GULF IN REVIEW
04 - 09 August 2019
Kingdom of Bahrain
Monday, 5 August—The United Kingdom announced that the Royal Navy and the United States’ Navy will form a maritime mission to jointly patrol to enhance the security of commercial vessels in the Strait of Hormuz following the seizure of tankers by Iran in the strategic shipping lane over the past month. The UK’s decision stemmed from talks with the US and European partners during the Gulf Maritime Security Conference in Bahrain on 31 July, which was held to deal with the regional situation and the repeated attacks by Iran and the terrorist groups linked to it.
Monday, 5 August—Bahrain will host the Working Group on Maritime Security and Aviation between 21-22 October 2019 as part of the Warsaw Process, aiming to advance common security interests in the Middle East and enhance regional cooperation. Other Working Groups will be also organised: Working Group on Cybersecurity hosted by South Korea (7-8 October), Working Group on Human Rights hosted by the United States (10-11 October), Working Group on Energy Security hosted by Poland (24-25 October), and Working Group on Missile Proliferation hosted by Romania (14-15 November). The first Warsaw Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East in February 2019 was attended by participants from NATO, European Union and around 60 countries.
State of Kuwait
Monday, 5 August—The United Kingdom’s Defence Senior Advisor for The Middle East, Lieutenant General Sir John Lorimer, travelled to Kuwait, where he met with Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Khaled Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah, to discuss security issues and the historically strong bilateral cooperation. Later, Lt Gen Sir Lorimer was received by the Deputy Chief of the Kuwait National Guard (KNG), Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, to discuss ways to boost military cooperation, notably through joint training courses and information and experience exchange.
Tuesday, 6 August—Kuwait’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, received a phone call from Iran’s Defence Minister, Amir Hatami, to discuss ways to enhance bilateral ties. In addition to Eid Al-Adha wishes, Kuwait’s Minister was invited to visit Iran. Both sides expressed keenness to advance their relations.
Sultanate of Oman
Tuesday, 6 August—A delegation from Oman’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs visited the West Bank to follow up on the decision to open up a diplomatic mission there. They met with the Palestinian Authority’s President, Mahmoud Abbas, in Ramallah, who affirmed the significance of the Omani move for the strengthening of bilateral ties. It would be the first of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries’ diplomatic mission and a fifth Arab embassy, joining Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia, in the Palestinian Territories.
Thursday, 8 August—The China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) extended the contract for developing Oman’s Block 5 oilfield for another 15 years.
State of Qatar
Monday, 5 August—The Qatar-state owned Al Rayan Bank, based in the United Kingdom, provided financial services to several Islamist-linked British entities, whose accounts were closed due to security concerns; an investigative report by The Times revealed. The bank’s customers involved, for example, a charity designated by the United States as a terrorist entity. The bank is reportedly 70% owned by the Masraf Al-Rayan, Qatar’s second largest bank, which is partially controlled by the state, and some 30% by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund’s investment arm.
Wednesday, 7 August—Eight Syrians, forcedly displaced from their homes in Syria during the civil war, now living in Europe, lodged a claim with the High Court in London against the Doha Bank, which has an office in London, for loss and damage caused by the bank’s facilitation of channelling funds to the Al-Qaeda linked terrorist group, Al-Nusra Front, during the Syrian civil war. The allegations include two Qatari-Syrian brothers Moutaz and Ramez Al-Khayyat, who are Chairman and a CEO of the UrbaCon Trading & Contracting Company LLC (UCC), a Doha based international construction services company. The bank denies the accusations.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Wednesday, 7 August—The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief) called on the United Nations and its humanitarian agencies to investigate the corruption and exploitation of humanitarian aid for Yemen and increase transparency about the use of the Kingdom’s large donations to the UN aid agencies in Yemen by disclosing detailed financial and accounting reports. A report published by the Associated Press uncovered involvement of some UN agencies’ staff in fraud and mismanagement to profit from the large humanitarian aid programme devoted to the war torn country.
Wednesday, 7 August—Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, held a phone call with the United States’ Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, in which they discussed the need to strengthen maritime security to ensure freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz, the increasing tensions with Iran and how to counter its destabilising activities in the region, as well as the situation in Yemen and the Iran-backed Houthis that keep attacking the Kingdom’s civilian areas with armed drones.
Friday, 9 August—Over two million Muslims from all over the world commenced Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom has devoted millions of dollars to strengthen security and protect the pilgrims amid the rising regional tensions. This year the pilgrims can use the newly built fast train, which will ease the travel and shorten it to 3 hours. Every Muslim has to undergo the five-day Hajj to Mecca, one of the five pillars of Islam, at least once in their lifetime.
Friday, 9 August—Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister, Khalid Al-Falih, held talks with the United States’ Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, in the presence of Saudi Ambassador to Washington, DC, Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan, focusing on the oil market and security of global energy supplies amid the increasing Iranian threats to the maritime navigation in the Arabian Gulf. They stressed the need to cooperate to ensure the security of global energy supplies. They also discussed ways to boost cooperation and investments in various fields, including energy, climate, technology and industry.
United Arab Emirates
Sunday, 4 August—The UAE President, Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, ordered the release of 669 prisoners on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha.
Monday, 5 August—The UAE delivered 14 tonnes of medicines and medical supplies through the Emirates Red Crescent to be distributed to hospitals in the Dhale province in southwestern Yemen.
Thursday, 8 August—Women will represent 50% of the new Federal National Council, the country’s federal legislative body, which will be formed after the elections in October 2019. In line with a resolution of the UAE’s President, Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan from early 2019, 20 men and 20 women will be elected and appointed for the next 4-year term. The candidates can apply for registration between 18-22 August.