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Issue 126 - 24 July 1984



The discovery of oil in North Yemen will give rise to some fast and furious thinking in many quarters, if the discovery proves to be the forerunner of substantial oil resources in the country. As the saying goes in Opec's headquarters in Vienna, 7,000 barrels of oil do not an Opec member make, but there is not an oil producing country in the world that does not know how quickly and how vastly a viable oil industry can transform the political and economic circumstances of any state.

Issue 241 - 17 July 1984



The Iraqi government-organised international conference, held this week in Baghdad, is entitled 'The Impact of the Iran-Iraq War on World Peace and Security'. Speaking at its opening, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Tariq Aziz, reiterated the Iraqi contention that the international community at large continues to ignore - or at least cares little about - the nearly four year old war.

Issue 125 - 10 July 1984



Following the establishment of the kingdom's air defence zone, stretching probably about forty miles into Gulf waters, Saudi Arabia has increased its air patrols over Gulf shipping lanes. Royal Saudi Airforce (RSAF) pilots now have orders to scramble their aircraft as soon as any unauthorised air-craft enter the perimeter of the zone, marked by the so-called 'Fahd Line', where they are authorised to defend 'certain ships'. These ships have not been specified 'but are believed to include tankers owned by the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states under threat of Iranian attack. Standing order to RSAF pilots regarding aircraft which invade Saudi airspace is to 'shoot on sight'.

Issue 240 - 03 July 1984



The defence chiefs of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries gathered together in Riyadh last week to hammer out a common operational defence for the region. They met during a slight fall in the intensity of the military crisis in the Gulf - a short-lived lull in the Gulf tanker war and with reports- that the promised Iranian land offensive was stalled by a dispute among the leadership in Tehran.

Issue 124 - 26 June 1984



Saudi Arabia and its fellow partners in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) have pinned their hopes on the United Nations to prevent a further escalation of the Gulf war. The emergency GCC Foreign Ministers' meeting, which met in Taif after the Iranian attacks on neutral shipping in the Gulf, decided, as Secretary General Abdullah Bishara put it, 'to pursue the path of amicable settlement and dialogue as the effective and viable means for finding positive and common background'. Bishara also reiterated the Gulf countries' deep conviction on self reliance in defence, and emphasised that the policy of 'open bridges and constructive dialogue' can never be at the expense of national interests.

Issue 239 - 19 June 1984



The agreement by the belligerents in the Iran-Iraq war to cease air and artillery bombardments of civilian towns, responding to an appeal by the United Nations, is the first time in the 45 month old conflict that both combatants have ever heeded any of the many appeals to them to modify the savage fighting between them. The agreement, if it holds, brings to a close a recent period in which hundreds of civilians on both sides have been killed and injured in cross border shelling and bombing raids. The strikes began earlier this month with an Iraqi air raid on the Iranian border town of Baneh, in which, claimed the Iranians, more than three hundred people were killed and three hundred wounded. Iran retaliated by shelling Basra and five other Iraqi border towns.

Issue 123 - 12 June 1984



The Gulf Co-operation Council scored a reasonable success with its first-ever resort to the United Nations Security Council, over the complaint against Iran's attacks on neutral shipping in the Gulf. The GCC did not get all it asked for but, almost certainly, obtained most of what it hoped and expected. By thirteen votes, the 15-member Council voted in favour of a revise GCC resolution calling on 'all states' to respect the right of free navigation in the Gulf and refrain from any act which may lead to further escalation and widening of the conflict. Two states, Nicaragua and Zimbabwe, abstained.

Issue 238 - 05 June 1984



Significant military developments, paralleling the intensive diplomatic moves surrounding the Gulf crisis, confirm that the balance between regional peace and war remains as precarious as ever. Both Iraq and Iran insist - and have so demonstrated that their attacks on shipping will continue. With different degrees of emphasis, the six member countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) have more or less committed themselves to a military response to Iranian attacks on their ships or installations.

Issue 122 - 29 May 1984



The execution of Iran's long-standing threat to disrupt the oil shipments of other Gulf states has begun to be put into effect. Arab reaction, at least on the diplomatic front, was swift and fairly decisive. The Foreign Ministers of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states held an extraordinary meeting in Riyadh, at which Iran was roundly accused of aggression, and it was decided to take the issue to the UN. The subject of the Iranian attacks on Arab-owned shipping was also put on the agenda of the delayed Arab League Foreign Ministers' meeting, held in Tunis.

Issue 237 - 22 May 1984



The joint visit to Japan by Kuwait Foreign Minister Shaikh Sabah al Ahmad and Iraq Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz, which begins this week, is ostensibly to brief the Japanese government on the Arab Foreign Ministers' meeting -in-Baghdad in March which called on industrial countries to refrain' from measures likely to prolong the Gulf conflict.

Issue 121 - 15 May 1984



The Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) comes, on 25 May, to the third anniversary of its founding. Against a background of an Arab world marked by declared and undeclared wars, civil strife, hostility between individual states, ideological quarrels, political rivalries, attempted insurrection and ruinous policy differences, for the GCC to have survived at all is something for the six member states to celebrate.

Issue 236 - 08 May 1984



Taha Yasin Ramadan's recently concluded trip to the Soviet Union has further cemented the rehabilitated relations between Iraq and the Soviet Union. The First Deputy Prime Minister, before his departure from Baghdad, had said his visit was to improve and expand bilateral relations between the two countries.

Issue 120 - 01 May 1984



The reconciliation of old and new in Saudi Arabia is a common and constant theme throughout the country. The tug-of-war between tradition and modernity is not exclusive to the kingdom; it is manifest in many developing nations. The issue has a sharper focus and perhaps a larger impact in Saudi Arabia, where the pace of change has been spectacularly fast, widespread and pervasive.

Issue 235 - 24 April 1984



The Reagan Administration has denied that it fears an Iraqi 'collapse' in the Gulf war, and has said that both Iran and Iraq are in a position to continue - fighting 'indefinitely'. However, the US State Department said there was a 'continuing' danger" that the three and a half year old conflict could spread, endangering the security of nearby Gulf states.

Issue 119 - 17 April 1984



The increasing attention being paid to area - as opposed to regional - interests by the countries of the Gulf Cooperation (GCC) is reflected in Saudi Arabia's current low-key involvement in the problems of Lebanon. Previously, the kingdom was active in many levels and in various directions over the situation in Lebanon. More recently, there has been a noticeable diminution of Saudi efforts in the affairs of Lebanon, although that should not be taken as a lessening of " Saudi Arabian interest there. The present thrust of the kingdom's concerns, however, along with its five partner states in the GCC, is closer to home. More particularly, the Iran- Iraq war intrudes more and more into the GCC's scheme of things, dictating an unwelcome course of events and threatening a fearful interruption to the GCC's policies and programmes.