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Issue 567 - 12 August 1997

Qatar's Ambitions

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Qatar's Emir Hamad is once again feeling isolated in the Gulf, having irritated his neighbours and other Arab states by refusing to cancel the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Summit scheduled to take place in Doha this November. He has therefore turned to more powerful friends further afield - in Washington and London. Both are eager to fuel his ambitious plans for the emirate.

Issue 566 - 29 July 1997

Khatami Takes the Reins

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Iranian president-elect Mohammad Khatami is not due to take office until 3 August but he is already actively engaged in taking over the reins of power. His first task has been to ensure he has in place a team with whom he can work but this is apparently proving harder than expected. Busy with this task, Khatami has had little opportunity to formulate his policy preferences. Nonetheless, it is already evident that he will toe the establishment line in public while insisting on freedom to pursue his new approach in reality.

Issue 565 - 15 July 1997

Turmoil in Turkey

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Turkey's generals have learnt their lesson from the 1980s. Rather than embarrass their NATO allies with an overt military coup they used behind the scenes pressure to bring down the Erbakan government. The implications of the ongoing political turmoil in the Turkish body politic are not however clear. The military may have won this battle but they are not yet able to totally determine the policies of the Turkish state.

Issue 564 - 01 July 1997

Iraq Tests UNSCOM

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Rolf Ekeus, the dogged executive chairman of UNSCOM, has made clear that he does not regard his task as finished in Iraq. Nonetheless, six years of confrontation with the Iraqi government was too much for him and he is moving to what will undoubtedly be a more rewarding job this July. As with the departures of Thatcher, Bush and Major from office, Saddam Hussein is once again revelling in what he portrays as the downfall of his Western enemies.

Issue 563 - 17 June 1997

Party Time in Kuwait

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With the launch of the National Democratic Rally (NOR) last May, Kuwait has a new independent political organisation. Although there is no immediate prospect of the group becoming an officially recognised political party, the question of the formation of political parties is now firmly on the country's political and social agenda.

Issue 562 - 03 June 1997

Iran's New President

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In a stunning setback to the clerical establishment, underdog Mohammad Khatami, 52, won a landslide victory in the 23 May presidential elections. Khatami took 69% of the 29.1 million votes cast. Although he will be tightly constrained by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei who will set the policy framework, the new president promises to introduce a more liberal social climate and possibly also a more flexible foreign policy.

Issue 561 - 20 May 1997

Sanaa's Worldview

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The new Yemeni government formed after the parliamentary elections has yet to elaborate its foreign policy programme. The dominance of the General People's Congress (GPC) however means that Saleh's foreign minister, Abd al Karim al Iryani, will continue to pursue the policies he outlined in the months before the election. It is therefore useful to look at Iryani's worldview, as outlined in an interview given to at Quds al Arabi earlier this year.

Issue 560 - 06 May 1997

Rethinking Dual Containment

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When President Bill Clinton was re-elected to office there was a flurry of speculation about possible changes in America's Gulf policy. The departure of Warren Christopher as Secretary of State suggested less of a knee jerk opposition to Islamic Iran while Clinton's strengthened position suggested that he may be able to formulate a more imaginative policy on Iraq.

Issue 559 - 22 April 1997

Reforming Iraq

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Harzan Ibrahim al Tikriti, Saddam Hussein's half brother, has for many years been Iraq's representative at the UN in Geneva. Although a former head of the intelligence service and reputed to control the regime's foreign bank accounts, he is regarded by many in the Arab world and the West as an acceptable alternative to Saddam. At the very least, his post in Geneva enables him to understand the outside world better than Saddam in his Baghdad bunker. It is thus not surprising that Barzan has emerged as a potential agent of reform in Iraq. Nonetheless, he is probably too closely associated with the current regime to lead real reform.

Issue 558 - 08 April 1997

New Faces in the UAE

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The UAE's long-awaited government reshuffle saw a significant shake up in key technocratic posts but, unsurprisingly, no change in the "power ministries." The cabinet shake up, announced at the end of March, saw the installation of eight new ministers in the 21 member cabinet under Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid.

Issue 558 - 07 April 1997

New faces in the UAE cabinet

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The UAE's long-awaited government reshuffle saw a significant shake up in key technocratic posts but, unsurprisingly, no change in the "power ministries." The cabinet shake up, announced at the end of March, saw the installation of eight new ministers in the 21 member cabinet under Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Issue 557 - 24 March 1997

Iran's Islamic Offensive

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Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati is in the midst of an extensive tour of the Arab world as Iran steps up its diplomatic offensive to garner international support in the face of growing concern that the US and Iran may yet come to blows. Velayati is visiting a series of Muslim countries in an attempt to use next December's Summit of the Islamic Conference Organisation (lCO) in Tehran as a mechanism for improving its standing in the region.

Issue 556 - 10 March 1997

Alliance Politics

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Saudi Defence and Aviation Minister Prince Sultan's visit to Washington at the end of February provided an opportunity to assess the state of US-Saudi relations, strained of late due to disputes over the hunt for the al Khobar bombers.

Issue 555 - 24 February 1997

Friends And Neighbours

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Tehran's charm offensive towards the GCC states was stepped up a notch when President Rafsanjani extended an invitation to GCC rulers to visit Iran during a press conference marking the 18th anniversary of the Iranian Islamic Revolution. The Iranian leader however maintained a tough stance vis a vis the US, displaying no willingness to back down on key issues.

Issue 554 - 10 February 1997

Washington, Riyadh and the Bombers

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The new US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, has had a quick lesson on the sensitivities of the American-Saudi relationship. In the wake of blunt criticisms made by the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the Kingdom's investigation of the al Khobar bombing, Albright rushed to soothe ruffled feathers both in Riyadh and Washington.