With U.A.E. withdrawal from Yemen, Saudi Crown Prince could lose an ally (Axios)

The United Arab Emirates is reportedly withdrawing most of its forces from Yemen to defend its home front in the event of an Iran conflict — a move that could also improve its standing with U.S. lawmakers critical of the war in Yemen. The big picture: The U.A.E.’s withdrawal of troops could lead to de-escalation in Yemen, […]

The Road to Trump’s Face-off with Iran (The New Arab)

I was flying over the Strait of Hormuz when I first learned Iran had downed a US drone just 12 hours earlier. My Emirates Airlines 777 was on the final approach to Dubai and I had turned on the BBC World live feed to catch up on the news after the 14-hour flight from Seattle. The first thing […]

The US isn’t winning any popularity contests among Arabs (TRT World)

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman may consider US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a “dear friend,” but it turns out the US isn’t winning any popularity contests outside the royal palace. Pompeo is in the region to meet with what he described as America’s “great allies,” Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to build a “global coalition” […]

U.S.-Iran standoff perpetuates flaws of decades-old policies (Axios)

Current U.S. policy toward Iran has deepened the Middle East’s Sunni-Shia divide — embodied in the regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran — and risks repeating the failures of successive U.S. administrations. Why it matters: American presidents have often tried to view the Middle East in overly black-and-white terms — from Reagan in Lebanon and […]

After Khashoggi’s death, Turkey sees a path to greater influence (Axios)

Oct. 17, 2018 — As Saudi Arabia went on the defensive last week about Jamal Khashoggi’s alleged murder, Ankara seized the chance to repair relations with Washington by releasing U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson. “We feel much different about Turkey today than we did yesterday,” President Trump told reporters on Saturday, expressing his hope of “having a very, […]

Black & White and Trump All Over (ForeignPolicy.com)

EVERETT, Washington — Maybe it was jet lag. But the scene seemed a bit surreal: the African-American hawker selling “Donald ‘Fucking’ Trump” buttons, the young Hispanic guy with the “Build a Wall” T-shirt, the grinning fellow of Chinese descent strategically placed behind the podium. I had stepped off a flight from the United Arab Emirates […]

Not All Islamists are Out to Kill Us (ForeignPolicy.com)

(July 19, 2016) The challenge Tweeted by Donald Trump’s military advisor, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, after the horrific Nice massacre was clear and direct. “In next 24 hours, I dare Arab & Persian world ‘leaders’ to step up to the plate and declare their Islamic ideology sick and must B healed.” The same day, Newt […]

A chessboard Middle East: Russia’s pawn is Syria (The Seattle Times)

 By Lawrence Pintak, Special to The Seattle Times — (Oct. 17, 2015) MODERN Syria is dead. Russia’s intervention into the bloody four-year conflict cements that reality. Now U.S. policymakers must plan for what comes next. And it’s not pretty. Officially, the Russians say they entered Syria to fight the radical Islamic State. But they come […]

Ask Romney This: What Will You Do About the Middle East? (CJR.org)

(Oct. 10, 2012) Over the final month of the campaign, CJR will run a series of posts under the headline “Ask Obama This” and “Ask Romney This,” suggesting questions that reporters should pose to the presidential candidates. The first installment focused on President Obama and his jobs plan. This one on Mitt Romney and foreign […]

Pakistan and the GOP Presidential Primary (The Seattle Times)

ISLAMABAD (November 23, 2011) — Mitt Romney said it’s close to being a failed state. Rick Perry argued that it’s not our friend and shouldn’t get American aid. I happened to be in Pakistan as the Republican presidential hopefuls debated relations with this troubled ally. The sound-bite culture of American politics tends to reduce the world […]