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

Yale Excavation in Syria Continues to Reveal Secrets of World’s Earliest Cities

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Nearly four decades ago, in the Khabur River basin of northeastern Syria, Yale archaeologist Harvey Weiss uncovered a buried city that over the ensuing years would reveal important new insights into ancient Mesopotamia and the origins of civilization.

Beginning in 1979, Weiss’s excavation of the site known as Tell Leilan yielded ancient monumental temples containing cuneiform clay tablets kept by the rulers of the city, and more recently a 4,200-year-old palace, once a key center for the lost Akkadian empire. Within these mud-brick buildings researchers also retrieved carbonized grains and animal bones, traces of daily life that offered a glimpse of how this ancient civilization fed itself — and, as Weiss has long argued, evidence of the surprising role of climate change in its ultimate collapse.


Now, Globalization With Chinese Characteristics

Since 2009, when author Wenshan Jia coined the term “Chiglobalization,” China has continued to embrace globalization. China’s leaders have forged ahead with new connections in ways that outpace the rhetoric and globalization endeavors of Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States. “China’s initial effort to exercise global influence is subsequently solidified by the recent exponential growth of her outbound economic clout,” explains Jia, a professor of communication theory, referring to exports and foreign direct investment combined with grassroots connections through education and business. Cross-border interdependence and mutual influences have inspired terms like “Chimerica” and “Chinafornia.” Concerns over trade imbalances and jobs have prompted Donald Trump’s America First policies, which may hurt US soft-power endeavors and speed Chiglobalization. China’s advances in many areas place the country on a path for global leadership. Rather than pursue military connections with bases around the globe, China’s strategy depends on connections, infrastructure development, modernization for developing nations and a larger role in global governance. China once resisted globalization, but now defies containment. – 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


Refugee advocate named 2017 World Fellow

The Maurice R. Greenberg World Fellows Program is pleased to announce the selection of Lorna Solis as a 2017 World Fellow. 

Lorna is founder and CEO of Blue Rose Compass, a non-profit organization dedicated to giving gifted young refugees the opportunity to develop their talents and become agents of change in the world.  Blue Rose Compass travels to conflict zones in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and East Asia to identify young adults who have exceptional academic talent and leadership qualities and helps them to apply to top universities and to find work when they graduate. Lorna is also founder and CEO of Lynke, a B-Corporation that empowers disadvantaged young refugees and ease pressure on host communities by creating employment and education opportunities in conflict regions. Read her full bio.

In Sri Lanka, a Village Garden Yields Timeless Lessons in Forest Conservation

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The Sri Lanka Program for Forest Conservation (SLPFC), a Yale-based project headed by F&ES Prof. Mark Ashton, this year launched a postgraduate fellowship program that provides practical and professional development experience in tropical forest conservation.

The first three fellows, Blair Rynearson ’15 M.F., Logan Sander ’15 M.F., and Laura Lutttrell have been in Sri Lanka since October.

Working with villagers and the SLPFC, the fellows learn tropical taxonomy, nursery propagation, and have helped develop a traditional tree garden that provides foods, timbers, medicines, and spices. The garden is being designed to serve as a living demonstration for university curricula and practitioner extension. Once complete, the program will provide downloadable information from the NGO’s website on the cultural, ecological, and economic diversity of plants cultivated in traditional gardens in Sri Lanka.