Following a long period of anticipation and repeated delays, US officials announced earlier this month that they will hold an economic workshop in Bahrain in late June as the first step in the administration’s road map for peace between Israel and Palestine. Bahrain’s hosting of the summit is a clear reflection of the trilateral partnership between Israel, the United States, and the Gulf that has been promoted by the Trump administration in the region. The event’s location and regional participation—in spite of the announced Palestinian boycott—moreover demonstrate that contemporary domestic and international geopolitical concerns outweigh a cursory commitment to the Palestinian cause.
On May 19, The White House announced a “Peace to Prosperity” workshop to be held in Bahrain June 25-26 as the first step in its plan for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The meeting was described as “a pivotal opportunity to convene government, civil society, and business leaders to share ideas, discuss strategies, and galvanize support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement.”
Global warming will do the Middle East no favors. Evidence abounds it will be the region that climate change will hit hardest. Summer temperatures across the region are expected to increase more than twice the global average. Prolonged heat waves, desertification, and droughts will make parts of the Middle East and North Africa uninhabitable. Where Middle Easterners will still be able to live, climate change may fuel violent competition over diminishing resources. Even though some degree of warming is inevitable, governments in the region and their international partners have done little to integrate climate change to their strategies to mitigate instability and conflict. Instead, they should brace themselves for a Middle East in which warming intensifies unrest, weakens state capacity, and provokes resource conflicts.
Promises made by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the biennial Belt and Road Forum about opening the Belt and Road Initiative to multilateral and third-party investment could bode well for Gulf-China relations and the Middle East more broadly by creating new opportunities for energy and economic cooperation.
For the last four weeks, the Libyan capital of Tripoli has been the latest battlefield in Libya’s on-and-off war of the past five years. However, this time it is very different. It is on a much larger scale than ever before and for very different motives. Khalifa Haftar’s forces marched all the way from Benghazi to take over and force his role on Libya and become its dictator at large.
Due to their strategic locations, countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have been hotspots for exploration and exploitation of energy resources—especially oil and gas—for decades. Yet, the Mediterranean climate is proven to be just as volatile as its security issues. The consequences of changes in temperature, extreme weather conditions, and rainfall superimposed on a severe water crisis, political turmoil, and a web of intersecting violent conflicts, are all destabilizing issues likely exacerbated by climate change.
The appointment of Mohammed Shtayyeh as head of a new Palestinian government on March 10 constitutes an overt attempt to consolidate Fatah’s dominance in the Palestinian political arena and, in the process, delegitimize rival party Hamas. Shtayyeh’s installation as prime minister, however, does not just further complicate reconciliation attempts between the two feuding political parties. Heightened tensions with Israel’s overtly right-wing government and economic hardship in the West Bank mean that Shtayyeh faces an almost impossible task.
The brutal attack unleashed by General Khalifa Haftar’s militia, the Libyan National Army, against the city of Tripoli is indeed a game-changer. After the attack on April 4th everything changed in Libya, and not only in the political realm. The support that Haftar enjoyed within parts of the population of Tripoli, who preferred a strong-man rule over the incompetence and perceived corruption of the UN-sponsored Government of National Accord, melted away within hours of the attack. Many young inhabitants of the city flocked to the headquarters of the various militias to enroll in the fight against the advancing troops of the General.
On April 25, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that an Israeli delegation will take part in next year’s World Expo, hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Dubai. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, fresh off his victory in the April 9 elections, tweeted his approval of Israel’s participation, which he called “another expression of Israel’s rising status in the world and the region.” The idea of Israeli innovators showcasing their achievements in the Gulf would have been hard to imagine not long ago. Today, it turns few heads.