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The late Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah is unlikely to be remembered as one of Kuwait’s defining leaders, but he was an affable, honest man who was called upon to navigate a difficult political environment.

Kuwait
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Shifting global political arithmetic seems to have fed into a shift in Iranian political calculations – as had been possible since Donald Trump’s election to lead the ‘Great Satan’ last November. A post-nuclear deal presidential election in which Rahbar (Supreme Leader) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei seemed happy to leave the way open for President Hassan Rouhani’s return as head of government has become much more competitive as the Islamic Republic’s various factions have reassessed their strategies.

Iran
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Try as it might, Saudi Arabia can’t put the murder of Jamal Khashoggi behind it. Four months after the brutal killing in Istanbul by a team of men close to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), the late journalist’s many friends are unwilling to let the matter be forgotten. Saudi Arabia is making great efforts to win back influence, but looks powerless to change the narrative – at least in the West. Adel Al-Jubeir, who is just as active on the international stage as he was before being demoted to minister of state for foreign affairs in January, was in the United States in February.

Saudi Arabia
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The UAE has set its sights on carving out a leading international role in artificial intelligence, with national security advisor Sheikh Tahnoun Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Khaled Bin Mohammed vying for national AI leadership – but the pursuit of the powerful technology is also causing friction with the US

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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The creation of a “national military ethos” in the UAE, involving Ras Al-Khaimah (RAK) and other northern emirates, has been increasingly observed since GSN began analysing in 2015 the pattern of military deaths in Yemen and growth of nationalist symbolism around ‘martyrs’ of the Yemen conflict. It is a process that continues to gather momentum.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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With great power competition rising between the US and China over the development of artificial intelligence, the major Gulf economies are being forced by Washington to pick a side. The UAE appears to have come down firmly in favour of working with American AI firms, while Saudi Arabia has been divesting its American AI investments and striking deals with Chinese rivals.

Saudi Arabia | United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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A year on from the Al-Ula agreement that ended the boycott of Qatar by three of its Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) neighbours – Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – Qatar is enjoying a fresh period of political calm. Indeed, in many ways it now looks to be in a better place than most of its erstwhile foes in the GCC.

Qatar
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Even since the battle to defeat the Sunni extremists of Islamic State (IS or Daesh) began to make progress, there have been voices warning that Iraq’s fractured political environment and weak economy would remain fertile ground either for a resurgence of the group or the rise of another set of extremists in its place. Now those past warnings are turning into reality, as evidence grows that IS has begun to step up its activities this year.

Iraq
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To mark the tenth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq, and to give wider public access to some of our reporting and analysis, GSN has unlocked the archive of its newsletters published in 2003 (accessible at www.gsn-online.com). The invasion was hardly a surprise; US determination to depose Saddam Hussein had been clear for months, but too little thought went into its repercussions. Few of those behind the invasion saw the potential for the turbulence it unleashed. A reading of pre-2003 GSN shows just how inevitable conflict was. ‘Global terrorism’ was high on the agenda as the George W Bush administration came to power.

Iran | Kuwait | Saudi Arabia | Bahrain | Oman | United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Iraq | Qatar
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Obtaining details and confirmations remains as problematic as ever, but some sources are talking about upheavals in the Saudi military/security establishment linked to continuing dynastic struggles in the Kingdom. According to one version of events, as many as 150

Saudi Arabia
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The impending official visit of the Jordanian royal couple to Doha signals another step in Qatar’s efforts to rebuild regional relations that were, in part at least, hurt by Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel’s irreverent reporting of regional leaderships.

Jordan | Qatar
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Confronted with long-term concerns over the budget’s ability to support such huge levels of public spending (GSN 906/12), and more immediate criticism over governance issues – highlighted by new reports of corruption linked to subsidiaries of European aerospace giant EADS  – how wealth is shared out in Saudi Arabia is a hot issue that will not go away, with the ‘Arab Spring’ adding urgency to complaints that many citizens are excluded from jobs and social benefits. 

Saudi Arabia
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Has Oman’s version of the Arab spring been overwhelmed by the model of Gulf government reaction to the blossoming of popular movements? That model has become apparent in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, where the heavy hand of the security forces is being mitigated by the promise of limited political change and the spending of more money to create jobs and improve services.

Oman
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In a major breakthrough for Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s combative MPs have approved a national five-year development plan, the first for decades, and the creation of a Capital Market Authority (CMA). But, with confrontation looming over MPs’ insistence on passing a $13bn measure to buy up unpaid consumer debts, it remains too early to talk of a lasting transformation of the political atmosphere.

Kuwait
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Iranian envoy Ali Akbar Velayati arrived in Moscow on 11 July, carrying a verbal message from Rahbar (Supreme Leader) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and a written one from President Hassan Rouhani, both addressed to President Vladimir Putin. From the Russian capital Velayati was due to head to Beijing to convey Tehran’s message to President Xi Jinping. Putin’s Syria envoy Alexander Lavrentiev was due in Tehran on 18 July.

Iran