Transition And Unease In The Arabian Peninsula

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Yemen in turmoil, a new king in Saudi Arabia. We’ll look at what’s next for the Arabian Peninsula. Plus: the President's trip to the Indian subcontinent.

Yemeni protesters gather during a demonstration to show their support to Houthi Shiite rebels in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015.  (AP)
Yemeni protesters gather during a demonstration to show their support to Houthi Shiite rebels in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. (AP)

A big visit to India by the President of the United States today.  But President Obama is cutting that trip a bit short to head to Saudi Arabia.  A Saudi king has died.  A new king crowned. Just as next-door Yemen has seen rebels take over its capital.  The Arabian Peninsula has not seen so much change in so short a time in a long time.  And it comes at a fraught time.  The beheadings and self-proclaimed caliphate of ISIS and Syrian turmoil to the north.  Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the south.  This hour On Point:  in the eye of the storm - the Arabian Peninsula.
-- Tom Ashbrook


Bernard Haykel, professor of Near Eastern Studies and director of the Institute for Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia at Princeton University. Co-editor of "Saudi Arabia In Transition."

Elisabeth Kendall, senior research fellow in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Pembroke College at Oxford University. (@dr_e_kendall)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: U.S. Fears Chaos as Government of Yemen Falls -- "The resignation of the president, prime minister and cabinet took American officials by surprise and heightened the risks that Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, would become even more of a breeding ground for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has claimed responsibility for audacious anti-Western attacks — including the deadly assault on Charlie Hebdo in Paris this month."

The Guardian: Saudi Arabia’s new king promises continuity after death of Abdullah — "King Salman of Saudi Arabia signalled continuity at a time of turmoil in the Middle East on Friday – but paved the way for a new generation of royals to take power as his predecessor Abdullah was buried and his subjects swore their allegiance. Salman, who is 79 and widely said to be in poor health, became king, as long expected, on the death of his half-brother, aged 90, in the early hours of the morning. The new crown prince and heir to the throne is Prince Muqrin, 69"

The Economist: The long arm — "Officials in Tehran are not shy about their aim of spreading influence abroad, nor of their apparent success. Even as the efforts of the West and its Sunni Arab allies look distinctly half-hearted, notably in their fight against Islamic State (IS), Tehran can claim, with only a pinch of hubris, to run three Arab capitals: Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut. This week it may have added a fourth: Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, where on January 20th Shia Houthi rebels took over the presidential palace. American and Saudi officials believe the rebel militia is backed by the Iranians, although they deny it in public (and boast of it in private).

President Obama In India

Colleen McCain Nelson, White House correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. (@colleenmnelson)

The Wall Street Journal: Obama’s Appearance at India’s Republic Day Sends Message to China — "This is the first time India—which spent much of the Cold War espousing non-alignment and nurturing ties with Russia as the U.S. cultivated New Delhi’s rivals, Pakistan and China—has invited an American head of state for the Republic Day event. Mr. Obama’s attendance is a sign of U.S. hope that as Washington makes its pivot to Asia, India—under the leadership of Mr. Modi—will be able overcome hurdles that have long constrained its economy and prevented it from becoming an effective strategic counterweight to China."

This program aired on January 26, 2015.


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