Iran: A Move Towards Sectarian Reconciliation?

By Abdel Bari Atwan

On Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Ministry adviser Mohammad Ali Sobhani surprised commentators when he blamed former Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the rise of the Islamic State.

This is the first time any Iranian official has criticized these (Shiite) allies in this way.

In an inteview with Iranian website ‘Telltale News’, Sobhani blamed the sectarian policies of the Maliki government which


Iran and the Vienna Nuclear Talks: Analysis

By Abdel Bari Atwan

The so-called ‘last chance’ Vienna negotiations with Iran over its nuclear ambitions have ended with nothing more than an agreement to extend the ‘deadline’ until the end of June. Nothing new here, then, since this has been the pattern for the past ten years.

Six world powers (China, france, Germany, Russia, USA and UK) are seeking to secure a guarantee from Iran that it will curb its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions being


Tunisia’s Presidential Elections: A Light in the Region’s Darkness

By Abdel Bari Atwan

Nobody can underestimate the importance, and significance of this weekend’s Tunisian presidential election. It will determine not only the identity of the new occupant of the Palace of Carthage, but also (and more importantly, in our view) the continuing success of the democratic experiment in Tunisia, at a time when the rest of the post-revolutionary Arab world is either still in the grip of dictatorships or a bloody mess.

The Tunisians astounded


Why, for KSA, has the ‘Arab-Israeli conflict’ become the ‘Palestinian-Israeli Problem’?

By Abdel Bari Atwan

Joint statements issued at the end of official, high-level talks are usually extremely indicative, reflecting the policies of the states involved, the general political mood, and areas of agreement and disagreement. All of these inform the past and forthcoming political and diplomatic relations between the countries involved.

When Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal recently met his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow I scanned


On the Synagogue Massacres (AB Atwan in Gulf News)

Those who thought Palestinians had begun to accept humiliation will have to revise their opinions

  • By Abdel Bari Atwan | Special to Gulf News

  • Published: 20:00 November 22, 2014

  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Luis Vazquez/©Gulf News

The murder, on Tuesday, of four rabbis and a policeman in occupied Jerusalem’s Bnei Torah synagogue continues to dominate headlines across the world. This was an appalling act by any standards. However, the equally appalling lynching of a Palestinian bus driver,


Jerusalem Synagogue Attack Marks New Stage in Intifada

By Abdel Bari Atwan

Yesterday, two Palestinian cousins Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal attacked worshippers in the Bnei Torah Synagogue in the ultra-orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of Har Nof in West Jerusalem. Armed with meat cleavers and a gun, the boys killed five – three rabbis with US nationality and one rabbi with dual UK nationality. A police officer was also killed.

Hamas praised the attack and it was celebrated in Gaza.

Tension has been building in Palestine since


Obama Prepares Path For Western ‘Boots on Ground’ in Iraq/Syria

By Abdel Bari Atwan

This weekend’s G20 conference in Brisbane, Australia saw President Obama preparing the ground for a possible ‘boots on the ground’ intervention to confront the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Having told a Press conference that he would not speculate on what sort of circumstances would prompt sending large numbers of American troops back to Iraq he promptly did just that: “If we discover that ISIL had gotten possession of a nuclear


Baghdadi Announces Expansion Plans For Islamic State

By Abdel Bari Atwan

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-appointed Caliph and leader of the Islamic State surprised not only the world’s intelligence and media organizations but even his own followers with yesterday’s release of a new audio speech. This put a sharp stop to feverish claims that he had been killed or wounded in a recent air raid as the Iraqi government claimed.

The speech, which represented a confirmation that he was still alive, came much sooner than commentators


On the Rumoured Death of IS Leader Baghdadi

By Abdel Bari Atwan

The news these day is full of reports that the leader of Islamic State, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, has been killed or injured in a raid by Iraqi aircraft on a house where he was holding a meeting with a group of leaders. So far, no official announcement from Islamic State or other jihadist media organs has confirmed these claims.

In general, jihadist groups do not hesitate to announce the deaths of footsoldiers or leaders alike. When Osama bin Laden, one of his sons,


Ten years On Arafat Is Sorely Missed [Atwan in Gulf news]

  • By Abdel Bari Atwan | Special to Gulf News

  • Published: 20:00 November 11, 2014

  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: EPA

  • A Palestinian prays whilst wearing a T-shirt of late Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat, on the 10th anniversary of his death, at Arafat’s grave in Ramallah, the West Bank, 10 November 2014. Arafat died on 11 November 2004. Palestinians are marking the 10th anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat, who for decades led their cause for an independent