GULF IN REVIEW

14 - 20 September 2019

by

Nikola Zukalová

Kingdom of Bahrain
 

Sunday, 15 September—Bahrain’s Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, travelled for an official visit to the United States, where he held talks with senior officials, including President Donald Trump, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of Defence, Mark Esper, on strengthening ties, particularly in security, trade and culture. Salman bin Hamad also signed a contract with the US Vice President, Mike Pence, for acquiring Bahrain’s first Patriot surface-to-air missile defence system.

 

Monday, 16 September—Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa held a telephone call with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud in which he strongly condemned the terrorist attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure. King Hamad stressed Bahrain's full support to Saudi Arabia in all measures taken to protect its security and stability and in the fight against terrorism.

 

Monday, 16 September—The National Oil & Gas Authority (NOGA) announced that the operations of the Bahrain Petroleum Company’s (BAPCO) oil refinery were not impacted by the Saturday’s attack on Saudi Aramco’s oil facilities.

State of Kuwait

Sunday, 15 September—The Emir of Kuwait, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, strongly condemned Saturday’s attack on two Saudi Aramco oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais and said that Kuwait stands fully behind Saudi Arabia and measures to maintain its security and stability in a phone call with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.

 

Tuesday, 17 September—Kuwait tightened security around key state institutions and vital installations following a violation of Kuwait’s airspace by a drone, which flew over the Royal Palace in the Kuwait City, the same day as the attack on Saudi Aramco’s oil facilities. On Sunday, Kuwait’s Prime Minister, Jaber Mubarak, held an emergency meeting with Kuwaiti senior security officials over the Gulf tensions and to investigate the drone flight incident. The General Staff of Kuwait Armed Forces announced on Wednesday that it will increase the combat readiness of some units in light of the regional escalation.

 

Wednesday, 18 September—Kuwait signed cooperation agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the sidelines of the IAEA General Conference in Vienna, notably on the development of nuclear expertise and protection of the marine environment. On Thursday, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were elected along nine other states to serve on the 35-member IAEA Board of Governors for the 2019–2020 period.

Sultanate of Oman
 

Sunday, 15 September—The Council of Foreign Ministers of the Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) convened the 16th Extraordinary Meeting in Jeddah. The Council condemned the Israeli Prime Minister’s stated intention to annex territories in the West Bank and Israel’s ‘colonial practices.’ It also strongly denounced the Saturday’s terrorist attack on Aramco’s plants in Saudi Arabia, reaffirming full support to the Kingdom and its measures to counter terrorism, preserve its security and defend its interests, while calling on the members to stand united against the perpetrators and those supporting them with arms and urging the United Nations Security Council to hold the perpetrators accountable.

 

Monday, 16 September—Oman’s Foreign Ministry expressed its deep regret over the attacks on Saudi Arabia's energy facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais, considering it a useless escalation of the regional situation.

 

Thursday, 19 September—The European External Action Service (EEAS) and Oman’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs held the first Senior Official Meeting in Brussels, co-chaired by the EEAS’ Secretary-General, Helga Schmid, and Oman’s Undersecretary for Diplomatic Affairs, Khalifa bin Ali bin Issa Al-Harthy. The meeting launched the implementation of the Cooperation Arrangement between the EEAS and Oman’s Foreign Ministry signed in 2018 and began political consultations on ways to deescalate the rising tensions in the Gulf, maritime security and the Horn of Africa, the Middle East Peace Process, and the situation in Yemen, Iraq and Syria. They also explored opportunities for Oman-EU cooperation in various fields, notably trade, investments and energy.

State of Qatar

Tuesday, 17 September—A Qatari delegation, led by the Director of Policy and Planning Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Khalid bin Fahad Al-Khater, participated in the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) meeting, held at the US State Department headquarters in Washington, DC, which focused on cooperation in political, security and energy fields.

 

Thursday, 19 September—Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, visited France, where he held talks with the French President, Emmanuel Macron, at the Elysée Palace, to discuss bilateral strategic relations and regional developments. From Paris, he continued to the United Kingdom for a Friday meeting with the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, before heading to New York for the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Saturday, 14 September—Saudi Aramco’s processing facility in Abqaiq and Khurais oilfield in eastern Saudi Arabia were attacked by drones and cruise missiles, causing fire and cutting the production of 5.7 million barrels of crude oil a day, which represents about 50% of the Kingdom’s daily crude production and over 5% of the world’s daily output. As a result, oil prices rose by 10-20% per barrel during Monday trading. Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, said that the Kingdom’s oil production will be fully restored within weeks. 

 

Wednesday, 18 September—Saudi Arabia displayed the drone and missile debris from the Saturday’s attack on Saudi Aramco’s facilities. The Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Saudi Defence Ministry’s Spokesman, Colonel Turki Al-Maliki, said that the collected evidence showed that the attacks came from the north, ruling out the possibility of the attacks originating from Yemen. Col Al-Maliki said that 18 UAVs and 7 cruise missiles were fired at Abqaiq and Khurais and that the evidence points to Iran’s involvement. The United Nations panel of experts on Yemen arrived on Thursday to Saudi Arabia to investigate the attack, while France sent seven military experts to the Kingdom to assist with the investigation.

 

Wednesday, 18 September—During a phone call with South Korea’s President, Moon Jae-in, Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, asked South Korea to establish an anti-aircraft defence system to help strengthen the Kingdom’s air defence system and prevent future attacks.

 

Wednesday, 18 September—The United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, arrived in Saudi Arabia, where he met with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, mainly to discuss a response to the Saturday’s attack on the Kingdom’s oil infrastructure. On Thursday, Pompeo continued to the UAE.

United Arab Emirates

Wednesday, 18 September—The military Spokesman of the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, Yahya Sarie, threatened that the Houthis have staked dozens of potential targets in the UAE, including in Abu Dhabi, that they can attack at any time, due to new advanced weaponry, which reportedly includes drones that can reach deep in Saudi Arabia’s territory.

 

Thursday, 19 September—Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, received the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to discuss the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities and the regional tensions. Pompeo said that the United States seek a peaceful resolution to the crisis following the attacks, for which he blamed Iran, and pledged more US sanctions on Tehran to curb its support for terrorism.

 

Thursday, 19 September—The UAE and Saudi Arabia joined Bahrain, Australia and the United Kingdom in the International Maritime Security Construct, the US-led international maritime mission to protect commercial ships, particularly in the Strait of Hormuz, established in July 2019 following several Iranian seizures of commercial vessels.

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