The Dhow: A Weekly Newsletter from AGSIW

Upcoming Event
Women and Elections in Saudi Arabia

Thursday, December 17, 2015
12:00 - 1:30 pm
1050 Connecticut Ave, NW, Ste. 1060
Washington, DC 20036
Dr. Hatoon Al-Fassi, Dr. Rasha Hefzi, Dr. Aziza Youssef, Dr. Nailah Attar, and Dr. Kristin Smith Diwan (Moderator)

On Saturday, December 12, women voted for the first time in Saudi Arabia’s municipal elections, with over 900 women running as candidates and several winning seats. This marks an opportunity to assess the advancement of women’s empowerment in Saudi Arabia.

The Bridge blog
Hopes for End of Yemen’s Conflict Turn to Geneva

By Stephen Seche

Six months after the last attempt to bring the warring parties in Yemen to the negotiating table collapsed before the talks even began, a new round is scheduled to begin in Geneva, perhaps as early as December 15. This is most welcome news, not least of all because both Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Saudi-led coalition that supports him, and the insurgent Houthi rebels and their principal ally, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, apparently have agreed to a ceasefire that will coincide roughly with the commencement of the talks.
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Can Riyadh Broker a Syrian Opposition Coalition?

By Hussein Ibish

The meeting of Syrian rebel groups in Saudi Arabia marks a major step forward in efforts to create a coherent political front for the opposition as international mediation efforts gain steam. By hosting the meeting, Riyadh, with strong support from Doha, is taking a lead in efforts to politically unify the opposition for participation in the diplomacy that might ultimately determine the future of the country, and in clarifying what opposition groups will, and will not, be part of the process. It’s a tall order.
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Saudi Women Poised to Make History, But Some Doubt Impact

By Dalal Alswaid

Saudi citizens will cast their votes in the municipal council elections December 12, marking an historic first: the inclusion of women as both voters and candidates. This shift marks the legacy of King Abdullah’s 2011 royal decree, in which he stated, “Muslim women have given opinions and advice since the era of Prophet Muhammad. Because we refuse to marginalize women in society in all roles that comply with sharia, we have decided, after deliberation with our senior clerics, to involve women in the Shura Council as members.” He added, “Women will be able to run as candidates in the municipal election and will even have a right to vote.” Saudi women have responded with enthusiasm as over 900 are now running as candidates. Yet, most see victory as elusive due to persistent obstacles.
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Kings of the Road: The Politicization of Saudi Drifting

By Joshua Levkowitz

The Saudi phenomenon known as tafhit, or joyriding, is both a youth-driven pastime and an urban menace. As argued in a groundbreaking study, “Joyriding in Riyadh: Oil, Urbanism, and Road Revolt” by the scholar Pascal Menoret, the use and deliberate misuse of driving at high speeds gives power, voice, and attention to those challenging the Saudi state’s grip on public space and political expression.
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Market Watch
Regional Politics Impact GCC Economic Reforms

By Karen Young

Of all of the possible economic reforms to help Gulf states meet the demands of current fiscal spending amidst the decline in revenues from oil exports, a coherent and shared GCC tax regime is not one of them. There is no likely scenario in which the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council would agree to a shared sales tax, much less a shared income tax policy. These states need flexibility in fiscal policy and innovation to generate state revenue, not a binding agreement to tax at the same rate on goods and services.
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The Economics of Migrant Workers in the GCC

By Omar Al-Ubaydli

The presence of large migrant communities has made the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries a lightning rod for an immigration debate. Like many OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, the GCC countries are a popular destination for people seeking a higher standard of living for themselves and their families back home. However, the unique cultural and economic circumstances of the GCC countries lead to an internationally distinct set of outcomes for the host countries, the migrant workers, and the source countries.
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Riyadh Meeting Small Step Forward on Syria

By Hussein Ibish

The meeting of Syrian opposition groups in Saudi Arabia last week was neither an unqualified success nor, as some claim, a “fiasco”. The complex task of trying to organise the fractious Syrian opposition was certainly advanced, but was akin to herding cats.
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A Nuclear Nile: The Politics Behind Egypt’s Quest For Nuclear Energy

By Sigurd Neubauer

On November 19, less than six months after Iran and the P5+1 reached a historic nuclear deal, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi signed two agreements with Russia to finance and build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant. Under the agreement, the two countries will build and operate four 1,200-megawatt reactors in the northwestern city of Dabaa along the Mediterranean coast.
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Ambassador Marcelle M. Wahba, AGSIW President, spoke to a bi-partisan group of 30 Capitol Hill staffers at a policy seminar organized by the Partnership for a Secure America (PSA). Ambassador Wahba’s remarks and the discussion that followed focused on the crises currently facing the Middle East including Syria, ISIL, Yemen, Iran-GCC relations, and the refugee issue.
In the Media
AGSIW Senior Resident Scholar Karen Young was quoted in the Washington Post discussing the recent elections in Saudi Arabia and the inclusion of women. Young noted, "There is not a clear understanding of what the value of representation can be within the current political system, though there are many activists who are committed to continuing this opening and trying to expand it inch by inch."
AGSIW Executive Vice President and former U.S. ambassador to Yemen Stephen Seche recently appeared on ABC News Radio to discuss the ongoing crisis in Yemen. Ambassador Seche discussed the challenges to a lasting peace between the Houthis and the Yemeni government forces backed by Saudi Arabia.

1050 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 1060

Washington, DC 20036

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