The Strongman Bond: Trump and Erdogan

Post by Ed Roberts, Research Intern at ICSA

A Trump administration will likely see a warming of relations between the USA, Turkey, and Russia. With regards to Turkey, Trump has praised Erdogan, stating in an interview with the New York Times, that the suppression of the coup on July 15th was ‘quite impressive from the standpoint of existing government.’ Continue reading

United Arab Emirates: The Middle East’s Nuclear “Golden Child”?

Post by Rachel Hoffman,  Research Intern at the International Centre for Security Analysis.

A Google search for the phrase ‘middle east nuclear program’ yields numerous articles and discussions on the nuclear programmes of Iran, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. Unsurprisingly, Iran is the most prominent search result given the current negotiations between the country and the P5+1 over its nuclear programme. Interest in Israel’s highly suspected but as yet unacknowledged nuclear weapons programme has risen recently. This followed a proposal at the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty Review Conference that would encourage steps to make the Middle East a nuclear weapon free zone, potentially compromising Israel’s strategic ambiguity. And recent comments by a handful of high-ranking officials suggesting Saudi Arabia may pursue nuclear weapons to combat Iran’s growing influence have captured international attention.

However, for those closely watching Middle Eastern nuclear programmes, one country seems conspicuously absent from these results – the United Arab Emirates (UAE). As of June 6th 2015, the one mention of the UAE’s rapidly developing nuclear energy programme in the first 32 pages of Google results is on page five, indicating how little attention the country’s nuclear ambitions have received within broader public discourse and popular media. The irony of this lack of attention is that the UAE is arguably pursuing the most transparent and well-documented Middle Eastern nuclear programme to date.

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Continuity and Change in Saudi Arabia’s Leadership Transition

Post by Rachel Hoffman,  Research Intern at the International Centre for Security Analysis.

Just before the New Year, King Abdullah was admitted to a hospital with breathing difficulties later attributed to pneumonia. In the weeks that followed, officials half-heartedly attempted to reassure the world of Abdullah’s improvement, but on January 23 came the news that many suspected as imminent – King Abdullah had passed away and his half-brother, Crown Prince Salman, had become king.

International scrutiny of Salman began immediately, with comparisons between him and Abdullah and predictions regarding his policy priorities flooding the Internet. From the abundance of reports emerged the certainty that, above all, continuity will be a central theme of his rule. The new monarch quickly pledged to continue King Abdullah’s main domestic and foreign policies. The nearly unchanged composition of the cabinet of ministers supported the idea of continuity with fears that sharp policy changes could cause instability in Saudi Arabia which currently faces severe economic and political risks. Continue reading