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Prof Simon Mabon

Senior Research Fellow

Professor Simon Mabon is Chair in International Politics at Lancaster University where he directs SEPAD and the Richardson Institute. Mabon is the author of a number of books on the contemporary Middle East including: Houses built on sand: Sectarianism, revolution and violence in the Middle East (Manchester University Press, 2020); The Struggle for Supremacy: Saudi Arabia and Iran (Cambridge University Press, 2023); Saudi Arabia and Iran: Soft Power Rivalry in the Middle East (IB Tauris, 2013); and The Origins of ISIS (IB Tauris, 2016). He has published in a range of Middle East and International Relations journals including: Review of International Studies; Middle East Journal; Middle East Policy; British Journal of Middle East Studies; Politics, Religion and Ideology; and Third World Quarterly.

Array ( [0] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6728 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2023-02-24 11:50:07 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-02-24 10:50:07 [post_content] => A year into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the reverberations of the conflict continue to be felt across the Middle East. The centrality of the Middle East within global supply chains and geopolitical calculations means that such reverberations are hardly surprising, yet the second order consequences for the people of the region remain catastrophic. In the early days of the conflict, Antonio Gutierrez warned that the conflict risked pushing “tens of millions of people” into food insecurity. A year later, there appears little respite.  In Yemen, 30-40 per cent of the country’s wheat imports - which account for 95 per cent of the country’s total usage - come from Russia and Ukraine, meaning that shortages and price rises of around 15 per cent from the previous year have had a devastating impact on people; similar experiences can be found in Syria and Lebanon. In Egypt, where the Sisi regime sought to placate rising unrest with bread subsidies, rising prices have pushed the cost of subsidies up $1.5 billion, prompting Cairo to seek a loan from the IMF.  Many of the grievances that led to the mass protests of 2011 known as the Arab Uprisings remain, namely authoritarianism, corruption, inflation, a lack of economic opportunities, and rising food prices. Foreign policy agendas have also been a source of anger for many, such as Iran’s costly support for Hizballah in Lebanon, or the Saudi and Emirati involvement in the Yemen war. A year into the war in Ukraine, the second-order long-term consequences for people and states across the Middle East may be huge. [post_title] => One year on: The reverberations of the war in the Middle East [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => one-year-on-the-reverberations-of-the-war-in-the-middle-east [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-02-24 12:36:23 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-02-24 11:36:23 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.org.uk/?p=6728 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6502 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2022-07-19 00:12:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-07-18 23:12:09 [post_content] => In the post 9/11 political landscape, politics is increasingly characterised by division. Whilst international politics has long been characterised by differences between states, shifts in global politics have contributed to the opening of fissures within states amidst the emergence of increasingly prominent identity markers in societies. In the Middle East, where deep societal divisions continue to resonate within and across state borders, the concept of sectarianism has become increasingly useful in understanding the nature of difference. Although increasingly prominent, there is little consensus on how to define sectarianism, causing problems for scholars, practitioners and journalists. Despite this, there are strong reasons to use sectarianism as a means to analyse communal difference across different contexts. Indeed, the concept of sectarianism offers a strong analytical approach to understand the (re)construction, manipulation, or mobilisation of particular identity markers across time and place. This report uses the concept of sectarianism to reflect on communal tensions across different contexts as a means of understanding the nature of division and the means through which divisions are mobilised. For those interested in understanding and addressing communal tensions and working towards a more just and equitable world, this report offers valuable insight into the workings of divided societies. Key recommendationsAnalytical:
  • To avoid viewing communal conflict as a product of immutable ‘ancient hatreds’;
  • To offer more nuanced analysis of communal difference beyond identity markers;
  • To contextualise identities within broader socio-economic moments;
  • To avoid essentialism in analysis of communal tensions; and
  • To acknowledge the importance of history, culture and religion in understanding difference but not to over stress it.
 Policy Based:
  • To encourage a move to issue based politics;
  • To support civil society initiatives that operate across communal groups;
  • To support the emergence of issue based political parties;
  • To avoid a ‘one size fits all’ approach to addressing communal violence; and
  • To support efforts to facilitate democracy and good governance.
[post_title] => Dividing Lines - Executive Summary [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dividing-lines-executive-summary [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-07-18 23:19:06 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-07-18 22:19:06 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.org.uk/?p=6502 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6500 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2022-07-19 00:11:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-07-18 23:11:21 [post_content] => “There are few areas in the sociology of religion that are of greater inherent interest than that of sectarianism. In the study of religious sects, we come across a range of human passions and motivations hardly rivalled in any other sector of social life […]. On the modern scene we find the dynamics of sectarianism at work in places far removed from religion proper – in politics, arts literature, and even within the sacred precincts of science itself. It is not too much to say that in a deepening analysis of sectarianism, its structure and dynamics, the sociology of religion may make a formidable contribution to the general effort of the social sciences to understand the inner forces of our society”.[1] On 14th November 2018, an independent working group from the Scottish Parliament published a report exploring sectarianism in Scotland. While the language of sectarianism is commonly used across Scotland, it lacks a formal definition in Scots law. As scholars of sectarianism will attest, efforts to define sectarianism have provoked widespread debate leading some to view sectarianism as an essentially contested concept. The introduction to the working group’s report describes sectarianism as a “persistent intersectional issue”, a phenomenon originating in religious division but also drawing in other identities ranging from race, ethnicity, class, geographic location, and football allegiance. Those who have watched football (soccer) games between the two main Glasgow teams – Rangers and Celtic – are all too aware of the sectarian nature of the rivalry, which is mapped onto complex identity markers As the Scottish working group observes, the intersectionality of sectarianism and its amorphous manifestation in and across political, social, and economic life raises a range of challenges with regard to understanding the manifestation of acts of violence or xenophobia inspired by sectarian difference. Such instances of sectarian difference are not restricted to Scotland and Christianity, but rather occur within and across faith communities, in Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and also in the context of national identities, where faith plays a role. The etymology of the concept of sectarianism points to deviation from a collective whole. Historically, Max Weber’s concept of the sect served as a starting point for intellectual inquiry, distinguishing sect from the church through type of membership: one is born into a church but joins a sect. Scholars of the Sociology of Religion, such as Peter Berger, H. Richard Niebuhr, Ernst Troeltsch, and Gerardus van dear Leeuw, have all engaged with Weber’s remarks, seeking to develop the concept, focussing on phenomenology, epistemology, metaphysics and other philosophical lines of inquiry in the process. At the heart of these approaches are different forms of boundary making in order to distinguish between church and sect. Whilst undeniably influential, this body of work struggles to understand sectarianism beyond the Christian tradition, beyond the abstract engagement with boundary making and the engagement between sect and world.[2] In Islam, for example, the organisation of the faith – which differs from the hierarchical structure of the Christian church – and existence of different madhab (schools of orthodox thought) means that sectarianism takes different forms from that presented by Weber and those who followed him. Whilst questions of faith play an important role in understanding sectarian difference, the intersectional nature of such tensions mean that to understand the emergence, evolution and contestation of sectarian identities requires a reflection on political, legal, social, spatial and economic factors that also shape the lives of those who belong to such communities. Sectarian identities carry personal meaning, resonating across both the social world and the more formal areas of political life. Yet such identities are also deeply intersectional, meaning that sectarianism cannot be understood independent of the broader social, political or economic worlds within which they operate. Put another way, context matters. In acknowledging this, we position sectarian identities within the complex rhythms of local, national and international politics, which are determined by the contingencies of life within such arenas. Yet as Doreen Massey acknowledges when reflecting on the importance of a spatial approach, the “intimately tiny” aspects of local politics are also conditioned by the broader hegemonic factors of global capitalism and international politics.[3] The rise of identity politics as a key feature of national and international politics has opened an array of different cleavages between and within communal groups. These cleavages can cut across class, ideology, ethnicity, nationality, religion, and sect, often in an intersectional manner. The idea of identity politics reflects membership of a constituency that is based upon shared experiences of injustice and ordered around efforts to challenge discrimination and marginalisation. Central to this discussion are questions of boundary making and efforts to understand the ways in which communal difference is (re)produced, transcended and contested. Understanding the process of boundary making – defining those who are included and those who are excluded – has serious implications for the political community and everyday life in the state. For example, in Kuwait, members of the bidoon community are considered stateless, excluded from political life and the social goods that the state provides. While the emergence of approaches, such as Critical Race Theory, have provided scholars with the theoretical tools to engage with questions brought up by identity politics, more work is needed understanding the ways in which identities intersect with one another, how lines of inclusion and exclusion are drawn, how identities and communal relations evolve over time, and how identities relate to the broader collective. It is here where the concept of sectarianism can offer valuable insight in understanding identity politics. Although the concept of sectarianism has historically been used in a purely religious context to denote deviation from a collective whole, its ability to understand the process of boundary making within a collective whole means that the concept provides a useful analytical approach to the study of identity politics. This application ranges from communal difference in Scotland, Northern Ireland and across the Middle East, where intra-religious tensions have become increasingly prominent, particularly in media coverage of regional politics. Sectarianism in the Middle EastIn the decade after the Arab Uprisings of 2011, violence across the Middle East has caused close to one million deaths with a further 28 million people displaced from their homes.[4] Efforts to understand this violence in both public discourse and the academy have regularly reduced conflict to a consequence of sectarian difference. Although the vast majority of the Middle East’s 450 million people are Sunni – and all but three of the region’s Muslim majority states are majority Sunni – sizeable Shi’a minorities exist in states across the region, many of whom have experienced forms of discrimination and marginalisation in the recent past. Yet sectarian difference and relations between Sunni and Shi’a is context specific, products of the complexities and contingencies of life in particular places. Moreover, to speak of homogenous Sunni and/or Shi’a populations misses a great deal of complexity, including doctrinal difference, ethnicity, ideology, political stance, class, and geopolitical affiliation. Although the concept of sectarianism features prominently in media coverage of Middle Eastern politics, scant attention has been paid to understanding the ways in which sectarian difference emerges, evolves over time, or is contested. Instead, the “spectre of sectarianism” is regularly posited as something haunting the Middle East, shaping policy engagement in the process. In media and policy circles, sectarianism is regularly viewed as a product of “ancient hatreds” dating back to the Battle of Karbala in 680, a position articulated by President Barack Obama in the 2016 State of the Union.[5] Such an approach suggests that relations between Sunni and Shi’a have remained hostile across time and space, ignoring 1,400 years of history and the complexity and contingency of local context. Although sectarianism emerges from theological difference, closer examination of interactions between Sunni and Shi’a reveals schisms between heterogenous forms of Sunni and Shi’a identities, which are given meaning by political, legal, urban, economic, geographic, ethnic, and tribal factors. As a result, sectarian tensions differ across space and time, conditioned by context, contingency, and the interplay of local and regional politics. Sectarian identities are fundamentally intersectional, conditioned by the rhythms of time and place. Understanding these rhythms is fundamental in gaining more nuanced awareness of the impact of sectarian difference on violence across the Middle East, and of everyday lives more broadly. A common factor inherent within sectarian tensions is the manipulation of communal difference by those in positions of power.[6] As relations between rulers and ruled faced increased pressure following the Arab Uprisings, the manipulation and mobilisation of sect-based identities became an increasingly common tactic as elites sought to consolidate and retain power.[7] These processes of manipulation and mobilisation have had devastating implications for societies and states, resulting in violence, repression, and war.[8] It is here where understanding sectarianism as a form of boundary making becomes incredibly valuable. Studying sectarianismIn recent years, academic debate on sectarianism has moved beyond the stilted ‘primordialist’ – ‘instrumentalist’ – ‘third ways’ approach, to offer more nuanced appreciation of the ways in which sectarian identities operate in the Middle East.[9] In doing so, scholars have begun to position sectarian identities within the broader intersectionality of identity politics.[10] Whilst compelling, these approaches are often constrained by disciplinary or geographical analysis.[11] Acknowledging the complexity of the concept – which often leaves people talking past one another – some, such as Fanar Haddad, have argued for the term sectarianism to be discarded, in favour of a “more coherent lexical framework” which allows for a delineation of what aspect of the group is of interest. Put another way, Haddad suggests using the term sectarian as “a modifier relating to sects or the relationships between or within them: sectarian identity, sectarian unity, sectarian mobilisation, and so forth”.[12] Whilst certainly compelling, Haddad’s call for a more coherent framework risks throwing the baby out with the bath water. Instead, as this report shall demonstrate, the concept of sectarianism allows for implicit and explicit recognition of the processes of boundary making across time and space. Such boundary making requires navigating the complex interplay of different (intersectional) identities and the ways in which boundaries are (re)produced and contested over time. This report seeks to contribute to these developments on communal difference by using the concept of sectarianism as a means of understanding the construction, reproduction and contestation of boundaries over time and place. [1] Berger, Peter. The Sociological Study of Sectarianism, Social Research 51, no. 1/2 (1984): 367.[2] Ibid, p380[3] Massey. Doreen. 2005. For space. London, UK: Sage Publications.[4] Editorial, The Guardian view on the Arab Spring, a decade on: a haunting legacy, The Guardian, January 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jan/29/the-guardian-view-on-the-arab-spring-a-decade-on-a-haunting-legacy; Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, A decade of displacement in the Middle East and North Africa, February 2021, https://www.internal-displacement.org/sites/default/files/publications/documents/IDMC_MenaReport_final.pdf[5] The Obama White House, President Obama’s 2016 State of the Union Address, Medium, January 2016, https://medium.com/@ObamaWhiteHouse/president-obama-s-2016-state-of-the-union-address-7c06300f9726[6] Hashemi, Nader and Postel, Danny. 2017. Sectarianization: Mapping the New Politics of the Middle East (eds). London UK: Hurst.[7] Ibid.[8] Mabon, Simon. 2020. Houses built on sand: Violence, sectarianism and revolution in the Middle East. Manchester: Manchester University Press.[9] Valbjorn, Morten. Beyond the Beyond(s): On the (many) third way(s) beyond primordialism and instrumentalism in the study of sectarianism. Nations and Nationalism 26, no. 1 (2020): 91-107. See for an overview of stilted academic debates.[10] See, for example: Mikdashi, Maya. 2022. Sextarianism: Sovereignty, Secularism, and the State in Lebanon. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.[11] See, for example: Matthiesen, Toby. 2014. The Other Saudis: Shiism, Dissent and Sectarianism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.[12] Haddad, Fanar. ‘Sectarianism’ and its discontents in the Study of the Middle East. Middle East Journal 71, no. 3 (2017):363-382., p381. [post_title] => Dividing Lines - Introduction: Sectarianism as a boundary making process [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dividing-lines-introduction-sectarianism-as-a-boundary-making-process [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-07-18 23:16:14 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-07-18 22:16:14 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.org.uk/?p=6500 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6474 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2022-07-19 00:00:53 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-07-18 23:00:53 [post_content] => Each year, over a long weekend in May, the universities of York and Lancaster compete against each other in a series of sporting events ranging from football to darts, cross country running to swimming. The rivalry between the white rose of the University of York and the red rose of the University of Lancaster evokes memories of the War of the Roses, the conflict between two rival cadet branches of the House of Plantagenet, Lancaster and York, which fought for control of the English throne across the 15th century. Close to 600 years later, the legacy of this division remains in a sporting competition between two universities and occasional tensions between people from Lancashire and Yorkshire. Whilst the nature of this division has transformed from violence into a sporting rivalry, other divisions remain central within the nature of political life. In some cases, division plays a useful role within and between societies, allowing people to define themselves by virtue of what they are not. Similarly, division – and forms of tension – play out socially in a range of different forms, from sporting rivalries to geographical tensions. Yet the nature of these divisions differs dramatically, contingent upon the type of identity and relations with the other. Understanding division within and across contexts is challenging and yet hugely important when seeking to reduce inter-communal violence or prevent mobilisation leading to such forms of violence. As contributors to this collection argue, difference alone is not the main source of antagonism, violent or otherwise. Rather, it is the politicisation and/or securitisation of this difference, wherein communal identities are transformed into sites of contestation with difference framed as a security challenge to the ordering of political life. In each case, deep divisions within and across societies emerge as a consequence of the framing of particular identities as threats – defined broadly – to the desirable order and way of life. This ranges from the political divide in the United States to the role of religious groups in political life in Indonesia and Malaysia. As essays in this collection have shown, the concept of sectarianism offers much by way of understanding forms of division across societies beset by difference. Whilst some may reject this, claiming that a conceptual approach found in the study of identity politics may suffice, this collection has shown that understanding division through the lens of sectarianism offers much. Indeed, sectarianism offers a lens through which one can understand cleavages within society that take place as a deviation from a collective whole. For example, the splintering of different identities from within a collective whole, be it national, political or religious identities. This approach allows for analysis of how such identities become internalised and take on salience beyond the transient, amorphous and instrumental view of identity held by those who view identities as mere social markers. In addition, the concept of sectarianism helps to understand the discursive construction and framing of such forms of difference, which can lead to mobilisation of communal difference. This can be seen across the essays in this volume, albeit conditioned by the context specific peculiarities of time and space. Understanding the nature, construction and evolution of communal difference is of paramount importance to those looking to contribute to a more peaceful and just world. Whether this plays out within societies beset by deep divisions or between states, critically reflecting on the nature of division is essential. Although existing analytical approaches offer useful insight in exploring the nature of divisions, the concept of sectarianism serves as a valuable tool in understanding division in the modern word. Key recommendations Analytical:
  • To avoid viewing communal conflict as a product of immutable ‘ancient hatreds’;
  • To offer more nuanced analysis of communal difference beyond identity markers;
  • To contextualise identities within broader socio-economic moments;
  • To avoid essentialism in analysis of communal tensions; and
  • To acknowledge the importance of history, culture and religion in understanding difference but not to over stress it.
 Policy Based:
  • To encourage a move to issue based politics;
  • To support civil society initiatives that operate across communal groups;
  • To support the emergence of issue based political parties;
  • To avoid a ‘one size fits all’ approach to addressing communal violence; and
  • To support efforts to facilitate democracy and good governance.
[post_title] => Dividing Lines - Conclusions and recommendations [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dividing-lines-conclusions-and-recommendations [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-07-18 22:33:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-07-18 21:33:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.org.uk/?p=6474 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6338 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2022-02-14 00:00:41 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-02-13 23:00:41 [post_content] => As the war in Syria heads into its second decade, the search for a comprehensive peace settlement remains elusive. This is not for want of trying. The United Nations, backed by the United States and the European Union, have convened multiple rounds of peace talks, as have the Russians. All – so far – have come up empty handed. A key proposal floated at different stages of the process has been some kind of power-sharing, either between the country’s diverse range of ethno-sectarian communities – Alawites, Kurds, and Sunnis among them – or between the opposition and the Assad regime. In Yemen, too, power-sharing remains a central plank of attempts to build peace and end the country’s protracted war. According to the former UN special envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, “power-sharing is the only way to end the war in Yemen.”[1] Yet, a glance around the neighbourhood might suggest that power-sharing is not the quick fix it is often presumed to be. In Lebanon, where a power-sharing settlement helped to end that country’s civil war in 1989, citizens collectively took to the streets in record numbers in 2019, demanding greater accountability from a political elite notorious for its clientelistic and often corrupt style of political decision-making.[2] From an unprecedented financial crisis – characterised by hyperinflation, an exodus of young people, gas and electrical shortages, and the loss or dramatic devaluation of life savings – to the devasting Beirut Blasts, which killed more than 200 people in August 2020 and the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s failing infrastructure, Lebanon seems a country on the brink. Iraq is faring no better.[3] The agreement to share power amongst Sunnis, Shi’as, and Kurds, as per the terms of the 2005 constitution, remains contentious and the political situation unstable. Starting in 2019, widespread insecurity and unemployment, the failure to deliver basic public services, and ongoing endemic corruption gave rise to street protests and other forms of civil disobedience. The lack of government responsiveness in the face of such protests elicted calls from protesters to boycott the elections held in October 2021. In both Lebanon and Iraq, the political situation is more tenuous than at any other point in their post-war histories. With power-sharing performing so poorly in the neighbourhood, why is it still a central plank in efforts to end the wars in Syria and Yemen? In the years following the end of the Cold War, power-sharing came to be a go-to response of international actors, who positioned it as a mechanism by which to end deadly ethnic or sectarian violence. During this time, power-sharing processes have been implemented not just in Lebanon and Iraq, but in a diverse range of places around the world. Comprehensive power-sharing settlements helped to end protract conflicts in Northern Ireland, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Burundi. Temporary power-sharing pacts helped to mediated between political parties in the wake of contested elections, quelling outbursts of election-related violence, in Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Afghanistan. It remains a core aspect of the negotiations to reunify Cyprus. The prospect that power-sharing can bring about an immediate end to violence makes it a particularly desirable proposal in several hotspots around the world, not least of all Syria and Yemen. As the toll of human suffering continues to mount in these countries, power-sharing mechanisms are touted as the means by which to end their respective wars. Drawing lessons from Lebanon and Iraq, we argue that power-sharing continues to have a critical role to play in ending war and building peace in Syria and Yemen, but a number of challenges must first be addressed in order to facilitate a lasting peace. Power-sharing in operation Power-sharing brings actors previously involved in conflict into coalition government with one another, often in direct proportion to the share of the population they purport to represent. Those same actors are given veto powers – thereby allowing them to thwart any proposed legislation that may harm their vital interests – and, often, a significant degree of autonomy, either territorially where they are tasked with heading up regional governments or by having sole decision-making powers in their own cultural affairs, including language, education, and religion. Such a system is designed to give voice to minority groups who may have previously lacked access to the political system and ensures that political power is not the sole domain of a single ethnic community. It is predicated on the ability to end communal violence by assuaging any grievances held by the different communities. In Lebanon, armed groups involved in the fighting transformed into political parties. Many of those same militia leaders – or their kin – continue to head up the political system to this day, more than 30 years since the end of the war. In Iraq, ethno-sectarian divisions prompted international state builders to implement a system that distributed power across the three major communal groups (Arab Shi’a, Arab Sunni and Kurd). The nature of communal representation made have changed, but many of the underlying grievances did not. While power-sharing had initial successes in granting political access to the different communal groups and encouraging groups to settle disputes through institutional channels rather than on the battlefield, the system of power-sharing in operation in Lebanon and Iraq have, of late, been met with vociferous opposition, most notably in the form sustained protest movements in both countries since 2019.[4] As it turns out, a system of government which brings together groups who remain distrustful of one another and requires their consensus to move policies forward, has a hard time getting things done. Public service provisions languish – as the 2015 You Stink protests in Lebanon over the government’s failure to adequately handle waste management contracts vividly detail – and corruption appears rife. A carve-up of power, rather than its sharing. A central issue here pertains to ideas of peace. For Johan Galtung, the founding father of the discipline of Peace Studies, peace should not merely be viewed as the absence of war, a condition best thought of as ‘negative peace’ but rather the absence of all structural impediments which impact on an individual’s ability to achieve their full potential, what Galtung referred to as ‘positive peace’.[5] Whilst philosophically challenging, Galtung’s idea has merit, particularly in the context of power-sharing. The systems in Lebanon and Iraq may have facilitated negative peace but they have struggled with creating the conditions of positive peace in which people can thrive and reach their ‘potential’. Herein lies the crux of the problem with power-sharing: the inability to secure positive peace jeopardises the gains of negative peace, risking political instability and even a lapse back into violence. If power-sharing is to stand a chance of not only ending war but also building (positive) peace in Yemen and Syria, there are three broad lessons constitutional designers may wish to learn from the experiences of Lebanon and Iraq. Issue 1: Process design and power-sharing adoptionAs experiences in Syria and Yemen suggest, power-sharing arrangements can be hard to adopt. They require a particular set of conditions for parties to even begin to entertain dialogue over power-sharing. Ethnic or sectarian majorities neither want – nor often need – to share power and any party gaining on the battlefield will be reluctant to make any kind of deal that might threaten those advances. Typically, then, the parties to a conflict must be roughly equal in terms of their relative power – neither able to govern on their own nor vanquish their enemies on the battlefield – otherwise there is little incentive for those in positions of strength to concede power. That is, the best hope for power-sharing comes at the moment at which parties reach a mutually hurting stalemate.[6] Assuming such conditions are met, the first set of issues emerges over the adoption, implementation, and perhaps, imposition of a deal. How that deal is struck will tell us something about its life chances, with decisions on process design having lasting repercussions for political, social and economic life through privileging particular groups over others. War, of course, is messy. Who is invited to the peace table, when to hold talks, what issues to put on the agenda (and in what order), as well as any linkages between issues all require careful consideration and are not always adequately captured within power-sharing processes. This risks leaving key actors locked out of the negotiation room and underlying grievances kept outside of the system. A key question emerges here as to whether power-sharing is seen as a mechanism solely for ending war (getting combatants to lay down their arms) or as building peace (establishing a government system for all of society). While the first clause is essential for the enactment of the second, the second does not necessarily flow from the first. In Lebanon, the Ta’if Accords brought about an end to the country’s 15 year civil war but enshrined erstwhile warlords – the zu’ama – in positions of power within the political fabric of the state. This provided them with both personal and political justifications for reproducing the sectarian status quo while weaving the logic of power-sharing into ‘every nook and cranny’ of state power.[7] In contrast, some political figures who refused to take up arms during the civil war were excluded from the political settlement due to their lack of involvement in the war. When protestors in the streets of Beirut and Tripoli chant “all of them means all of them” it is this sectarian status quo, first entrenched in the negotiations which led to the Ta’if Accords, which they hope to expunge.[8] The constitution-making process in Iraq highlights the importance of getting the timing right.[9] The Sunni boycott of the 2005 elections meant that they were then severely underrepresented – holding initially only two of 55 seats – in the Temporary National Assembly tasked with writing a democratic constitution. The rushed timeline of that process – from elections in June to a referendum on a draft constitution in October – did little to assuage Sunni concerns. Starting out on such unstable footing, where one of the key constituencies meant to share power feels disconnected from the system, in turn sets the new agreement on a difficult course to functional politics. For those advocating power-sharing as a a solution to conflict in Syria and Yemen, the lessons are stark: power-sharing must be designed in the most inclusive possible way, as a means of ending conflict but also addressing the structural factors preventing the emergence of positive peace. Issue 2: Functionality/EvolutionA second major issue concerns the ability of power-sharing systems to adapt to changing political contexts. The establishment of short-term electoral pacts – while commendable in bringing an end to violent conflict – needs to be supported with institutional mechanisms to ensure oversight, accountability and a degree of flexibility to address future problems. Ending war is not the same thing as building peace. Power-sharing agreements are negotiated in the fraught context of war, where distrust between the parties runs deep. In such conditions, parties will often seek strong guarantees of their share of power rather than leaving it to chance in democratic elections. Yet locking in a group’s share of power can complicate the implementation process. Different models of power-sharing reflect the complexities and contingencies of identity and political life.[10] Corporate models of power-sharing suggest that identities are fixed, internally homogenous and externally bounded, guaranteeing the rights of communal groups. The risk of such models is that they may entrench the temporary power configuration present at the moment of power-sharing adoption and that they are resistant to fluctuations in demographic trends and evolving political party preferences over time. In contrast, liberal power-sharing rewards the emergence of salient political identities, both along ethnic and trans-communal lines, in free and fair elections. The liberal model is often heralded as helping society move beyond fixed communal cleavages and providing opportunities to ameliorate divisions. In Lebanon, where sectarian quotas in the legislature and the reservation of the top posts of president, prime minister, and speaker of the house for Maronites, Sunnis, and Shi’as, respectively, the legitimacy and influence of elites has begun to wane, prompting calls for a shift towards a more ‘issue based’ approach to political engagement. Yet the rigidity of the power-sharing system has prevented this from occurring, mounting citizen frustrations with the state of politics. Despite the economic collapse coming after years of financial mismanagement and the Beirut Blast, elites maintain their position of influence beyond formal politics, (re)turning to service provision as a means of retaining support from their communities. Central to this, of course, is rampant corruption. Similarly, in Iraq, the ethno-sectarian power-sharing arrangement – described as a “light” form of consociationalism focussed on temporary measures – resulted in the dominance of Shi’a, Kurdish and Sunni elites, mapped onto a federal and decentralised state.[11] However the years that followed the establishment of Iraq’s power-sharing model were beset by state weakness, stemming institutionalised corruption, ongoing debate over the nature of decentralisation, and political inertia, prompting widespread protests in which hundreds have been killed. Frustration at the political system prompted a call to boycott the 2021 elections as a means of denying ruling elites of political legitimacy.[12] What this means for Syria and Yemen is any negotiated power-sharing settlement needs to account both for the conditions in which it is agreed while simultaneously keeping an eye on the future. Introducing institutional reforms in the face of changing demographic, political and social conditions is necessary not only for keeping the deal alive between the original actors but also to ensure that those groups who may not be the main or original beneficiaries of power-sharing can also find a way into democratic politics. Issue 3: The complicated role of international actorsSince the end of the Cold War, international actors have come to play a prominent role in mediating and implementing power-sharing agreements in a variety of divided settings, including Bosnia & Herzegovina, Burundi, Sudan, and Northern Ireland. In the contemporary Middle East, external actors, including neighbouring states, have also significantly shaped the course of domestic politics. Here, two issues emerge: penetration and oversight. Power-sharing works best when local political actors have willingly agreed to work together for the good of the country. Ensuring that these local actors retain political autonomy is of paramount importance. Yet the penetration of political contexts by members of the international community seeking to propagate power-sharing agreements risks undermining and eroding the local credibility of the agreement. An agreement imposed on local actors by external actors is unlikely to lead to stable and functional politics. External actors can help to support power-sharing by exerting leverage, facilitating or mediating resolutions to power-sharing stalemates, convening or chairing inter-party talks, providing technical expertise, conducting shuttle diplomacy or even helping to draft the text of agreements.[13] Taking more assertive or coercive measures, superseding local decision-making in the process, may provide a quick fix but sets up long-term perverse consequences, sending a message to local actors that they need only wait out tough decisions until such time as the international community will make for them instead. This deprives power-sharing of one of its main benefits: the ability to induce inter-elite cooperation. A secondary form of penetration stems from transnational relationships between local actors and regional (or international) states who previously offered material or ideational support.[14] The interplay of local, national and international issues adds an additional set of challenges for peace builders to address. In such conditions, local actors can be empowered by international actors when their interests coalesce, as is the case in Lebanon and Iraq, where Iranian support has given Hizballah and PMUs disproportional influence across national politics, much to the chagrin of others. Oversight is key to these issues. Yet implementing a form of oversight that leaves political agreements accountable to the electorate rather than donors is a challenge in its own right. This issue is especially evident in Syria, where Bashar Assad was recently re-elected as President with 95% of the vote, prompting serious questions about electoral integrity and accountability.[15] With ongoing support from Russia and Iran, there is little opportunity of the President ceding any kind of accountability to the people. In contrast, the absence of a centralised state in Yemen complicates peacebuilding efforts. Amid deep division and widespread fragmentation, there exist only pockets of peace building, which may be isolated from one another. While civil society actors continue to undertake important peace building work across these domains, the absence of an overarching state makes broader collaboration between these actors, as well as the distribution of international humanitarian assistance, increasingly difficult. Moving forward, what can be done? The failure to bring an end to conflict in Syria and Yemen comes at a devastating price. In Syria, some estimates place the death toll at over 600,000 with 13.3 million people displaced. A power-sharing agreement will do little to assuage anger at those who lost loved ones or whose lives were decimated by the war. Similarly, it will do little to provide the necessary support for those displaced from their homes. In Yemen, the death toll is over 230,000 with over eight million people in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Power-sharing alone does little to address basis needs or human security. But what it does do is provide the launchpad from which human security can begin to be established and democratic politics can begin to take root. As a consequence of shared histories, identities, ideologies, and religions, the actions of regional actors resonate deeply in the day to day politics of the state across the Middle East. In divided societies, this leaves the state open to the interference of others, as has been seen in Lebanon and Iraq and as continues to play out in Yemen and Syria. The residue of such penetration can exacerbate existing divisions, prolonging conflict or it can serve to create new grievances, threatening the gains of peace offered by power-sharing. Ultimately, power-sharing agreements must be holistic in their approach. This necessitates avoiding ‘one size fits all’ templates and instead acknowledging the complexity and contingencies of local politics. Similarly, quick fixes such as the Stockholm Agreement must also be avoided, in favour of more considered – or creative – strategies. This may, in the short term, require an acknowledgement that a state-wide power-sharing agreement may not be viable and, instead, necessitate creating localised areas of peace and stability supported by humanitarian aid. Alternatively, this may involve supporting – or creating – localised forms of governance which may (not) include a state-wide power-sharing dimension. From these starting points, a carefully designed process of power-sharing on a larger scale can be crafted, one that not only helps to end war but also to build (positive) peace for all of society. [1][1] Jamal Benomar, Power-sharing is the only way to end the war in Yemen – if the US supports it, The Guardian, March 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/26/power-sharing-war-yemen-us-houthi-peace[2] Ibrahim Halawi and Bassel F. Salloukh (2020) ‘ Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will after the 17 October Protests in Lebanon’, Middle East Law and Governance, 12:3, 322-334, doi: 10.1163/18763375-12030005[3] Toby Dodge (2021) ‘The Failure of Peacebuilding in Iraq: The Role of Consociationalism and Political Settlements’, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 15:4, 459-475, doi: 10.1080/17502977.2020.1850036[4] Bassel F. Salloukh, Here’s what the protests in Lebanon and Iraq are really about, The Washington Post, October 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/10/19/heres-what-protests-lebanon-iraq-are-really-about/[5] Johan Galtung (1969) ‘Violence, Peace and Peace Research’, Journal of Peace Research, doi: 10.1177/002234336900600301[6] Eric Brahm, Hurting Stalemate Stage, Beyond Intractability, September 2003, https://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/stalemate[7] Bassel F. Salloukh (2020) ‘Consociational Power-Sharing in the Arab World: A Critical Stocktaking’, Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, Volume 20, Issue 2, p. 100-108, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/sena.12325[8] Daniel Hilton, ‘All of them means all of mean’: Who are Lebanon’s political elite?, Middle East Eye, October 2019, https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/all-them-means-all-them-who-are-lebanons-political-elite[9] Joanne McEvoy and Eduardo Wassim Aboultaif (2020) ‘Power-Sharing Challenges: From Weak Adoptability to Dysfunction in Iraq’, Ethnopolitics (formerly Global Review of Ethnopolitics), doi: 10.1080/17449057.2020.1739363[10] Allison McCulloch (2014) ‘Consociational settlements in deeply divided societies: the liberal-corporate distinction’, Democraization, Volumer 21, Issue 3, doi: 10.1080/13510347.2012.748039[11] Matthijs Bogaards (2019) ‘Iraq’s Constitution of 2005: The Case Against Consociationalism ‘Light’’, Ethnopolitics (formerly Global Review of Ethnopolitics), Volume 20, Issue 2, doi: 10.1080/17449057.2019.1654200[12] Jassim Al-Helfi, The Case for Boycotting the Iraqi Elections, LSE, June 2021, https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/mec/2021/06/15/the-case-for-boycotting-the-iraqi-elections/[13] Allison McCulloch and Joanne McEvoy (2018) ‘‘Bumps in the Road Ahead’: How External Actors Defuse Power-Sharing Crises’, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, Volume 13, Issue 2, doi: 10.1080/17502977.2018.1526994[14] Simon Mabon (2019) ‘Sectarian Games: Sovereign Power, War Machines and Regional Order in the Middle East’, Middle East Law and Governance, 11: 3, 283-318, doi: 10.1163/18763375-01201001[15] Ali Aljasem, Syrian election: Bashar al-Assad wins with 95% of votes as world watches in disbelief, The Conversation, May 2021, https://theconversation.com/syrian-election-bashar-al-assad-wins-with-95-of-votes-as-world-watches-in-disbelief-161704 [post_title] => Power-Sharing: Why is it still central in the efforts to end the wars in Syria and Yemen? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => power-sharing-why-is-it-still-central-in-the-efforts-to-end-the-wars-in-syria-and-yemen [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-02-11 15:22:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-02-11 14:22:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.org.uk/?p=6338 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 4444 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2020-01-16 15:31:23 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-01-16 15:31:23 [post_content] => Following the United States (US) assassination of Qasim Soleimani - the erstwhile commander of the Quds Force, the elite wing of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, - close to Baghdad airport, Iraq’s parliament passed a non-binding bill calling for the US to leave the country. The strike against Soleimani has serious implications for a range of areas including: Iraqi politics; Iranian activity across the region; the fight against Da’ish (ISIS); and more. In this piece, scholars working with SEPAD (the Sectarianism, Proxies and De-sectarianisation project of the Richardson Institute for Peace) [1] share their thoughts on the decision and the impact for Iraq and the wider Middle East. The Implications for Iraq Fanar Haddad (Senior Research Fellow at the Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore) argues that ‘ultimately, Iran's most potent response might be a political rather than a military one: consolidating its grip on Iraqi politics and forcing a US withdrawal. However, the matter is complicated by Iraqi dynamics. Recent events are proving increasingly polarising: Sunni and Kurdish political actors fear the rise of a majoritarian Iran-leaning Baghdad; the Iraqi protest movement is as adamant on the necessity of systemic change as ever before; and the tensions between Iran-aligned and non-Iran-aligned actors are likely to get worse. Even if a withdrawal is not achieved, the assassinations have succeeded in lending Iran-leaning actors what they have been searching for since the protests began: a counter-cause to enable counter-protests and counter-pressure. The US has a lot of coercive leverage over Iraq (economic, diplomatic and military) but lacks the political assets and soft power that will be needed for the contest that Iran is initiating.’ Regional Politics  Dr Lawrence Rubin (Associate Professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology) believes that ‘concerning implications for the region, it’s too early to say given the uncertainty in Iraqi politics and the most recent gaffe from US regarding troop withdrawal.  Naturally, the most important aspect will be how it plays out in Iraqi politics and second, how the US manages it. Sectarian politics have and will continue to play a role because of which Iraqi groups’ interests are more closely aligned with the US presence in the region. Two facts also remain: the US is both a stabilising and destabilising force in Iraqi politics and this is a microcosm for the region. The US presence in Iraq would reassure the Saudis and Emiratis (and others) that the US hasn’t abandoned them. If the US withdraws from Iraq, Iran and Russia will have to fill the vacuum to fight a resurgent ISIS. If the US remains, the US presence will continue to be a counter-mobilising symbol for opposition and destabilising political influence in Iraq as well as a target of opportunity for Iran. Meanwhile, the uncertainty takes the attention off of the Syrian-Russian and Turkish campaign in Syria.’ Saudi Arabia, the Gulf and the Iranian Question Dr Simon Mabon believes that ‘the US decision to strike against Soleimani has caused a great deal of concern amongst many of Washington’s key allies. In the immediate days after the strike a number of prominent Gulf diplomats spoke of the need for de-escalation including, perhaps most surprisingly, Adel Al Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister. Under Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has embarked on a vociferously anti-Iranian foreign policy, best seen in the military incursion in Yemen, yet after a strike on a Saudi ship in 2019, officials in Riyadh called for calm, much to the surprise of many. In these two instances, it appears that pragmatism has triumphed, although as the regional security environment continues to be precarious, it remains to be seen how long this pragmatic approach can last’. Haian Dukhan (Associate Research Fellow at the Centre for Syrian Studies at the University of St Andrews) thinks that ‘the non-binding resolution asking the US troops to leave Iraq will raise more questions about the legality and the legitimacy of the presence of the US troops in Syria. Strategically, if the withdrawal happens, it will also have a great impact on its newly built bases on Deir Ezzor, the eastern governorate of Syria, as these bases are mainly reliant on the logistic support from their counterparts in Iraq. The question will be then whether the Americans will be able to maintain their presence in eastern Syria if they withdraw from Iraq’. Iranian Foreign Policy SEPAD Fellow Banafsheh Keynoush thinks ‘Soleimani's legacy to the region could be a lengthy war of attrition if the US and Iran do not agree on a framework that allows for limited US military presence and Iranian influence inside Iraq. Tehran will wield influence over multiple Iraqi actors who negotiate with the US to decide on this framework. The Shia cleric Muqtada Al Sadr, who visited Soleimani's house after the killing, has called for an end to the US occupation of Iraq. Iraq’s sitting Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who is a go between figure for Iran, could be reinstalled despite previous calls by Iraqis for his resignation. Signs point to US and Iranian restraint in managing the future of their presence in Iraq. Iran could still insist on a hardline position, but it will engage in give and take when its interests demand. Iran’s missile attacks on the Iraqi bases did not lead to death tolls for the Americans. In exchange, the US ordered its diplomats to limit links with Iranian opposition groups. Still, Iran considers itself to be in a war. This means that it may still engage in conflicts that take on conventional, asymmetrical or even nonconventional forms if the Iran nuclear deal is not revived.’ Dr Edward Wastnidge (Deputy Director of SEPAD and Lecturer at the Open University) believes that  ‘the assassination of Qasim Soleimani was a clear illustration of the Trump administration's total lack of a coherent strategy on Iran and the wider region. It shows how petulant, misguided and incoherent his and his close aides' ideas are when it comes to Iran. The fact that Trump has veterans from the US’ occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan directing US military adventurism helps drive this vindictive policy. They are so focused on seeing Iran as the enemy that they let this cloud every judgement that they make. In many ways his is the hallmark of a hubristic imperial power that has miscalculated the level of opposition to its damaging policies in the region. It could be that Soleimani's greatest achievement comes as a result of his murder - insofar as it could herald the start of a US withdrawal from Iraq, thus meeting one of the Islamic Republic’s key foreign policy aims. The need for an inclusive regional security architecture, free of external interference, is more pressing than ever.  It is with the people of the region that the answers lie, not the think-tanks and vested interests of the commentariat in DC and elsewhere.’ Meysam Tayebipour (Research Fellow with the Richardson Institute) believes that ‘the death of Qasim Soleimani is a significant loss for the Iranian regime, as he was the most prominent Iranian figure in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. In other words, Soleimani and the Quds force boosted Iran's geopolitical importance in the region. One would be surprised to see his successor (Esmail Ghaani) be as influential in the head of Quds force as he was. Soleimani also had an important role in Iran's domestic politics. Thanks to his charismatic personality, he was portrayed by some Iranians as a righteous man. That was the reason that many people participated in his funeral. Not all those who took part in Soleimani's funeral were supporters of the regime.​By killing him, Trump injected new blood into the broken body of the Islamic Republic. Before Soleimani's death, people were on the streets protesting against the regime. But after Soleimani's assassination, once again, people were on the streets, but this time for expressing their sadness for the loss of Iran second most powerful man. The Islamic Republic could not ask for a better enemy.’​Olivia Globitza (SEPAD PhD Fellow) thinks that ‘even though the US have for the moment rejected Iraq's request to withdraw its troops, a potential withdrawal is by far not off the table. Yet, the repercussions of such a move are complex and unlikely to please everyone in the region. While certainly welcomed by many, particularly those opposed to US presence in Iraq and elsewhere in the region, including Iran, it will open new fissures and tap into the fears of those that believe Iran will seek to take advantage of the void the US will leave behind, and substantially increase its influence over Iraq.’ Eyad Al Refai (SEPAD PhD Fellow) believes ‘the discussion on the implications of the US withdrawal from the Middle East has a long legacy. Therefore, opinions on this case shift depending on the situation of regional and global orders. However, In the current political context in the Middle East, where the state is significantly threatened due to its weakness and broad regional conflicts, these implications are mostly detrimental to the regional and the international system. The current US presence in the region, after its departure from Iraq in 2011, is primarily due to the aftermath of the Arab Uprisings and the prevalence of terrorist sectarian militias that filled vacuums. The US withdrawal from the region cannot remedy domestic grievances and regional manipulation, which led the state system in the region to its current collapse. American troops stretch from Europe to Asia however it is only in the Middle East that such a presence is discussed heavily through a cynical lens, and such views are reasonable considering the American legacy in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the answers to the region’s issues are regionally based, and in fact, the current presence of American troops is the result of invitations by states in the region.’ Photo by Ali Khamenei, under Creative Commons.[1] Sectarianism, Proxies and De-sectarianisation (SEPAD) project is based at Lancaster University’s Richardson Institute,  The Foreign Policy Centre is a project partner of SEPAD, https://www.sepad.org.uk/about [post_title] => The Death of a General: What’s next for Iran, Iraq and the wider Middle East? [post_excerpt] => This article features a range of comments from different authors at the SEPAD project on the death of Qasim Soleimani. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-death-of-a-general [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-16 15:34:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-16 15:34:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.org.uk/?p=4444 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 2994 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2018-11-12 21:32:36 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-11-12 21:32:36 [post_content] => This report examines the impact of the increasingly fractious rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran upon politics across the Middle East, focussing upon Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. It documents the devastating impact of the rivalry and the mechanisms in which Riyadh and Tehran have become involved in, what have become viewed as ‘proxy arenas’. Since the Iranian revolution in 1979, the two states have become embroiled in an increasingly vitriolic rivalry that is shaped by geopolitical aspirations but given existential importance by claims to Islamic legitimacy, with repercussions felt across Muslim communities worldwide.As the rivalry took on a sectarian dimension it began to play out in divided societies such as those covered in this report, where domestic politics took place within the context of broader geopolitical events. The presence of allies and proxies across the region, often along sect-based lines, provided Riyadh and Tehran with the means of shaping political life and countering the influence of their rival.Regimes across the region have used sectarian language as a means of maintaining power, entrenching divisions within society. Political, social and economic life quickly became viewed through the prism of sectarian difference, deepening divisions and creating opportunities for grassroots ‘sectarian entrepreneurs’ to capitalize on such conditions.Whilst there are links between sectarian groups and their kin in the Gulf, it is important to recognise that many of these groups exercise their own agency independent of Saudi Arabia or Iran. The report argues that whilst the rivalry between Riyadh and Tehran plays a prominent role in shaping regional politics, we must not ignore domestic forces that find traction within the fallout from the struggle between the two states.As life in Syria and Yemen – in particular – worsens, leaving millions in need of humanitarian assistance, facilitating dialogue and ultimately rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran is a necessity.The report makes a number of recommendations: 
  • Work towards creating a ‘grand bargain’ that brings both Iran and Saudi Arabia into the system of regional states through creating space for discussion of regional issues;
  • Facilitate dialogue and trust building between Riyadh and Tehran;
  • Work towards a cease-fire in Yemen and Syria;
  • Reject the use of language such as ‘Shi’a Crescent’ that plays such a damaging role in deepening divisions within and between communities;
  • Western states must avoid the mobilisation of sect-based groups who advocate violence as proxies or allies;
  • Encourage adherence to the rule of law and recognition of individual rather than community rights;
  • Respect the development of political projects which cut across sectarian, ethnic and tribal cleavages such as those seen in Beirut and the YOU STINK movement;
  • Advocate and support the development of interest-based political projects that cut across social cleavages.
[post_title] => Saudi Arabia and Iran: Executive Summary [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => saudi-arabia-and-iran-executive-summary [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-13 15:12:57 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-13 15:12:57 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.org.uk/?p=2994 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 2997 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2018-11-12 21:31:54 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-11-12 21:31:54 [post_content] => On 22nd September 2018, an attack on a military ceremony in Ahvaz, a city in the southwest of Iran, resulted in the deaths of 25 people and left many more injured, including members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei quickly blamed a number of states for this event. In a statement posted on his official website, Khamenei stated that "this cowardly act was committed by the same people who are saved by the Americans whenever they are trapped in Syria and Iraq and whose hands are in the pockets of Saudi Arabia and the UAE”.[1] Khamenei’s comments were followed by similar remarks from Javad Zarif, the Foreign Minister of Iran who blamed “regional terror sponsors and their US masters”,[2] and General Hossein Salami, the acting commander of the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps), who vowed revenge against the perpetrators, referred to as the “triangle” of Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States.[3]This report seeks to critically engage and analyse the impact of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Middle East. Whilst there are a myriad other factors and forces at play in shaping the contemporary Middle East, we will focus purely on the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran which is, as Gregory Gause suggests, ‘the best framework for understanding the regional politics of the Middle East’.[4] As a consequence, we must put aside the roles played by Turkey, Qatar, Russia and many others (including the US and UK), along with intra-Sunni tensions for examination at a future point.The rhetoric that emerged in the aftermath of the attack in Ahvaz has been a common feature of tensions between Riyadh and Tehran. Comments from prominent figures in the Iranian regime match those of their Saudi counterparts, who have routinely accused Iran of funding terrorist groups across the region, propping up the regime of Bashar Al Assad in Syria, supporting Houthi rebels in Yemen, and provoking political unrest in Bahrain. Adel Al Jubeir, the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, suggested that Iran sought to “obscure its dangerous sectarian and expansionist policies, as well as its support for terrorism, by levelling unsubstantiated charges against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”. He later suggested that Iran is “the single-most belligerent actor in the region”.[5] Al Jubeir’s views are shared by many across the Kingdom, who view instability across the Middle East as a direct consequence of nefarious Iranian intent. Such positions stem from decades of enmity between the two states that dramatically escalated in the aftermath of the 1979 revolution that resulted in the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The emergence of the Islamic Republic added a theological dimension to a rivalry that was predominantly based upon geopolitical competition and a long-standing suspicion of the ethnic ‘other’.Khamenei’s words were the latest incident in a fractious rivalry that has played a dominant role in shaping the Gulf – and wider Middle East – since the Iranian revolution of 1979. More recently, the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq created space for the intensification of the rivalry following the removal of the Ba’ath regime of Saddam Hussein from regional politics. After the Arab Uprisings, the rivalry escalated as relations between regimes and societies began to fragment, creating new arenas of competition either directly or through proxies.Yet the rivalry is not fixed across time and space. Indeed, consideration of the rivalry reveals five distinct time periods: pre-revolution, characterised by mutual suspicion but a capacity to work together; 1979-1991, a period of intense enmity driven by the revolution and Iran-Iraq war; 1991-2003, a period of burgeoning rapprochement where security was seen in a mutually beneficial manner after Khomeini’s death and the emergence of more reform- minded politicians in Iran, along with shared fears of Iraqi belligerence[6]; 2003-2011, the re-emergence of hostilities driven by the War on Terror and belligerence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005-2013); and 2011-present day, where the rivalry takes place amidst the backdrop of the Arab Uprisings. Across these periods, the rivalry plays out in a number of different arenas, shaped by opportunity and building on networks often – but not exclusively – constructed along sectarian lines.Underpinning much of this geopolitical tension is an incongruent vision of the organisation of security in the Gulf. For Saudi Arabia, security in the Gulf is maintained through a long-standing alliance with the United States. However, from Iran’s perspective, security should be maintained solely by those within the region.[7] This contradiction was exacerbated in the years after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, where Saudi officials urged their American counterparts to curtail the burgeoning Iranian influence across the state. The late King Abdullah urged the US at the time to “cut off the head of the snake[8] whilst similar comments were made by members of the Bahraini ruling family, the Al Khalifa, who are long-standing Saudi allies.The rivalry is also shaped by US policies towards the Gulf States. During the presidency of Barak Obama, diplomatic overtures to Iran caused a great deal of consternation amongst many in Saudi Arabia, prompting a more pro-active foreign policy. These fears were exacerbated by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 2015 nuclear deal agreed by the permanent five members of the UN Security Council, Germany, and Iran.[9] Under Obama’s successor, the vehemently anti-Iranian Donald Trump, relations with the Saudi Kingdom – and the Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in particular – dramatically improved, in no small part due to the decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal and the belligerent stance taken against Iran.Efforts to understand the rivalry between the two major Gulf powers traditionally fall into three main camps: first are those who reduce the tensions to national interest[10]; second, those who suggest that the rivalry is a consequence of theological tensions[11]; and third, those who suggest that we must look at a combination of religion and geopolitics to understand the way in which the rivalry plays out[12]. This report falls into the third category, accepting the primacy of states and national interests but also stressing the importance of religion within such calculations. It also seeks to show how the rivalry plays out across time and space, leading to different forms of competition and rivalry across the region.Whilst sectarian difference can be shaped and cultivated by regional forces and state elites ‘from above’, it can also emerge ‘from below’, as actors across the Middle East capitalise upon instability to pursue their own agendas. Commonly referred to as ‘sectarian entrepreneurs’, these individuals capitalise upon the contingency of specific socio-economic, cultural and historic events which are constructed through the interaction of regional forces with domestic politics. As Toby Matthiesen articulates, sectarian entrepreneurs are ‘people whose political, social, and economic standing depends on the skilful manipulation of sectarian boundaries and who profit if these boundaries become the defining markers of a particular segment of society’[13]. Finding traction when political organisation begins to fragment, the descent into uncertainty and instability creates fertile ground for sectarian divisions to become increasingly entrenched.As a consequence, to understand the emergence of sectarian divisions and increasingly unstable political contexts we must look at the interaction of regional politics with domestic events. Focussing on events in Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, this report offers a detailed analysis of the ways in which the rivalry between the two states is shaping regional politics. From the direct military intervention of Saudi Arabia in Yemen and Iran in Syria to the economic investment in Lebanon, the rivalry manifests in a range of different forms with serious implications for political organisation, regional security and everyday life.[1] Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Sarah El Sirgany, Iran accuses Saudi Arabia, UAE of financing military parade attackers, CNN, September .2018,  https://edition.cnn.com/2018/09/24/middleeast/iran-attack-military-parade-intl/index.html[2] Javad Zarif, 9.08AM 22.09.18  https://twitter.com/JZarif/status/1043411744314601472[3] Richard Spencer, Iran vows bloody revenge on US, Israel and Saudis, The Times, September 2018 https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/iran-vows-bloody-revenge-on-us-israel-and-saudis-jvh0fswtn[4]F. Gregory Gause III, Beyond Sectarianism: The New Middle Eastern Cold War, Brookings, 2014,  https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/English-PDF-1.pdf[5] Adel Bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, Can Iran Change?, The New York Times, January2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/19/opinion/saudi-arabia-can-iran-change.html?_r=2[6]BBC, Landmark Iran-Saudi Security Deal (BBC, April2001, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1283010.stm[8] Ross Colvin, “Cut off head of snake” Saudis told U.S. on Iran, Reuters, November 2010, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-wikileaks-iran-saudis/cut-off-head-of-snake-saudis-told-u-s-on-iran-idUSTRE6AS02B20101129[9] Simon Mabon, ‘Muting Trumpets of Sabotage: Saudi Arabia, the US and the quest to securitize Iran‘, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 45(5) 2018.[10] See: Henner Furtig, Iran’s Rivalry with Saudi Arabia Between the Gulf Wars, 2006,Reading: Ithaca Press; Shahram Chubin and Charles Tripp, Iran-Saudi Arabia Relations and Regional Order, 1996, London: OUP for IISS, Banafsheh Keynoush, Saudi Arabia and Iran: Friends or Foes?, 2016, London, Palgrave,  and Robert Mason, Foreign Policy in Iran and Saudi Arabia: Economics and Diplomacy in the Middle East, 2014, London: I.B. Tauris.[11] Vali Nasr, The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam will Shape the Future, 2007, New York: W.W. Norton.[12] Simon Mabon, Saudi Arabia and Iran: Power and Rivalry in the Middle East, 2015, London: I.B. Tauris.[13] Toby Matthiesen, Sectarian Gulf: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the Arab Spring That Wasn’t 2013, Stanford University Press, p127 [post_title] => Introduction: Saudi Arabia, Iran and the struggle to shape the Middle East [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => introduction-saudi-arabia-iran-and-the-struggle-to-shape-the-middle-east [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-13 15:14:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-13 15:14:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.org.uk/?p=2997 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 3015 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2018-11-12 21:27:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-11-12 21:27:55 [post_content] => For many, the archipelago of Bahrain is at the epicentre of the geopolitical and sect-based struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Situated 16 kilometres from the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, linked by the King Fahd Causeway, and 768 kilometres from the west coast of Iran, with a Sunni minority ruling over a Shi’a majority, it is easy to see how such conclusions are reached. Bahrain’s geographic location and demographic makeup mean that political events on the island often take on additional meaning within the context of the rivalry between the island’s two more powerful neighbours.[1]A brief glance at the country’s past reveals a history of social unrest and political upheaval, viewed anxiously by many in Manama and Riyadh. These concerns are furthered when coupled with allegations of perfidious Iranian interference across Shi’a communities in Bahrain, long viewed as 5th columnists by the Sunni ruling family. Long-standing Iranian claims to Bahrain increase fears amongst regime loyalists. In Kayhan, an Iranian newspaper with close links to the government, an editorial suggested that Bahrain remained ‘an inseparable part of Iran’, dating back to the 18th century.[2]Whilst a history of protest in Bahrain is found far earlier than 1979, there is little doubt that revolutionary fervour in Iran had a dramatic impact on the island. In the years after the revolution, elite military units from Iran provided support to a number of organisations across the region including Hizballah in Lebanon and the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain, who undertook a coup d’etat in 1981. Although ultimately unsuccessful, the group’s actions and their Iranian sponsor created conditions that helped the narrative of nefarious Iranian behaviour take hold.With the apparent rising influence of Shi’a groups across the Middle East, captured by the concept of the ‘Shi’a Crescent’,[3] many in Bahrain were concerned about the repercussions for the island’s equilibrium amidst shifting geopolitical currents. An unpublished government report documented the extent of such fears:the marginalization of Sunnīs and the lessening of their role in Bahrain is part of a larger regional problem […] Thus there is a dangerous challenge facing Bahraini society in the increased role of the Shīʿa [and] the retreat of the role of the Sunna in the Bahraini political system; namely, the problem concerns the country’s [Bahrain’s] national security, and the likelihood of political regime change in the long term by means of the current relationships between Bahrain’s Shīʿa and all the Shīʿa in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia’s eastern region, and Kuwait.[4]When protests began in February 2011, the very survival of the Al Khalifa regime appeared at stake. The protesters were initially driven by a widespread demand for greater political representation and they were quick to stress their non-sectarian nature. As the protests escalated, a regime crackdown began which featured the cultivation of a narrative that positioned Iran as the driving force of unrest.[5]One month after protests began, the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council forces under the guise of the Peninsular Shield Force, crossed the King Fahd Causeway into Bahrain in support of the government. The force supported the regime’s crackdown on opposition movements, in an attempt to prevent increased Iranian involvement on the island, but also to prevent democratic aspirations from spreading into the Eastern Province of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Allegations of Iranian involvement in the uprisings were later rejected by the Bassiouni Independent Commission Inquiry. Upon receiving the report, King Hamad delivered a speech asserting that Iran was responsible for “supporting anti-government protests”.[6]The years that followed were characterized by a process that is now commonly referred to as sectarianization, the manipulation of sect-based identities in an attempt to ensure regime survival which involved widespread restriction of civil society, mass arrests of Shi’a protesters and the banning of Al Wefaq. Whilst sectarian identities were seen as a threat to political stability in Bahrain, the sectarianization process circumvented calls for political reform and ensured the loyalty of Sunnis on the island and beyond by locating events within the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, along with a broader meta-narrative of perfidious Iranian manipulation that runs across the Gulf.[7] Amidst a region increasingly shaped by sectarianization, events in Bahrain provide what Toby Matthiesen has called the ‘most salient’ example of the sectarianization process,[8] leaving opposition groups decimated and the Saudi-backed Al Khalifa regime in a position of supremacy.Photo by Francisco Anzola, published under Creative Commons with no changes made.[1] Simon Mabon, Saudi Arabia and Iran: Soft Power Rivalry in the Middle East, 2013, London: I.B. Tauris[2] Simon Mabon, ‘The Battle for Bahrain: Iranian-Saudi Rivalry’, Middle East Policy[3] Ian Black, Fear of a Shia full moon, The Guardian, January 2007, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/jan/26/worlddispatch.ianblack[4] Salah Al-Bandar, ‘Al-bah. rayn: al-khiyār al-dīmūqrātī wa āliyāt al-iqs.a’, unpublished report prepared by the Gulf Center for Democratic Development, September 2006), in Justin J. Gengler, ‘Royal Factionalism, the Khawalid, and the Securitization of ‘the Shi’a Problem’ in Bahrain’, Journal of Arabian Studies, 3:1, 2013[5] Toby Matthiesen, Sectarian Gulf: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the Arab Spring that Wasn’t, 2013, Stanford: Stanford University Press[6] Joost Hilterman, and Kelly McEvers, "Barricaded in Bahrain," The New York Review of Books (blog), December 2011, http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2011/dec/27/barricaded-bahrain/.[7] Simon Mabon, ‘The End of the Battle of Bahrain’, Middle East Journal (Forthcoming) and Sossie Kasbarian and Simon Mabon, ‘Contested spaces and sectarian narratives in post-uprising Bahrain’, Global Discourse 6:4 (2016) 677-696[8] Toby Matthiesen, ‘Sectarianization as Securitization: Identity Politics and Counter-Revolution in Bahrain’, in Nader Hashemi and Danny Postel (eds) Sectarianization: Mapping the New Politics of the Middle East, 2017, (London: Hurst [post_title] => Bahrain: The epicentre of the Saudi-Iranian rivalry? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => bahrain-the-epicentre-of-the-saudi-iranian-rivalry [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-09-24 16:31:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-09-24 16:31:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.org.uk/?p=3015 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw )[9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 3027 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2018-11-12 21:26:42 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-11-12 21:26:42 [post_content] => Understanding the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran goes some way in understanding the uncertainty and instability that plays out across the contemporary Middle East. There is little doubt that the rivalry has shaped regional politics in a number of ways, contingent upon political and socio-economic contexts and agendas of Riyadh and Tehran. Although the rivalry occupies a central role in the construction of regional security, it is overly simplistic to reduce Middle Eastern politics solely to a bi-polar struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran, with a number of additional actors adding to the complexity of regional politics. Indeed, the role of the UAE, Israel, Turkey, Qatar, and others should not be ignored, as these issues exacerbate an increasingly fraught situation.As conflict in Syria and Yemen continues with catastrophic humanitarian impact, ending conflict is of the utmost importance to prevent further devastation. Increasing an awareness of the competing pressures and fears of those involved in shaping regional politics and creating space for discussions of such issues is of paramount importance to reducing conflict across the Middle East. If done correctly this can also facilitate trust building between Riyadh and Tehran. Whilst the rivalry occupies a key role in regional politics, particularly amidst the fracturing of regional politics along sect-based lines, we should not view it purely as an attempt to defeat the ‘other’. Instead, we must combine our analysis of regional aspirations with consideration of domestic pressures on the regimes in both Riyadh and Tehran, who seek to balance challenges from a range of sources to ensure their survival. Moreover, we must also consider the interaction of the myriad pressures that facilitate the construction of political life in spaces where the rivalry occurs. These forces differ across both time and space and must be acknowledged in a responsible manner.A key feature of politics in Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen is the politicisation and securitization of sectarian difference within the context of broader geopolitical currents. In each case are examples of the instrumental cultivation of sect-based difference by regimes or ‘sectarian entrepreneurs’ in an attempt to ensure regime survival or to increase power and influence.  Yet the increasingly instrumentalised use of religious language – albeit increasingly mobilized for political and security reasons – risks becoming all encompassing, a self-perpetuating narrative often repeated by academics and policymakers that must be avoided.The cultivation of political projects that transcend communal divisions is one possible way of circumventing this self-perpetuating narrative. Respect for the rule of law and recognition of individual rights above community rights is a key aspect of this strategy. The international community must also do more to support the development of cross-sectarian initiatives and movements such as the YOU STINK movement in Beirut, a movement of civil disobedience against governance failings concerning waste management, which led to garbage being piled in the streets of the Lebanese capital.  International states wishing to improve the political situation must also avoid supporting fringe groups such as MEK (the People’s Mojahedin of Iran) who use violence to challenge political order.With that in mind, we propose the following recommendations:
  • Work towards creating a ‘grand bargain’ that brings both Iran and Saudi Arabia into the system of regional states through creating space for discussion of regional issues;
  • Facilitate dialogue and trust building between Riyadh and Tehran;
  • Work towards a cease-fire in Yemen and Syria;
  • Reject the use of language such as ‘Shi’a Crescent’ that plays such a damaging role in deepening divisions within and between communities;
  • Western states must avoid the mobilisation of sect-based groups who advocate violence as proxies or allies;
  • Encourage adherence to the rule of law and recognition of individual rather than community rights;
  • Respect the development of political projects which cut across sectarian, ethnic and tribal cleavages such as those seen in Beirut and the YOU STINK movement;
  • Advocate and support the development of interest-based political projects that cut across social cleavages.
[post_title] => Conclusion and recommendations [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => conclusion-and-recommendations [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-13 15:26:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-13 15:26:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.org.uk/?p=3027 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 978 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2016-06-09 14:45:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-06-09 14:45:39 [post_content] => This FPC Briefing from Dr Simon Mabon and Grant Helm explores the historical antecedents of Da'ish and their complicated relationship with the rulers of Saudi Arabia. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Da’ish, the Ikhwan and Lessons from History [post_excerpt] => This FPC Briefing from Dr Simon Mabon and Grant Helm explores the historical antecedents of Da'ish and their complicated relationship with the rulers of Saudi Arabia. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-daish-the-ikhwan-and-lessons-from-history [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-14 13:58:09 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-14 13:58:09 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-daish-the-ikhwan-and-lessons-from-history/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 976 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2016-05-30 13:48:23 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-05-30 13:48:23 [post_content] => Following the signing of the nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran in late 2015, relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States have become increasingly fractious. Since then, with questions about the release of a number of classified pages of the 9/11 commission report, along with increasing concerns at the kingdom’s human rights record, the relationship between Riyadh and Washington is at the lowest point in decades. This briefing by Dr Simon Mabon offers an explanation for the deterioration of the relationship between the two. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Saudi Arabia – US Relations and the Failure of Riyadh’s Securitization Project [post_excerpt] => Following the signing of the nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran in late 2015, relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States have become increasingly fractious. Since then, with questions about the release of a number of classified pages of the 9/11 commission report, along with increasing concerns at the kingdom’s human rights record, the relationship between Riyadh and Washington is at the lowest point in decades. This briefing by Dr Simon Mabon offers an explanation for the deterioration of the relationship between the two. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-saudi-arabia-us-relations-and-the-failure-of-riyadhs-securitization-project [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-14 14:00:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-14 14:00:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-saudi-arabia-us-relations-and-the-failure-of-riyadhs-securitization-project/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 968 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2015-10-01 14:39:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-10-01 14:39:45 [post_content] => In this FPC Briefing Research Associate Dr Simon Mabon and Ludovicia Di Giorgi examine the deteriorating situation regarding violence against women in Iraq, in areas both under Government and ISIS control. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Preventing Violence Against Women: The Case of Iraq [post_excerpt] => In this FPC Briefing Research Associate Dr Simon Mabon and Ludovicia Di Giorgi examine the deteriorating situation regarding violence against women in Iraq, in areas both under Government and ISIS control. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-preventing-violence-against-women-the-case-of-iraq [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-14 16:31:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-14 16:31:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-preventing-violence-against-women-the-case-of-iraq/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 966 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2015-09-09 11:31:19 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-09-09 11:31:19 [post_content] => In recent days there has been a great deal of debate surrounding the humanitarian imperatives for aiding refugees from the Middle East. This new briefing by Dr Simon Mabon builds upon these arguments to suggest that there are also strategic reasons for helping with the crisis that could contribute to the response to ISIS. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: The Moral and the Strategic-The UK’s Response to the Syrian Crisis [post_excerpt] => In recent days there has been a great deal of debate surrounding the humanitarian imperatives for aiding refugees from the Middle East. This new briefing by Dr Simon Mabon builds upon these arguments to suggest that there are also strategic reasons for helping with the crisis that could contribute to the response to ISIS. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-the-moral-and-the-strategic-the-uks-response-to-the-syrian-crisis [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-14 16:34:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-14 16:34:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-the-moral-and-the-strategic-the-uks-response-to-the-syrian-crisis/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[14] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 958 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2015-03-18 16:04:56 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-03-18 16:04:56 [post_content] => FPC Research Associate Dr Simon Mabon and his colleague Lucia Ardovini analyse the response of key regional actors in the Middle East to the rising threat of daesh (ISIS/ISIL), looking at differing Iranian, Saudi and Egyptian approaches. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Daesh, Geopolitics and the Resurgence of Pan Arabism? [post_excerpt] => FPC Research Associate Dr Simon Mabon and his colleague Lucia Ardovini analyse the response of key regional actors in the Middle East to the rising threat of daesh (ISIS/ISIL), looking at differing Iranian, Saudi and Egyptian approaches. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-daesh-geopolitics-and-the-resurgence-of-pan-arabism [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-20 13:18:32 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-20 13:18:32 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-daesh-geopolitics-and-the-resurgence-of-pan-arabism/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[15] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 938 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2014-02-06 16:20:23 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-02-06 16:20:23 [post_content] => Dr Simon Mabon explores the geo-political competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran, looking at how this struggle impacts on local sectarian tensions in Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Lebanon. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Constructing Sectarianisms and Conflict in the Middle East [post_excerpt] => Dr Simon Mabon explores the geo-political competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran, looking at how this struggle impacts on local sectarian tensions in Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Lebanon. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-constructing-sectarianisms-and-conflict-in-the-middle-east [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-10-15 09:15:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-15 09:15:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-constructing-sectarianisms-and-conflict-in-the-middle-east/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ))
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