Faisal J. Abbas, Arab News

Faisal J. Abbas

Arab News

United Arab Emirates

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Past articles by Faisal:

How optimistic should we be about the Saudi-Iranian rapprochement?

Much talk and analysis has been generated by last week’s surprise Chinese-brokered Saudi-Iranian pact, but pundits need to remember that the agreement to restore diplomatic ties and refrain from intervention in each other’s affairs is still in its early days. We cannot expect four decades of Iranian hostility and investment in undermining regional security to disappear → Read More

What do Saudis want from Biden’s visit?

So the wheels are finally in motion! After nearly a year and a half when the Saudi-US relationship reached what could be described as rock bottom, Joe Biden — who in the heat of his election campaign pledged to turn the Kingdom into a “pariah” — is making a state visit in response to an invitation from King Salman. The US president will also meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin → Read More

Biden is becoming a master at losing friends and alienating allies

As the veteran Lebanese journalist and Asharq Al Awsat columnist Eyad Abu Chakra tweeted on Monday: “The worst politico-military scenario is to be threatened by Russia, and promised protection by America!” I could not agree more: It was a brilliant and concise summary of the state of the world today. What I can add, however, is that if the author Toby Young ever chose to write → Read More

A stark reminder of Western unreliability

On Feb. 17, we ran an interview in Arab News with Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti coinciding with his country’s 14th anniversary of independence. Throughout the interview, I repeatedly asked whether he still thought the West — namely the US, NATO and the EU — remained reliable, and whether these entities, should push come to shove, would stand up for Kosovo or abandon it as → Read More

Kadhimi must not become another Rafik Hariri

Sunday’s attempt to assassinate Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi was deplorable, unacceptable … and entirely predictable. Since the comprehensive defeat of Iranian-aligned militias and parties at legislative elections in October, it has been clear that the agents of Tehran would react in the way they always do — by trying to kill those they could not defeat at the → Read More

Lebanon’s government is playing the wrong game show

After Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Lebanon, some suggested that the Kingdom had been over-sensitive to mere words. Nothing could be farther from the truth. As the Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan observed, statements by the Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi in support of the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen were only a symptom of the → Read More

Facebook needs fixing, now!

Two events related to tech giant Facebook this week should force us to stop and reflect about how the rise of social media has impacted us as societies, especially in the Arab world. Two days of testimony to US senators by whistleblower Frances Haugen, and the six-hour outage of Facebook and other popular Facebook-owned products such as Instagram and WhatsApp, show not only → Read More

Macron’s Lebanese ‘faux pas’

Mainly due to a track record of moderate and consistent positions, and a deeply rooted conviction that all differences can be debated and force used only as a last resort, French foreign policy has always been largely respected across the Arab world — and Emmanuel Macron is no exception to that. → Read More

COVID-19: 100 days that changed world

On Tuesday it was 100 days since the World Health Organization (WHO) was informed of a cluster of cases of pneumonia, of unknown cause, in Wuhan city, China. As we raised Christmas toasts and counted down to the New Year fireworks, no one could have imagined that a tiny thing, invisible to the naked eye, would bring the world to a halt and turn our lives upside down. This → Read More

When this virus crisis ends, what will be the new normal?

A woman wears a face mask to protect against the coronavirus as she passes through Bank Underground Station on a London tube train. (Getty Images) → Read More

A turbulent start for the new decade

Toward the end of last year, Arab News ran a series of opinion pieces called — in journalistic parlance — “year-enders,” which highlighted how troublesome the last decade had been. Some of the writers emphasized how the world — especially the Arab world — had been turned upside down by armed militias, how 9/11 had wreaked havoc, how rogue regimes — such as the ones in Baghdad, Damascus and… → Read More

The Russian Czar at the Riyadh Palace

The atmosphere at Al-Yamamah Palace was bright and congenial. Saudi Arabia rolled out the red carpet to demonstrate the importance of the guest, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, his entourage, and the visit itself — his first in 12 years. → Read More

Full transcript of Arab News interview with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono

TOKYO: Japan has offered to play a role in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process in the wake of White House adviser Jared Kushner’s Peace to Prosperity workshop last month in Bahrain. “We can play an honest broker in the Middle East, as we have no colonial history or negative footprint in the region,” Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono told Arab News. “I think we should all → Read More

Going East does not mean snubbing the West

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s recently concluded visit to Pakistan, India and China has inevitably generated a great deal of analysis — not all of it useful. To suggest that this three-state Asian tour meant Riyadh was turning its back on its long-standing Western allies, namely the US and Europe, is both false and idiotic. → Read More

The significance of the Saudi crown prince’s Pakistan’s Visit

Saudi-Pakistani relations have always been exceptionally close. So what, then — one may ask — is special about the current visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Islamabad? → Read More

What does a post-Khashoggi Saudi Arabia look like?

One topic preoccupied participants at both the recently concluded Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in Riyadh, and the ongoing IISS Manama Dialogue in Bahrain: What does a post-Khashoggi Saudi Arabia look like? As investigations into the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder in Istanbul continue, some questions will clearly remain unanswered until those → Read More

Imran’s Saudi visit: Give him time to show he 'Khan'

The strength of the strategic Saudi-Pakistani relationship was illustrated by the overwhelmingly warm reception Prime Minister Imran Khan received at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah on Wednesday. Yes, a Pakistani premier choosing the Kingdom for his first international trip is the norm, but the sight of Khan in the banqueting hall alongside King Salman —Custodian of the Two Holy → Read More

Lessons from the World Cup

A popular meme went viral before Sunday’s World Cup final — that the French team was “Africa’s best hope” to win football’s most prestigious trophy. Though a witty line must never be explained, the idea — for the non-football fans among us — is that the French footballers who took home the World Cup were predominately from immigrant communities, most of them from Francophone African nations. → Read More

‘West not plotting against Islam,’ says MWL’s Sheikh Mohammed Al-Issa in exclusive interview

JEDDAH: It does not take long to realize that there is little of the conventional about Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa — and not just because his words and deeds have raised eyebrows around the world since his appointment in August 2016 as secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL). → Read More

Trump’s Iran position deserves praise, not criticism

With all due respect to the other signatories of the Iran nuclear deal, US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from this agreement should be applauded and supported, not criticized. What Trump has done is definitely a step in the right direction, as it puts the safety and interests of regional US allies first — something that was controversially ignored by his → Read More