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Issue 529 - 12 February 1996

The Return of Iraqi Oil?


The Iraqi government's agreement to enter into talks with the UN on the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 986 sent shock waves through the oil market and prompted jubilation in Baghdad. Saddam's proposal to open talks, aired on 20 January, led to the initiation of discussions on 6 February and raised the prospect of Iraq being allowed to export up to $1 billion worth of oil every three months to fund humanitarian imports.

Issue 59 - 09 November 1981

A close-run thing


By a margin of only four votes, 52 in favour and 48 against, the United States Senate has approved the sale to Saudi Arabia of the five AWACS surveillance aircraft; an agreeable confirmation of the "educated guess" made in Saudi Arabia Newsletter No.54. The close-run vote has been hailed by most of the American and European press as a victory for Mr Reagan and comment is devoted to the American domestic aspects of the Administration's successful battle with congress. The finer points of the US debate ad the niceties of individual Senatorial voting will no doubt be carefully analysed by all the interested parties. But the first importance of the vote is that the kingdom's stated defensive requirements will now be met.

Issue 502 - 16 January 1995

Another Unproductive Summit


As usual, the statement issued after the 15th summit meeting of GCC leaders in Manama in December concealed more than it revealed. Fine words about cooperation and the GCC's achievements were spoken even while the Bahraini security forces were engaging in mass arrests and border disputes in the Peninsula were flaring up.


Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s health was the subject of renewed concern and speculation following an unscripted mid-August revelation about the 90-year-old emir’s apparently poor health by Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. However, as GSN went to press, the indefatigable nonogenarian emir was expected to visit the United States for talks with President Donald Trump and on 2 September was pictured laughing with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi at the Bayan Palace in Kuwait.

Issue 533 - 09 April 1996

Baghdad in Dire Straits


Saddam Hussein's regime is putting on a brave face but the noose is continuing to tighten. While Saddam has been celebrating the parliamentary election results, relations with Jordan have deteriorated further and Syria has increased its support for the opposition. Meanwhile, it is clear that neither Washington nor London will ease their stranglehold on Iraq while Saddam is in power.

Issue 340 - 28 June 1988



Throughout the long course of the Gulf war, now in its eighth year, outside observers have claimed from time to time to have detected a readiness on the part of Iran to end the conflict on terms other than the fulfilment of its uncompromising and allegedly unalterable conditions; conditions which only an outright victory could obtain. Variously citing a diverse range of factors, including Iranian economic incapacity, shortages or deficiencies of vital armaments and military equipment, internal political opposition pressures or simply national war weariness, such forecasts have never yet been borne out by events.


Despite rising gas output in 2013, Oman – like the rest of its Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) neighbours – is struggling to keep pace with rampant demand. New figures from the Ministry of Oil and Gas show output rose by 3% to 37.15bcm in 2013, but with demand at 39.1mcm/d and much of the sultanate’s existing output dedicated to long-term liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects, Muscat has been seeking new sources of gas. The strategy it is putting in place is to develop new domestic capability from its tight gas fields (being tapped by BP) and also to begin importing Iranian gas across the Strait of Hormuz.

Issue 151 - 23 July 1985



The GCC's Rapid Deployment Force will be assembled at Hafr al Batin base, in north-eastern Arabia near the borders of Iraq and Kuwait, within the next few months. The Force, the formation of which was agreed at last November's GCC summit meeting in Kuwait. is designed 'to be ready to come to the aid of any Gulf country in the event of external aggression'.

Issue 623 - 01 November 1999

Congress and the Gulf


America’s allies often watch in bemusement as the USA’s policies are pulled hither and thither by the ill winds of domestic politics. Even the US’s closest and most powerful friends can do little to influence partisan debates on the Hill and so must sit by and make the best of what is often a bad job.

Issue 306 - 23 February 1987



Iran's Kerbala 5 offensive has evidently run out of steam. It started on 8 January, to the surprise of the Iraqis, lasted rather longer than is usual for Iranian assaults and made significant territorial gains (at least according to the snail's pace of advance which characterises this bloody war). Then, from about the fourth week onwards, the Iraqis put some of their best troops into a counter-attack, regained a quarter of the debris-strewn wasteland they had lost and definitively halted Kerbala 5 in its tracks.

Issue 474 - 15 November 1993

Trouble at the Top


The deep rift between President Ali Abdullah Salih and Vice-President Ali Salim al Bidh was made public by the latter's conspicuous absence from the national celebrations on September 26 and October 14 and the cancellation of his appointment with Sultan Qaboos during the Omani leader's visit to Sana'a last month. Al Bidh had conducted a 'stay- away' protest in southern Yemen during last year's national celebrations. At that time, the issue was lack of preparation for election scheduled for November 1992. Those elections, finally held in April this year, had been designed to end a 30-month post- unification transition period, during which power in the five-man Presidential Council and the 301- member parliament was shared between Salih's General People's Congress (GPC) and al Bidh's Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP).


Within the space of a few months South Korea's President Chung Park Hee has been assassinated and S Y Park, Hyundai's manager of Saudi operations, has been allegedly arrested on grounds of bribery. It is tempting to draw conclusions from this coincidence of name and timing about the spread of South Korea's economic malaise into its contractors' operational abilities in the kingdom.

Issue 480 - 21 February 1994

Tehran's Quandaries


Fifteen years after the overthrow of the Shah the radical Islamic regime is still in power in Iran. In the face of a generally hostile international attitude this is no insignificant achievement. Iran has survived an eight-year war with Iraq, which remains a hostile and potentially dangerous neighbour. In particular, Iraq gives territorial shelter and organisational assistance to the exiled Iranian opposition Mojahedin e Khalq Organisation (MKO), which still carries out frequent armed attacks into Iran. The Iranian regime has faced other challenges too. but so far it has survived them all.


In little over one year, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has become one of the region’s most prominent leaders, promising accelerated economic reform and hope for under-employed young Saudis, but also championing the GCC’s muscular response to the Hadi government’s overthrow in Yemen. He is surrounded by expensive advisors but seems to have relatively few close Saudi allies, which make his key relationships – with his father King Salman and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed – especially important

Issue 597 - 20 October 1998

Turkey Flexes its Muscles


The Turkish-Syrian crisis has caught the world napping. Distracted by the Iran-Taleban confrontation and NATO’s threats against Serbia, the international community is only just taking notice of the escalating Turkish campaign against Syria. This campaign is however a logical result of the changing balance of power in the region and the Turkish-Israeli attempts to reshape the Mashreq. Even if Syria and Turkey back down from a full-scale armed confrontation, the shockwaves of this confrontation could spread far and wide.