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Issue 1157 - 02 November 2022

New vessels for Saudi navy

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A keel-laying ceremony was held in Marinette, Wisconsin, for the second ship in the Tuwaiq project, which will provide the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) with four multi-tasking combat ships able to deal with air, surface and subsurface threats.

Saudi Arabia
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Paul Weir was named chief executive of Genel Energy on 3 October. The London Stock Exchange (LSE)-listed firm has interests in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq’s Sarta, Taq Taq and Tawke licences.

Iraq
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Russia has appointed a new ambassador to Iran, replacing Levan Dzhagaryan who has repeatedly attracted controversy in recent years, in a move which could help to smooth bilateral relations at a critical juncture given Moscow’s demand for Iranian drones in Ukraine.

Iran
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Saudi Prince Abdullah Bin Faisal, a low-profile member of the Al-Saud family, has been sentenced to a 30-year jail term after being accused of acting to destabilise the kingdom, disturb social unity and support the country’s opponents.

Saudi Arabia
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Iran has voiced concerns that recent fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which flared up again in September, will impact its direct trucking routes through Armenia via the Lachin corridor to Georgia and Russia. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said: "The Islamic Republic will not tolerate policies or plans that lead to the closing of the Iran-Armenia border."

Iran
Issue 1157 - 04 November 2022

Oman’s Sultan Haitham visits Manama

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Oman’s Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq Al-Said made a relatively rare trip within the region in October, travelling to Bahrain for talks with King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa. The two rulers witnessed the signing of several agreements, including ones on co-operation in security, transport, tourism, education and other areas.

Bahrain | Oman
Free

In the face of mounting evidence that Iraq has been using chemical weapons against its Kurdish population, the stream of categoric denials issuing from Baghdad carry little conviction. The United States’ announcement earlier this month that it is “convinced” that Iraq has employed chemical warfare in its military campaign against the Kurdish guerillas was followed by a vote in the US Senate calling for sanctions against Iraq unless it ceased chemical attacks on the Kurds.

Iraq
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…For once, Saudi Arabia will not hit back with a state-funded campaign extolling the kingdom’s virtues: in contrast to the big media spend after the 11 September 2001 attacks, which proved largely self-defeating, GSN hears that the government has pulled some major advertising projects, preferring to keep a low profile while security forces work to eradicate underground groups. Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdelaziz’s media-savvy advisor Adel Al-Jubeir and the big two ambassadors, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan in Washington and Prince Turki Al-Faisal in London, have been spinning the message that terrorism is a problem, but the security forces can get on top of it.

Saudi Arabia
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Tom Barrack, a former fundraiser and adviser to Donald Trump, was acquitted by a New York court on 4 November of charges of unlawfully lobbying on behalf of the UAE.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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QatarEnergy is to develop the world’s largest blue ammonia project via its QatarEnergy Renewable Solutions (QRS) and Qatar Fertiliser Company (Qafco) subsidiaries. A $1bn engineering, procurement and construction contract was signed in late August for the Ammonia-7 project with ThyssenKrupp and Consolidated Contractors Company.

Qatar
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Gulf Co-operation Council countries continue to develop their links with Moscow, in the face of concerted pressure by western governments to loosen the ties.

Saudi Arabia | Bahrain | United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Leaders from across the Arab Gulf states and Egypt have been travelling around the region to heal fractures and head off the perceived threat from Iran’s nuclear ambitions, amid speculation that more GCC member states could move towards normalisation with Israel when US President Joe Biden comes to the region.

Iran | Kuwait | Saudi Arabia | Jordan | Bahrain | United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Iraq | Qatar
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International manufacturers Lucid and BMW are planning Saudi Arabia’s first electric vehicle factories, working with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS)’s Public Investment Fund (PIF). Lucid says an attractive business environment and financing made the case for basing in the kingdom. But as the PIF seeks to take a tighter grip on the private sector, from foreign investments to major family businesses, investments may depend on companies feeling comfortable with the degree of autonomy offered by the PIF and orientations based on MBS’ hands-on, rents-gathering approach.

Saudi Arabia
Subscriber

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent already strong oil prices spiralling upwards, with a show of Opec+ solidarity that underlines just how close Saudi-Russian relations have become. Oil and gas producers are among the likely big winners, with Gulf governments offered a new path to balance their budgets and build up their financial reserves, but other commercial relations could come under much closer scrutiny.

Kuwait | Saudi Arabia | United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Qatar
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UAE and Saudi foreign policy choices are coming under renewed scrutiny as Washington pushes to encourage the Gulf heavyweights to rethink their links to Russia, particularly over energy policy, and their alignments with other autocrats such as recent visitor to Abu Dhabi Syria’s President Assad. GSN has heard of talks between UAE officials and a key Russian figure in the Ukraine war, Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov, which could raise further important questions about the nature of Abu Dhabi’s involvement.

Saudi Arabia | Bahrain | United Arab Emirates (UAE)