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Shiite Houthi militias have continued their advance against Al-Qaeda-linked militants in central Yemen, as newly appointed Yemeni Prime Minister Khaled Bahah struggles to form a government in Sanaa. Employing a strategy that relies largely on treaties with local tribes, the Houthis have been able to push hard against Ansar Al-Sharia (AAS), an affiliate of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), in areas like the city of Radaa in Al-Bayda and Al-Odain and Al-Sadda in Ibb. Recruiting locals to man checkpoints vastly expands Houthi capacity, and also enables the group to bridge the sectarian divide in some Sunni areas (though this remains a challenge).

Yemen
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Seychelles meeting

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Tehran has complained loudly after Saudi Arabia denied visas to Iranian officials hoping to attend an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) at its headquarters in Jeddah on 3 February. The meeting was held at the request of the Palestinian Authority to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace deal put forward by United States President Donald Trump. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Abbas Mousavi said Iran had been invited to attend by OIC secretary-general Yousef Bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen. Its delegation was to be led by deputy foreign minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari.

Iran | Saudi Arabia
Issue 1001 - 07 October 2015

Ahmed Bin Dalmook: Ghana power investment

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Sheikh Ahmed Bin Dalmook Al-Maktoum’s Ameri Energy is involved in a project to develop a 250MW power plant in Ghana. Ameri recently signed a deal with the Ghanaian government alongside its partner Metka, a Greek power contractor, to carry out the build-own-operate-transfer project. Dubai-based Ameri says it is active in energy, infrastructure, construction and trade. Sheikh Ahmed is a great-grandson of Maktoum II, who ruled until 1906. He has several brothers, including the recently married Rashid (an equestrian and horse-racing fan), and is vice-chairman of MBM Group, a Dubai royal family office and investment company.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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A truncated version of the UK government’s long-awaited report into Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood or MB), commissioned in March 2014, was finally released on 17 December. That was the day Number 10 Downing Street strategists had thought would be dominated by a deal on European Union membership as prime minister David Cameron attended a summit in Brussels. In the event, Cameron will have to wait on his new deal (or ‘Brexit’), but seemed to have ducked major rows over the MB, with an 11-page document (comprising just over seven pages of text) that pictured the Ikhwan as “possible extremists”, whose threat is not sufficient to prescribe it.

Issue 1020 - 29 July 2016

World Bank raises oil price forecast

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The World Bank has raised its forecast for the average price of crude oil this year, but only from $41/bbl to $43/bbl. The change is based on the impact of recent supply outages in Canada and Nigeria, and robust demand in Q2 16. The bank’s new estimate puts it closer to the US’ Energy Information Administration forecast, which is predicting an average price of $44/bbl this year and $52/bbl in 2016, according to its Short-Term Energy Outlook released on 12 July.

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Riyadh governor Prince Khalid Bin Bandar Bin Abdelaziz Al-Saud in late July led funeral prayers for Princess Nura Bint Saud Bin Abdelaziz. She was one of the eldest daughters of the late King Saud and was known for her role in encouraging Saudi women to enter the workplace and charitable activities. King Abdullah received condolences from other Gulf leaders.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 861 - 26 September 2009

HBJ back in the kingdom

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HBJ was in Saudi Arabia again on 15 September

Qatar
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A three-day military exercise by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) ground, air and naval units, which began on 22 April, was intended to test a range of Iranian-built missiles and other equipment.

Iran
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A funeral was held in Mecca for Prince Saad Al-Faisal. Born in 1942, Saad was the full brother of Mecca governor Prince Khalid, who received mourners at his house. Saad served as a deputy governor at Petromin in the early 1970s and was then in business.

Saudi Arabia
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The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said on 22 April it had successfully launched a military satellite and placed it into orbit, ending a run of failed launches. The Noor (Light) satellite was carried on the Qassed rocket and launched from a site in Dasht-e Kavir, in central Iran. It coincided with the anniversary of the IRGC’s establishment in 1979. IRGC commander Major General Hossein Salami said the satellite “can produce strategic added value for us, and it creates powerful grounds for us in intelligence warfare”.

Iran
Issue 1061 - 08 June 2018

Iran: New air defence chief

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Rahbar (Supreme Leader) Ali Khamenei appointed Brigadier General Alireza Sabahi-Fard as the new commander of Khatam Al-Anbiya Air Defense Base on 29 March, taking over from Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili. The base is part of the Iranian Army (Artesh) and is in charge of the Islamic Republics’s land-based air defence systems. Khamenei urged Sabahi-Fard to boost the strength of Iran’s air defences and improve training programmes among other things.

Iran
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Foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani held talks with controversial Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on 15 August, during a brief tour of Asian capitals. He met foreign affairs secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on the same day to discuss bilateral economic and political relations. The following day Sheikh Mohammed was in Seoul for talks with South Korean prime minster Lee Nak-yeon, which focused on energy and industrial relations.

Qatar
Issue 1028 - 15 December 2016

Iran: Submarine launch ahoy

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Tehran is due to launch a new domestically-manufactured submarine in the near future, according to a report by the local Press TV on 4 December. The 600-tonne boat will be equipped with torpedoes and mines and will be able to operate more than 200 meters below the surface for nearly five weeks.

Iran
Issue 1075 - 23 February 2019

Bahrain: Helicopter order confirmed

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A deal to supply the Royal Bahrain Air Force with 12 Bell AH-1Z attack helicopters is moving ahead after the United States Department of Defense agreed a $240m modification to the previously announced deal. The aircraft order had previously been confirmed at the Bahrain International Airshow in November last year and was valued at the time at $912m. Delivery is due by August 2022.

Bahrain