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Issue 521 - 10 October 1995

Saddam Comes Through

Subscriber

There is no doubt who will win the referendum for the Iraqi Presidency, scheduled for mid- October. Indeed, it will be surprising if any Iraqi citizen dares to vote against Saddam Hussein, the sole candidate nominated by the Revolutionary Command Council and the National Assembly. The invitation to the international media to watch the election is as meaningless as the election itself.

Issue 520 - 26 September 1995

The Iraqi Opposition and the General

Subscriber

The defection of Lt General Hussein Kamel and his entourage has presented the Iraqi opposition in exile with an intractable problem. They are overjoyed that the regime's ruling family is slowly devouring itself. But they are worried about welcoming Saddam's henchmen into their ranks.

Issue 519 - 12 September 1995

The Struggle for Iraq

Subscriber

The ramifications of the defection of Gen Hussein Kamil Hassan al Majid from Baghdad are still spreading. The implications of the affair are not yet clear but the Middle East is witnessing a complex and frantic scramble for position as governments and opposition parties manoeuvre to get maximum benefit from the defections.

Issue 518 - 29 August 1995

Saddam's Tottering State

Subscriber

How long can he go on? Saddam Hussein has now narrowed his powerbase to such an extent that he relies almost totally on his two sons to rule Iraq. The defection of Lieutenant General Hussein Kamil Hassan al Majid to Jordan on 8 August was the latest in a series of dramatic changes in Saddam's inner circle this year that have removed Saddam's half brothers and more distant relatives from the corridors of power.

Issue 517 - 15 August 1995

New Faces in Riyadh

Subscriber

On 28 July King Fahd issued eight decrees which heralded the most extensive changes in Saudi Arabia's government for two decades. Three cabinet posts were reshuffled and 15 new ministers appointed. The cabinet changes were announced on 2 August, a week after some 150 senior official posts were reshuffled. Coming soon after cabinet changes in Bahrain and the change of ruler in Qatar, the Saudi move has been interpreted in some quarters as heralding the arrival in power in the GCC of a new generation of educated technocrats.

Issue 516 - 01 August 1995

Did Iraq Use Chemical Weapons?

Subscriber

The UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) last year declared Iraq free of Chemical Weapons. However, CW remain a potent threat to the security of the Middle East and the Gulf. Iran is producing large quantities of chemical agents and has practised chemical warfare exercises. Other Middle Eastern countries have been noticeably slow to sign the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention which bans the production of CW.

Issue 515 - 18 July 1995

A Family Affair in Doha

Subscriber

For a brief moment, the world took notice of tiny Qatar. The announcement on 27 June that Crown Prince Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifah al-Thani had deposed his father, Emir Khalifah, made headlines across the world. Just as rapidly, the affair faded from sight. As international recognition of the palace coup flooded in the outside world relaxed, satisfied that the new Emir would not institute any dramatic changes.

Issue 514 - 04 July 1995

Iran: Votes and Dollars

Subscriber

Iran's parliamentary elections are still nine months away but there are already signs that the Iranian political scene is undergoing significant change as potential participants prepare themselves for the campaign trail. The recent US trade embargo on Iran has had the immediate effect of bolstering the Republic's 'radicals' but Iran-watchers are detecting signs that real forces for change and 'moderation' are gathering pace.

Issue 513 - 20 June 1995

The UAE's Fighters: A Hard Choice

Subscriber

The UAE has about a thirtieth the population of Iran. Yet, in 1994, its defence budget ($2 billion) was similar to that of the Islamic Republic. In light of the arms purchases under consideration, the federation is set to be one of the most lucrative markets in the world for military hardware for the remainder of the decade.

Issue 512 - 06 June 1995

Thoughts of an Arabian Commander

Subscriber

Prince Khaled bin Sultan rose to international prominence during the 1990-91 Gulf War as the Commander of Joint Forces during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He shared the stage with General Norman Schwarzkopf and represented the Kingdom's desire not to be overwhelmed by its American allies. Soon after Iraq's defeat he resigned from the Saudi armed forces and has since concentrated on his other interests, including overseeing the fortunes of the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat whose revival in 1988 he backed.

Issue 511 - 23 May 1995

Qatar Goes its Own Way

Subscriber

In the last the years Qatar has resolutely gone Its own way in the region. The small emirate's desire to steer an independent course has led it to cultivate an unlikely set of relationships. On the one hand, Qatar has moved closer to the United States and Israel. On the other it has made conciliatory gestures to Iraq as well as to Iran and Sudan.

Issue 510 - 09 May 1995

Iran and Egypt: Regional Rivals

Subscriber

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference that opened in New York on 17 April has seen a remarkable de facto convergence of interest between Egypt and Iran, two Middle Eastern powers otherwise at loggerheads. Both have been, albeit for different reasons, opposing Western attempts to push through an indefinite extension of the Treaty which expires this year.

Issue 509 - 18 April 1995

A US-Iranian Collision?

Subscriber

Analysts in the Gulf are increasingly concerned that Iran and the USA may find themselves in a military conflict as the diplomatic and economic confrontation between Washington and Tehran escalates. The Clinton Administration, which has insisted that Iran change its international behaviour before it can be admitted to the "community of nations", has recently intensified its campaign against the regime. Observers have suggested that policy may be changing from containing the regime to overthrowing it.

Issue 508 - 11 April 1995

Saudi Arabia's Dissidents

Subscriber

The leading Saudi opposition group, the Committee for the Defence of Legitimate Rights (CDLR) has promised to intensify its protest campaign in the coming weeks in the run-up to the Hajj season. The authorities have responded by cracking down on dissident intellectuals. The stage is set for an escalation in the conflict that has raged between the Committee and the authorities for the past two years.

Issue 507 - 28 March 1995

Iraq Moves to Centre Stage

Subscriber

The UN Security Council once again renewed sanctions on Iraq at its 13 March meeting. This came as no surprise in the wake of US Ambassador Madeleine Albright's assessment that she had dragooned the majority of the Security Council into line behind her position. Even Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, who flew to New York to lobby Security Council members, told the Iraqi News Agency before the meeting that he "ruled out the possibility that the Council will take a tangible step to lift or ease the sanctions.