Frederick Deknatel, WorldPoliticsReview

Frederick Deknatel


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Past articles by Frederick:

Talk of a ‘New Middle East’ Ignores Yemen’s War, Syria’s and Much More

Some things in the Middle East haven’t changed in the past seven years—like the prospects for justice and accountability in Syria’s long civil war, or a resolution to Yemen’s brutal conflict. Some things in the region have changed, of course, even if those changes aren’t really what they appear to be. → Read More

What’s Really Behind Jordan’s Royal Family Feud?

A former crown prince is under house arrest, accused of a plot to destabilize the kingdom. He’s vowing to defy the orders and has already spoken out publicly; his half-brother, the king, remains silent. That’s the extent of what’s really known in Jordan, following a weekend in which a royal rift burst into the open. → Read More

Sisi’s Development Dreams and the Blocked Suez Canal

Everyone, it seems, has been searching for meaning in the gigantic container ship stuck in the Suez Canal—which was finally freed Monday, six days after blocking one of the most vital shipping routes in the world. But the clearest symbolism is also the closest to the Ever Given, in Egypt itself. → Read More

Jordan-Israel Relations: A Cold Peace Gets Even Colder

When Israel normalized relations with four Arab countries last year, expectations were fairly tempered outside of Washington and Jerusalem. Some of the skepticism about the deals had to do with an obvious reality in the Arab world: the state of Israel’s existing cold peace with Egypt and especially Jordan. → Read More

Why Is Biden Letting MBS Get Away With Murder?

He called Saudi Arabia a “pariah” during the presidential campaign and promised to “reassess” America’s ties with it. But after the release of a U.S. intelligence report concluding that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had directly ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Joe Biden balked. → Read More

Biden Still Has a Long Way to Go to End the Yemen Civil War

“This war has to end,” Joe Biden declared in his first foreign policy address as president last week, when he announced a halt to all U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen against Houthi rebels. But cutting off U.S. arms for the Saudi air war won’t really end the Yemeni conflict. → Read More

Biden Makes a Clean Break With Trump in the Middle East

It hasn’t taken long for President Joe Biden to make a clean break with Donald Trump’s agenda in the Middle East. That shouldn’t be a surprise, given Biden’s campaign message and the actions he has quickly taken since the inauguration to undo Trump’s legacy, both in domestic and foreign policy. → Read More

What Did Egypt Get Out of Going Along With the Qatar Blockade?

It wasn’t ever that clear why Egypt was backing the Saudi- and Emirati-led blockade of Qatar. Whatever its motivations, Egypt became the first country last week among that anti-Qatari bloc to officially reestablish diplomatic ties with Doha, following this month’s agreement to end the Gulf rift. → Read More

The Capitol Riot Wasn’t a Vision of Iraq, or Syria. It Was Trump’s America

When President Donald Trump’s radical supporters stormed the Capitol building last week, attacking police and rampaging through the halls of Congress to hunt for lawmakers, many American news networks were quick to make breathless comparisons to somewhere else—most of all, the Middle East. → Read More

Is Trump About to Start a U.S.-Iran War in His Last Days in Office?

The U.S.S. Nimitz was leaving the Middle East, until it wasn’t. The Pentagon’s abrupt reversal of its move last week to send the aircraft carrier home is the latest sign of an ominous standoff with Iran in the last days of Donald Trump’s presidency, a year after the U.S. strike that killed Qassem Soleimani. → Read More

Did the Arab Spring Protests Really Fail?

The story of what became of the Arab Spring is grimly familiar now, and every year seems to trigger a reflection of what went wrong. But 10 years on, did the uprisings really fail, despite resurgent autocrats, reactionary counterrevolutions and civil wars? Or have they just been misunderstood? → Read More

Morocco’s Normalization Deal With Israel Is Another Obvious Quid Pro Quo

The normalization deals between Israel and Arab countries, brokered by the Trump administration, are less about peace and more about quid pro quos. Morocco’s agreement is the most blatant one yet, trading formal ties with Israel in exchange for U.S. recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. → Read More

A Royal Rift Over Saudi Normalization With Israel Comes Into the Open

Prince Turki al-Faisal, a senior Saudi royal close to King Salman, sharply criticized Israel and its commitment to peace with Palestinians at a security conference in Bahrain on Sunday. The speech seemed to undercut the idea of Saudi normalization with Israel, but who was Prince Turki really speaking for? → Read More

Trump’s Mad Dash in the Middle East Could Leave a Mess for Biden

The Trump administration is racing to seal a last-minute diplomatic deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia and lock in its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, risking new tensions and even new wars just as Joe Biden is inaugurated as U.S. president. For Donald Trump, that may be precisely the point. → Read More

Bracing for Biden, Egypt’s Sisi Opens a ‘Full-Fledged Attack’ on Human Rights

Cracking down on human rights has become all too familiar in Egypt under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. But last week’s arrests of the leadership of the country’s most prominent human rights organization was a major escalation that looks brazenly timed to the end of Donald Trump’s presidency. → Read More

Where 50 Years of Assad Family Rule Have Left Syria

Nov. 13 marked a grim milestone in Syria: 50 years since Hafez al-Assad seized power in a coup. His son Bashar al-Assad has clung to his repressive playbook throughout Syria’s civil war, but is it reaching its limits? Assad’s cash-strapped regime is desperately trying to convince millions of refugees to return. → Read More

Why Saudi Arabia Will Be the First Big Test of a Biden Foreign Policy

One of the few countries that waited a conspicuously long time to congratulate Joe Biden on his election win over Donald Trump was Saudi Arabia. It hardly seemed like an accident. Biden, after all, has promised to “reassess” America’s longstanding relationship with Riyadh, which Trump has defiantly defended. → Read More

Could Biden Deliver on the Promise of a Better U.S. Middle East Policy?

Joe Biden promises a different kind of transition in the Middle East from Donald Trump than Barack Obama did from George W. Bush. Americans have heard presidential candidates vow to improve U.S. policy in the region before, but it seems like an afterthought for many voters today, and even in Washington. → Read More

Israel-Gulf Normalization Isn’t Really Part of a Middle East Peace Plan

The prospect of land for peace in resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict is long gone. Instead of giving up territory it has occupied since 1967, Israel is successfully pursuing what its right wing has wanted all along: “economic peace.” The proof is in Israel’s normalization deals with the UAE and Bahrain. → Read More

The Aftermath of the Beirut Blast Looks All Too Familiar to Lebanon

In the week since the catastrophic explosion at Beirut’s port, Lebanon’s Cabinet announced it would resign, countries like France and the U.S. have promised to help rebuild, the Lebanese have seethed—and no one has been held accountable, except for a few port officials. For Lebanon, it’s all too familiar. → Read More