Press Review

What's going in the Gulf?

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Gulf Crisis

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) cut diplomatic, commercial and transport links with Qatar on June 5, accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism - an allegation the country has repetitively rejected. By now, the Qatar-GCC crisis has entered its third month.

To this extend, the last week was marked by several events. The Bahraini minister for information affairs said that Qatar’s information and media policies were part of the crisis, and not of the solution to the current crisis that had been simmering long before diplomatic and trade ties were severed. Furthermore, Bahrain's minister of interior stressed that Qatar's policies endanger the security of the GCC (August 7, Al Arabiya). According to a Bahraini TV Channel, Qatar backed anti-government protests that shook the kingdom during the Arab Spring, six years ago (August 15, Gulf News). After rumors circulated that Bahrain has opened its airspace to Qatar Airways, the Kingdom denied these reports, affirming that Bahrain’s sovereign skies remain closed to all planes owned by or registered in Qatar (August 9, Gulf News).

However, after Qatar had filed a complaint with the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to challenge Bahrain’s, Saudi Arabia's, and the UAE’s policies, the ICAO has responded, saying it will remain neutral, but welcomes news of emergency routes (August 11, Arab News).

Qatar Navigation (Milhena), a Doha-based shipping and logistics group, is going to shift its regional transhipment hub from Dubai to the Omani port of Sohar; the relocation is supposed to increase companies' options to access the Qatari market. The firm does not expect the rift between Qatar and other GCC members to be resolved any time soon. (August 7, Reuters).

Nonetheless, the crisis showed the first signs of a thaw in the region's diplomatic crisis as the Qatari Foreign Minister Al Thani arrived in Kuwait on Wednesday for an unscheduled visit (August 16, Al Bawaba). Additionally, Saudi Arabia's King Mohamad Bin Salman has ordered the reopening of the border with Qatar to facilitate the annual Haj pilgrimage, state media said on Thursday (August 17, The Guardian).

Bahrain

  • An official of the Pakistani Ministry of Commerce said, that Pakistan is committed to finalising a free trade agreement with the GCC in a bid to step up trade volumes between the two sides, after conclusion of a ministerial-level meetings of the GCC countries to be presided over by Bahrain (August 5, The Express Tribune).

Kuwait

  • Kuwait has arrested two new suspects on charges of intelligence links with Lebanese pro-Iranian militia Hezbollah with the intent to carry out antagonistic acts in the northern Arabian Gulf country. The arrests were part of an operation launched by Kuwaiti authorities to re-arrest members of Al Abdali terror cell who were sentenced to prison terms in June, but had disappeared (August 7, Arab Times)
  • After Kuwait and other GCC states have agreed to implement a five per cent value added tax (VAT) rate for tobacco and energy drinks from January 2018, several MPs in Kuwait have rejected the government’s decision to introduce the VAT due to concerns it will increase prices for citizens and foreign workers, according to reports (August 10, Gulf Business)
  • Lebanon’s Prime Minister said that his country is ready to cooperate with Kuwait on resolving the issue of Al Abdali terror cell whose members were convicted of intelligence links with Iran and Lebanese militia Hezbollah (August 15, Al Awsat)

Oman

  • The UN envoy to Yemen hinted at the possibility of holding talks between Yemen’s warring parties in Oman (August 7, Al Arabiya)
  • The E-Government Report for 2017 issued by the Institute of E-Government at Japanese Waseda University, has ranked Oman third in its overall index, ahead of the US and Denmark (August 9, Times of Oman)
  • Thousands of foreign workers in Oman have not been paid for months; most of them are from the Indian subcontinent and are employed in the construction industry. With fewer contracts being awarded, private companies are unable to pay their workers as most of the major companies in the country rely on government projects that have stifled because of low oil prices (August 12, The National)

Qatar

  • Qatari and Turkish companies have signed 15 trade agreements to boost their trade volume (August 13, GTR).
  • Indian intelligence (NIA) says that Qatar backed groups linked to terrorism. NIA announced that a large sum of money granted by Qatar went to the Malabar region in the southern area of India (August 15, Al Arabiya).

Saudi Arabia

  • Saudi Arabia's state budget deficit shrank by a fifth from a year earlier in the second quarter of this year as spending fell marginally and revenues rose moderately, because of higher international oil prices (August 13, The National)
  • The government plans to execute 14 Shia protesters charged with violence against security forces signaling a strict handling of sectarian tensions and unrest (August 14, Bloomberg)
  • Saudi Arabia plans to open the Arar border crossing with Iraq for the first time since 1990, according to Saudi local news media and officials. Additionally, Saudi Arabia and Iraq are to launch a joint trade commission, the Saudi cabinet announced on Monday (August 15, The New Arab).
  • Saudi Arabia is supposed to launch joint trade council with Iraq. The two countries had no diplomatic relations for 27 years (August 15, Arab News)

United Arab Emirates

  • A court in the UAE convicted an Iranian national yesterday of spying for his country and aiding its nuclear program, sentencing him to 10 years in prison and subsequent deportation. The conviction is the latest in a series of cases in which UAE authorities have prosecuted people for allegedly smuggling or spying for Iran (August 10, Reuters).
  • The UAE signalled its desire to strengthen ties with Iraq during weekend talks with influential Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada Al Sadr as part of efforts by Sunni nations of the Middle East to halt Iran's growing regional influence (August 14, The National).

Yemen

  • Saudi proposed on Thursday that the UN may reopen and run the international airport in Yemen’s capital, which has been closed for a year because of a Saudi blockade to pressure the Houthi rebel movement (August 10, NY Times)
  • Leaked emails claim Mohammed bin Salman expressed desire to end the Yemen conflict during talks with former US officials (August 13, Middle East Confidential)
  • More than half a million people in Yemen have now been infected with cholera since the epidemic broke out in April, the WHO has said (August 14, WHO).
Der amerikanische Außenminsier Rex Tillerson nahm an einem Ministertreffen mit den Vertretern aus Bahrain, Ägypten, Saudi Arabien und den VAE teil, um die gegenwärtige Golfkrise zu besprechen.

US Foreign Minister Rex Tillerson during a discussion with the Quartet, consisting of Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

Contact person

Manuel Schubert

Regional Representative to the Gulf States

Manuel Schubert
Phone +962 6 59 29 777
Fax +962 6 59 33 087
Languages: Deutsch,‎ English,‎ عربي