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Issue 707 - 05 April 2003

Across the Region


US Air Force, Centcom and Defence Intelligence Agency planners told GSN the military phase of Iraq’s “transition” was developing at about the speed they expected. Best case and worst case scenarios have not come to pass in the


Governments across the Gulf are clamping down on citizens who are tempted to give more than moral support to Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban. A substantial number of arrests have been made in Saudi

Issue 211 - 26 April 1983



THE SECRETARY OF STATE GEORGE SHULTZ, having said he would not visit the Middle East, has changed his mind and is now on a ten-day tour of Middle East countries. The announced purpose is to finalise a Lebanon-Israel agreement and to try to revive President Ronald Reagan's peace plan. The Secretary of State's visit is also a demonstration that America is not deterred from initiatives in the region by such outrages as the bombing of the American Embassy in Beirut. The Shultz trip is to take in Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and possibly Syria.

Issue 82 - 12 October 1982



The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the esteemed London-based institut, has issued the latest edition of its yearbook "The Military Balance, '82-83". This gives an up-to date listing of almost every nation's military capacity from statistics gathered from publicly available sources and from questionnaires sent to governments.

Issue 578 - 26 January 1998

Iraq Blusters Again


Once again, Saddam Hussein’s bluster provides the backdrop for another Gulf crisis and the opportunity for the USA and Britain to flex their military muscles. This time, Saddam has chosen to personalise the dispute, objecting to a US inspector he claims is working for US intelligence. This complaint is, like those directed at US inspectors last November, calculated to isolate the USA.


The reshaping of economic policy and changing of the guard in senior government ranks continues to gather momentum in Riyadh, with new ministers in charge of oil, electricity, commerce and transport, as well as a new central bank governor. The changes consolidate the rise of younger generation officials, many of them in the orbit of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS). In a reshuffle that clearly carried MBS’s fingerprints, coming only days after his Vision 2030 document was released, Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) chairman and health minister Khalid Al-Falih was appointed to replace octogenarian petroleum and mineral resources minister Ali Al-Naimi on 7 May. At the same time, the Ministry of Water and Electricity was discontinued – its minister Abdullah Bin Abdulrahman Al-Hussein having been sacked in April. The ministry’s power sector activities were folded into Falih’s enlarged portfolio, the new Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources.

Issue 544 - 10 September 1996

Power Plays in Kurdistan


The cruise missiles strikes the United States launched against southern Iraq last week, and the extension of the southern 'no fly' zone to a mere 20 miles or so south of Baghdad was President Clinton's chosen response to Saddam Hussein's military incursion into Kurdistan, where Iraqi forces took over the control of Erbil, the seat of the elected parliament of autonomous Kurdistan. The American action underlined the international impotence of the Baghdad regime, proved the circumscribed capacity of the Iraqi armed forces and underlined the villainy of Saddam Hussein. No doubt President Clinton thinks those results are worth the price of the cruise missiles but the ultimate political cost to the United States is likely to be considerably greater.

Issue 421 - 08 October 1991



The United Nations inspection team probing Iraq's nuclear weapons programme has had a tough time in recent weeks. It was detained two weeks ago and forced to give up documents, then on the following day surrounded in a car park and kept hostage in a bus for four days.

Issue 592 - 11 August 1998

The Islands Dispute


As Iran continues its diplomatic fence ending exercises in the region, there may at last be some movement towards a settlement of the dispute between Iran and the United Arab Emirates over the islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa. Previously Iran has always maintained that the sovereignty of the island was not an issue which it would even consider negotiable and Tehran has rebuffed all UAE overtures for discussions on the matter.

Issue 84 - 08 November 1982



The reconciliation agreement reached between Oman and South Yemen, signed in Kuwait at the end of October, brings to an end fifteen years of hostility by the two countries.


Iraq’s election will bring Arab Shiites a major share of power for the first time outside the Levant. But GCC governments remain ambivalent about recognising the importance of their Shia communities.

Issue 543 - 27 August 1996

Turkey and Iraq


Early Western optimism that Necmettin Erbakan had turned his back on his campaign promises may have been premature. In his first foreign foray as prime minister, the leader of the Islamist Welfare Party chose to tour Turkey's Muslim neighbours to the East, beginning with Iran. His conclusion of a gas supply agreement and border security pact with Tehran infuriated the Americans but was in fact the fulfilment of a project begun by Tansu Ciller, now deputy prime minister.

Issue 184 - 10 November 1986



For several years the removal of Shaikh Ahmad Zaki Yamani from the ministry of oil has been a subject of innumerable rumours and endless speculation within and outside Saudi Arabia. Now that his dismissal has taken place, a spate of foreign comment has produced a startling range of reasons for his fall from grace. These have included many "now-it-can-be-revealed" stories of long-sustained bad relations between King Fahd and Shaikh Yamani, and strangely detailed accounts of alleged serious differences of opinion within the government over Yamani's oil policies.

Issue 430 - 24 February 1992



The political disintegration of the former Soviet Union was, despite some fears expressed in Tehran about possible instability across the country's northern borders, generally welcomed by the ruling establishment in Iran. The emergence of the Muslim Central Asian republics as independent states was recognised as a particularly significant development for the region and Tehran lost no time in establishing direct contacts with the new republics. Last, November foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati visited all six of the Islamic Central Asian republics to assure them of Tehran's friendly feelings. More specifically, Velayati signed a series of agreements and letters of understanding on economic and trade co-operation with the new governments which confirmed Iran's political interests in the area.

Issue 33 - 14 October 1980

Stop the war, we want to get off


It seems fairly clear that the idea of sending four American radar surveillance aircraft (AWACS) to Saudi Arabia came from the Saudis themselves last month. That alone is evidence enough of the extent of concern among the smaller Gull states about the escalating Iraqi-Iranian war. Last time Washington sent a couple of AWACS to Saudi Arabia (during the Yemeni fighting in spring 1979), the kingdom could permit itself the luxury of huffing and puffing in newspaper editorials about American over-reaction. The Gulf states do not like an overt American presence because it offends their pride and because it provokes the radicals of whom they must perpetually be afraid. But they know that if the war spreads down the Gull, they need the protection which they cannot provide for themselves.