Ed Husain

The Arab Street

Husain examines politics, society, and radicalism in the greater Middle East.

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Showing posts for "Bahrain"

Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain: The Prince and the Ayatollah

by Ed Husain
Bahrain's Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa (Hamad I Mohammed/Courtesy Reuters).) Bahrain's Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa (Hamad I Mohammed/Courtesy Reuters).

When I was invited to visit Bahrain by members of the royal family, I hesitated. They had crushed peaceful protesters last year, and their police had used tear gas against human rights activists. Like everybody else, including some of the Bahraini policemen I later spoke with, I was appalled at the violence and thought the monarchy had blood on its hands. But I felt that declining the offer was irresponsible. I wanted to know the monarchy’s side of the story. So I accepted the invitation—on the condition that I was free to meet Bahrain’s opposition. Read more »

Iran’s Man in Bahrain

by Ed Husain
Bahrain's leading Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassem takes part in an anti-government rally in Budaiya on March 9, 2012 (Hamad I Mohammed/Courtesy Reuters). Bahrain's leading Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassem takes part in an anti-government rally in Budaiya on March 9, 2012 (Hamad I Mohammed/Courtesy Reuters).

The dominant narrative in the West, that Bahrain’s opposition figures are somehow deserving of unconditional support because they are opposing an unelected monarchy, deserves scrutiny—the situation on the ground is more complicated than many recognize. In an interview with CFR today, I explain some of the complications and the geopolitical implications of empowering the Bahraini opposition without them first rejecting sectarianism, embracing women’s rights, abandoning violence, distancing themselves from Iran, and returning to the negotiating table. Read more »

Iran Versus Saudi Arabia: Cold War in the Middle East

by Ed Husain
Saudi security forces march during a parade in preparation for the annual haj pilgrimage in Mecca (Mohammed Salem/Courtesy Reuters). Saudi security forces march during a parade in preparation for the annual haj pilgrimage in Mecca (Mohammed Salem/Courtesy Reuters).

Three countries were on top of the agenda for the many Saudis I met with in Riyadh last week. Again and again, and in passionate terms, Saudi political leaders were keen to stress the importance of arming Syrian opposition players, bombing Iran’s alleged nuclear facilities, and unflinchingly supporting the al-Khalifa monarchy in Bahrain. In their minds, these are not political options, but rather realities on the ground that they worry Washington does not understand. Read more »

Iran Among Arab Neighbors

by Ed Husain
Crisis Guide: Iran

Please click the image to preview "Crisis Guide: Iran." Use the password "cfr" for access.

On this day last week, Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at the United Nations. He questioned the 9/11 attacks as “mysterious,” which led to al-Qaeda yesterday labeling Ahmadinejad’s claims “ridiculous.” While there is no love lost between the Shia Ahmadinejad and Sunni al-Qaeda, they are both competing for attention in Arab political space.

Today, Iran’s influence in Arab countries is stronger than it has been for decades. Egypt has closer business and political ties with Iran than it did under Mubarak, despite alleged Iranian spies being caught and dispatched back to Iran after the Egyptian revolution. Iraq’s government, ignoring American advice, is closer to Tehran and depends on Iranian influence over Iraq’s clerics. The murderous Syrian dictatorship is being held up, and democracy quelled, with Iranian support. The Saudi king has pleaded with Americans to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear program. Jordan and Bahrain made similar requests to the United States.
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