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The Euro-Gulf Monitor

26 January - 1 February 2024

by Elen'Alba Vitiello

5 Top Points

  1. Bahrain and Hungary discussed bilateral cooperation in Budapest.

  2. Kuwait’s Emir and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister issued a joint statement emphasising regional stability and security in the Red Sea.

  3. Qatari, Egyptian, Israeli and US intelligence officials meet in Paris to secure a deal on the Israel-Hamas war.

  4. The European Union plans to launch a naval mission in the Red Sea by 17 February.

  5. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister discussed the situation in Gaza with his Iranian counterpart.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain 

Monday, 29 January–Bahrain condemned the terrorist attack near the Jordanian-Syrian borders, killing three and injuring several others from the US military troops, which are cooperating with the Jordanian Armed Forces in combating terrorism and cross-border weapon and drugs smuggling. Other GCC member states have condemned the terrorist attack as well.

State of Kuwait

Monday, 29 January–Kuwait’s new government was sworn in to office before the National Assembly.

Wednesday, 31 January–Kuwait’s Emir, Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, issued a joint statement with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud. They underlined the need to preserve security and stability in the Red Sea region by respecting maritime navigation rights under the international law and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Moreover, they renewed their call on Iraq to adhere to the agreement signed with Kuwait in 2012, regulating the navigation in Khor Abdullah waterway; reaffirmed Kuwait’s ownership of the Durra gas field with shared rights for exploitation with Saudi Arabia; reiterated their call on Iran to demarcate the maritime border with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia; and stressed the importance of expanding economic cooperation, among others.

Sultanate of Oman

Tuesday, 30 January–Oman and Etihad Rail Company (OER), the developer and operator of the Oman-UAE Rail Network, and Al Jazeera Steel Products Co (AJSP), one of the leading manufacturers of steel products in the Middle East, signed a Memorandum of Understanding for collaboration on logistics solutions for the transportation of raw materials and finished products. Once fully operational, the Oman-UAE Rail Network will reduce travel time between the two countries.

 

State of Qatar

Sunday, 28 January–Qatari intelligence officials met in Paris with their Egyptian, Israeli, and US counterparts to discuss a possible deal to secure a truce and a release of hostages in the Israel-Hamas war. The French authorities were also in touch with the four countries. Furthermore, Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, stated during an interview on 29 January with the Atlantic Council that progress has been made during that meeting but that there are still significant gaps which the parties will continue to discuss in additional meetings. He also clarified Qatar’s relations with Hamas, highlighting that Hamas’ political office in Doha has been there for around 11 years, and was established in full coordination with the US in order to create communication channels.

 

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Sunday, 28 January–Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, co-chaired with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, the Political Follow-up and Consultation Committee, in Cairo, during which they agreed to continue ongoing coordination and consultation to strengthen regional and international security and stability, in particular for the Palestinian situation.

United Arab Emirates

Tuesday, 30 January–Abu Dhabi’s National Oil Company (ADNOC) and India’s state-owned energy firm, GAIL, signed a 10-year deal, providing India with 0.5 million metric tonnes of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) a year, starting from 2026. This move is expected to foster ADNOC and GAIL strategic partnerships, as well as economic collaboration between the two countries. This follows several recent international contracts for LNG sales by ADNOC to Japan Petroleum Exploration Corp, France TotalEnergies, the Indian Oil Corp and PetroChina.

EU Corner

Friday, 26 January–The EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, and the European Commission issued a joint statement taking note of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) order on South Africa's request for the indication of provisional measures against Israel over the war in Gaza and reaffirmed its continuing support to the court. The ICJ ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent its troops from committing genocide, punish acts of incitement, and take steps to improve the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. The ruling was welcomed by the Foreign Ministry of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, as well as the Arab League’s Parliament, among others. 

Wednesday, 31 January–On the sidelines of the Global Gateway Investors Forum for EU-Central Asia Transport Connectivity, the Vice-President of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, held a meeting with Bahrain’s Minister of Sustainable Development, Noor bint Ali Al-Khulaif, in Brussels. They reviewed the European Commission’s and Bahrain’s efforts in developing policies, plans, and strategies to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Forum was also attended by representatives from Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE.

Wednesday, 31 January–The European Union plans to launch a naval mission in the Red Sea to participate in escorting the merchants’ ships facing the attacks by the Houthis by 17 February. Seven EU countries are ready to provide ships or planes, but debate is still ongoing on which country will take the command of the mission, which will be called ASPIDES.

Key Official Visits

Monday, 29 January–The Bahrain-Hungary Joint Economic Committee meeting took place in Budapest, co-chaired by Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Péter Szijjártó, and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, to enhance bilateral cooperation in economy, trade and investments. During his two-day visit to Hungary, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister also met with Hungarian President, Katalin Novak, who expressed her country’s keenness to enhance bilateral cooperation.

Tuesday, 30 January–Bahrain’s Chief Executive of Information and eGovernment Authority (iGA), Mohammed Ali Al-Qaed, received Saudi Arabia’s Governor and Board Member of the Digital Government Authority (DGA), Ahmed Mohammed Al-Suwaiyan, in Manama. They discussed bilateral cooperation in the digital government sector. They also agreed on bilateral projects and formed technical working teams to implement them.

Tuesday, 30 January–Oman and Norway held a session of political talks in Muscat. The Omani side was headed by the Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry for Political Affairs, Khalifa Ali Al-Harthy, and the Norwegian delegation was led by the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Andreas Motzfeldt Kravik. During the session they discussed bilateral relations and ways to enhance cooperation in all fields, as well as regional and international issues, in particular the repercussions of the war in Gaza.

 

Tuesday, 30 January–Qatar’s Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, met with US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, in Washington. The meeting focused on ways to strengthen strategic bilateral relations and on the recent developments in Gaza and its surroundings.

Tuesday, 30 January–Saudi Arabia's King, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, received in Riyadh Kuwait’s Emir, Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, in Riyadh, during his first foreign visit since he ascended the throne. They discussed bilateral relations and opportunities to develop them in various fields, and exchanged views on regional and international developments.

Wednesday, 31 January–Oman’s Foreign Minister, Badr bin Hamad Al-Busaidi, met with UK’s Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, David Cameron, in Muscat, to discuss regional security, notably the situation in Gaza and the Red Sea. Cameron affirmed that the UK is working with Oman to promote stability in the Middle East and reduce tensions. The visit follows Cameron’s visit to Israel, Palestine, Qatar and Türkiye. 

Wednesday, 31 January–Qatar’s Minister of Finance, Ali bin Ahmed Al-Kuwari, met with Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Péter Szijjártó, in Doha. The meeting focused on enhancing and expanding bilateral relations in investment, financial and economic sectors, as well as on issues of mutual interest.

Wednesday, 31 January–Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, met with UK’s Deputy Prime Minister, Oliver James Dowden, and his accompanying delegation in Doha. Both sides reviewed bilateral relations and aspects of enhancing and developing them in various fields.

Wednesday, 31 January–The UAE’s Minister of Economy, Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri, met with the UK's Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Hands, in London. They discussed ways to strengthen economic and investment cooperation and facilitate dialogue between the UAE’s and UK’s private sectors.

Wednesday, 31 January–Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, held a phone call with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, to discuss bilateral relations, areas of cooperation, and regional and international developments, including the war in Gaza and the security and humanitarian consequences.

Thursday, 1 February–The UAE hosted the 5th Quint Meeting on Somalia with representatives from Qatar, Türkiye, the United Kingdom and the United States and in the presence of Somalia’s President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. The event focused on ways to enhance support for Somalia’s security and stability, including efforts to defeat the Al-Shabaab terrorist group and the repercussions of the recently-signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ethiopia and Somaliland, which would reportedly grant Ethiopia access to the Red Sea port of Berbera and a leased military base in exchange for future recognition of Somaliland’s independence.

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