Diplomatic Storm in the Gulf in Wake of Trump’s Mideast Visit

Tensions have long simmered between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, though both are monarchies and members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Saudi Arabia and two allies severed diplomatic ties after Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was reported to have delivered a speech on 22 May, suggesting support for Iran and doubts that US President Donald Trump would last long in office. Qatar claims news reports of the speech are false, a result of hacking. Author Dilip Hiro explains that the roots of animosity go back years as Saudi Arabia struggles to tolerate Qatar’s soft-power approach in the region: supporting the Arab Spring protests in 2011, funding Al Jazeera television’s investigative journalism, supporting the thousands who lost homes and businesses during the Israeli-Hezbollah War in summer 2006, and refusing to demonize Iran as Saudi Arabia’s rival in the region. US leaders often tempered Saudi impulses in the region, but Hiro warns that may no longer be the case. Rather than pursue nuanced and balanced policy, the US president now sides with the Saudis, and this could trigger more instability and conflicts among Muslims in an already troubled region. – YaleGlobal

South China Sea: US Bargaining Chip or Key Interest?

The United States is either indifferent to freedom-of-navigation rights in the South China Sea or cagey about its strategic interests. The USS Dewey, a guided missile destroyer, moved within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef, a land feature occupied by China, explains Donald K. Emmerson. The US Pacific Command had repeatedly been denied permission to conduct such an operation since Donald Trump became president in January. US intentions may puzzle China and its neighbors in Southeast Asia, and Emmerson lists the many questions and possible scenarios. Both Trump, through “transactional dealing,” and his predecessor Barack Obama, through “strategic patience,” emphasize linkage – to motivate Beijing to address other US concerns, including trade imbalances and North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. – YaleGlobal


Saudi Arabia Plays Trump on Iran to Tilt Middle East Balance

Saudi Arabia’s royalty went all out in greeting US President Donald Trump with pomp and circumstance, exaggerating the visit as “historic” and a “landmark event.” The Trump team more aptly describes relations as going through a reset: Trump has backed away from his campaign criticism of the monarchy, and the United States, under Trump, is shying away from urging democracy and human rights for Saudi Arabia as former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush once did, explains author Dilip Hiro. Instead, Trump has capitulated to Saudi leaders, selling arms while offering unquestioning support in their struggle to maintain regional inequalities and a dangerous rivalry with Shia Iran. Trump’s criticism of Iran is a disappointment for Iranian voters who reelected Iran’s reformist President Hassan Rouhani by a large margin. Shias are a minority in the Muslim world, 15 percent compared with Sunnis’ 85 percent, and a target for extremists like the Islamic State. Iran’s steps toward integrating with the world and limiting its nuclear program deserve praise rather than condemnation. Shortsighted policies showing little regard for democracy or human rights are treacherous for the entire Middle East. – YaleGlobal

FDA approves drugs more quickly than peer agency in Europe

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviews and approves new medicines in a shorter timeframe than its peer agency in Europe, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), says a Yale researcher. This finding comes at a time when the FDA is under renewed pressure to streamline and speed up its approval process, and provides data to inform ongoing policy discussions.

The report, co-authored with researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and New York University School of Medicine, was published April 5 by the New England Journal of Medicine.

The FDA has faced pressure from the public, politicians, and industry to accelerate review and approval of new medicines. The FDA’s review process is currently being considered and reexamined as part of negotiations to reauthorize the law that directs funds to the agency — the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) — due for reauthorization by October 2017.


Does Immigration Create Jobs?

A recent study found that about half of unicorns in the U.S. owe their existence to immigrants. In this case, by “unicorn,” we mean highly successful, fast-growing startups—not magical creatures. The study, conducted by the National Foundation for American Policy, determined that 44 out of 87 privately held companies valued at more than $1 billion had at least one immigrant founder. It further estimated that each of these immigrant-founded companies created 760 jobs.

This is just one example of how, contrary to much of the rhetoric on the topic, immigration can contribute to economic growth and expansion of the labor market. Academic studies have found that immigration to the U.S. has little negative effect on employment levels of native workers and that the presence of immigrants is associated with greater economic productivity. Another study found that foreign-born graduate students in science and engineering departments at U.S. universities contribute to innovation and research production.



What’s the Future of U.S.-Mexico Relations?

Beneath the heated rhetoric between the United States and Mexico is a complex web of ties that is critical to both countries. Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld recently assembled a group of business and political leaders from both sides of the border to discuss the future of the relationship. He talked to Yale Insights about what he learned from the conversation.


Events emphasize Yale’s military connections, history ahead of WWI anniversary

Eagle-eyed observers would have noticed an increased number of men and women in military uniforms on campus a few Thursdays ago. Students in the Air Force and Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps wore their uniforms as usual on March 9, but they were joined by a small cadre of officers and cadets from the French War College in Paris and the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York for a series of events that emphasized Yale’s military connections and history of contributions to national security.

The French War College is an elite advanced training institute for officers in the French military who have completed 15 years in the field. Officers are selected to join the college through a competitive exam with the objective of helping them “shift from the tactical level to the operational and strategic level,” said Emilie Clèret, head of the English department at the college and organizer of the trip.