Writer Articles
Faisal Al Yafai

Faisal Al Yafai

The writer is currently writing a book on the Middle East and is a frequent commentator on international TV news networks. He worked for news outlets such as The Guardian and the BBC, and reported on the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa. ©Syndication Bureau.

China brings Saudi Arabia and Iran together, pushes America out

In diplomatic terms, the optics were shocking. Here were representatives from Saudi Arabia and Iran smiling and holding hands in a foreign capital as they announced the restoration of diplomatic relations after a seven-year break. But the foreign minister in the middle, proudly bringing them together, was not a European or American politician, but China’s Wang Yi. No words were needed. The message was heard from Washington to Brussels: China’s diplomacy had arrived in the Middle East.

Egypt’s road to Damascus and the dangers of a frozen Ukraine war

​The gentle footsteps of normalization with the Assad regime have become considerably faster since the devastating earthquakes at the start of this month. Bashar Al Assad, for so long diplomatically confined to Damascus, first visited Oman. This week, there was a giant leap as Egypt’s foreign minister landed in Damascus for further post-earthquake diplomacy. It is not exactly that too much water has passed under the bridge between the two countries; more that simply too much politics has happened for too long.

Scramble for Africa comes out of the shadows

​For months, when it came to Africa, Ukraine was the war that dared not speak its name. Russia and the West were jockeying for influence on the continent, peddling deals and diplomatic support, but rarely referencing their charm offensives in the context of the Ukraine war. Now, the covers have been thrown back.

From Middle East to South China Sea, minilateralism is on the rise

​Just like that, minilateralism is back. The slimmed-down cousin of geopolitics stalwart bilateralism — state to state relations — and multilateralism — vast, formal institutions like the United Nations and the European Union — is having a moment.

Turkey and Syria begin delicate dance toward reconciliation

​What started in the autumn as the small, hesitant steps of reluctant dance partners has exploded in pace over the past few weeks, as Turkey and Syria begin open moves toward some form of reconciliation.

Russia’s winter war has frozen Europe’s politics

Christmas across the European continent was more subdued this year than usual, thanks to the war in Ukraine. Country after country sought to reduce their electricity consumption amid a cut in Russian gas supplies.

On the global stage, as in Qatar, France is still second best

When France scored their first goal in the World Cup final, the country’s President Emmanuel Macron leapt to his feet in delight. By the end, having joined the defeated French players on the pitch, he looked dejected. It was a scene that mirrors Macron’s own political travails on the world stage — extensive travel, an energetic performance but still, in his tussles with Russia, with the US or with Germany, coming off second best.

Middle East warily watches West’s new oil weapon

The start of last week brought a new weapon in the West’s financial war against Russia.

Spanish decision shows tide turning on repatriating Daesh brides

In the murky world of Daesh families, all diplomacy is conducted quietly. Last Monday, the Spanish government quietly admitted it would bring back several Spanish wives and children of Daesh fighters, before the end of the year. Newspaper reports placed the number at three women and 13 children — a figure which, while small, represents a significant change for European countries.

Putin’s proxy fighters step out of the shadows

Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows, and the misery of Ukraine war has dragged some of Russia’s unusual bedfellows out of the shadows.