From Our Contributors

“What Fuels the Saudi Rivalry With Iran?” New York Times, April 23, 2018

Author: Madawi Al-Rasheed, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

In this article, Al-Rasheed analyses Saudi Arabia’s destabilising conflict with Iran.

“Saudi Arabia’s government officials, and particularly its powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, often talk about pushing back a dangerous Iranian threat. But the truth is, despite this talk, the foreign policy emanating from Riyadh is driven primarily by domestic politics. Prince Mohammed knows that a fearful enemy is a key to his own strength…”

“A kebab with Trump, the answer to peace with Iran?” Daily Star, March 29, 2018

Author: Habib Malik, Lebanese American University

In this article, Malik proposes a new approach to the search for peace and stability in the Middle East.

“Talk of an impending military showdown between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon rages these days in the media and the think tanks. As these drums of war beat ever louder the actual Lebanon-Israel border has never been quieter, and the mutual deterrence equation between the two sides that emerged following the 34-day war of summer 2006 appears alive and well and holding strongly. But you wouldn’t know it if you only tuned in to the swirling din of ominous warnings and apocalyptic expectations. Before any of this cacophony transits disastrously to the domain of the self-fulfilling prophecy, wiser heads need to pause and consider carefully whether all alternative options to armed conflict have been exhausted. One such untried option does readily spring to mind, but given the prevailing narrative that pinpoints the source of all evil in the Middle East and indeed the world as emanating exclusively from Iran, such an option, if not swiftly dismissed as an unworkable pipedream, is relegated condescendingly to the limbo of so-called out-of-the-box thinking…”


“Sectarianism in Syria’s Civil War: A Geopolitical Study Featuring 70 Original Maps”, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2018

Author: Fabrice Balanche, University of Lyon 2 and Hoover Institution, Stanford University

In this book, Balanche examines the central role played by sectarianism in the current conflict in Syria, and foresees, through demographics, the shape of a likely outcome.

“As Syria’s seemingly interminable war drags on, nagging questions about its initial causes and current dynamics have yet to be fully answered, particularly in comparison to other regional crises. Why did Bashar al-Assad’s regime not fall quickly like Hosni Mubarak’s did in Egypt? Why has the Syrian army not fractured like Muammar Qadhafi’s in Libya? And why has the fighting persisted for so long?…”