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Qatar and Mauritania are to re-establish diplomatic relations, which had been severed during the recently-ended boycott of Doha by the Gulf trio of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Qatar
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Omani citizen Abdullah Awad Al-Shamsi was reportedly released by the UAE authorities in April, having been arrested on charges of spying for Qatar in August 2018. In May 2020 he was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeals in what advocacy group Human Rights Watch described as “a grossly unfair trial.”

Oman | United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Qatar
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In a royal decree on March 30, King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa appointed Khalid Yusuf Al-Jalahma as Bahrain’s first ambassador to Israel, following the Abraham Accords signed in September.

Bahrain
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President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan’s diplomatic adviser Anwar Gargash led the UAE delegation at a meeting with the foreign ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Israel on 16 April. The talks, held in Cyprus, covered recent developments in the east Mediterranean and links between the four countries in investment, tourism and other economic areas.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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GSN Risk Grade – B↓3 Overview Politics: Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq Bin Taimur Al-Said was named ruler in January 2020, succeeding the late Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said as the 15th ruler of the Al-Busaidi dynasty (founded in 1750). Qaboos was a monumental figure who, having deposed his father in 1970, had led Oman since 1970. The succession process was quick and smooth, orchestrated via the Royal Family Council. Haitham has moved cautiously in the opening period of his rule, broadly following his predecessor’s domestic and regional policies.

Oman
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The Amiri Diwan has finally begun appointing its officials, following significant delays after the ascension of Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah last September. The structure remains much the same as before, with Ali Jarrah Al-Sabah as minister for Amiri Diwan affairs and Mohammed Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah as deputy minister. Most importantly, former prime minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al-Sabah – a central figure in political discord – remains the top advisor for the ruling family, signalling continuity at the top of the political system and potentially further battles.

Kuwait
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Israel's chargé d'affaires to Bahrain Itay Tagner has held initial meetings with officials following his appointment. On 13 January, Tagner held talks with Ministry of Foreign Affairs undersecretary for international affairs Sheikh Abdullah Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa.

Bahrain | United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Iran’s ambassador to Iraq Iraj Masjedi sparked a round of diplomatic protests between Iran and Turkey, after telling the Kurdish Rûdaw news agency that Ankara should end its military intervention in Iraq. “Turkish forces should not pose a threat or violate Iraqi soil,” Masjedi said in late February.

Iran | Iraq
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Prime Minister and Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa arrived in Abu Dhabi on 10 May for a short visit. He held talks with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan at Al-Shati Palace and attended a banquet held in his honour before heading back to Manama the same day.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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The Iranian consulate in Karbala was attacked by protestors on 9 May, following the murder of local activist Ihab Jawad Al-Wazni, who had been a key figure in anti-government protests in late 2019, when there was a wave of demonstrations that spread around the country.

Iran | Iraq
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Dubai Deputy Ruler Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Al-Maktoum has been appointed chairman of the Ruler’s Court of his father, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum (MBR).

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Issue 1126 - 20 May 2021

Qatar: Kenyan activist detained

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Human rights groups have expressed concern about the fate of Kenyan labour rights activist Malcolm Bidali, who was arrested on 4 May and taken in for questioning by the Qatari authorities. A week before his arrest Bidali had given a presentation to civil society organisations and trade unions about his experience of working in Qatar, since arriving in 2016 to work as a security guard.

Qatar
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The sustained barrage of rockets fired by Hamas into Israel during the May conflict has highlighted once again the Islamist group’s capability and the impact that Iranian support can have on regional militia at a relatively low cost and risk for Tehran. The Palestinian group’s capability is similar in character to that which Iran has furnished to others across the region, including Hizbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, the Assad regime in Syria and Iraqi Shia militias such as Harakat Hizbollah Al-Nujaba.

Iran
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The government is failing to win over members of parliament and the public on a variety of political and social issues, while Emir Sheikh Nawaf is finding it hard to impose any authority on events Prime minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah remains at odds with the majority of members of parliament (MPs), ahead of a byelection on 22 May and the National Assembly’s  resumption three days later. With few signs that a breakthrough can be found, fresh elections are becoming ever more likely.

Kuwait
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Oman could revive plans to import Iranian gas via a subsea pipeline, provided the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal is reinstated, oil and gas minister Mohammed Al-Rumhy told S&P Global Platts on 17 May.

Oman