How Britain’s power in the Middle East crumbled under the reign of Queen Elizabeth

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When Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne in 1952, Britain was the dominant power in the Middle East and North Africa. It has direct control over protectorates such as Sudan, Egypt and Iraq and indirect control over Gulf states such as Bahrain, Qatar, and now the United Arab Emirates, which have signed treaties with Britain.

But in just three decades of his rule, he has seen his country’s supremacy in the Middle East crumble as his empire shrinks.

Much of Britain’s traditional control over the region was rooted in monarchies that it either imposed or supported through close ties to its royal family. But in 1971, all of its protectorates in the Middle East gained independence as the cost of running Britain’s empire increased.

However, British influence in the region, especially in the Gulf Arab states, remained strong, not least through Queen Elizabeth and the monarchy.

“Britain’s role and its legacy in the Gulf is very different from the legacy Britain left behind in Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, and Yemen, from which Britain was basically kicked out,” said James Onley, professor of history at the American University of Sharjah who studied the relationship between Britain and the Gulf monarchies. “When Britain announced in 1968 that it was withdrawing its military from the Gulf, and its protection from the small Gulf states, the Gulf states asked Britain not to leave.”

After its withdrawal, Britain built strategic partnerships with the Gulf states involving interests in defence, security, investment and energy – and the royal family played a role in safeguarding that relationship.

“The royal family has provided a way for Britain to develop and maintain decades-long connections with ruling elites in the region, especially in the Gulf, in ways that are difficult for elected political leaders to replicate,” Kristian Ulrichsen, fellow for the Middle East at Rice University’s Baker Institute told CNN. “Although this has not always translated into measurable results for British interests in the region.”

The Queen made two sets of state visits to the Gulf region in 1979 and 2010 and pictures of her laughing with the ruling elite illustrate a strong bond.

The number of mutual visits between Gulf Arab and British royals is comparable to royal family visits to Commonwealth realms, Onley said. “This is quite surprising considering that the [Gulf] is not part of the Commonwealth, but in many ways it is a de facto member… Britain is more than a strategic ally [in the Gulf]it is family in many ways,” he said.

Memories of British rule are not as fond of the north in the Arab world. Many in the Middle East attribute today’s political grievances to colonialism. The death of Queen Elizabeth II may have prompted an outpouring of grief from countries formerly controlled by Britain, but the legacy she represented was also seen as a symbol of oppression.

The Queen began her reign when Britain was trying to reform its relationship with countries it once controlled, Abdel Razzaq Takriti, a history professor at Brown University, told CNN.

“During that time, the region was embroiled in a massive array of anticolonial uprisings… and attempts to overthrow British rule,” he said.

Those attempts succeeded, and under the reign of Queen Elizabeth, British influence in the Middle East underwent a major change, as the colonial structures were almost gone.

“The Queen’s reign can be described as overseeing the decline of Britain as an imperial and a world power, a period encapsulated by the fallout from the Suez Crisis of 1956, just four years into her reign, and the struggle to rebuild Britain’s position in the region in the following years,” said Ulrichsen.

Takriti said it was difficult for people in the Middle East to move on from Britain’s history when its impact lingered.

“The most notable legacy of Britain in the region, which of course was never resolved under the reign of Queen Elizabeth, is the question of Palestine. And many people in the region have never forgiven Britain for this,” he said. .

Turkish drone maker to build factory in Ukraine, Zelensky said

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday met with the head of Turkish defense firm Baykar and said the company would build a factory in Ukraine to build unmanned aerial vehicles, Reuters reported.

  • Background: Baykar’s Bayraktar TB2 drone is very popular in Ukraine, where it helped destroy many Russian artillery systems and armored vehicles. A video posted online showed Zelenskiy presenting Bayraktar with the Ukrainian Order of Merit. In return, Zelenskiy received a traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirt featuring a drone.
  • Why it matters: Russia has previously complained to Turkey over its sale of drones to Ukraine. Turkey has not joined its NATO allies in sanctioning Russia over its war in Ukraine and has facilitated talks between the warring parties.

Greek PM wants to keep channels open to Turkey despite “unacceptable” comments

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Sunday that Athens would try to keep communication channels open with Ankara despite recent “unacceptable” comments from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Reuters reported. He said, he has always been ready to meet with Erdogan.

  • Background: Erdogan accused Greece of occupying demilitarized islands in the Aegean Sea, saying Turkey was ready to “do what is necessary” when the time comes. The European Union last week expressed concern over Erdogan’s remarks, while Greece sent letters to NATO and the United Nations, complaining about what it called “inflammatory” comments.
  • Why is this important?: The two countries – NATO allies but historical adversaries – have been at odds for decades over a range of issues including where their continental shelves begin and end, overflights in the Aegean Sea, the status of demilitarized island, and Cyprus divided.

Iran urges Saudi Arabia to show goodwill in talks to revive ties

Iran has no preconditions in its talks with Saudi Arabia, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said on Monday, calling on Riyadh to adopt a “constructive approach” to improve relations, Reuters reported. “Iran will respond proportionately to any constructive action by Saudi Arabia,” Kanaani told a televised news conference.

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Saudi Arabia: Nazar Bahbari insults Saudi women

A prominent Saudi doctor’s research into the pornography viewing habits of women has sparked controversy in the Gulf state, with many attacking the practitioner for “guilting Saudi women.”

Nazar Bahbari is the director of the Saudi Society for Infectious Diseases in Jeddah who has gained huge social media attention following the Covid-19 pandemic as many are listening to his advice. He has more than 230,000 followers.

However, his popularity suffered when, in an interview on Saturday with a Saudi TV channel, Bahbari said that a 2019 survey he conducted showed that 92% of Saudi women had watched pornography, up from 23% in a 2014 survey on social media. The survey included 3,000 women, he told the TV channel.

Soon, Twitter accounts run by detractors of Saudi Arabia and its leaders began citing the video as evidence of the alleged negative impact of social freedoms introduced in the kingdom. Pornography is banned in Saudi Arabia.

Others attacked the doctor, with the Arabic hashtag “Nazar Bahbari insults Saudi women” trending on Twitter.

“She sits there and gives the world the impression that Saudi women are easy,” one user tweetedquestioning his dignity.

“Bad, poisonous and evil words,” another user tweeted.

Bahbari announced his results in the context of rising concerns about pornography addiction, which he said hinders sexual relationships in marriage. He defended his research on social media, noting that the survey included only 3,000 women, whose pornography viewing habits are not representative of the entire community.

“To create appropriate awareness content, I am doing surveys to know the extent of the problem,” he said in a video uploaded on Twitter on Monday.

Nazar declined CNN’s request for comment.

By Nadeen Ebrahim