GULF IN REVIEW
09 - 14 June 2019
Kingdom of Bahrain
Wednesday, 12 June—Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa received the United Kingdom’s Senior Defence Adviser for the Middle East, General Sir John Lorimer, in the presence of the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) Commander in Chief, Field Marshal Khalifa bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa. During the meeting they discussed bilateral relations in military affairs.
Wednesday, 12 June—Bahrain strongly condemned the terrorist attack by the Iran-backed Houthis on the Abha International Airport in Saudi Arabia as ‘another cowardly criminal act against innocent civilians,’ affirming full solidarity with Saudi Arabia ‘against all those who dare to put its security and stability at stake.’ The Foreign Ministry also denounced the Thursday attack on the two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and called on the international community to take all necessary measures to ensure safety of the maritime navigation and energy transport and address the acts of terrorism and those who support them.
Thursday, 13 June—Greek Foreign Minister, Georgios Katrougalos, arrived on an official visit to Bahrain as part of efforts to develop and enhance bilateral ties in various fields, including economic, political, tourism and trade. He met with a number of Bahrain’s officials, including King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa (his Bahraini counterpart), and Minister of Finance and National Economy, Salman bin Khalifa Al-Khalifa, with whom he discussed the prospects for enhancing economic cooperation and investments.
State of Kuwait
Friday, 14 June—Kuwait’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi, announced that all members of the UN Security Council unanimously condemned the latest attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman as a criminal act that violates international law. This condemnation came during a closed-door session called at the request of the United States to discuss the attacks. Earlier that day, in a session on enhancing cooperation between the UNSC and the Arab League, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, along with Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, also strongly denounced the attacks, calling them a new episode in a series of acts of sabotage, that jeopardise international security and threaten maritime navigation and world oil supplies.
Sultanate of Oman
Thursday, 13 June—Two oil tankers were sabotaged in the Gulf of Oman—the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous tanker, that was transporting methanol from Saudi Arabia to Singapore, was reportedly hit twice within three hours, while the Norwegian-owned Front Altair, that was carrying 75,000 tonnes of the petrochemical feedstock naphtha from the UAE to Taiwan, suffered damages from fire. The US Navy Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, was assisting the tankers after receiving distress calls. The attacks were followed by an increase in oil prices by more than 3% as this was the second attack on oil tankers in the Gulf region within one month. Last month, four tankers were sabotaged off the UAE coast.
Wednesday, 12 June—Oman’s Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Badr Al-Busaidi, arrived in Romania to further strengthen bilateral ties. Mr Al-Busaidi met with several Romanian officials, including Foreign Minister, Teodor Viorel Meleșcanu, and Prime Minister, Viorica Dăncilă. They discussed bilateral cooperation and ways to develop it in a number of areas, notably economic and investment, with a focus on participation of private sector.
State of Qatar
Thursday, 13 June—Qatar’s Minister of Finance, Ali Shareef Al-Emadi, met with French Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, in Paris to discuss economic and investment relations, bilateral cooperation, and issues related to the preparations for the Qatari-French Strategic Dialogue, scheduled for the last quarter of 2019.
Friday, 14 June—Qatar’s Foreign Ministry denounced the attacks on the two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, ‘regardless of the identity of the perpetrator,’ stressing that the attack was a direct threat to the regional security, while calling on all concerned parties to refrain from further escalation.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Wednesday, 12 June—The Iran-backed Yemeni Houthis targeted the Abha International Airport in Saudi Arabia, situated a little over 100 km from the border with the northern part of Yemen, that is under the Houthis’ control. The attack left 26 civilians injured. The Houthis have claimed the attack via their media network, Al-Masirah, and stated that the attack was carried out by a cruise missile.
Thursday, 13 June—The two energy giants, Exxon Mobil Corporation and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), announced that they will start the construction of a giant petrochemical complex in San Patricio County, Texas in the third quarter of 2019. The complex should include the world’s largest ethane cracker, capable of producing 1.8 million tonnes a year, two polyethylene units and a monoethylene glycol plant. The joint venture called Gulf Coast Growth Ventures, the third one between Exxon Mobil and SABIC, is part of SABIC’s expansion plans to the Americas and should be finished by 2022.
Friday, 14 June—Saudi Arabia’s air defence systems intercepted another five armed drones, launched by the Houthis towards the southern Asir region, including the city of Khamis Mushait and the Abha international airport. These attempts came a day after the tanker sabotage in the Gulf of Oman, two days after the Abha civilian airport was hit by a missile fired by the Houthis, injuring 26, and four days after two other armed drones aiming at Khamis Mushait were intercepted by Saudi air defence. The Houthis have significantly stepped up their attacks against Saudi Arabia over the past two months.
United Arab Emirates
Tuesday, 11 June - Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, arrived in Germany on a two-day official visit during which he met with Germany’s President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, to discuss ways to enhance bilateral relations and cooperation. During the visit Mohamed bin Zayed met also the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, to discuss enhancing bilateral relations and the latest regional developments. Chancellor Merkel and Mohammed bin Zayed discussed ways to enhance cooperation, notably in commercial and economic fields, and countering terrorism and extremism. Mohammed bin Zayed his keenness to coordinate with Germany on regional issues, while both affirmed their interest in strengthening their strategic partnership.
Thursday, 13 June—The UAE’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Mansoor bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, received Yemen’s Prime Minister Dr Moein Abdul Malik and his accompanying delegation. They discussed bilateral ties and cooperation along with the UAE’s economic and humanitarian projects implemented in Yemen.