News and geopolitical analyses of the Middle East coming from outside of the region tend to be monolithic: It’s all about the oil. Westerners tend to rely upon sources rooted in the nations in which they live — such as the Council on Foreign Relations in the United States or the Royal Institute of International Affairs in the United Kingdom. Since these organizations set the tone for journalists’ understandings of the Middle East it is rare to read articles on the region that get right the many nuances that are unique to every region and culture on the planet.
Enter: Raghida Dergham, founder and executive chairman of the Beirut Institute, and columnist and senior diplomatic corrrespondent for Al Hayat, a leading Arabic daily news source. Even writing for an independent news source, Dergham provides a native’s outsider voice. Take for example a recent call out of US president Barack Obama on his lack of a policy in Syria in which she stated, “So it is time to recognize that the policy of attrition, exhaustion, and mutual destruction in Syria has failed miserably, and instead resulted in a tragic disaster for Syria and its people.”
Tough stances are easy for journalists as compared to trenchant analyses that lead to insights and understanding. Yet, Dergham also does this well. Her potent combination of hard-hitting journalism and analysis was on full display in her recent parsing of the strategies of various nations heading in to the GCC.
“The Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah will probably succeed in containing differences between GCC countries and stop them from dominating the Arab summit. Prior to the GCC summit, Sheikh Sabah convened a tripartite summit with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and Qatar’s new young Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Khalifa. Understandings were reached with the bottom line being that Qatar should scale back its backing for the Muslim Brotherhood, which Saudi Arabia and the UAE see as a security and strategic threat in Egypt and other Arab countries.”
Fortunately for attendees of the forthcoming CFA Institute hosted Fifth Annual Middle Eastern Investment Conference, taking place 9–10 April 2014 in the Dead Sea, Jordan, Dergham will be providing the opening remarks and important context for day two of the conference.
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