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Like Iraq’s air force, the country’s military helicopter force became a politically sensitive issue after the fall of Saddam Hussein due to the perception that such forces were extensively used in internal repression. It was arguably General Norman Schwarzkopf’s agreement to let Saddam use his helicopters after the 1991 Safwan ceasefire that sealed the fate of the uprising against him at the end of the 1991 Gulf War. Nevertheless, no modern military can function without helicopters, much less one involved in the most intense counter-insurgency in the region. As a result, the modern Iraqi helicopter force is developing faster than other aspects of the country’s air force.

Iraq
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The long-running dispute between centrist/moderate and hardline/principalist elements in the Islamic Republic broke out into the open on 25 February when foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif posted his resignation on Instagram. In a subsequent interview with local daily Jomhuori Eslami, he complained that Iranian foreign policy had become the subject of “party and factional fighting.”Zarif’s resignation was ultimately rejected by President Hassan Rouhani, leading to suggestions among some observers that he had been strengthened by the episode.

Iran
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Gulf-based observers say Qatar’s land border with Saudi Arabia along the Khor Al-Udeid inlet at the south-eastern foot of Qatar has changed. According to one Doha-based source, “the border changed a couple of months ago; it has been officially noted by the government mapping agency”.

Saudi Arabia | Qatar
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Local press have been effusive in their coverage of King Salman Bin Abdulaziz in the early weeks of his month-long tour around Asia, which began in Malaysia in late February and also takes in Indonesia, Brunei, Japan, China and the Maldives. On each step of the journey, the scale of his entourage has prompted astonished headlines, with 1,500 people including 25 princes and ten ministers travelling with the king in a fleet of Boeing 747 and 777 aircraft.

Saudi Arabia
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Aramco started pumping oil from its Manifa field on 10 April, with a view to relaxing output from some of its more mature fields. Production capacity at the field, which lies around 200km north-west of Dammam, is expected to reach 500,000 b/d of Arabian Heavy crude by July 2013, with a goal of 900,000 b/d by 2014. “First-phase production start-up at the Manifa field commenced on April 10, three months ahead of schedule and well under the programme’s approved budget,” Aramco said in a statement. Aramco’s overall capacity will be maintained at pre-Manifa levels, it added.

Saudi Arabia
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Saudi Arabia has announced the end of Operation Decisive Storm, its four-week air campaign against Houthi fighters in Yemen, and said it will focus instead – in a new operation, ‘Restore Hope’ – on finding a political solution to the crisis in its southern neighbour. In a series of statements on 21 April, Riyadh said the air campaign had achieved its goal of neutralising the bulk of military capabilities under Houthi control, paving the way for a new phase, starting at midnight, which would involve diplomatic as well as military action.

Yemen
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The US Department of State approved a $1.15bn order for tanks and other equipment by Saudi Arabia on 9 August. The contract includes 153 M1/A2S Saudi Abrams main battle tanks as well as 419 machine guns, 133 smoke grenade launchers, 20 armoured recovery vehicles, and 6,650 rounds of training ammunition.The US Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded a $495m contract for aircraft maintenance upgrade training for Boeing F-15S jets operated by the Royal Saudi Air Force. The work was awarded to California-based PKL Services on 1 September and will take place over the next five years.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 997 - 17 July 2015

Saudi Arabia: New housing minister

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Majed Bin Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Hogail was appointed the new minister of housing on 13 July, by royal order. He takes over from acting minister Essam Bin Saad Bin Said, who has filled the role since March, when King Salman dismissed Shwaish Bin Saud Al-Dwaihi. Housing is a sensitive issue in Saudi Arabia, where there is a growing shortage of homes; King Salman has promised to make it a priority.

Saudi Arabia
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Much attention ahead of the 13-14 May US-Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) summit was focused on the decision by King Salman Bin Abdelaziz Al-Saud not to attend, interpreted by many as a sign of Saudi disgruntlement at Obama’s determined pursuit of a deal with Iran. His absence was amplified by the decision of the leaders of Oman, the UAE and Bahrain not to fly to Washington; their non-participation meant that only two of the six Gulf delegations – those of Qatar and Kuwait – were led by heads of state.

Issue 898 - 08 April 2011

Qatar newspaper ownership

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Qatar has several newspapers – Al-Sharq (its sister English paper is The Peninsula), Al-Watan (its sister English paper is Qatar Tribune), Al-Raya/Arrayah (English paper, the Gulf Times) and Al-Arab.

Qatar
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Qatar’s gas-fuelled economic boom is reflected in a burgeoning population, which has soared by 128% in just six years to 1.69m people, according to the preliminary results of Qatar Statistics Authority (QSA)’s latest census.

Qatar
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Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Allawi withdrew his nomination on 1 March, ending a short-lived bid to lead the government and throwing into question the future political direction of the country. Allawi had failed on several occasions to gain the support of enough members of parliament for his cabinet, which he had finalised on 19 February.

Iraq
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Sheikha Latifa Bint Mohammed Al-Maktoum, daughter of Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, has been named as the new chair of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority. Previously vice-chair, Sheikha Latifa promised “a fresh strategy to firmly establish Dubai as a prominent cultural centre”. A new strategy dis ue to be set out in the next month. Latifa shares a name with her sister who was captured in March 2018 while trying to flee Dubai.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Gulf rulers have been to visit a more sprightly looking Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdelaziz, who remains in Agadir. Before travelling to Morocco, King Abdullah held talks in Jeddah. Acting Riyadh governor Prince Sattam Bin Abdelaziz performed funeral prayers. Ibn Saud’s former pilot, Captain Joe Grant, now 101 years old, continued to be fêted. Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal has been in Washington to hold talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 849 - 13 March 2009

KHALIFA BIN ZAYED: Exxon meeting

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Khalifa Bin Zayed: Exxon meeting

United Arab Emirates (UAE)