FROM Ali Al-Ahmed
Sectarianism Renews Divisions in the Middle East By executing a Shiite cleric last weekend, the Sunni nation of Saudi Arabia created a martyr. It also inflamed its dangerous rivalry with Shiite Iran. Hardliners in both countries are now using sectarian differences to pursue political goals. Stability in the Middle East is at risk, along with implementing the Iran nuclear deal, finding an end to Syria's civil war and defeating the Islamic State. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia violate human rights and make war on their neighbors. Should the US choose one over the other or look for middle ground?
Is Saudi Arabia Serious about Declaring War against Terror? Saudi Arabia says it's formed a coalition of 34 Muslim nations against ISIS, other terrorist groups and their "violent ideology." The US was surprised, but calls the announcement "welcome." Pakistan, one of 34 nations named as a partner, says it wasn't even consulted. Iran, Syria and Iraq weren't included at all, raising questions about the divide between Sunnis and Shiites. Is Saudi Arabia just responding to Western critics, diverting attention from warfare in Yemen or making a real bid for leadership in collective security?
Saudi Arabia: Human Rights and Public Persuasion Saudi Arabia's justice system features public beheadings, hangings and floggings, which — to Western eyes -- are violations of human rights. But the Kingdom is so important to defense contractors, intelligence agents and stability in the Middle East that Western governments usually don't say a word. Now rare public criticism has outraged the Saudi royal family, and British leaders are struggling for damage control. Should recent incidents cause the US to be heard from, or would complaints fall on deaf ears?
After Syria strike a new Trump doctrine emerges The President who promised an end to entanglements in the Middle East and snuggled up to Vladimir Putin has now outraged Russia with surprise missile attacks on Syria. That's raised questions about who's running the White House? We hear a variety of answers.
Will the march for science politicize objective research? Protesters are gathering all over the country for tomorrow's Earth Day March for Science. Since President Trump has proposed massive cuts in basic scientific research, will the movement be perceived as partisan politics — whether scientists themselves like it or not?
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.