Stories about Saudi Arabia

Revisiting Manto’s biting ‘Letters to Uncle Sam’ – Part 2

In this two part series, Raza Naeem translates passages from Manto’s nine Letters to Uncle Sam and discusses their enduring legacy. Read Part 1 here.  ~ Fifth letter In his fifth letter, Manto brilliantly exposes America’s pretensions about maintaining world peace even after acquiring the capability to make hydrogen bombs: “I have heard that you have made the hydrogen bomb just so that there should be absolute world peace. Although God knows better, but I am sure of what you say because I have eaten your wheat and, after all, I’m your nephew. Although the young should readily obey the elderly, but I ask ...

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Pakistan’s role in the Middle East conundrum

Sitting 8000 miles across the Pacific from my hometown Islamabad, I had to take a break from work for an early afternoon stroll along the Santa Monica Beach to make sense of recent developments in the Middle East and their wider implications. My country of origin, Pakistan, has already seen the aftermath of indulging in proxy wars at a staggering human, social and economic cost. Hindsight in our case has unfortunately never been 20-20. Even after the relative de-escalation of tensions following President Donald Trump’s address last week, one still cannot dismiss the potential of one hasty tweet or one cyber-attack to ...

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Will Imran Khan regret skipping the Kuala Lumpur Summit?

The flawed gains-and-losses calculus of Imran Khan’s PTI government recently produced what may well be the most aberrational and peculiar foreign policy decision by any country this year. Imran cancelled his attendance of the Kuala Lumpur Summit (which he himself reportedly jointly proposed with Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Mahathir bin Mohamad months ago) after visiting Saudi Arabia – who along with key allies shunned the event – and asking for a $5 billion rollover loan. Regardless of erratic attempts by some to use Mahathir’s politically-correct ‘assurances’ that the Summit was not meant to ‘compete’ with rival powers to downplay the capitulation to the Saudis by ...

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Is geography the primary determinant of foreign policy?

Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “If you know a country’s geography, you can understand and predict its foreign policy said.” If we view the modern world through a lens of realism, we will notice that every nation-state is acting to ensure its survival. Principles of idealism can only exist in countries where national interests do not collide with the interests of powerful international actors. Major global events of the last decade indicate that Morgenthau’s and Mearsheimer’s realism has indeed prevailed. Throughout this article, I shall attempt to prove how the foreign policies of world players have revolved around their geographical placement. Western analysts portray ...

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Why the alleged spat with WWE epitomises Mohammad bin Salman as a leader

In recent news, the famous American World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is apparently in a spat with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. It was initially reported that the latter had not paid the former their dues for two special events held in Saudi Arabia this year and reportedly owes WWE Chairman Vince McMahon between $300 and 500 million. Additionally, WWE wrestlers missed a show scheduled immediately after the last Saudi event after Salman ‘retaliated’ to McMahon threatening to cut off the Crown Jewel live television feed by ordering that the departee wrestlers are taken off their flight out of the ...

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The falsehood that is the ‘Persian-Arab conflict’ narrative

Discredited and archaic explanatory frameworks are superposed onto geopolitical conflicts and rivalries at the expense of an accurate appraisal of what truly drives them. The ‘Persian-Arab conflict’ narrative used to explain the nature of ties between Iran and certain Arab states is fraudulent from top to bottom, yet persists on the crutches of what increasingly seems an intentional muddying of the waters regarding what drives the rivalries seen in the Middle East. These rivalries revolve around conflict: pushing for friendly regimes in strategically placed states, outreach to sympathetic non-state actors and ideologically similar grassroots movements to counter those aligned with ...

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How successful are Imran Khan’s attempts at becoming an international statesperson?

“My son, look for a kingdom greater than Macedonia, for it is too small for thee.” Alexander the Great’s father, Prince Philip, said this to him when as a young boy he reined in the famous horse, Bucephalus, while everyone else who had tried to do so had failed. Now, while Imran Khan certainly is no great conqueror of lands, nor does he aspire to be, it is evident that Pakistan is too small a stage for him to play on. Even if he wants to dedicate himself wholeheartedly towards fixing Pakistan’s manifold problems and shuns all foreign commitments, it ...

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Can Imran Khan help ease tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran?

Acting upon a request from the United States to calm ongoing regional tensions, Imran Khan’s mission to engage in shuttle diplomacy with Saudi Arabia and Iran has presented a respectable image of neutrality, but this image alone is unlikely to facilitate peace. One would be forgiven for conflating Imran Khan’s impressive international image with productive foreign policy. A maiden visit to the United States this year, last month’s emotional United Nations General Assembly speech on Kashmir, and meetings with two of the world’s most bitter rivals – broken up only by a brief stop in Islamabad to welcome two ...

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Is a Saudi Arabia-Iran thaw a possibility?

The Middle East appears to be in a perpetual state of flux. The constant friction between Iran and Saudi Arabia has meant that the region has devolved into a battlefield where proxy wars are constantly waged, hence only further complicating the already turbulent regional politics. These tensions were only further exacerbated following the attack on two oil plants in Saudi Arabia. Naturally, Saudi Arabia, along with the United States (US), was quick to point at Iran and hold the country responsible for the catastrophe. In this political climate, as Iran becomes increasingly isolated after the collapse of talks with the US, and as ...

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Bernie Sanders spoke up about Kashmir, but does it really matter?

We are a nation that rejoices at semantics, not action. You need only look towards the reaction to Bernie Sanders’ statement regarding Kashmir to get a sense of that. Sanders, who is currently one of the candidates vying to become the Democratic presidential nominee, recently spoke at the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in Houston and made some remarks which led to a whole host of reactions. He called India’s actions in occupied Kashmir “unacceptable,” and went onto state, “The communications blockade must be lifted immediately, and the United States government must speak out boldly in support of international ...

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