Monday 18 Jan 2021 | 19:22 | SYDNEY
People | experts Rodger Shanahan
Research Fellow, West Asia Program
Lowy Institute
Areas of ExpertiseMiddle East security issues; Political Islam; Shi’a Islam

Lebanon: A tale of two cities

Well, one city, really. But depending on where you are in Beirut it may as well be two cities or even two planets on occasion. This goes a long way to explain why the political situation is so intractable here and why it is likely to stay that way, with periods of relative calm, until such time as

The Beirut marathon

Sunday 1 June was the Beirut marathon and in many ways it served as a rather apt metaphor for the recent Lebanese political reconciliation. Both involved a deal of pain for those involved, and brought great relief to the participants once they were concluded. Only the race, like the political

I love Kuwait City in the spring

And who wouldn't, with year-round sunshine, lovely seafood from the adjacent waters of the Gulf, the mercury a balmy 45 degrees and oil at $130 a barrel. But what makes Kuwait different is the fact that it is much further down the democratic development path than any other GCC member. With a

The Jews of Bahrain

While in Bahrain on a research visit, it has been interesting to learn of the small island kingdom’s attitude to its tiny Jewish community. The community of perhaps 30-50 people is prominent in commerce on the island, have their own cemetery, and two people in the appointed 40 member upper

Middle East negotiation pandemic

Break out the Efez, al Maza, Barada or Maccabi beers, because it would appear that peace negotiations are the new growth industry in the Middle East. First came word that the Qatari-brokered negotiations to end the Lebanese political stalemate had brought results, followed by a formal announcement

Qatar: The mouse that 'punched above its weight'

Perhaps the most cliched term used to describe Australian influence is that we ‘punch above our weight’. The term itself has formed the basis of Boyer Lectures and learned articles. The current Australian Foreign Minister has even critiqued the concept, provocatively claiming that we punch

Lebanon new reality

Last week’s emphatic takeover of West Beirut by Hizbullah and its junior Shi’a ally Amal was a classic example of how the Lebanese Shi’a are effectively Lebanon’s new powerbrokers. Having been pressured by the government, it responded by destroying its Sunni competitors while leaving

Beirut burning

Images of burning tyres and news of armed clashes between pro- and anti-government supporters in areas of Beirut on Wednesday make for sobering reading. While the clashes erupted on a day that the General Labour Confederation had called for a national strike, the industrial action merely provided

What price the Golan?

Reports have been surfacing in the press about Turkish-mediated contacts between Israel and Syria over a peace deal between the two countries that would involve the return of the Golan Heights to Syria. The barriers to success though, are many. Israel would require a strong, US-backed security

Strangers in their own country

The sheer scale and speed of development that many of the Gulf Cooperation Council members are experiencing is amazing to watch. Fueled by record oil prices, states and emirates vie for primacy by building the tallest or largest buildings, creating artificial islands, hosting sporting events with

Defence counter-terrorism budget

Sam's suggestion that counter-terrorism money from the ‘hard power’ Defence budget be reallocated to the ‘soft power’ DFAT budget because they reaped too much reward from the Howard Government’s focus on military solutions to the terrorist threat is a bit on the simplistic side

Pacific Island Gurkhas

While the issue of Pacific labour mobility has gained traction with the election of the new Labor Government and was also featured at the 2020 Summit, another related but separate issue is the recruitment of Pacific Islanders into the Australian Defence Force. The issue was first raised last year

Just when you thought Lebanon couldn't get any worse

With parliament not having met in over a year, government business paralysed since the withdrawal of Shi’a members of cabinet in November 2006 and with 17 unsuccessful attempts to elect a president since Emile Lahoud stepped down in November last year, one could be forgiven for thinking the soap

Iran: Will jaw-jaw forestall war-war?

The Australian’s account of 'secret' US/Iranian nuclear talks is a bit more dramatic than The Independent’s original story given the low-key nature of the second-track discussions. What it does highlight, however, is the multi-layered dialogue occurring between Iranian government and

What if they held an Arab summit and nobody came?

As an advertisement for Arab disunity, last weekend’s Arab Summit was a runaway success, given that it was noteworthy more for who didn’t attend than who did. Out of the 22 members of the Arab League, only 10 sent their leaders to the summit. Regional heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Egypt only

Wednesday Lunch at Lowy - Dr Rodger Shanahan presentation

At the Wednesday Lunch at Lowy on 19 March, Chief of Army Visiting Fellow Colonel Rodger Shanahan discussed the current status of Lebanese Hizbullah and how political forces may shape its future in a presentation entitled 'Hizbullah's post-war dilemma: walking the Lebanese political tightrope