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Issue 172 - 27 May 1986



Despite President Reagan's recently repeated assertion that "terrorists risk United States reprisal", an increasing number of officials and senior members of the armed forces in Washington are now beginning to question the effectiveness of the 17 April bombing attack on targets in Tripoli and Benghazi. Now that the reprisals by rather than on terrorist groups (of whatever persuasion) are increasing, these officials and senior officers are tacitly accepting that criticisms as to the effectiveness of the bombing are valid.

Issue 171 - 13 May 1986



The Saudis are by now well accustomed no the fact that in any connect between Israeli and Arab interests in Washington 'the Israeli interest will prevail. If they were themselves less dependent on the United States in so many respects they would long since have rebelled against this unequal partnership. As it is they have displayed a truly Christian forbearance, turning the other cheek and forgiving well beyond the prescribed seventy times seven. The Americans appear to assume that they will continue to do so and that the material considerations that constrained them in the past will still operate. Meanwhile, the tally of affronts grows ever longer; and growing violence in the whole Middle Eastern region must lead the rillers of Saudi Arabia to wonder how long they can safely ignore this mounting hostility to American policies throughout the area.

Issue 170 - 29 April 1986



Colonel Qadhafi may be, as was said of the poet Byron, "mad, bad and dangerous to know", but this month's US air strikes on Tripoli and Benghazi have forced Arab leaders of all political shades to make unprecedented declarations of support for the Libyan leader. The attacks were condemned throughout the Arab World and led to a clamour for an emergency summit meeting of Arab heads of state.

Issue 169 - 15 April 1986



Vice President George Bush last week began his 10-day, four-nation tour of Arabian peninsula states, starting in Saudi Arabia. The declared purpose of his visit was, according to the US Administration, to demonstrate American support for "friendly Arab countries in the region".

Issue 168 - 01 April 1986



Among the more significant recent comings and goings in the kingdom was the one-day visit last week by Shaikh Jaber al Ahmad, the Amir of Kuwait, to see King Fahd at the latter's spring resort in the Eastern Province. In Kuwait, the Amir's visit was described as "a fraternal call upon the Saudi monarch". In Saudi Arabia the meeting was reported without official comment of any kind. It is not unknown for the rulers of the GCC states to see each other informally from time to time, although the practice can scarcely be described as commonplace.

Issue 167 - 17 March 1986



The threat of a spillover of the Iran Iraq war into the territories of the Gulf Co-operation Council countries is, insofar as the threat exists at all, closest to Kuwait in geographical terms, but nearer to Riyadh in a political sense. As the GCC's biggest component and the country which, if it came to it, would provide the largest military contribution, Saudi Arabia's reaction to regional events is the true bell-whether of the GCC.

Issue 166 - 03 March 1986



The present urgent political concerns of Saudi Arabian leaders may be concentrated on the latest Iranian irruption into Iraqi territory,' but not so exclusively that the breakdown of the King Hussein-Yasser Arafat joint peace process is not a matter of equal preoccupation for the Saudi government. Although not directly involved in the past year's negotiations between Hussein and Ararat to hammer out a joint Jordanian-Palestinian approach towards an eventual Middle East peace settlement, Saudi Arabia has lent its diplomatic and political support to the talks, and had hoped that a joint agreement would come about.

Issue 165 - 17 February 1986



The central role taken by Saudi Arabia in the formation and execution of Opec's present oil market strategy is universally recognised - if not everywhere accepted. The effectiveness of the kingdom in shaping Opec oil policy is only grudgingly acknowledged by Opec member countries such as Algeria, Libya and Iran with strongly differing views, or wryly identified by those non-Opec oil states at whom the strategy is mainly directed; but there can be no disputing the fact that the key to the current oil situation is in Saudi hands.

Issue 164 - 03 February 1986



The apparently successful rebels in the South Yemen civil war have already promised that South Yemen will continue unchanged the foreign policy of improving relations with other countries in the peninsula. So, it is reported, the new Foreign Minister, Abdul Aziz al Dali, told the Kuwaiti ambassador in Aden. Under Ali Nasser Muhammad, the South Yemen government had for some time been steering a steady course to a more accommodating position with its conservative and traditional neighbours.

Issue 163 - 20 January 1986



The impending posting of Sir Patrick White, the current British Ambassador in Saudi Arabia to the headship of the British diplomatic service may have the Saudis regretting the loss of an able and popular ambassador. However, Saudi Arabia can find some consolation in that Wright, already notable for his outstanding abilities, was posted to Jeddah in the first place. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Riyadh could, with probable justification, take it that the original posting reflected the importance Britain attaches to her relations with Saudi Arabia, and Wright's promotion as an endorsement of the fact.

Issue 162 - 23 December 1985



While the main target of Opec's decision to abandon pricing policy and to work for a "fair share" of the world oil market is clearly the United Kingdom, an uncontrolled price fall might be the first step in bringing about the reconstruction of the Organisation to include only its richest members, essentially those of the Gulf and North Africa.

Issue 161 - 09 December 1985



Last month's GCC summit meeting in Oman seemed, in the view of some observers, to have been more than vague when it came to dealing with matters of regional defence. Such subjects are, sensibly enough, always given a high degree of confidentiality, but the Council had very little to say about the progress being made in the defence field. The summit said all the correct, and customary, things about eventual aims, overall intentions and common identity of views. The conceptual basis of the GCC regional defence policy - self-reliance and no intervention by outside powers - was firmly endorsed.

Issue 160 - 25 November 1985



Initial reactions to the announcement that individual member countries of Opec might set their own price and production levels could; not without some justification, have been a cynical "So what's new?" In the 1960s the Venezuelans pleaded in vain in Opec for 'pro-rationing' the orderly restriction of production by agreed quotas. Member states had other ideas. Iran had still not recovered the 'world share' which had been lost to neighbouring Arab producers during Dr. Mossadegh's unsuccessful attempt to buck a buyers' market. Iraq pursued its own private vendetta with the IPC. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait discovered new deposits of oil almost every time a hole was drilled, and produced increasing quantities at a cost per barrel that no other producer could match.

Issue 158 - 28 October 1985



The forthcoming meeting of the GCC heads of state, to beheld in Muscat early next month, will make its expected public statements regarding the Iran Iraq war, deploring its continuation and drawing attention to the Council's earnest desires and sterling efforts to bring the conflict to an end.

Issue 157 - 15 October 1985



King Hussein of Jordan ended five days of private talks in Washington with no indications of any breakthrough in the attempts towards an overall Middle East peace process. The Jordanian king's visit was partly overshadowed by the Israeli raid on the PLO headquarters in Tunisia, which raised serious questions among both US and Jordanian officials about the prospects of further PLO involvement in the peace process.