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Manama’s crackdown on opposition members combined with the intervention of military forces from Saudi Arabia and police forces from the UAE has left Bahrain’s opposition considerably reduced space to demonstrate. However, opposition members remain as resolute as before to bring about change


Parliamentary elections on 1 December went ahead as planned, albeit with turnout at a historic low as a result of an opposition boycott. The new assembly looks likely to be more pro-government than the last, but opposition plans for further mass protests and the inexperience of almost two thirds of new MPs suggest the crisis is far from over


Ali Abdullah Saleh’s visits to Cairo and Amman have stoked speculation that he is planning a new initiative to reconcile southern leaders before Yemen’s divisions become irreversible

Issue 370 - 19 September 1989



"I have been thinking whether to tell it or not, because it is related to myself. But in the end I decided to tell you in this Friday sermon" announced Ayatollah Musavi Ardebili, the former chief justice and head of the judiciary council, as he resigned from his post at the end of last month. "After long thinking... I reached the decision that I should spend the rest of my life at the Qom seminary".

Issue 228 - 16 January 1984



THE RECALL OF THE JORDANIAN PARLIAMENT, in suspense since 1974 when the Rabat Arab summit designated the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as the sole representative of the Palestinians, re-introduced a fresh and important element into the current jigsaw of Middle East politics.

Issue 319 - 25 August 1987



The arrival in the Gulf last week of the assault carrier USS Guadacanal carrying eight Sea Stallion mine-hunting helicopters gave, at last, some substance to American claims to provide a counter to the threat of Iranian mines in the Gulf. The United States has now assembled an operational fleet of 24 warships, including a battleship, six cruisers and an aircraft carrier, in and around the Gulf region. This is a formidable body of hardware but it has yet to prove that it can accomplish the task the Reagan Administration has set it.


An inconclusive three-day subcommittee hearing in the House of Representatives into the question of OPEC investment in the United States has perceptibly angered the Saudis. Even Congress' General Accounting Office (GAO) admitted that OPEC funds posed no real threat to the American economy or banks, although it questioned the fact that these countries' holdings are not individually disclosed.

Issue 286 - 06 May 1986



The rhetoric of the OK Corral has served to strengthen the impression that Colonel Qadhafi was an easy target who, unlike Syria, could not expect Soviet armed support. But that is far too simple, and we have no doubt that Syria and others well know it. It is central to both superpowers to obviate any danger of armed confrontation with each other. That is why, whatever the state of public incivilities between them, the State Department is always in touch with the Soviet Foreign Ministry, and the CIA and KGB maintain close contact at all levels. Secondly, whatever the American line about Soviet expansionism in the Middle East, the Americans well know that the Soviet Union is not going to risk armed confrontation with the US over any Arab state (or indeed Iran, where the overthrow of the Shah was as worrying to the Russians as it was to the Americans).

Issue 203 - 27 December 1982



FOR THE ARAB STATES OF THE GULF, 1982 began with a sense of unease and uncertainty. The reverberations of the uncovering of a subversive plot in Bahrain, allegedly of Iranian inspiration, caused all the countries of the region to look apprehensively at their individual and collective internal security; a series of bilateral security agreements were quickly concluded between Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf Co-operation Council states - with the exception of Kuwait.


Senior Al-Saud princes had become accustomed to a touch of diplomatic freelancing, but they now seem to be following King Abdullahs lead as Riyadh reaffirms the primacy of its Arab and American p...

Issue 114 - 06 February 1984



THE SPATE OF ARMS DEALS, actual or potential, in which the kingdom is currently involved, has sparked off sharp reactions from Israel. An Israeli official in the Prime Minister's office was quoted in Bonn as saying that weapons purchased by Saudi Arabia from West Germany might well 'force' Israel into launching a pre-emptive attack against the kingdom. This kind of verbal belligerence will not be taken very seriously, least of all by Saudi Arabia itself - but it does indicate the degree of alarm with which the Israeli government regards Arab arms acquisition.


A series of bomb explosions in central Manama killed two young Asians on 5 November. The attacks came just days after the government banned all rallies and gatherings – the opposition says they must not be used as an excuse for further crackdown

Issue 954 - 20 September 2013

The disappearance of Hamad Bin Jassim


The departure of Qatar’s powerful prime minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim from frontline politics was not unexpected, given the potential for tension between him and newly installed Emir Sheikh Tamim. But observers have been taken aback by his complete disappearance from public life, and the rapid removal of many of his allies.

Issue 680 - 20 February 2002

Across the Region


Bahrain will hold municipal elections, with women allowed to vote, on 9 May, and parliamentary elections on 24 October—one year after the referendum on a shift to constitutional monarchy—Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa has announced.


France hopes it has picked up a big deal in Saudi Arabia, the traditionally solid US ally which is emerging as arguably the last bastion of the European combat aircraft market in the Gulf. Meanwhile US giant Lockheed Martin is tightening its grip on GCC procurement as the world’s big aerospace firms battle for dominance in the next decade.