tested a miniaturized hydrogen nuclear bomb on Wednesday. The test predictably drew swift condemnation from the U.N. Security Council, South Korea and Japan. U.S. Republication presidential contenders attributed it to President Barack Obama’s “failed” foreign policy.
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Saudi’s Social Contract

By Fahad Nazer

2015 was a seminal year in the history of Saudi Arabia. Not only did it mark the passing of King Abdullah who had been de facto monarch since 1995 and the ascension to the throne of his brother Salman, it also ushered in a new era of a more assertive foreign policy and a more agile domestic policy. Just as importantly, it was a year in which Saudi Arabia adopted a new strategic national narrative that reframed its role in the international arena and recalibrated the social contract between the government and Saudi citizens.
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Press Release
Hala Aldosari Joins AGSIW as a Visiting Scholar
WASHINGTON, January 6, 2016 – The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington (AGSIW) is pleased to announce that Dr. Hala Aldosari has joined the institute as a Visiting Scholar for a six-month period.

Before joining AGSIW, Dr. Aldosari was a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University, working on women’s health issues. Her research interests include violence against women in healthcare settings, civil society, and women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. Previously, she hosted and produced an online talk show, “Out of Coverage,” with Radio Netherlands, “Huna Sotak." She writes and participates regularly in media discussions on current Saudi political and social affairs. Her writings have been featured in various Arabic and English publications, including The Guardian, Foreign Policy, and Al Jazeera English. She maintains a blog promoting women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.
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In the Media
AGSIW Executive Vice President Stephen Seche appeared on Al Jazeera America's Real Money with Ali Velshi on January 4. Seche discussed the ongoing developments regarding the breakdown of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

AGSIW Senior Resident Scholar Hussein Ibish was quoted in an article by Ali Watkins for Buzzfeed World News discussing Washington's stance on the Saudi-Iranian flare-up. Ibish noted, "Oddly enough, rather than focusing on the really deep-seeded policy differences between Iran and the United States, which are unresolved…[the breakdown] seems to call attention to the tensions between Riyadh and Washington over how to pursue common aims."
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