Jordan, a Kingdom that, for the most part, kept itself from the ongoing chaos raging in the Middle East, is a country perceived as a vital component to regional stability. In a bid to persevere amid significant challenges, the Jordanian King Abdullah was the first Middle Eastern leader to meet with President Donald Trump, requesting from the new American leader to receive the proper backing to fight against the threats of terror.
Dr. Nir Boms; Research fellow, Moshe Dayan center at Tel Aviv University
Lt. Col. (Res) Dr. Reuven Berko, Columnist, Yisrael Hayom daily
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The first drops of winter rain reached the Middle East this week, perhaps another reminder of the end of what we have dubbed thus far as the “Arab Spring.” Much has happened since last December when Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire and triggered a wave of protest that engulfed the entire Middle East. On the one hand, the “spring” can be seen as a resounding success: Protests have brought about a change in leadership in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya and significant reforms in Morocco, Jordan, Qatar, and elsewhere in the region. Moreover, Tunisia has just declared Oct 23rd as the election date for its parliament and Saudi Arabia just announced that women will be able to vote in the next municipal elections (though only for half of the seats there – but progress nevertheless). Elections are also expected in Egypt and, later, in Libya and Morocco.
The demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt caught most of us by surprise. Revolutions often do. Sir Anthony Parsons, the British ambassador in Tehran, declared in 1978 that “there has been little or no evidence of unrest among the urban poor.” Shortly after, Iranians poured into the streets and deposed the Shah.
A decade later, the U.S. was shocked by the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union, another revolution from within. In October 2000, several hundred thousand people protested against Slobodan Milosevic, who was arrested by Serbian police six months later and eventually prosecuted for war crimes. In 2003, Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze attempted to steal an election, and the people prevented him from opening a new session of parliament in what came to be known as the Rose Revolution. The Ukrainian Orange Revolution followed a year later, with half a million people marching to protest election fraud, corruption, and repression.
But not all marches end successfully. In 1989, the People’s Republic of China had little tolerance for the 100,000 demonstrators gathered in Tiananmen Square following the funeral of Hu Yaobang, a popular Communist leader who believed in political and economic reforms. Lebanon is still held hostage despite its million-man freedom march in 2005. Iran has learned its lesson: Repeated attempts at revolution — including that of the students in 1999 and the Green Movement of 2009 — have been crushed with high casualties. In Egypt, Syria, Libya, and even Morocco, popular protests have been quickly crushed.
Located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula and home to the oil-rich, Western-allied countries of Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, the Persian Gulf is usually viewed as an Arab resort and not as a place of oppression and aggression.
But oil is the not the only thing to be found amidst the tranquil streams of the Gulf. Beneath the veneer of tranquility and wealth lies the harsh reality of undemocratic, authoritarian states that regard human rights with contempt – cowardly regimes that stifle dissent and crush freedom. And the recent, massive $60 billion arms deal – the largest ever to be signed between the US and Saudi Arabia – might bring further uncertainty to this otherwise apparently quiet region. View full post…