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Issue 397 - 29 October 1990

GOOD DREAMS AND BAD DREAMS

Free

Consider this. In 1991, Saddam Hussein will still be securely in power in Baghdad (forget all the nonsense about his exasperated colleagues overthrowing him). He will have withdrawn from most but not all of Kuwait which will be returned to a humbled Sabah family. The United States and the Western powers will have reduced their military presence but not evacuated the region entirely since Washington has decided that the Gulf is now, for all intent and purpose, an American protectorate. Nobody in the Arab world will thank them for the effort, though the Saudis and the smaller Gulf states will be mutely reassured that the United States is there as an insurance policy.

Issue 396 - 16 October 1990

IT ALL GETS MORE COMPLICATED

Free

The Gulf crisis must have looked fairly simple to the participants when it started. Saddam Hussein assumed he could walk into Kuwait, confronted by little more than the odd ritual denunciation from the UN Security Council and some timid squeaks of protest from the GCC states. The Bush administration thought that it could put a lot of firepower in place and show who, in the last event, was in control. No-one seems to have thought through the possible subsequent sequence of events and – to be fair – neither side could have been expected to predict their course.

Issue 395 - 02 October 1990

CAN SADDAM PULL IT OFF?

Free

One of the more remarkable aspects of the Gulf crisis is the consensus (and anger) of condemnation which Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait has evoked in the international community. This has been reflected in three striking ways.

Issue 394 - 18 September 1990

DIPLOMATIC LULL BEFORE THE STORM?

Free

The Gulf crisis has entered a particularly crucial phase. The American military build-up grinds inexorably onwards and Britain has committed itself to sending ground troops to Saudi Arabia. The United States and the Soviet Union have held a short-notice summit in Helsinki to stress their solidarity in opposing Iraqi aggression. Egypt and Syria, followed by the majority of the Arab states, have shown themselves to be prepared to risk the collapse of the Arab League rather than knuckle under to Saddam Hussein.

Issue 393 - 04 September 1990

THE SEARCH FOR AN ESCAPE ROUTE

Free

Events in the Gulf in the second half of August have followed a trend which was already identifiable during the earlier course of the crisis but which is now falling into a distinct pattern. President Saddam Hussein of Iraq appears to be prepared to adopt any strategem which will either secure him whatever gains he can make out of the mess he has created or minimise the losses he may incur.

Issue 392 - 21 August 1990

THE ROAD TO DESTRUCTION

Free

President Saddam Hussein's invasion and annexation of Kuwait marks a watershed in Middle East politics, at least as important as his attack on Iran in 1980 and arguably as significant a turning point in Arab affairs as any of the traumatic wars with Israel since 1948.

Issue 391 - 07 August 1990

MORE POWER, FEWER FRIENDS

Free

Iraq's President Saddam Hussein must be congratulating himself on a particularly good month. In pursuit of his blatantly obvious goal of establishing himself as the pre-eminent leader of the Arab world, he has bullied Opec into a new, coherent strategy on prices and production and scared the wits out of his Arab Gulf neighbours.

Issue 390 - 24 July 1990

IRRESPONSIBILITY AND GLOATING

Free

The war of words between Iran and Saudi Arabia has taken on a particularly nasty tone in the aftermath of the death of more than 1,400 pilgrims in a tunnel near Makkah earlier this month. Spokesmen in Tehran have threatened to take Saudi Arabia before an international court (though what court and who would prosecute is unclear). accusing the kingdom of being incapable of administering the holy places. Saudi Arabia has responded by accusing Tehran of gloating over an unavoidable tragedy so shortly after the catastrophic earthquake in northern Iran.

Issue 390 - 24 July 1990

Sharjah new deputy ruler

Subscriber

Sharjah has a new deputy ruler as a result of a decree issued last month. He is Sheikh Ahmed bin Sultan al Qasimi, the son of the ruler, Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Issue 389 - 10 July 1990

A WINDOW FOR GOODWILL

Free

The catastrophic earthquake in north-western Iran has resulted in 100,000 casualties, half of them dead. The disaster has shocked Iran and, understandably, led to heated political over-reaction. It may seem rather callous for Gulf States Newsletter to focus on the political repercussions (at home and overseas) of the cataclysm rather than the human tragedy – but it was, after all, the Tehran Times which carried a headline announcing that "Earthquakes can be a blessing in disguise".

Issue 388 - 26 June 1990

THE GOVERNMENT MAKES ITS POINT

Free

Kuwait has a new national council following elections held last week, marking at least a partial return to parliamentary democracy for the first time since the national assembly was dissolved by the ruler, Sheikh Jaber al Ahmed, in 1986. The vote, however, will not resolve the confrontation between the government and ex-members of the last parliament about the restoration of constitutional democracy.

Issue 387 - 12 June 1990

SADDAM'S SUMMIT

Free

President Saddam Hussein of Iraq has taken a step closer to attaining the role (at least as the first among equals) of spokesman of the Arab world and the defender of its interests. That was about all the emergency summit in Baghdad achieved – which was just as Saddam wanted it. The final communique looked suitably aggressive as a script, fitting yet devoid of any actual decisions on policy measures which, if applied, could prove divisive within the Arab community which he clearly aspires to lead

Issue 386 - 29 May 1990

A STRANGE PATH TO DEMOCRACY

Free

A couple of months ago it looked as if the Kuwaiti government (or, to be more precise, the ruling family) might actually be prepared to revive the parliament it suspended in 1986. Pro-democracy activists, led by 32 former members of parliament, have been holding a series of diwaniyas – or traditional gatherings at people's homes – calling for elections to a new National Assembly.

Issue 385 - 15 May 1990

THE NEXT MOVE

Free

The release of a second US hostage in Beirut at the end of April was welcome news and evidence that the mass kidnapping drama may indeed be gradually nearing its end. As Gulf States Newsletter has argued in the past, the hostage takers seem to have realised that they have gained virtually nothing from holding their prisoners and it will profit them little to hold onto them interminably. Indeed, the chief quid pro quo for liberating them – which appears to be the release of some 300 Lebanese Shia and Palestinian prisoners held by Israel – is more likely to be achieved 85 a result of freeing the hostages than by hanging onto them.

Issue 384 - 01 May 1990

BACK TO BRINKMANSHIP

Free

Over the past month there have been Some extraordinary revelations about Iraq's international military procurement procedures. Nuclear bomb trigger devices en route to Baghdad have been seized in Britain and large sections of specialist tube piping, allegedly for a giant rocket launcher, were confiscated by British Customs officers.