Persian Gulf

OPINION: ISIS Appeals to a Longing for the Caliphate

When, all of a sudden, ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) emerged on the scene and in a matter of days occupied large swathes of mainly Sunni-inhabited parts of Iraq and Syria, including Iraq’s second city Mosul and Tikrit, birthplace of Saddam Hussein, and called itself the Islamic State, many people, not least Western politicians and intelligence services, were taken by surprise.

POLITICS-US: One-Fifth of Iraq Funding Paid to Contractors

As a new report forecasts that the 190,000 private contractors in Iraq and neighbouring countries will cost U.S. taxpayers more than 100 billion dollars by the end of 2008, an under-the-radar Florida court case suggests that U.S. President George W. Bush - a staunch contractor supporter - is preparing to throw security contractors such as Blackwater under the political bus.

GLOBALISATION: West’s Loss of Gulf Funds East’s Gain

As politically motivated restrictions on investments by oil-rich countries intensify in the West, the sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) of the Gulf countries could opt to invest in Asia and other emerging markets despite attractive valuations in the slowing U.S and European markets.

DEVELOPMENT: Gulf Eyes ‘Oil-For-Food’ Deal With Neighbours

Recent attempts by Gulf countries to invest in farmlands abroad to counter soaring inflation and guarantee long-term food security could prove to be a win-win situation in the short-term for both the oil-rich region and its investment-hungry neighbours, but continued high oil prices may neutralise the gains in the long-run, feel experts.

POLITICS-SAUDI ARABIA: Iran Polls Better Than U.S.

Although the image of the United States appears to have improved in Saudi Arabia over the past year, the Saudi public’s view of Washington remains largely negative, according to major new poll released here this week by Terror Free Tomorrow (TFT), a Washington, D.C.-based bipartisan group.

IRAQ: Executions Not Leading to Reconciliation

The executions of former regime officials are creating greater division, rather than reconciliation, among Iraqis.

IRAQ: Infighting Increases Instability

Increasing conflict and finger pointing between leading Shi'ite political blocs are heightening instability in war-torn Iraq.

ECONOMY: UAE Recasts Weekend to World’s Beat

As part of the drive to open up its markets and become a leading player in the Middle East and beyond, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has decided to institute a Friday-Saturday weekend.

LABOUR: UAE Pushes Local Job Seekers

Reacting to fears that the number of jobless nationals in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) could hit 40,000 and to complaints that national job seekers face discrimination, authorities have intensified the drive to promote "emiratisation".

CHALLENGES 2004-2005: U.S. Trade Tactic Splits Arab States

A free trade deal between the United States and the tiny Persian Gulf Kingdom of Bahrain is causing friction with other Arab states, which say the pact could weaken their economic bloc ahead of future trade talks with Washington.

TRADE: Egypt Signs On to U.S.-Israel Model

High-level officials from Egypt, Israel and the United States signed a three-way trade deal Tuesday that would allow Israeli-Egyptian products duty-free access to the U.S. market, a further step toward launching a broader free trade pact in the Middle East.

IRAQ: Cost of Guards, Guns Deters Some Contractors

Somewhere between Halliburton and CARE, there is a cadre of contractors trying to help Iraq establish a working, private-sector economy. But the cost of securing their safety is frustrating many, as some firms report spending 25-30 percent of their contract revenues on armoured cars and small private armies.

TRADE: US Deal Menaces Central American Farmers – Report

A pending trade deal between the United States and Central American countries could force the collapse of rice production in those six developing nations and put thousands of farmers out of business, a leading development agency warned Tuesday.

U.S.-IRAQ: ‘Phantom Fury’ Poised to Become Phantom Victory

With Monday's launch of 'Operation Phantom Fury' to regain control of the key insurgent-dominated Sunni city of Fallujah, the administration of U.S. President George W Bush appears to be moving toward another ''phantom victory'' in its broader quest to achieve a stable, pro-western Iraq.

IRAQ: U.S. Failed to Guard Evidence of Abuses – Report

Crucial evidence of alleged human rights abuses that could be used in upcoming trials of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his top aides has apparently been lost or damaged due to U.S. neglect, says a report released Thursday.

RIGHTS: No Change in U.S. Torture Policy – Amnesty

The United States has failed to meaningfully change its policies on the treatment of prisoners, opening the door to repeats of abuses like those at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and making an independent probe into torture by the U.S. military essential, says a leading human rights group.

POLITICS: Mideast Reformers Warn of Backsliding

A landmark reform plan prepared by 40 civil society groups from 15 Middle East and North African (MENA) countries for a recent G8 meeting in New York is at risk of "a false start," according to one of its signatories.

POLITICS-U.S.: So, Did Saddam Hussein Try to Kill Bush’s Dad?

Now that President George W. Bush's allegations about former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's ties to al-Qaeda and ambitious weapons programmes have been thoroughly discredited, another outstanding charge remains to be resolved.

MEDIA: Is Al-Jazeera the New Symbol of Arab Nationalism?

When the League of Arab States was created in 1945, it was perceived as the ultimate symbol of Arab nationalism in a politically and militarily de-moralised Middle East.

TRADE: U.S. Business Pushes for Mideast Trade

Major U.S. corporations are joining forces to lobby for a U.S.-Middle East Free Trade Agreement (MEFTA) that President George W Bush proposed in 2003.

PAKISTAN: Sex Workers Come Together to Fight HIV/AIDS

Placing her cell phone on the table, Zulekha runs her fingers through her long, streaked hair and smiles uncertainly. Next to her, Mariam, stifles a yawn and apologises. ''I had a late night,'' she adds, reading the text message on her phone.

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kenneth peoples