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After six months of haggling – which is far from a record – the Chamber of Representatives’ 6 May vote has endowed Iraq with a new government. Mustafa AlKadhimi’s administration would face daunting challenges even without the sharply deteriorating economic outlook, triggered by plunging oil revenues. Iraq is one of the biggest losers from the slump: based on an average $30 a barrel ($/bbl) Brent crude price, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has forecast a 70% drop in revenues, while Fitch Ratings expects GDP to contract by almost 10% this year. Low oil prices coupled with lower production and exports threaten to drain the funding pool that Iraq’s political elites have traditionally relied on to maintain their patronage networks. But those holding power and influence in Baghdad seem unlikely to change their ways.

Issue 355 - 08 February 1989

THE POST-WAR ERA

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A formal ending of the Iran-Iraq war, in the shape of a firm peace treaty between the two countries is still a distant prospect. But, although there are many issues of contention still to be settled, the cease-fire of last August is holding well and the war is generally regarded as over. Governments in the region may not be fully reassured until a peace treaty has been signed but even the most pessimistic of officials do not foresee a resumption of the fighting. The mutual antipathies expressed in Baghdad and Tehran focus on the political positions to be won - or lost - in the post-war bargaining process; neither country, even in threat, talks about resorting once again to open war.

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With an absent sultan and oil hovering around $60/bbl, Oman’s economic future is up in the air. Economic uncertainty is all the more challenging due to structural shortcomings which, despite decades of planning, remain obstinately in place; if anything, they have worsened over the past three years. Political questions over who will replace Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said – who has been in Germany, where he is understood to be having medical treatment for cancer, for almost eight months (GSN 981/1) – have only ramped up financial jitters.

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With the Majlis Al-Shura limited to a consultative role and candidates excluded from promoting policy ideas in campaign literature, traditional allegiances dictated voting patterns in the Sultanat...

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Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) owners of land and real estate in Oman have been given until November 2020 to sell up, under the terms of a little-noticed royal decree. Until now the prevailing rule among the six Gulf monarchies has been that the citizens of one GCC country are permitted to buy property in another. However, Royal Decree 29/2018 introduced a series of prohibitions on foreigners owning land and property in designated areas and ordered them to sell such property to Omanis.

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Reformists petitioning for change may take heart: municipal elections could take place sooner than expected. Saudi reformists believe the Al- Sauds will cede them the initiative in the face of conservative opposition, but an elected national assembly will take longer to emerge, and new arrests suggest liberal reformists remain vulnerable to reaction.

Issue 406 - 11 March 1991

A Painful aftermath?

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Is the peace going to be lost just as the war is won? This stark question is based on the fact that although progress appears to have been made during the last week between Prince Khaled bin Sultan and General Norman Schwarzkopf - for the Coalition - and assorted, and extremely depressed Iraqis, as representing what is left of Saddam Hussein's regime, regarding prisoner of war exchanges and the out- lines of a workable ceasefire, three disturbing factors remain in full play: Saddam Hussein remains in place, if no longer in power; doubtless partly as a result, Iraq appears to be sliding into chaos; Kuwait liberated on 28 February, but lacking the presence of even one member of the ruling family until five days later, could well become divided between the latter's adherents and those who, for whatever reason, demand drastic and radical political change.

Issue 195 - 28 April 1987

PREFERRED PARTNERS

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Prince Sultan, Minister of Defence, referring to King Fahd's recent state visit to France, has stressed the close cooperation in military matter between Saudi Arabia and France. Speaking at a recent graduation ceremony at the King Abdul Aziz Military Academy, Prince Sultan said that France had expressed readiness to cooperate with the kingdom in the field of armaments and other defence sectors.

Issue 192 - 16 March 1987

CREDIBILITY PROBLEM

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The Tower Commission report on the White House's dealings with Iran in the arms-for-hostages scandal has enmeshed Saudi Arabia in further problems. The Saudis have consistently denied they had anything to do with the tortuous transactions undertaken by Adnan Khashoggi, Manuchehr Ghorbanifar, Colonel Oliver North and the rest of the shady crew at the National Security Council. There is no evidence to prove them wrong in their assertions. But all along there have been worrying rumours that Saudi Arabia channelled funds to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

Issue 225 - 23 November 1983

THE GCC SUMMIT

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We devote much of this issue of Gulf States Newsletter to the major concerns of the fourth Gulf Co-operation Council Summit, which ended in Doha last week. However, not every aspect of the meeting of the six Heads of State can be conveniently docketed under suitable subject labels.

Issue 86 - 06 December 1982

FOR ALL THE WRONG REASONS

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The miserable catalogue of errors of commission and omission which has led to the cancellation of the visit of the Arab seven-man committee to London is a classic case of a wrong outcome arrived at for all the wrong reasons.

Issue 612 - 01 June 1999

Saddam and the Shia

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Even as Iraqi exiles continue their highly public manoeuvres in London and Washington, on the ground in Iraq dissident forces are scoring successes that, little by little, are putting the regime on the defensive. It may well be these less publicised activities that chip away at and ultimately undermine the regime – leaving Iraq’s argumentative exiles to bicker amongst themselves.

Issue 257 - 11 March 1985

TAKING SHAPE

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For the first time since the Arab summit conference in Fez, in 1982, there is some reason for the current feeling in the region that the deadlocked Middle East peace process could again begin to move ahead. The proposals recently put forward by President Hosni Mubarak triggered off intense diplomatic activity throughout the area as well as serving to re-focus world attention on the central issues of the Arab-Israeli dispute. Mubarak's proposals, first aired in an interview last month with the 'New York Times', called for a dialogue between the United States and a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation which Egypt would help to form. Then, at a later stage, Israel would be invited to join the talks. Subsequently, in the third stage of the Egyptian plan, an international conference would be held to come to a final settlement.

Issue 256 - 25 February 1985

A FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION

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The United States has recognised 'positive elements' in the Arab Peace Plan, adopted by the Fez Summit meeting in 1981. The communique issued at the end of King Fahd's visit to Washington earlier this month said that the two leaders had agreed to give priority to the Arab-Israel conflict in their talks. The Saudi monarch had expressed his belief that the Arab consensus agreed at the Fez summit provided a just basis for negotiations leading to comprehensive peace.

Issue 444 - 08 September 1992

MYTH AND REALITY

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Illegitimate, unjust and hostile was how Iraq officially described the Western decision to impose the air exclusion zone over southern Iraq. The National Assembly called it "a vile aggression", the Ba'ath Party newspaper AI Thawra described the move as a "dangerous pattern of the arrogance of power and colonial haughtiness" and Al Qadisiyah daily, the organ of the Ministry of Defence, referred to "the conspiracy aimed at Iraq's independence".