Innocents Abroad

‘The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrims’ Progress’: the title of Mark Twain’s famed travel book, written in 1867 following his voyage from America to the Middle East. Twain provided his American readership with one of their first glimpses of the Arab World. Our ‘Innocents Abroad’ blog brings you commentary on the ever-evolving relationship between the United States and the Middle East.



Andrew Bowen
Written by :
on : Saturday, 29 Mar, 2014

A Window of Opportunity

Thanks to the growing rupture of US–Russian relations, including Russia’s expulsion from the G8 this week and the imposition of tit-for-tat economic sanctions, the Obama administration’s main diplomatic ventures, the Geneva process on Syria and the Iranian nuclear talks—both of which are contingent on Russian support and cooperation—are in jeopardy. Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, indicated last week that critical areas of cooperation between the two states ...

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Michael Stephens
Written by :
on : Friday, 28 Mar, 2014

Barack’s Band-Aid

US President Barack Obama’s visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia comes at a crucial moment for one of the Middle East’s most enduring strategic alliances. The US has long been the backbone of Saudi Arabian security, investing heavily in supplies and training for its army, air force, National Guard and Interior Ministry. This is not to say that the relationship is one of suzerainty: there have been mutual benefits to both sides, and since the 1973 oil shocks following the Yom Kippur Wa...

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James Spencer
Written by :
on : Friday, 28 Mar, 2014

Working Smart, Not Working Hard

To read various articles on US foreign policy in the Middle East, one would imagine that the US was in a state of full-scale retreat from the region, just as the UK withdrew from ...

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Robert E. Hunter
Written by :
on : Wednesday, 26 Mar, 2014

Reassurance, A Two-Way Street

This week, US President Barack Obama is visiting three European states and Saudi Arabia. What was originally planned as a more or less routine trip has taken on new urgency with th...

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Caryle Murphy
Written by :
on : Wednesday, 5 Mar, 2014

Mr Ghannouchi Goes to Washington

Rachid Ghannouchi visited Washington recently and brought some welcome relief from the steady stream of bad news flowing out of the Arab world these days. The leader of Enn...

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Robert E. Hunter
Written by :
on : Wednesday, 26 Feb, 2014

Grasping the Nettle

US Secretary of State John Kerry has devoted more time and effort to trying to negotiate peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority than to any other foreign policy problem...

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Andrew Bowen
Written by :
on : Wednesday, 19 Feb, 2014

Small Steps after Geneva

For months leading up to Geneva II, John Kerry, more so than President Barack Obama, pinned his hopes on an active diplomatic approach to end Syria's civil war. Alongside the I...

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Caryle Murphy
Written by :
on : Wednesday, 5 Feb, 2014

A Gloomy Outlook

Never in recent memory has there been such a grim and foreboding mood among those who love Egypt—whether Egyptians or foreigners—as that witnessed during a recent all-d...

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Robert E. Hunter
Written by :
on : Thursday, 30 Jan, 2014

Setting Priorities

On Tuesday night, on prime-time television, US President Barack Obama delivered his sixth annual State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress. Analysts, pundits, a...

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Andrew Bowen
Written by :
on : Tuesday, 21 Jan, 2014

Geneva’s Missing Piece

As many observers and commentators convene on the snow-covered cityscape of Geneva for the inaugural talks between the Syrian National Coalition and representatives of President Ba...

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