Hafed Al-Ghwell is a non-resident senior fellow with the Foreign Policy Institute at the John Hopkins University School of Advance International Studies. He is also senior adviser at the international economic consultancy Maxwell Stamp and at the geopolitical risk advisory firm Oxford Analytica, a member of the Strategic Advisory Solutions International Group in Washington DC and a former adviser to the board of the World Bank Group.
On Oct. 10, 2010 Arab and African leaders descended on Sirte, a coastal city in Libya, for an Afro-Arab Summit presided over by Muammar Gaddafi. Six Arab leaders lined up for a group photograph that, nine years later, would make the rounds on social media, altered by the addition of a red “X” over the images of all six: Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Algeria’s Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Sudan’s Omar Al-Bashir.
On March 23, just two weeks ago, one of the most gripping, harrowing tales of the rise of post-911 terrorism came to an end. The Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led, US-backed group, routed the remnants of ISIS in the small Syrian town of Baghouz, the group’s last territorial possession.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Warsaw this week attending a conference to discuss “the future of Middle East stability and prosperity.” On the surface, the aims were noble, because the Middle East is replete with crises and the Trump administration’s policy of disengagement has certainly not helped.
It has been five years since videos of executions by Daesh surfaced on the internet, earning the terrorist militant group instant notoriety. Soon after, its members seized large swaths of Iraqi and Syrian territory with little difficulty, spreading in the wide rifts created by civil war.
Clouds of uncertainty continue to swirl over the global economy, with the US Federal Reserve’s recent rate hike proving especially controversial. Europe is bracing for a “no-deal” Brexit while China and the US remain embroiled in a needless trade war.