Speaking with AFP, AGSIW Senior Resident Scholar Kristin Smith Diwan discussed a popular photograph of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Saudi national soccer team’s World Cup qualifying match: “The image perfectly captures two aspects of his power: his appeal to youth and to nationalism,” Diwan continued, “National pride is replacing the appeal of Islamism. And sports and other forms of entertainment are compensating youth for the weakness of the welfare state.”
Speaking with Al Monitor, AGSIW Non-Resident Fellow DB Des Roches discussed the U.S. arms sale to Bahrain: “This is a big issue of national pride,” additionally noting that the “country is so small that there’s a question of whether they’ll be able to exercise the full lifetime performance of [the F-16] … They might bankrupt themselves for something of dubious military efficacy.”
He continued, commenting that “The US-Bahrain security relationship was complicated under Obama because vetoes were being exercised over human rights concerns,” additionally noting, “What the Trump administration is saying is security is security and human rights is human rights, we’re not going to sacrifice one for the other.”
AGSIW President Ambassador Marcelle M. Wahba appeared on CGTN to discuss U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s role in organizing the call between Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman: “Although, unfortunately, the call President Trump orchestrated between Qatari leader Sheikh Tamim and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman did not lead to direct talks, I think the fact that it took place at all is important because it means there’s a willingness to engage.
I’m afraid that [the Trump] administration is not in a position right now to take the leadership position, they are much more involved in supporting the Saudis and supporting issues which are very much aligned – that is to say pushing back against Iran, pushing back against Al Qaeda and terrorism. So I don’t believe that the Trump administration will take that role. The United Nations sadly has not been able to mobilize its own resources efficiently. But I do think that’s where the ability to do so is most likely concentrated. And I do think that it needs to be made very clear to the parties in the conflict right now that there is no end for them other than a deeply destabilized region, which is in no one’s interest, and certainly to the detriment of Saudi Arabia and Iran and all the other countries in the region in the long run, if Yemen cannot get back on its own feet and stabilized.
Speaking with The National, AGSIW President Ambassador Marcelle M. Wahba discussed the visit of Kuwaiti Emir Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah to Washington, noting that Sabah is the first head of state from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to visit Washington since the inauguration of U.S. President Donald J. Trump: “He is well-known and highly respected by senior US government officials and on Capitol Hill.” Wahba continued, “The bilateral relationship is very important for both Kuwait and the US … that includes close partnering on security, military and counter-terrorism initiatives.”
Wahba additionally appeared on Al Arabiya discussing Trump’s press conference with Sabah: “President Trump appreciates the role the emir of Kuwait is playing to resolve the crisis and the president also is in direct communication with all the key leaders in the region. He is hoping to see a solution emerge from contacts between the countries involved but confirmed that at the right time he is willing to play the role of mediator by hosting a meeting in Washington.”
AGSIW President Marcelle M. Wahba appeared on Al Arabiya on August 11 to discuss retired U.S. General Anthony Zinni’s meetings in the Gulf to mediate the GCC-Qatar crisis: “I believe General Zinni can help move the mediation process forward. A final agreement will need to include monitoring mechanisms so it is not a repeat of the 2013-14 Riyadh agreement.”
Writing for Foreign Policy, Colum Lynch cited AGSIW Executive Vice President Stephen A. Seche and Eric Pelofsky’s article on the Yemen crisis for Just Security. Seche and Pelofsky noted, “The Saudis — now led by Major General Fahd bin Turki bin Abdul Aziz – are focusing on clearing the border and establishing a buffer zone inside Yemen.”
AGSIW Executive Vice President Stephen A. Seche discussed the humanitarian crisis in Yemen for Intercross: “Certainly when you have a protracted war – as we have now for, since if we’re going by when the Saudi intervention began in March 2015 – and you have a fair amount of infrastructure damage, so you have just physically very difficult conditions in which anyone is going to be able to practice medicine, or conduct a normal ray of service as you would expect. The war in and of itself is a detriment to that kind of stability and normality you would like to see maintained in Yemen.”
AGSIW Non-Resident Fellow Diane Munro commented on Iran’s energy sector for VOA Farsi: “The internal politics are a big factor in Iran’s struggle with its energy sector mostly due to nationalism and conservatives as well as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ controlling and running much of the oil sector without the proper technical know-how.”