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Free

The region stretching from the Bosphorus to the Gulf must accommodate itself to a new strategic reality, as the United States – under new management and with a harrowing roster of domestic issues to resolve – disengages from Iraq, while focusing hard on Afghanistan and its neighbours.

Iraq | Turkey
Free

The dispatch of a high-level Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) delegation to Tehran on 16 July was another sign of the swelling domestic and foreign unease at Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani’s almost indecent haste in pushing for an independence referendum in the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI). The signs are that Kurds will vote for independence from Baghdad on 25 September, which will severely complicate relations with Shia-dominated Iraq and the wider region.

Iraq
Free

Washington’s new National Security Strategy (NSS) opens with a preamble, signed by Barack Obama – a president burnishing his legacy ahead of the November 2016 election in the face of security crises his administration is hard-pressed to counter. “Today, the United States is stronger and better positioned to seize the opportunities of a still new century and safeguard our interests against the risks of an insecure world,” the preamble says, citing “America’s growing economic strength [as] the foundation of our national security and a critical source of our influence abroad”.

Free

Kuwait’s press has rightfully earned itself a reputation as one of the most vibrant and free in the Arab world. It is not uncommon to see Kuwaiti papers splash on political and economic scandals and controversies, or even report on infighting within the ruling Al-Sabah, something which would scarcely be imaginable in the other Gulf monarchies. But over the last few months, the press in Kuwait has grown increasingly silent; uncannily so. The silence does not reflect a period of political calm, however. Rather it shows a growing fear among journalists and politicians that reporting anything about brewing political issues might get them into trouble

Kuwait
Free

The impending E222m ($261m) transfer of Brazilian footballer Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior has set the club he has played for since 2013, Barcelona (sponsored by Qatar), against his new employer Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), which is owned by Qatar. Barca and Spanish La Liga officials complain PSG has violated the ‘financial fair play’ rules of football’s European governing body UEFA. Other observers believe the world-record transfer – which is more than twice the size of the previous mega-deal – sends another signal: that Qatar is carrying on with business as usual in terms of projecting its soft power muscle to underline its status as a small state with world class (and World Cup) ambitions.

Qatar
Free

As federal President Jalal Talabani asks prime minister-designate Nouri Al-Maliki to form a cabinet, there will follow 30 days of delicate negotiations. Maliki must also find at least 163 votes by 11 December in order for his government to be ratified. Some progress has been made.

Iran | Iraq
Free

Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah is playing a canny game ahead of May’s general election. It is only ten months since Kuwait went to the polls – and two years since the previous election – a political cycle that illustrates the pattern of confrontation between parliamentarians and ministers which has repeatedly blocked legislation and approval of major projects.

Kuwait
Free

Late October saw a flurry of activity in London aimed at boosting Gulf Co-Operation Council-UK ties. If the crowded programme had been the result of a co-ordinated plan by the UK’s (relatively) new coalition government it might be seen as a reaffirmation of UK-Gulf ties organised by a dynamic new administration.

Iran
Free

Rare was the commentator who predicted that the overthrow of Tunisian leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in (was it only?) mid-January would be followed by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s demise and the probable overthrow of the even more entrenched Qadhafi regime in Libya.

Free

Since Kuwait was the first Arab state to have a parliament in 1962, it is no stranger to voices of dissent and opposition within its governing system. It has a powerful and democratically elected National Assembly, with a strong sense of constitutional rights (GSN 891/1). This has earned the emirate a reputation for a vigorous political culture.

Kuwait
Free

Differences between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) and his Emirati counterpart, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (MBZ) have been mounting ever since Riyadh led the way towards reconciliation with Qatar at the Al-Ula summit in January.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Saudi Arabia
Free

Bringing crowds on the streets, Saudi Arabia celebrated its first Founding Day on 22 February, following a royal order by King Salman Bin Abdelaziz in late January. The decision to base the celebrations on events in 1727 was particularly significant, as the new national holiday marks an implicit, but significant break from Wahhabi influence on the Saudi state.

Saudi Arabia
Free

Amid their growing distance from western powers, Gulf states have continued to try and maintain a neutral stance on the Ukraine crisis. However, a weakened Russia could lead to the GCC powers stepping up their outreach to the pariah state of President Bashar Al-Assad’s Syria. That engagement has been energetically driven by the UAE, whose foreign affairs and international co-operation minister Abdullah Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan visited the Syrian capital in November for talks with Assad.

Iran | Saudi Arabia | Bahrain | Oman | United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Qatar
Free

Allies of Iran-backed Shia party Hizbollah under-performed in Lebanon’s 15 May parliamentary elections, when they failed to secure a majority in the 128-seat National Assembly. The shake-up to the Lebanese political environment offers new opportunities for Gulf states that may be thinking about re-engaging with Beirut after a period of keeping their distance.

Iran | Saudi Arabia
Subscriber

After months of failed efforts to form a new government, Shia leader Moqtada Al-Sadr’s call for his 73 Council of Representatives (parliament) members (MPs) to resign has thrown the Iraqi political scene into fresh turmoil.

Iraq