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Tempobs – Balance of Power Formation for Iran and Saudi Arabia

Last updated on May 30th, 2017 at 06:34 pmAt the latest 2 June 2016 OPEC summit, Saudi Arabia and Iran failed to reach an agreement on oil production level (e.g. Terry Macalister, The Guardian, 2 June 2016). Different needs as well as tensions between the two countries are at stake. Yet, a few analysts have also underscored a slight improvement in the relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran (Liam Halligan,  “Opec is very much alive as Saudis learn to tread softly“, 4 June 2016).  What should we thus expect? Should we trust that a warming of the relationships is indeed underway, or should we expect a potential stiffening of positions considering the current offensive led by Shia governments in Syria and Iraq (e.g. Alex MacDonald, “Sunni […]

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Tempobs – Things Come Together: Saudi Arabia and Iran

Last updated on May 30th, 2017 at 06:34 pmEarly 2016 has witnessed a succession of dramatic developments that have inflamed the already contentious Iran-Saudi relationship, bringing it to the forefront of global governmental and media attention. These have included: Riyadh’s decision to break diplomatic relations with Tehran at the beginning of the year, the accelerated decline of the price of oil deeply affecting both countries’ economies, the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal leading to Iran’s reinsertion into the global economic system, and a reversal of fortune in the Syrian civil war with Iranian and Russian-supported regime forces scoring major advances against the Saudi-backed opposition. We shall survey these developments (deferring, however, discussion of the fast changing situation in Syria […]

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Tempobs – Iran, Saudi Arabia and the “Shadow of the Future”

Last updated on May 30th, 2017 at 06:34 pmAs the tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia has recently risen to new heights (e.g. Paul Iddon, “Was Saudi Arabia’s execution of Sheikh Nimr calculated or reckless?“, Rudaw, 8 Jan 2016; Jon Schwarz, “One Map That Explains the Dangerous Saudi-Iranian Conflict“, The Intercept, 6 Jan 2016), and has regional if not global repercussions, the focus question of our project, i.e. “Within which timeframe could we see full cooperation or, on the contrary, war occur between Saudi Arabia and Iran?” is even more relevant. Warren, with the previous article, started addressing the “stances” of Iran and Saudi Arabia towards each other. Here we shall continue mapping out the two possible future outcomes and the two countries’ relations, i.e. war […]

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Tempobs – State(s) of Mutual Hostility: Saudi Arabia and Iran

Last updated on May 30th, 2017 at 06:34 pmLet’s get started on mapping the Iran-Saudi relationship. To recapitulate our method, we shall build upon the intuitive model introduced in the previous two posts (“Mindfully Mapping a Middle Eastern Morass – Saudi Arabia and Iran” & “Mapping an Interactive Network for Iran and Saudi Arabia Relations“) that conceptualizes the two countries’ behaviors as outcomes of the interplay of various influencing forces (e.g. political, economic, security-focused) at the domestic, bilateral, regional, and international levels. Drawing upon analytic commentary and event reporting in the news and academic media, we will identify the most significant forces relevant to our focal question—movement toward war or cooperation—and the direction in which these forces are driving behavior. […]

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Tempobs – Mapping an Interactive Network for Iran and Saudi Arabia Relations

Last updated on May 30th, 2017 at 06:34 pmThis post is the fourth of our temporal observatory project (Tempobs) and related series focused on the future of the relationships between Saudi Arabia and Iran and aiming at improving the handling of time-related issues in strategic foresight and warning, risk, or more broadly anticipatory analysis. It answers and builds upon Dr Warren Fishbein’s (hereinafter Warren) previous article (Mindfully Mapping a Middle Eastern Morass – Saudi Arabia and Iran), as we designed the series as a dialogue where we progressively build the understanding related to the foresight issue by mapping the corresponding conceptual network, continuously scan the relevant literature and news, which will allow us, finally, to assess the future, to use Warren’s apt presentation of the work involved. […]

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Tempobs – Mindfully Mapping a Middle Eastern Morass – Saudi Arabia and Iran

Last updated on May 30th, 2017 at 06:34 pmTo summarize Helene’s introductory post, this project aims to develop a time-sensitive approach to strategic anticipation and warning, using the evolving relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia as its substantive framework. But how does one undertake strategic anticipation within the context of the complex, chaotic, fast changing politics of the contemporary Middle East? Just over the past few months, we have witnessed an extraordinary series of surprises in or strongly affecting the region, such as the plummeting price of oil, the Saudi intervention in Yemen, the deployment of Russian forces in Syria, and, most recently, the emergence of fears of widespread sectarian warfare. Referring to the last development, but offering a judgment […]

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Tempobs – Saudi Arabia and Iran, towards War or Cooperation?

Last updated on May 30th, 2017 at 06:34 pmConsidering the beginning of Russian airstrikes in Syria, and, notably, the increased risk to see it perceived as fanning an already difficult situation in terms of sectarian, Shi’a versus Sunni, tension (Helene Lavoix, “Russia at War with the Islamic State in Syria – Perceptions of Strikes“, RTAS,  12 Oct 2015), understanding and foreseeing the relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia has become crucially important. Indeed, it could very well be that, fundamentally, without appeasing completely this sectarian tension it will be impossible to end the war spreading in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. It is within this framework that is now located our new project to enhance strategic foresight and warning, risk, or more broadly anticipatory analysis’ […]

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Multiplicating Crises: Strategic Surprises or Strategic Shocks?

Last updated on October 11th, 2017 at 11:16 amOver the last two decades, strategic surprises have accumulated and accelerated rather than receded, and they continue to do so. Various actors, from governments and international organisations to the corporate world through citizens seem to be constantly and increasingly surprised by events they fail to anticipate, and thus for […]

Climate Change, a Pause or an Aposiopesis?

Last updated on April 27th, 2017 at 12:39 pmOn 4 June 2015, Science magazine published “Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus,” which addressed what some see as an apparent pause in the upward trend of global surface temperatures since 1998. In the paper, Thomas R. Karl and others presented updated global surface temperature analysis, which they think reveals that global trends are higher than reported by the IPCC and does not support the notion of a “slowdown” or a pause in the increase of global surface temperature. For those who firmly believe there is a pause or even a downward trend, that paper released the Kraken. Whatts Up With That?, a website dedicated to climate […]

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Scenarios for the Future of Libya within the Next Three to Five Years

Last updated on October 24th, 2018 at 04:45 pmNow that we have identified and understood the actors in Libya’s civil war (see State of Play), we may outline the various scenarios regarding Libya’s future within the next three to five years. A civil war with two rival governments, armed coalitions, jihadists, and various tribes creates […]