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Issue 978 - 03 October 2014

Risk Management Report: UAE - Emirates

Free

At the top of each emirate are the courts of the rulers, and of the crown princes. In practice, only the rulers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai make unilateral decisions and put out emiri decrees, with most of the smaller emirates using legislation crafted at federal level. Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah all have executive councils, although Dubai’s is relatively informal. Abu Dhabi and Sharjah also have national consultative councils. ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi’s ruling Al-Nahyan dominated the federal government until early 2006, when Dubai’s charismatic ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum (MBR), was named federal vicepresident and prime minister. Current ruler Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al- Nahyan had a stroke in January and has not been seen publicly since; his brother, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, is the de facto ruler of the UAE, controlling the military and many aspects of foreign policy.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Issue 993 - 22 May 2015

Risk Management Report: Iran

Free

Iran was declared an Islamic Republic in 1979, following the overthrow of the shah. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sits at the top of the political system, his power checked by an elected president and parliament; the conflict between theocracy and democracy dictates much of the internal dynamic. The election of President Hassan Rouhani in June 2013, more moderate than his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has proved a transitional moment in the republic’s external relations. The upward trend arrow on Iran’s political risk grade reflects the possible impact of a deal in the months ahead to resolve the long-running nuclear crisis, which has seen the international community heavily sanction Iran to try and stop it building a nuclear weapon (something Tehran denies it is doing). An interim agreement was signed in Geneva in November 2013, and a ‘framework deal’ – another step towards something conclusive – agreed in April; the parties are now trying to reach a final deal by 30 June, and, given how much is at stake, there is reason to hope they will succeed.

Iran
Free

It has been more than a decade since the US-led war in Iraq, and more than two years since the formal withdrawal of US troops in 2011. Violence continues to disrupt daily life and has worsened significantly over the past year: the United Nations mission in Iraq says there were 7,818 civilians killed in 2013, the highest civilian death toll since 2008. The 10 June fall of Mosul to jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS, and subsequently renamed the Islamic State) has threatened to throw Iraq into all out sectarian conflict.

Iraq
Free

At the top of each emirate are the courts of the rulers, and of the crown princes. In practice, only the rulers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai make unilateral decisions and put out emiri decrees, with most of the smaller emirates using legislation crafted at federal level. Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah all have executive councils, although Dubai’s is relatively informal. Abu Dhabi and Sharjah also have national consultative councils, whose usefulness (like the federal consultative council) has been questioned.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Free

Embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh has accepted the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2014 of 24 October condemning the country’s violence on all sides and demanded a political transition.

Yemen
Issue 982 - 27 November 2014

Risk Management Report: Oman

Free

POLITICS: Oman has been governed since 1970 by Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said, the 14th ruler of the Al-Busaidi dynasty, founded in 1750. Sultan Qaboos, who deposed his father in a bloodless coup, relies on a variety of allies typically drawn from the merchant elite to rule, rather than his relatively small family. He was briefly married but has no children or heir apparent; his successor is expected to emerge from a small pool of family members. Power remains strongly centralised, but there has been some modernisation. The first elections, for the Majlis Al-Shura (consultative council), were held in 1991; elections for municipal councils took place in late 2012. There has been mounting public pressure for reform, and the government has shown little tolerance of dissent: since 2012, dozens of people have stood trial for taking part in anti-government protests or insulting the sultan. Oman is known for its pragmatism in foreign policy, and has often acted as an intermediary between Tehran and Washington.

Oman
Issue 984 - 08 January 2015

Risk Management Report: Oman

Free

POLITICS: Oman has been governed since 1970 by Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said, the 14th ruler of the Al-Busaidi dynasty, founded in 1750. Having deposed his father, Qaboos relies on a variety of allies typically drawn from the merchant elite, rather than his relatively small family. He was briefly married but has no children or heir apparent; what will happen when he dies is an increasingly pressing concern, as he has been seriously ill since mid- 2014. The downward trend arrow on Oman's political risk grade reflects the potential for instability on his death, not just because of uncertainty over who will succeed, but also because of the likelihood that a change in leadership could open the door to greater public pressure for political reform, especially at a time of economic constraints.

Oman
Free

President Ali Abdullah Saleh remains in Saudi Arabia after he was seriously injured in an attack on his compound in June. Saleh has called for a “peaceful dialogue” to end Yemen’s political crisis but continues to cling to power, refusing to step down despite increased domestic unrest and international pressure.

Yemen
Issue 973 - 05 July 2014

Risk management report: Bahrain

Free

The Al-Khalifa came to power in 1783, taking its authority from the family’s conquest of the archipelago from the Persian empire. Britain, interested in maritime trade routes, entered into an alliance with the Al-Khalifa in 1820 and helped secure its rule; it was not until 1971 that Bahrain declared independence. A new constitution provided for a fully elected parliament, formed in 1973, but that was disbanded in 1975 after it fell out with the ruler.

Bahrain
Issue 986 - 09 February 2015

Risk Management Report: Bahrain

Free

POLITICS: The Al-Khalifa came to power in 1783, taking its authority from the family’s conquest of the archipelago from the Persian empire. Britain, interested in maritime trade routes, entered into an alliance with the Al- Khalifa in 1820 and helped secure its rule; it was not until 1971 that Bahrain declared independence. A new constitution provided for a fully elected parliament, formed in 1973, but that was disbanded in 1975 after it fell out with the ruler. A partially elected body was reinstated in the 2002 constitution, but power lies primarily with the executive, and the preponderance of Al-Khalifa in key positions means lines between state and ruling family are very blurred. The Sunni royal family rules over a population that is majority Shiite. Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa has been king since 2002.

Bahrain
Free

The Co-operation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) was officially set up on 25 May 1981 in Abu Dhabi, when the leaders of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates agreed to establish a council whose aims were to ‘achieve unity’, formulate ‘similar regulations’ in fields including economics, customs, commerce, communications, education and culture, and to stimulate scientific and technological progress. In part founded as a reaction to the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the Iran-Iraq war, divisions and power imbalances within the council have led to the GCC being largely unproductive over the first three decades of its existence, despite high hopes and rhetoric.

Free

It has been a decade since the last war in Iraq, and more than two years since the formal withdrawal of US troops in 2011. Violence continues to disrupt daily life and has worsened over the past year: the United Nations mission in Iraq (UNAMI) says there were 7,818 civilians killed in 2013, the highest civilian death toll since 2008. Al-Qaeda in Iraq and its affiliates regularly claim bombings targeting Shiites and government and security forces,and have gained strength from the crisis in neighbouring Syria.

Iraq
Issue 1019 - 15 July 2016

Risk Management Report - Yemen

Free

Politics: Confronted by multiple humanitarian and security crises, Yemen is on the verge of collapse and ‘failed state’ status (GSN’s political risk category F). The transition period after president Ali Abdullah Saleh relinquished power (after 33 years) in February 2012 never delivered on promises of democracy and stability. President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi inherited a mess of competing and often violent factions, which he failed to harness: southern secessionists continue to resist Sanaa’s rule, jihadist groups are embedded around the country, old guard remnants refuse to relinquish power and the Houthi movement (northern Zaidis allied with a resurgent Saleh) captured Sanaa in September 2014.

Yemen
Free

Disagreements between the autonomous Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI) and the federal Iraqi government in Baghdad have been a source of major tensions. The 2005 constitution said the KRI had an identity distinct from Iraq, and was a federal entity recognised by Iraq and the United Nations; the 2010 Erbil agreement outlined how power would be shared. Amid acrimonious relations, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has protested the lack of implementation of these agreements, with oil central to the dispute; Baghdad was furious that Erbil signed production-sharing agreements with international oil companies (IOCs) without its say-so, and the KRG’s efforts to export oil independently rather than via the central State Marketing Organisation (Somo).

Iraq
Issue 1003 - 29 October 2015

Risk Management Report: Qatar

Free

The Al-Thani family has ruled Qatar since the mid-19th century, its power entrenched at the end of the Ottoman Empire with British recognition of its right to govern. Independence was declared in 1971. In recent decades, the tiny state has gained hugely in power, confidence and wealth; the population has boomed, from around 111,000 in 1970 to 2.2m today (around 85% expatriate). Instrumental in Qatar’s rapid development were former emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa and his prime minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim (HBJ). During their time in office, Qatar became known for its energetic foreign policy, as well as the extreme wealth which has seen its GDP per capita – expected by the International Monetary Fund to be around $93,535 in 2015 – become the highest in the world.

Qatar