On 26 December, I reported the latest speech by Islamic State (Isis) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Twitter. A Russian media outlet made the incredible mistake of reporting that I was him, and that caught on in several more papers. Before the end of the week, even Twitter briefly blocked me before realising its mistake.
But as well as being incredibly sloppy journalism, it's quite poignant that I was confused with the IS (Daesh) chief, seeing how the two "Baghdadis" are ideological competitors. I am an Arab Spring activist who campaigns for an Arab world in which human rights are inviolable; he is the theocratic leader of a terrorist organisation pretending to be an Islamic State.
Three recent contributions to the debate on Saudi Arabia:
Saudi Arabia Is the Problem and Solution to Extremism (NYT Room for Debate)
To Have an Ally in the Middle East, the U.S. Needs a Strategic Vision (NYT Room for Debate)
The Next Front in the Saudi-Iran War (Foreign Policy)
The United Arab Emirates recently celebrated its 44th birthday with the usual celebrations, performances and rallies. The country certainly has much to be proud of – since its founding in 1971, it has achieved a near-miraculous rise in virtually all human development indicators.
But the United Arab Emirates has peaked. The social, political and economic model that initially worked for the UAE so well carries within it the seeds of its own demise. The model of a rentier state in which citizens are a tiny privileged minority is internally coherent, but dangerously unsustainable, and is moving towards an inevitable moment of reckoning. The coming years, I predict, will see this distressing reality become far more urgently manifest.
Two pieces on why I still believe in the Arab Spring: