The Dhow: A Weekly Newsletter from AGSIW

Past Events

On July 21, AGSIW hosted Suzanne DiMaggio, Jamal Khashoggi, Nadim Shehadi, and Mohammad Ayatollahi Tabaar for a lively discussion on the recent Iran-P5+1 nuclear accord and its implications on the countries of the GCC and their relations with Iran. Moderated by AGSIW Senior Resident Scholar Hussein Ibish, the event examined key issues from multiple perspectives, such as the shifting balance of power in the region as well as the ability of Iran to act as responsible player. Watch video of the event here.
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The Bridge blog
Seizing the Moment: Why Fuel Deregulation is Happening Now in the UAE

By Karen E. Young

The United Arab Emirates has done the unthinkable among many rentier economies by reducing petrol subsidies and tying the price of fuel to international markets. The exact mechanism for pricing, still to be controlled by the state, is not entirely clear. A new government committee has been formed, the Gasoline and Diesel Prices Committee, to meet monthly to set prices. The UAE is bridging state planning with growing fiscal pressures and long standing advice from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and regional economists that fuel subsidies are limiting economic diversification. In choosing to reduce the subsidy now, when oil markets are in a year of decline, the UAE is seizing a political moment when the public accepts that fiscal budgets are tighter and some changes are necessary. Interestingly, the government has coughed its reform decision in the rhetoric of environmental conversation, rather than fiscal prudence.
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The Saudi State Versus the "Islamic State"

By Fahad Nazer
On July 18 the Saudi Ministry of the Interior held a press conference in Riyadh in which it announced the arrest over the past few weeks of 431 suspects allegedly affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the self-styled "Islamic State." While some critics of the Saudi government will likely characterize the arrest of such a large number of militants in a short period of time as a "failure" of its decade-long counterterrorism campaign, Saudi authorities portrayed this extensive operation as a triumph for their security services. A more nuanced reading of these arrests and recent terrorist attacks should take into account the Saudi government's long and largely successful track record in countering militant Islamists. Nevertheless, vanquishing ISIL could prove a more daunting challenge than taking on Al-Qaeda a decade ago.

ISIL really ought to be on the brink of obliteration now that Turkey has finally joined the battle against it. The terrorist group is in armed conflict with almost all other parties: the US and other Nato powers; Iran and its Shiite militia allies including Hizbollah; Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states; the Syrian regime; the Syrian rebels; Kurds in both Syria and Iraq and now Turkey. Yet, despite facing this extraordinary array of power, ISIL manages to hang on, and in some cases even expand. And no one can say with any confidence when or how it will be defeated.
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In the Media
Rudaw and The Washington Times featured highlights from the AGSIW event "Negotiating the Gulf: How a Nuclear Agreement Would Redefine GCC-Iran Relations."

The Rudaw article, "Iran nuclear deal likely to embolden Iran's regional ambitions, experts warn," focuses primarily on whether Iran can be a responsible power in the region. Khashoggi stated, "the Iranians have not committed to change their behaviors in the region," arguing that Iran is responsible for inciting and sustaining various crises in the Middle East. DiMaggio mentioned, "We should not expect Iran suddenly to become a model citizen of the international community. In my opinion, we now have an opportunity to explore Iran's seriousness."

The Washington Times article, “Middle East rivals agree: Nuclear deal is no solution to regional turmoil,” highlights the possibility for increased hostility in the region following the nuclear accord. Tabaar commented “…the deal alone is not going to make the situation better, but actually make the region more combustible because of its tremendous amount of uncertainty that could inject into the region.”

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