John R. Bradley

Oil on troubled waters: the US-Saudi alliance is crumbling

Donald Trump said in October 2018 that the Saudi royal family ‘wouldn’t last two weeks’ without American military support. Last week, on the back of the collapse of the US fracking industry, he finally acted on his long-standing anti–Saudi instincts. He ordered the immediate withdrawal of two patriot air defence batteries, sent to defend the

Has Trump finally decided to dump Saudi?

In a dramatic move even by his own mercurial standards, Donald Trump has authorised the withdrawal of two Patriot missile systems guarding Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, accompanied by hundreds of American military troops operating them. They were deployed last September after a massive cruise missile and drone attack on the Saudi oil infrastructure – blamed

Ten years on, the Arab Spring has only benefited the Islamists

A decade after the Arab Spring, good news anywhere is hard to find. In contrast to Asia, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, extreme poverty has increased in the Arab region. Both internal economic growth and direct foreign investment have declined. Unemployment, especially among the young, has grown. Education standards are falling. There is less press

The Soleimani assassination is Donald Trump’s biggest gamble yet

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president on a non-military interventionist platform, sceptics have questioned his commitment to withdrawing troops from the Middle Eastern quagmire and stopping the endless wars he claims to despise. Now he has authorised the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, the head of the powerful Iranian Quds Force, we can be in

A new Iranian revolution should worry the West

Is Iran on the brink of a revolution? The mullahs’ main political adversaries in Washington and Tel Aviv appear to think so, as does much of the western media. With the Wall Street Journal reporting that Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps is taking charge of security in Tehran, it is equally clear that the regime

The alliance between America and Saudi Arabia is over

The oil-for-security alliance between the US and Saudi Arabia, forged in 1945 when Franklin D. Roosevelt met King Abdul Aziz aboard a US Navy destroyer, is now over. Just look at the American reaction to the attack by Iran on Saudi oil facilities. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo duly called it an ‘act of war’;

Has Saudi Arabia just pivoted towards Russia?

For all but the most harried journalist motivated by a need to pay off the mortgage, the annual G20 summit – being held this weekend in Buenos Aires – is typically viewed as a perfect cure for insomnia. Who will stand next to whom in the family photo? Will the wording of a final statement

Hostages to fortune

It says something about the level of political discourse in America that Donald Trump decided to trumpet sanctions on Iran not with a speech, but a Twitter meme in reference to Game of Thrones. ‘Sanctions are coming,’ he says – in a picture that might be funny if it were not so serious. The White

Death of a dissident

As someone who spent three decades working closely with intelligence services in the Arab world and the West, the Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi knew he was taking a huge risk in entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week to try to obtain a document certifying he had divorced his ex-wife.

The rehabilitation of Assad

Amid the confusion and the almost deafening cries of treachery and collusion over Donald Trump’s relations with Russia, few noticed the most tangible outcome of this week’s Helsinki summit. In the lead-up to his face-to-face talk with Vladimir Putin, senior US and Russian diplomats — in close coordination with leaders from mutual ally Israel —

… and of progress

In an interview this week, Mohammad bin Salman offered an extraordinarily frank assessment of how to combat terrorism. It means rooting out Islamist ideology, he said, as much as sharing intelligence. He presumably would take this blunt message to MI5 and MI6 in his meetings with those agencies, as well as to Theresa May’s National

Is Mohammad bin Salman a friend to the West?

Amid the avalanche of news coming from Saudi Arabia, the most important has been overlooked. A few weeks ago Riyadh ceded control of the Grand Mosque in Brussels, leased to the Saudis in 1969 and since then instrumental in promoting Islamic supremacy, anti-Christian and anti-Semitic hatred in the heart of Europe. The deal had given

Desert storm

Until last weekend, the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh’s exclusive Diplomatic Quarter was colloquially known as the Princes’ Hotel. It was a luxurious retreat from the heat, where royals could engage in the kind of wheeling and dealing with the global business elite that had made them millionaires on the back of the 1970s oil boom. No

Arabian nights

Recall the media coverage at the height of the Jimmy Savile scandal, times it by about a thousand, and you get an idea of the hysteria currently surrounding gay men in Egypt. That’s not an arbitrary analogy. The social ramifications of coming out as a ‘gay man’ in most parts of the Middle East are