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The intense competition for influence among Gulf states and other regional players continues apace in the Horn of Africa, with potentially billions of dollars in financial support and investment flowing from the UAE and Saudi Arabia into Sudan, Ethiopia and their neighbours. But as the network of military bases and ports along the coast of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden gets ever more substantial, criticism of Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states’ impact on the region is also growing.

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Still convalescing in Morocco, Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdelaziz has had visits at his Agadir palace from Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 963 - 07 February 2014

UAE: Who will be MBZ’s crown prince?

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While Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan is widely assumed to be the next UAE president – only the third in the federation’s brief history – there is slightly more conjecture about who will be next Abu Dhabi crown prince. Most observers expect Hazza Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the third of the Bani Fatima born in 1965, to be MBZ’s successor. Hazza, who is said to be especially close to MBZ, is currently vice chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and national security adviser.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Egypt urgently needs funds and Qatar is willing to invest, as its mega-rich and politically savvy leaders look for opportunities both to make money and to shore up its position as central to a changing Arab world.

Qatar
Issue 976 - 05 September 2014

Emir Sheikh Sabah in England

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Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah flew to England on 8 August on a private visit, accompanied by his brother, deputy chief of the National Guard Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. The emir often spends time in London; in 2013, he was in both the United States and the UK in a private capacity from late August until early October. His trip to the UK followed a visit to Mongolia, where he arrived on 28 July, also on a private visit. While in Mongolia, he received the speaker of Mongolia’s Great Khural, Zandaakhuugiin Enkhbold, at his residence on 6 August.

Kuwait
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Concern over sectarian tension increases as the predominantly Shia unlicensed opposition formally establishes itself. However, both unlicensed and licensed opposition members have told GSN that such fears are unjustified

Bahrain
Issue 1019 - 15 July 2016

IMF approves $5.3bn standby for Iraq

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Samsung Engineering and Alcoa Inc have reached a “settlement in principle” over a complaint the Korean firm filed in March against the aluminium producer, which sought $202m in damages, according to recent filings at the District Court for the Southern District of New York. The settlement, once finalised, will result in the dismissal of the action with prejudice (which means the case is over forever).

Iraq
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Asma Arian, the German wife of Sheikh Talal Bin Abdelaziz Bin Ahmed Bin Ali Al-Thani, has sent an appeal on behalf of her husband to the United Nations special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer. In a video released on Twitter on 15 April, she said the urgent appeal had been submitted on 12 March. Arian claims Sheikh Talal has been in jail in Qatar for seven years, is being held in “extremely harsh conditions” and the mistreatment has put his life in serious danger. She claims he has been denied access to medical care and to his family and lawyer.

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Iraq has nominated former oil minister Thamer Al Ghadban as next secretary general of Opec, according to a government spokesman.

Iraq
Issue 935 - 08 November 2012

Second phase of BICI payouts begins

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Bahrain has begun a second phase of compensation payments totalling around $6m to the families of 35 people killed during the 2011 uprising. The payments relate to deaths described in detail in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report, whose recommendations Manama has been under pressure to implement.

Bahrain
Issue 991 - 24 April 2015

Saudi Arabia: Another minister fired

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King Salman Bin Abdelaziz dismissed health minister Ahmed Bin Aqeel Al-Khatib on 10 April, and appointed minister of state Mohammed Bin Abdelmalik Al Al-Sheikh acting health minister. No reason was given for the royal decree, but it followed the posting online of a video in which Al-Khatib was seen to be having an argument with a citizen. Al Arabiya, generally seen as close to the Saudi government, said the brief video clip showed Al-Khatib dismissing the citizen, who wanted his father moved to a private hospital in Riyadh, and that Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), son of the king and chief of the royal court.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 952 - 02 August 2013

Qaradawi’s fate unclear


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One key bellwether of Qatari intentions is the fate of Egyptian cleric and Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. He has been a resident in Doha for decades, helping Qatar draw for itself an Islamic identity separate from its traditionally overbearing Saudi neighbour. Qatar’s indigenous class of religious scholars belong to the Wahhabi school of Salafi thought, beholden to Saudi Arabia and puritanical in its thought and practice, but Qaradawi and his followers functioned as a moderating influence on the population and the clerics. Qaradawi helped Doha establish its own religious identity and prevent its ulama from evolving into a class completely under the thumb of Riyadh-based peers.

Qatar
Issue 955 - 04 October 2013

Bahrain: King Hamad visits China


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King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa returned to Bahrain on 18 September after an official visit to China at the invitation of President Xi Jinping. It was King Hamad’s first visit to China at the invitation of the president, timed to coincide with the first China-Arab States Expo, whose opening ceremony in Yinchuan he attended. During his visit, on which he was accompanied by finance minister Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, he held talks with Jinping and Chinese premier Li Keqiang on “close co-operation between the two countries in various areas”, according to state news agency BNA. The visit was hailed by official media in Bahrain as a historical success, and a turning point in China-Bahrain relations.

Bahrain
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Sierra Leone has sent a delegation to work at the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) headquarters in Riyadh, bringing the total number of countries with permanent delegates to 21. The organisation was set up at the behest of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in December 2015, but has developed only slowly since then. IMCTC has 41 members drawn from around the Gulf, the wider Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Saudi Arabia
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The head of the Bahrain Olympic Committee and son of King Hamad, Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, has drawn condemnation for his likely attendance at the London Olympics. Human rights activists have been campaigning to get him banned, and UK newspapers have decried his VIP treatment, because of his alleged involvement in human rights abuses in Bahrain, some of them targeting sportspeople.

Bahrain