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Issue 305 - 09 February 1987



To the certain relief of the hosts, and probably also of the participants, the fifth Islamic summit conference in Kuwait ended without being subjected to the half-expected and sometimes threatened outbreaks of violence from assorted saboteurs, car-bombers, hostage-takers, hijackers, assassins and other exponents of the exercise of terrorism as a means of political expression.


The lasting legacy of the Bahrain Grand Prix is likely to be further radicalisation on all sides of the conflict. As the flare of media attention dies down, analysts expect to see Crown Prince Salman continue to be sidelined as the Al-Khalifa weigh the damage to the country’s image

Issue 552 - 13 January 1997

Providing Less Comfort


Operation Provide Comfort, which came to an end on 31 December 1996, was established in 1991 in response to the mass exodus of Kurdish refugees from northern Iraq but it never provided much comfort to the Kurds whom it was supposed to benefit. Although humanitarian aid was air dropped in early 1991, since then the American- British-French force has had little more than a surveillance and deterrent role.


Ratings downgrades for major Saudi investors, a potential systemic crisis in Kuwait where investment companies are in freefall, fraud charges against well-connected Dubai developers and a marked lack of performance by Abu Dhabi’s investment flagship. A cross-section of business stories in this issue of GSN paints a sobering picture of the potential pitfalls that can befall investors in the GCC, even if the region hasn’t been as dramatically affected by the global credit crunch as other parts of the world.

Issue 394 - 18 September 1990



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.


Security comes at a high cost in Bahrain, but exactly how high is difficult to ascertain. “Significant areas of government activity, including the security services and the Bahrain Defense Force, lacked transparency”, the US Department of State’s new Report on Human Rights Practices in 2015 observed in its section on Bahrain. Unsurprisingly, the 2015/16 budget approved last July (like budgets before it) provides only the broadest of outlines on government spending. As the State Department comments: “The government generally did not provide citizens access to government-held information.

Issue 217 - 01 August 1983



KUWAIT IS TO APPROACH THE SOVIET UNION in a bid to contain the war between Iraq and Iran, the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) says, quoting unidentified press reports. The Kuwaiti initiative will be undertaken by a high-level Parliamentary delegation, scheduled to visit Moscow on 25 July. The KUNA reports say that the Kuwaiti delegation, led by National Assembly Speaker, Mohammad Yousef al Adsani, will dedicate their efforts to exploring avenues of bringing an end to the 34-month old Gulf war.


The UAE has developed into a glitzy global business and leisure hub without apparently attracting the ire of ultra-radical jihadists, whose bombing campaigns have so challenged the Emirates key a...


It is not yet another ‘Tanker War’, but the latest sabotage of oil tankers has highlighted again the region’s vulnerability to attacks on its key export. Oil prices have remained relatively steady – influenced by a global bear market and substantial stocks in major consumers – but the attacks on six ships in May and June still carry the risk that geopolitical tensions between Iran and the United States could spill over into a full-blown conflict, whether by accident or design.

Issue 537 - 04 June 1996

Saudi Arabia: Uncertain Times


It is now a matter of when, not if, that the throne of Saudi Arabia has a new incumbent. Despite earlier optimism that King Fahd had fully recovered from the effects of last year's stroke, it is clear that his health has again deteriorated.


Saudi Arabia’s new king did not wait long to restructure institutions and bring fresh faces into government, in changes which have given yet more influence to his son Mohammed and strengthened the position of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef. King Salman also promised money to his subjects, in a display of traditional Al-Saud largesse. This 10-page special report, originally published within GSN Issue 986, analyses the winners and losers in King Salman's new government, the new balance of power within the Al-Saud and the likely impact on domestic, energy and foreign policies – including GCC relations, and policies towards US, Syria, Iran and Yemen.

Issue 557 - 24 March 1997

Iran's Islamic Offensive


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 275 - 18 November 1985



If the recent GCC summit conference in Muscat were to be judged on its final statements and declarations, a general verdict could be less than flattering about the meeting's ostensible results. In the wider political fields and in its internal and domestic affairs, the GCC may seem to have achieved little of note during the past year. The three-day meeting produced, in the words of its participants, "Satisfaction with steps taken" (regarding the Unified Economic Agreement), "approval for a concept" (for a defence strategy), "and the ratification of unified policies" anything else the six GCC leaders may have discussed)".


Donald Trump’s decision to turn his harsh rhetoric into a confrontational policy on Iran’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal was widely expected – in the process undermining another legacy of his predecessor Barack Obama. The US president has gone as far as he could to call the JCPOA into question, but this is still not as far as candidate Trump promised during last year’s election campaign to trash “the worst ever deal”. The US ball is in Congress’s court, leaving the world wondering what his next step might be. Only Iran’s most concerted enemies – who include the staunchest of US allies in the Middle East: the ‘GCC-3’ of Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, and Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu – believe they have won out in Trump’s most antagonistic line.

Issue 326 - 30 November 1987



Suddenly, a cloud seems to have passed over the political prospects of Hojatolislam Hashemi Rafsanjani, the speaker of the Majlis (parliament) and hitherto the most powerful political figure in the Iranian regime after Ayatollah Khomeini. Rafsanjani is being exposed to mounting - and apparently concerted - criticism for his moderation on the issue of the war.