15 December, 2017

GCC IN REVIEW: 10 – 15 December 2017

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A Weekly Publication of the main news surrounding the GCC States       

Kingdom of Bahrain

Monday, 11 December—The Kingdom of Bahrain strongly condemned the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, though the Kingdom remains committed to the principles of King Hamad Al-Khalifa’s declaration calling for religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence. As evidence of such commitment, the interfaith "This is Bahrain" civil society group visited Israel as a gesture of tolerance. The 25-member group included Sunni and Shia Muslim leaders, Christians and the leader of a Hindu temple and stressed focus on the importance of religious tolerance worldwide. 

Wednesday, 13 December—Bahrain’s Central Bank decided to raise its key policy interest rate. The CBB’s key policy interest rate on the one-week deposit facility is raised from 1.50% to 1.75%. The CBB has also decided to increase the overnight deposit rate from 1.25% to 1.50%. Such measures aim to contain the risk of inflation amid sustained economic growth.  

State of Kuwait

Monday, 11 December—Kuwait’s Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, appointed Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the Emir's eldest son, as new Defence Minister. Bakheet Al-Rasheedi was appointed by the Emir as Kuwait’s new Oil Minister. The move comes weeks after the previous government resigned following a dispute with members of parliament who filed a no-confidence motion against a senior minister. 

Tuesday, 12 December—Kuwait’s Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, arrived in Istanbul to attend the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) emergency summit. Leaders and representatives of 57 Muslim-majority countries will meet at the emergency summit, which was initiated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to respond to the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Sultanate of Oman

Sunday, 10 December—Oman’s Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers, Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al-Said, recevied Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, Advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Governor of Mecca and Envoy of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia. The meeting focused on the common foreign policy objectives and the brotherly relations between Oman and Saudi Arabia.

Wednesday, 13 December—Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, led Oman’s delegation to the meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The Minister agreed with his counterparts to consider null and void the recent decision taken by the US administration on the status of Jerusalem.

State of Qatar 

Sunday, 10 December—Qatar signed a deal to buy 24 Typhoon fighter jets worth 8 bllion USD from the United Kingdom as the Gulf state continues to stock up on high-tech weaponry. The deal was signed in Doha by Qatar's Defence Minister, Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah and his British counterpart, Gavin Williamson. The deal for the Typhoon jets includes the training of Qatar’s air force personnel by British instructors. 

Wednesday, 13 December— Qatar was accused, by US national security adviser, Herbert McMaster, during a panel held in Washington DC of funding extremist ideologies. McMaster condemned Qatar and Turkey for taking the role as the prime sponsors and sources of funding for extremist Islamists that targets Western interests. 

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Sunday, 10 December—The spokesmen of the Saudi-led coalition for the restoration of legitimacy in Yemen, Col. Turki Al-Malki, confirmed the death of Iranian missile expert, Hussein Khasrawy, during an air raid by coalition forces in Yemen’s district of Arhab near Sanaa. Coalition forces believe Khasrawy had a key role in helping Houthi militias to carry out various missile attacks targeting Saudi Arabia’s civilians. 

Tuesday, 12 December—Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, held a session of official talks with King Abdullah of Jordan in Riyadh. During the meeting, the monarchs agreed on the necessity to intensify and coordinate the Arab, Islamic and international efforts in order to protect the historic and firm rights of the Palestinian people over Jerusalem. 

Wednesday, 13 December—Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud has reiterated the Kingdom's stated commitment to a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, during a televised address to the Kingdom's Shura Council in Riyadh.

Wednesday, 13 December—Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Adel Al-Jubeir, announced the Kingdom’s allocation of  100 million Euros for the launch of a new joint force to combat terrorism in the Sahel countries. The Saudi Minister made the announcement at the G5 meeting in Paris organized by France’s President, Emmanuel Macron, with the aim of strengthening international mobilization to form a joint counter-terrorism force in the Sahel region.

Thursday, 14 December—Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, issued a royal order approving allocation of 19.2 billion USD to stimulate the private sector. The initiatives are aimed at stimulating the private sector, boost competitive capabilities of national companies and developing their products. 

United Arab Emirates

Monday, 11 December—The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, (Adel Al-Jubeir), the UAE, (Anwar Gargash), and the UK, (Boris Johnson), met in Abu Dhabi to discuss the latest developments in Yemen. These are all member countries of an international quartet which was established in June 2016 by the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE to ensure the highest possible degree of coordination on Yemen operations. 

Wednesday, 13 December—The governor of the UAE’s Central Bank, Mubarak Rashed Al-Mansouri, announced the initiative to issue a digital currency that would be accepted in cross-border transactions between the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Diplomatic and economic ties between the UAE and Saudi Arabia are stronger than ever following last week’s establishment of a bilateral committee on economic, political and military issues.

By Antonino Occhiuto