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Issue 977 - 02 October 2014

Risk Management Report: Saudi Arabia

Free

POLITICS: Saudi Arabia is the giant of the Gulf Co-operation Council, not least because of its massive oil wealth. Established in 1932, the kingdom is an absolute monarchy. To date, all rulers have been sons of Abdelaziz Bin Saud, the first monarch; a few younger family members have recently taken more senior positions, but there is much speculation about what will happen when the aged first generation of Al-Saud eventually cede control. Reigning nonagenarian King Abdullah Bin Abdelaziz took over in 2005 on the death of his brother Fahd, and has overseen some reform of education and the judiciary. He faces many problems, including a poor underclass, booming population, high unemployment and unrest in Shiite communities in the Eastern Province. Foreign policy is driven by the desire to maintain regional hegemony and to compete with Iran. Riyadh’s relationship with Washington has been stormy at times, but is sustained by a mutual dependence. Saudi Arabia has a poor record on human rights, and severely restricts freedom of expression. Despite small advances, women’s rights continue to be limited: women may not drive, and must have permission from a male guardian to travel, work or enrol in higher education. King Abdullah has said women will be fully involved in the four-yearly municipal council elections (the country’s only polls) and, in early 2013,

Saudi Arabia
Free

Established in 1971, the federation of seven emirates – Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al-Quwain is economically liberal and progressive, but remains politically conservative. Ultimate control is held by the emirate rulers, led by oil-rich, politically savvy Abu Dhabi and regional/global commercial hub Dubai. The federal government has legislative and executive jurisdiction over sectors including foreign affairs, security, defence, education, health, currency, electricity and immigration. Each emirate retains considerable economic independence and control over mineral rights and revenues. Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (since founding president Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al- Nahyan’s death in 2004) is federal president. Each ruler sits on the Supreme Council, the highest executive and legislative authority. The Council of Ministers makes most federal decisions, while the Federal National Council (FNC) acts as an advisory council. FNC elections were held in October.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Free

It is almost a decade since the last war in Iraq, and more than a year since the formal withdrawal of US troops in 2011. Relative stability has returned, but is threatened by ongoing violence and political turmoil. Bloody attacks continue to disrupt daily life: independent monitor Iraq Body Count documented 4,471 civilian deaths from violence in 2012,much lower than the 29,000 killed in 2006, but higher than in 2011.

Iraq
Free

The political environment has deteriorated. King Hamad seems to believe that his regime can survive only if it recovers popular consent. But he is troubled by deteriorating communal politics, and faces opposition from within Al- Khalifa ranks.

Bahrain
Free

Violent episodes continue to threaten the good running of the economy and society, and the government remains dependent on strong US support to maintain security, despite the formal withdrawal of US forces on 1 September 2010.

Iraq
Issue 1025 - 03 November 2016

Risk Management Report: UAE - Federation

Free

Politics: Established in 1971, the federation of seven emirates – Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al-Quwain is economically liberal and progressive, but remains politically conservative. Ultimate control is held by the emirate rulers, led by oil-rich, politically savvy Abu Dhabi and regional/global commercial hub Dubai. The federal government has legislative and executive jurisdiction over sectors including foreign affairs, security, defence, education, health, currency, electricity and immigration. Each emirate retains considerable economic independence and control over mineral rights and revenues. Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (since founding president Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan’s death in 2004) is federal president. Each ruler sits on the Supreme Council, the highest executive and legislative authority. The Council of Ministers makes most federal decisions, while the Federal National Council (FNC) acts as an advisory council. FNC elections were held in October.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Free

Saudi Arabia has announced a number of job creation packages in H1 11. For example the cabinet meeting of 14 June announced that the Ministry of Interior’s General Directorate of Civil Defence will take on 6,187 new positions. The authorities hope to create some 1.22m new jobs between 2010-14, of which 1.12 should be for Saudi nationals.

Saudi Arabia
Free

In royal decrees issued on 29 February, Sultan Qaboos reshuffled the cabinet for the third time in just over a year, removing the unpopular information minister Hamad Bin Mohammed Al-Rashdi and justice minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdullah Al-Hinai.

Oman
Free

Qatar has been largely unaffected by the wave of protests and calls for reform throughout the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) and wider Middle East. There have been no recorded protests, and the Qatari government has not followed other GCC countries in announcing measures to address domestic issues.

Qatar
Free

Bahrain is in the midst of a political crisis that began in February 2011,when protesters, inspired by events elsewhere in the region, took to the streets to demand political change. The uprising was largely crushed, but protests have continued on a smaller scale, and political demands on the side of the protesters have, if anything, hardened.

Bahrain
Free

Insurgent attacks continue to expose Iraq’s fragility. Dozens of civilians have already been killed in 2013, including 27 Shiites killed by a suicide bomber as they waited at a bus stop to return home from Arbaeen rites in Kerbala. In mid-December, dozens were killed in a series of attacks in disputed northern territories at the heart of a Kurdish-Iraqi standoff. Pressure has been building there since November, when Baghdad set up a new military command, to the outcry of the Kurdish Regional Government. There have also been massive anti-government street protests by Sunnis in recent weeks, prompted by grievances including marginalisation, anti-terrorism laws and the state of public services.

Iraq
Free

POLITICS: Disagreements between the autonomous Kurdish region and Baghdad have been a source of major tensions in recent years. The 2005 constitution stipulated that Iraqi Kurdistan, which has an identity very distinct from Iraq, is a federal entity recognised by Iraq and the United Nations, and the 2010 Erbil agreement with Baghdad outlined how power would be shared. But the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has protested their lack of implementation, and relations with Baghdad have been highly acrimonious. Oil has been at the centre of the dispute, with Baghdad furious that Erbil signed production-sharing agreements with international oil companies (IOCs) without its say-so, and Kurdistan wanting to export oil independently rather than through the central State Oil Marketing System (SOMO). The Kurds accused former prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki of breaching the constitution by assuming too many powers, and have threatened to hold a referendum on independence.

Iraq
Free

The UAE has pledged billions of dollars to support Egypt’s new administration, which overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood leadership in July. Reports suggest the UAE has since given Egypt $4.9bn, plus a $2bn deposit in the central bank. On 9 March, Arabtec Holding, Dubai’s largest listed construction firm, agreed with the Egyptian army to build a million houses in Egypt in a project worth more than $40bn.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Issue 976 - 10 September 2014

Risk Management Report: Kuwait

Free

Kuwait has been governed by the Al-Sabah family since the 18th century. It gained independence from Britain in 1961; a new constitution written that year confirmed the hereditary monarchy, but gave significant powers to an independent judiciary and an elected assembly. The emir – currently Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah – retains final say and political parties are banned. But the 50-member assembly has proven more vibrant than expected, and Kuwait has often been held up as a beacon for democratisation in the region. Friction between the elected parliament and the appointed government has been an ongoing problem, however, often resulting in paralysis of the state. Parliament has twice been shut down – from 1976 to 1981 and from 1986 to 1992 – and there have been three general elections since February 2012.

Kuwait
Issue 984 - 08 January 2015

Risk Management Report: Bahrain

Free

POLITICS: The Al-Khalifa came to power in 1783, taking its authority from the family’s conquest of the archipelago from the Persian empire. Britain, interested in maritime trade routes, entered into an alliance with the Al- Khalifa in 1820 and helped secure its rule; it was not until 1971 that Bahrain declared independence. A new constitution provided for a fully elected parliament, formed in 1973, but that was disbanded in 1975 after it fell out with the ruler. A partially elected body was reinstated in the 2002 constitution, but power lies primarily with the executive, and the preponderance of Al- Khalifa in key positions means lines between state and ruling family are very blurred. The Sunni royal family rules over a population that is majority Shiite. Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa has been king since 2002.

Bahrain