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Editor's desk

Mitchell Belfer

The “Democracy-on-My-Terms” Cult, Part 1: Brian Dooley

There is something uncanny about a self-described human rights activist writing in (Qatari owned) Al Jazeera about how opaque Bahrain is—on the cusp of its 22 November parliamentary elections. But, tongue in cheek, Brian Dooley of Human Rights First has managed to ignore the subtle suppression of Qatar. He omits Qatar’s abuse of imported migrant workers slaving over the ill-conceived World Cup 2020 venues and forgot its open support for jihadi groups (re: Al Nusra) in Iraq and Syria and a…

Editor's desk

Mitchell Belfer

Press Release

The EU Commission Representation in Helsinki, Finland – or, as locals call it, the Europa Hall – held an event to bring together distinguished guests with diverse backgrounds to launch the book Small State, Dangerous Region: A Strategic Assessment of Bahrain, authored by Mitchell Belfer (Peter Lang, 2014). The audience included representatives of academia, political and social activists, diplomats and an assortment of members of civil society, locals and from Bahrain, who are interested in…

Editor's desk

Mitchell Belfer

Thomas Malinowski: The Diplomat with a Grudge

The story of Malinowski is somehow typical for career diplomats without formal training in etiquette and protocol—he got too close to a particular political situation and allowed his personal feelings to dictate the US position in Bahrain. Publically, through word and deed, Malinowski has rendered the US as supporters of a fraction of a fraction of the country’s Shia community. Because of Malinowski, the US is regarded as an unfair player. It is seen as not dedicated to a workable solution to…

Editor's desk

Mitchell Belfer

Bahrain’s al Khalifa Dilemma

IntroductionWith the wider Middle East in a seemingly intractable crisis spiral, it is easy to lose track of specific national and historical contexts. Bahrain’s chapter in the now defunct Arab Spring has generally, but erroneously, been treated as a case of a pacifist opposition, composed of members of the Shia sect (majority) and a repressive Sunni government (minority). Not only does such loose demographic bookkeeping and simplistic categorisations intellectually detract from truly…

Editor's desk

Mitchell Belfer

Gaza, 2014: Where the Streets have No Names

It is a cycle. A deal sits within grasp. It literally sits on the table and awaits a nod, smile and elongated signatures. The deal is the result of a lull in violence that produces confidence and confidence generates channels of discussion and dialogue between the belligerents. Hamas may not recognise Israel, but it still speaks to it via European and Middle Eastern interlocutors. Fatah and Israel speak directly. In its turn, belligerent-to-belligerent dialogue is often the engine for…

Editor's desk

Mitchell Belfer

Enriching Iranium

Iran is being rewarded for temporarily halting a fraction of its nuclear activities, while the al Quds Force, Revolutionary Guards and its Hezbollah proxy mop-up the last of the Syrian resistance and mobilise to fully bring Iraq into its sphere of influence. Nearly 35 years ago, US diplomatic staff were taken hostage by a group of young Iranian revolutionaries, which included former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The crisis, which lasted some 444 days, coupled with the failed rescue…

Editor's desk

Mitchell Belfer

Editor’s Policy Analysis: Bahrain’s Political Roundabout

In February this year, to mark the third anniversary of crisis in Bahrain, the militant group the Youth of 14 February called for the occupation of the Pearl roundabout leading to the ambushing and killing of a police officer—dozens more have since been murdered and wounded in bombing attacks. Since 2011, commentators have obsessed over why violence erupted instead of why violence erupted there? So, what makes the roundabout (a.k.a the Pearl, a.k.a. the Lulu but actually the GCC roundabout) so…

Small globe on an old wooden chessboard

Editor's desk

Mitchell Belfer

Russia, Iran and the Remaking of World Order: A Reflection

The conflict spiral unfolding in Ukraine has locals biting their knuckles, pundits mobilised to sing and dance for their audiences, scholars deploying worn research to make sense of it all and the international community - largely - sitting uncomfortably in the chambers of the old world order wondering what comes next. The answer is not a return to the Cold War; that era is gone and our telecommunications tools will ensure that the opaque world of Soviet-NATO brinkmanship remains a historical…

Barack Obama on July 23 2008.Sderot is a frequent Palestinian rocket attacks target from Gaza Strip.In his visit he warned that nuclear-armed Iran will threat world security. Image ID: 143026309

Editor's desk

Mitchell Belfer

Does Obama Suffer from a Goldfinger Complex?

Reflecting on Aspects of the US’s Middle East Policy As President Obama took to the dais, scanned the anxious room and ploughed into his speech, not a whisper could be heard. Cairo’s al-Azhar University was still; the eyes of Egypt, the Middle East, the world, were transfixed on the representative, the epitome, of a changed America. Gone was the white-man’s-club of US decision-making and enter an American President who truly showed the face of American diversity. Everything was meant to be…

Pearl Monument. The Monument was erected in 1982 during the third summit of the GCC and it was demolished by Government on March 18, 2011 on clashes with protesters

Editor's desk

Mitchell Belfer

Reflecting on Escalation and Conspiracies in Bahrain

On 31 December 2013 Bahraini security forces released information about their interception of a boat laden with explosives, detonators, guns and ammunition. The weapons cache came from Iran. For the neutral observer, such an interdiction indicated the active role the Islamic Republic was playing in Bahrain’s political turbulence. And yet, despite such clear evidence, the vast majority of commentaries related to the event sought to lay responsibility at the feet of Bahrain’s government (at best)…

Remains of the Berlin Wall, Germany

Editor's desk

Mitchell Belfer

Editor’s Reflection: A Grand Historic Loop? Reading the Cold War as the Present

Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr’s epigram that the ‘more things change, the more they stay the same,’ has underscored the logic of international political life throughout the ages. That people have been duped by their leaders and each other, that the promise of international progress is eclipsed by the realities of runaway nationalisms and exclusion and that petty differences are exaggerated to insurmountable levels has formed a main artery in the metanarrative of civilisation despite long periods…

Beautiful illumination and decoration on 17 December, 2013 on the occasion of Bahrain 42nd National Day at Muharraq, Bahrain

Editor's desk

Mitchell Belfer

The “Who” and the “Why” of the Plotted New Year’s Eve Massacre in Bahrain

Through the combination of solid intelligence and good luck, Bahrain’s security services prevented a New Year’s massacre and disrupted a human and arms smuggling network that ferried known criminals out of, and weapons into, the island country. The 28 and 29 December operations have, by now, been made public and adequate evidence has been provided which clearly demonstrates that: first, the weapons caches seized in both the al Qurrayah warehouse and on-board the fast-boat near the village of…

Editor's desk

Mitchell Belfer

The Manama Dialogue and US Policy in the Arabian Gulf

From the side-lines of the 2013 Manama Dialogue, US Secretary of Defence, Chuck Hagel, sounded remarkably like Chamberlain as the latter returned from Munich, treaty in hand, and declared ‘peace in our time.’ The Islamic Republic of Iran may not be Nazi Germany, a point largely due to its lack of capabilities and not, necessarily, its intentions—not the intentions of its people, but of its near-fascist theocratic regime; a regime that brutally suppresses dissent and national minorities, claims…

Pushpin pointing location of Dublin on the map

Editor's desk

Mitchell A. Belfer

Dublin England

Imagine the political volcano which would erupt if David Cameron were to announce that the City of Dublin was, in fact, not legitimately part of the Republic of Ireland; that it was historically part of England and England is where it should return to. The consequences of such a statement would be, quite literally, explosive. There would, of course, be unchained anger on the streets of Dublin and throughout the Republic of Ireland. Sectarian violence would probably flare in Northern Ireland and…

BW Prague view

Editor's desk

Mitchell A. Belfer

Obscure in Prague

Looking out the window of my Prague 10 office, it is easy to feel obscure. Block after block of communist era flats, parks and greenery flank the deserted streets with only the faint sound of the district's traffic to pierce the silence of the day. Obscure! That is if one were to ignore the onslaught of the daily grind; administrative decisions to take, lectures to prepare and deliver and, of course, the student body to address with their seemingly endless issues and concerns. Yes, I am located…

Beggar with dog on the street of Prague, Czech Republic

Editor's desk

Mitchell A. Belfer

Prague, Politics and Drugs

In 2009, Czech(oslovakia) surpassed the 20 year threshold it had previously held regarding its unhindered independence. Now, independent for nearly 25 years, the Czech Republic boasts a vibrant national character and, unfortunately, runaway political ineptitude. But somehow the political problems seem not to affect the country's civil society, which carries on its daily tasks and ensures a degree of stability despite the constant political swaggering and the corruption. Think again! Some…

Azadi Monument - Tehran

Editor's desk

Mitchell A. Belfer

Clever Move: Rowhani Rides to Power

Hassan Rowhani is everything Mahmud Ahmadinejad was not. He is charismatic, intelligent and, importantly, politically moderate. In a seemingly surprise electoral victory, Iran has inadvertently proven what most already knew; if you give Iranians the right to vote, without manipulation or vote-rigging - which marred the 2009 polls - they will invariably choose a centrist president, as they did in 1997 when Khatami swept to power on a similar platform of liberalisation and reform. This is because…

Bahrain flag waving on the wind

Editor's desk

Mitchell A. Belfer

Editor’s Policy Analysis: Demographic Warfare

Introduction Spectators of the Arab Spring (in general) and Bahrain’s chapter (more specifically) tend to expend their intellectual energies attempting to depict the symptoms of spasmodic violence while simplifying, exaggerating or omitting root causes from public discourses.1 It seems that the international public prefers visualising – and reporting on – political violence; or rather violent acts carried out in the name of politics instead of the more mundane, but certainly more important,…

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh visited Mavi Marmara Ship on January 2, 2012 in Istanbul,Turkey.

Editor's desk

Mitchell A. Belfer

Gaza's Tangentopoli

ABSTRACT: This article examines the evolution of the al-Harakat Muqawima al-Islamiya (Hamas) movement, operating, as it were, a statelet in the Gaza Strip based on the principles of ‘Tangentopoli (bribesville).’ Hamas shifted from being on the political fringe to Palestine’s prime political resistance movement and now has come to be regarded as a trans-national criminal group. However, the process of transforming from an illegitimate “terrorist” or a legitimate “resistance” group (depending on…

Striking golden clouds and Bahrain skyline

Editor's desk

Mitchell A. Belfer

al Wefaq and the Politics of Stalling

Friday's (25 January) demonstration-turned-riot in Manama is a clear reminder of the hurdles that continue to obstruct a working national dialogue to defuse political tensions in Bahrain. Every step undertaken, every concession made and every good-will gesture is greeted with renewed violence. Since ensuring public safety is the prime obligation of Bahrain's government, when violence occurs it has no option but to deploy its security forces to restore order. There is nothing exceptional about…

2017 - Volume 11, Issue 2