I have published a policy piece in Al-Monitor titled " Concerns Over Finances, Not Iran, Will End Qatar Crisis ." It argues, as the title implies, that economic considerations in the blockading countries are likely to be the primary motivator of the (perhaps impending) end to the Qatar embargo, rather than common Arab Gulf fear of an increasingly belligerent Iran. This is because the Qatar blockade has created a split in the GCC fiscal reform agenda, with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain moving forward with unpopular austerity measures -- especially direct taxation -- while Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman have deferred structural changes to the rentier state. The result is a sort of "good cop/bad cop" dichotomy in the Gulf, where some GCC citizens continue to live under the previous, relatively more generous economic regime while others do not. The close GCC fiscal policy coordination of 2015-2017, which was meant precisely to avoid such discrepancies that could l
The Middle East Journal has published in its Fall 2019 issue an article by myself and a Ph.D. student I am supervising titled " Crisis, State Legitimacy, and Political Participation in a Non-Democracy: How Qatar Withstood the 2017 Blockade ." The article uses rare nationally-representative public opinion data collected just prior to and after June 2017 to assess the effect of the embargo on Qatari views toward the GCC, foreign affairs, and domestic politics. The findings help shed light on the reasons why Qatari public opinion remained supportive of the (non-democratic) political status quo despite concerted efforts by the blockading countries to delegitimize the Qatari leadership and sow internal political discord during the now largely forgotten early stages of the crisis.
Back in 2017 I was awarded a grant from the Qatar National Research Fund for a study of how people in the Arab world experience and view public opinion surveys. Some of the findings have been referenced before in an article I wrote for the Washington Post on the dangerous political weaponization of survey research in the Middle East. But the first proper academic product of the study has now been published (online) in the British Journal of Political Science . The coauthored paper examines, for the first time in an Arab country, attitudes toward public opinion surveys and their effects on survey-taking behavior. (Believe it or not, the use of surveys to measure attitudes toward surveys is a real thing, and in Western contexts such research dates to the 1950s.) A key conclusion of our study--and a surprising one perhaps--is that Arabs tend to hold quite positive views of surveys, both in absolute terms and relative to non-Arabs. Indeed, a primary motivation of the study was