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The government has launched a wide-ranging reshuffle of its top energy industry officials, as the Islamic Republic tries to deal with sanctions imposed by the United States. On 18 November, petroleum minister Bijan Zangeneh appointed Masoud Karbasian as National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) chief executive, with the rank of deputy petroleum minister. Replacing the retiring Ali Kardor, Karbasian was finance minister between August 2017 and August 2018; he is a former head of the Customs Administration.

Iran
Issue 1053 - 08 February 2018

Bahrain: Review of UK security pact

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Interior minister Lieutenant-General Sheikh Rashid Bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa travelled to the UK in late January for talks with government ministers and backbench MPs, in an effort to impress upon London the terrorist threats his government says it is facing.

Bahrain
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Politics: The Al-Khalifa family came to power in 1783, driving the Persian empire from the archipelago. The British empire, interested in maritime trade routes, entered into an alliance with the Al-Khalifa 200 years ago; only in 1971 did Bahrain declare independence. The constitution provided for a fully elected parliament, which was formed in 1973 but disbanded in 1975 after a period of repressive rule; a partially elected body was reinstated in 2002.

Bahrain
Issue 957 - 31 October 2013

Kuwait: Court adjourns Al-Barrak trial

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A court on 27 October again adjourned the trial of former MP Musallam Al-Barrak, this time until 7 January. Al-Barrak was sentenced to five years for his public criticism of Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah during an election rally in 2012. In May, the appeals court overturned that verdict and ordered a retrial (GSN 954/6).

Kuwait
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Amnesty International has raised concerns over the situation of Sheikh Salman Al-Awda, who was arrested in September and has been held in solitary confinement, unable to communicate with the outside world, since October. Amnesty said Al-Awda’s family had learnt on 16 January that he had been hospitalised in Jeddah, but had not received further details of his condition. The sheikh, who has a large following on social media, was arrested after tweeting that he hoped to see a resolution to the conflict with Qatar.

Saudi Arabia
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By playing a prominent role at the Syria Donors Conference in London in early February, Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah gave a timely reminder that, even at 86 years old, he can make an important contribution to public life. But at home, questions of succession are fueling growing hostility within the Al-Sabah family, with the potential for internal splits to spill over into wider political conflict. In the short term, they have already torpedoed the emirate’s sporting ambitions, with Kuwait likely to be excluded from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Kuwait
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Iran was declared an Islamic Republic in 1979, following the overthrow of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Supreme Leader (Rahbar) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sits at the top of the political system, his power (in theory) 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, following the firebrand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, proved a transitional moment in the Islamic Republic’s external relations.

Iran
Issue 1034 - 23 March 2017

Iran’s election timetable

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Election hopefuls have a few more weeks to sort themselves out before Iran holds its 12th presidential election. Candidate nominations will open for five days from 11 April. That will be followed by a vetting process by the Guardian Council which will end on 26 April. Many names are likely to be excluded at this stage. The campaign proper will run from 27 April to 18 May. The first round of voting is due on 19 May.

Iran
Issue 941 - 21 February 2013

Iraq: Attack on Iranian dissidents

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An attack on a camp for Iranian dissidents in Baghdad in the early hours of 9 February killed six people and wounded more than 25. Members of Iran’s Mojahedin-e Khalq – also known as the People’s Mujahideen Organisation of Iran (PMOI) – are housed at the former US military base Camp Hurriya and, according to police sources, were subjected to more than a dozen Katyusha rockets.

Iran | Iraq
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Emirati law firm Al-Tamimi & Company launched its 13th regional office, in Muscat, Oman, this week, continuing its expansion across the Middle East. An office in Erbil was opened in early October. Other recent entrants to Oman include Pennsylvania’s Duane Morris and London’s Addleshaw Goddard; both opened offices there this year. Observers may be interested to note that Adel, the elder brother of Al-Tamimi & Co founder Essam, in 2011 launched the first case against Oman under the Oman-US Free Trade Agreement of 2009. The case (Adel A Hamadi Al-Tamimi v Sultanate of Oman), at the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, appears to be ongoing, with Oman filing a ‘counter-memorial’ in June. 


Oman
Issue 922 - 27 April 2012

Governors: Activities

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Eastern Province governor Prince Mohammed Bin Fahd laid foundation stones in Abqaiq in early April. He was joined by his deputy, Prince Jiluwi Bin Abdelaziz Bin Musaid. In Riyadh, governor Prince Sattam Bin Abdelaziz opened the environmental rehabilitation project ofWadi Nammar andWadi Laban. Asir region governor Prince Faisal Bin Khalid Bin Abdelaziz attended a graduation ceremony on 10 April at King Khalid University, where female students recently protested against conditions. Prince Faisal met student representatives and formed a youth council to address their concerns.

Saudi Arabia
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Attention has focused on Prince Faisal Bin Abdullah Bin Mohammed following his appointment as education minister. For several years he has served as the General Intelligence Directorate deputy chief and before that was long involved with the Saudi Arabian National Guard at a senior level.

Saudi Arabia
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Interior minister Prince Abdelaziz Bin Saud Bin Naif Al-Saud travelled to the UAE and Oman in mid-January for talks with a number of senior royals and other officials, in what appeared to be an effort by Riyadh to counter Qatar’s burgeoning links with Oman and possibly also to undermine Iranian interest in using Oman’s Duqm port. First stop was Abu Dhabi where he met UAE deputy prime minister and presidential affairs minister Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan on 11 January.

Saudi Arabia
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In early November, Kuwait’s assistant undersecretary for citizenship and passport affairs, Major General Mazen Al-Jarrah, was quoted by Al-Jarida as saying tens of thousands of bidoon would be offered the chance to apply for economic citizenship of Comoros. Those who applied would be given residence permits in Kuwait, along with added incentives like free education and healthcare and the right to work. According to local press, the application process is slated to begin when Comoros opens its embassy in Kuwait in around nine months’ time; it is not clear exactly how the process would work, or how likely it is to go ahead.

Kuwait
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Sweden’s defence minister quit last week after outcry at government plans to help Saudi Arabia build a weapons plant. Swedish outrage at the idea of signing military agreements with undemocratic countries is admirable; British and US newspapers have also recently decried massive arms deals to the Gulf. But arguably, the provenance of weapons – while important to the domestic politics of source countries – is only a sideshow.

Saudi Arabia | Bahrain