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Luisa Vieira

Should NATO watch its southern flank?

As NATO leaders gather this week in Madrid for their first summit since the war in Ukraine began, they will talk mainly about the immediate bogeyman, Russia, and the long-term strategic rival, China. Meanwhile, host Spain is seizing the opportunity to get the alliance to pay at least some attention to Africa and parts of the Middle East, where Russia and jihadists are stirring up trouble that could impact Mediterranean countries.

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi upon his arrival in Cairo.

Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS

What We’re Watching: MBS on tour, Lithuania vs. Russia, Spain’s moderate swing

MBS makes BFFs ahead of Biden visit

With barely a month until his controversial summit with President Joe Biden, the Saudi crown prince is on a regional tour this week to show that he’s hardly the “pariah” that America’s president once promised to make him. In Jordan, Mohammed bin Salman will look to patch up a monarchy-to-monarchy relationship that became strained last year over allegations of Saudi involvement in a plot to overthrow King Abdullah II. The Jordanians hope MBS’s visit leads to a resumption of lavish Saudi financial support. In Egypt, Crown Prince Mohammed will be highlighting Riyadh’s tight relationship with the Arab world’s most populous country. Egyptian strongman Abdel Fattah el-Sisi enjoys strong backing from the Saudis, who have gifted or invested billions of dollars in Egypt in recent years. But the most significant stop on MBS’s tour will be in Turkey, where always-dicey relations between the regional rivals nearly broke off entirely over the Saudi government’s 2018 murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. But with Turkey looking for financial help to right a listing economy, and MBS looking to shore up ties with a mercurial member of NATO, it seems that bygones are bygones.

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Biden's Trip to Saudi Arabia is About More Than Pumping Oil | US Politics In :60 | GZERO Media

Biden's trip to Saudi Arabia is about more than pumping oil

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares his perspective on US politics:

What is President Biden hoping to achieve by visiting Saudi Arabia?

This week the White House announced that President Joe Biden would make a visit to the Middle East. The most important part of the trip will be a stop in Saudi Arabia and a visit with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The President came into office saying he wanted to make the Saudis pariahs for their history of human rights abuses, including the kingdom's involvement in the 9/11 attacks, the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and an ongoing war in Yemen that has resulted in tens of thousands of civilian casualties. But unfortunately for President Biden, his Middle East strategy has followed the Mike Tyson maxim that everyone has a plan until they're punched in the mouth.

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Paige Fusco

De-facto ruler no more — UAE’s new president is ambitious, sophisticated

One of the world’s richest men and arguably the most powerful political player in the Arab world has ascended to the presidency of the Middle East’s most dynamic Islamic state. Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, 61, was appointed on Saturday as the ruler of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, after the death Friday of Sheikh Khalifa, his elder half brother.

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Iran Nuclear Deal 2.0? | GZERO World

Iran nuclear deal 2.0, or war?

Since taking office, the Biden administration has worked hard for the US to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which Donald Trump walked away from in 2018.

Now, reaching an agreement is more urgent than ever because the Iranians are closer to getting the bomb than they've ever been. But Russia's war in Ukraine has complicated things, and some fear that even if a deal happens, the US may withdraw again with a Republican president in 2025.

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Ari Winkleman

War of the Sunflower Superpowers

Vladimir Putin’s decision to wage war has already brought destruction to the places and people of Ukraine, but it could also put millions of people at risk far from cities like Kyiv, Kharkov, and Mariupol. That’s because the war is making key food staples around the world more scarce and pricier, raising the prospect of food shortages and social unrest.

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Annie Gugliotta

Will Israel be forced to choose between Russia and Ukraine?

Israel, the only country with close ties to Russia and Ukraine, is trying to delicately balance relations with both states. But as things continue to heat up on the Ukraine-Russia front, that's becoming much harder for Israel to do.

In a rare move Thursday, Kyiv summoned Israel's ambassador to Ukraine for a telling off, demanding an explanation following reports that Israel had reached out to Russia for help coordinating the evacuation of its nationals should Moscow escalate.

Why does Israel appear to be playing both sides, and how might things turn out if Russia invades?

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Israeli and Bahraini flags are seen on USS COLE (DDG-67) during Defence Minister Benny Gantz's visit to 5th Fleet Headquarters Navy Base in Juffair, Bahrain.

REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Prepping for a fight in the Middle East

As the world waits to see whether Russia will invade Ukraine, a different set of military tensions is steadily rising in the Middle East. This week, for the first time ever, naval vessels from Israel and Saudi Arabia operated together as part of a 60-nation, US-led training exercise.

This remarkable political and military milestone suggests that both countries, many of their Arab neighbors, and the US Navy are now actively preparing together for a moment when tensions with Iran, their common enemy, could spill over into open conflict.

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