AGSIW Senior Resident Scholar Kristin Smith Diwan commented on economic pressures in Kuwait for The National: “Kuwait is unique in the Gulf as the parliament can serve as a real vehicle for populist politics, where citizens can defend their entitlements.” She continued, “This means necessary increases in fees and cuts in subsidies get thrown on to the backs of non-citizens. Failures in government, especially the inability to expand public services for a growing population, escalate the competition over resources.”
AGSIW Senior Resident Scholar Hussein Ibish appeared on Libyan TV.
AGSIW Board Member F. Gregory Gause, III participated in an Intelligence Squared debate with Madawi Al-Rasheed, Mark P. Lagon, and James Jeffrey, focusing on the question of whether the United States should maintain its special relationship with Saudi Arabia. During the debate, Gause commented, “If we ran our Middle East policy based only on dealing with people who shared our values, we really wouldn’t have many people to talk to in the Middle East. The Middle East is a very strategic area. It’s in flames right now. And having a relationship with a stable country in the Middle East that has influence in Syria, in Yemen, in other parts — in Iraq, in other parts of the Middle East that are in flames we think is actually very useful to the United States.”
On February 8, AGSIW Visiting Scholar Hala Aldosari delivered a lecture at American University on state responses to social movements.
On February 10, Aldosari briefed the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom regarding religious freedom in Saudi Arabia, religious education reform in the kingdom, and women’s rights.
Speaking with Politifact, AGSIW Board Member Ambassador Edward W. Gnehm, Jr. and AGSIW Senior Resident Scholar Kristin Smith Diwan commented on the veracity of U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s statement that Kuwait issued a travel ban similar to his January 30 executive order suspending immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. Gnehm said, “Historically, Kuwait has issued travel bans on certain nationalities due to specific events.” Further, Diwan noted, “There are lots of Syrians living in Kuwait, and they certainly haven’t been evicted.” She continued, “It also would have been very unpopular with Kuwaitis who had enormous sympathy for Syrians and the uprising, especially in the early part of the war.”
On February 7, AGSIW Senior Resident Scholar Karen E. Young delivered a lecture at the George Washington University on the political economy of the Middle East.
Speaking with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, AGSIW Executive Vice President Ambassador Stephen A. Seche commented on the January 29 U.S. raid in Yemen authorized by President Donald J. Trump, noting, “It’s a horrific calculation to have to make and the outcome in this case turned out to be as bad as one can imagine it being.”
Seche additionally appeared on BBC TV with Laura Trevelyan discussing the U.N. appeal for aid in Yemen.