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Subscriber

Despite the cooling of relations after 9/11, the Kingdom has worked hard to maintain close security ties to the US, and mutual hostility towards Iran will further deepen the relationship. The death of Crown Prince Sultan, the longstanding defence and aviation minister, marks the end of a remarkable career during which he worked with 13 US defence secretaries.

Saudi Arabia
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Moves by JMP members to renegotiate an Aden port deal with Dubai giant DP World could herald further investigations into deals made by outgoing president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Yemen
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On 5 March, Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah was re-appointed by his uncle, the emir, to the post of prime minister. He will be tasked with forming his seventh government in five years, despite heavy opposition from several MPs and youth activists

Kuwait
Free

The much-publicised initiative for Morocco and Jordan to join the Gulf Co-operation Council surprised many when it was announced by new GCC secretary-general Abdelatif Al-Zayani, but it was not a new suggestion – it was proposed some years ago but quietly dropped – and has a political and economic logic for most of those involved.

Issue 936 - 22 November 2012

Bahrain inaugurates $50m theatre

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King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa inaugurated a $50m National Theatre on 13 November, an elegant glass structure with a golden roof that seats 1,001 people and symbolises the union of Bahrain and sea. The theatre, commissioned long before the political crisis, was designed by France’s AS Architecture-Studio, also responsible for the Muscat Cultural Centre and Doha’s Pier Exhibition Centre.

Bahrain
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Amid all the talk of war on Iran, it is worth noting that Israeli deputy foreign minister Daniel Ayalon took the time last week to distance his country from any notion of imminent conflict.

Iran | Israel
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Bank Markazi (Central Bank of Iran) governor Tahmasb Mazaheri has been replaced, at least on a temporary basis, by the bank's general secretary Mahmoud Bahmani, who is generally regarded as more malleable. Mazaheri had been increasingly isolated in his resistance to the president's high-spending populism since the departure, earlier this year, of Economics Minister Davoud Danesh Jaafari.

Iran
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The National Dialogue Conference, a crucial component of Yemen’s GCC-backed political transition plan, could begin by the end of February, following the completion of a key preparatory report. But uncertainty over who will attend is just one of several potential obstacles to success.

Yemen
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Humanitarian concerns have forced a ceasefire in Yemen’s murderous Al-Houthi conflict amid signs that the Arab-Iranian ‘cold war’ is hotting up. With Saudi Arabia and Egypt joining the US in seeing wider regional significance in what has long been understood as a localised conflict, Ali Abdullah Saleh is looking to exploit a difficult situation

Iran | Egypt | Saudi Arabia | Yemen
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Emir Sheikh Hamad’s fourth son Sheikh Tamim was appointed heir apparent in an August 2003 move, when he replaced his older full brother Sheikh Jassim (GSN 716/6). The changeover was widely regarded as sensible – the laid-back Jassim, who was seen as having little political ambition, had been a stopgap until Tamim had finished his education and gained more experience in high-level politics.

Qatar
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On 30 April, Bahrain ordered a retrial for 21 defendants sentenced in June for their role in last year’s protests, though it did not release the accused, who included Abdulhadi-Al Khawaja, on hunger strike since 8 February. A civilian court began re-examining their cases on 8 May, according to the Associated Press, and set the date for the next hearing for 22 May

Bahrain
Free

Prince Badr Bin Abdelaziz, a half-brother of King Abdullah, died in late March. He was in his early 80s. He was communications minister in the early 1960s and Saudi Arabian National Guard deputy commander from 1968 to November 2010, when he reportedly retired for health reasons.

Saudi Arabia
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The UAE has published a new cyber crimes law, which deals with a range of internet crimes but also details jail terms and fines for anyone deemed to be acting against government, religious, national or social interests.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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US Democratic congressman Brad Sherman has told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs that the UAE remains a “transhipment and diversion hub” and does “not effectively control exports to Iran and other countries of proliferation”.

Iran | United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Free

Kuwait, like many Gulf states, has been grappling with how best to deal with sociAl networking sites such as Twitter, which have given wings to dissent that in the past would not have left the realms of private conversation.

Kuwait