Afghanistan itself was a sideshow in which money and careers could be made and repatriated. In the meantime, an artificial economy was created there to service birds of passage, from diplomats and aid workers to military officials and outside contractors.
For one militia commander, a battlefield defeat was payback to the aspiring Libyan strongman Gen. Khalifa Haftar. But it also illustrates in stark clarity how the Middle East’s proxy wars and ideological rivalries have spilled across borders, ensnaring both the innocent and not so innocent.
Seven ancient Arabic odes are still unknown to the West despite having a bedrock status as “Beowulf” does in English: the mu’allaqat or hanging odes, so-called because they were allegedly stitched in gold and draped on the shrine of the Kaaba at Mecca as masterpieces.
We are witnessing an intense scramble for control of the Middle East among mostly autocratic, disparate regimes, creating new alignments where the fabulous wealth of small states is conjugated with countries boasting larger armies, with proxies and mercenaries as expendable cannon fodder in tow.
It is true that at present the Turks and the Iranians are playing nice with each other, but these are ephemeral moments; their respective imperatives will lead them to collide with one another regardless of their subjective preferences.
Fear of ending up in a state-run Home of Care was echoed in every interview I conducted with women who sought asylum abroad after leaving the kingdom. Understanding this institution is crucial to understanding what the women are running away from.
In early 2020, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman executed two plans — an oil war and a crackdown on dissident family members — that exemplify his blunt, risky methods of consolidating power for himself and raising Saudi Arabia’s profile.