GULF IN REVIEW
18-23 August 2019
Kingdom of Bahrain
Monday, 19 August—Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, received Commander of the US Central Command, General Kenneth McKenzie. King Hamad praised the strong historic partnership between Bahrain and the US and General McKenzie’s efforts to enhance the military and defence cooperation. On the occasion, King Hamad confirmed Bahrain’s participation in the International Maritime Security Construct, the US-led naval mission to secure the maritime navigation safety and protect commercial shipping in the Gulf—joining the United Kingdom.
State of Kuwait
Sunday, 18 August—Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, arrived for an official visit to Kuwait before heading to Scandinavia. During the visit, Zarif met with Kuwait’s Crown Prince, Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah, and other senior officials.
Sultanate of Oman
Monday, 19 August—Oman seeks to become a regional digital hub for disaster recovery services, offering to store backup copies of critical data for the Gulf Cooperation Council and possibly other Arab countries, in case they would lose their the data due to natural disasters. The investments into the project, which is already underway, should reach OMR25 million (almost 60 million EUR) and is expected to create hundreds of jobs.
State of Qatar
Tuesday, 20 August—Qatar will construct a new port at Somalia's Hobyo, which serves as the main port of the Galmudug state in Central Somalia, with access to the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. The move will further strengthen ties between the two countries as Doha and Ankara continue to vie for influence with Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the Horn of Africa.
Wednesday, 21 August—Qatar reportedly asked the United Nations Human Rights Council to withdraw its name from a letter that it signed with three dozen countries, including all the Gulf Cooperation Council members, on 12 July, in support of Beijing’s counterterrorism and deradicalisation measures among the Uighur community in western China.
Thursday, 22 August—The United States and the Taliban commenced the 9th round of talks in Doha to end the almost 18-year conflict and allow the US troops to withdraw from Afghanistan in return for a guarantee that the Taliban will ensure Afghanistan would not become a sanctuary for launching terrorist attacks against other countries.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Saturday, 17 August—The Houthis claimed a drone attack on Saudi Aramco’s natural gas liquefaction facility in Shaybah, near the border with the UAE, which caused a small fire but did not result in any casualties or disruption of production. The Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General, Abdullatif Al-Zayani, condemned the attack on Sunday as a ‘cowardly act that threatens security and stability in the region.’ On Thursday, the Saudi-led Arab Coalition intercepted two drones targeting the city of Khamis Mushait in southwestern Saudi Arabia.
Tuesday, 20 August—Saudi Arabia began to implement the changes to end the travel restrictions for women over 21, who can now obtain passports and travel abroad without the permission of a male guardian. Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Passports said that all Saudi citizens studying abroad no longer need guardian’s permission for traveling, even if they are under than 21. A guardian’s approval is now demanded only for minors. Women can also newly register marriage, divorce or child birth, obtain official family documentation and be recognised as guardians of their minor children. The changes came in line with the Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to diversify the country’s economy away from oil and envisages ambitious social changes.
Tuesday, 20 August—A six-member Southern Transitional Council (STC) delegation, headed by STC’s leader, Aidrous Al-Zubaidi, arrived in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah for emergency talks over the recent clashes with the Yemeni government forces in the interim capital, Aden. Saudi Arabia called for the dialogue after the UAE-backed secessionist STC took over Aden earlier this month, clashing with the government forces. In Jeddah, the STC held talks with Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defence Minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, but Yemen’s government officials said they would meet with the STC only after their forces pullout from Aden. Yemen’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Mohammed Al-Hadrami, held the STC and UAE responsible for the infighting in Aden and called on Abu Dhabi to end its military support to the STC. While the STC delegation was in Saudi Arabia for talks, the STC continued to advance and seized more camps in Zinjibar, east of Aden.
United Arab Emirates
Monday, 19 August—Abu Dhabi set up a Committee to help with implementing the Human Fraternity Document to promote tolerance and peaceful coexistence, signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr Ahmed El-Tayyeb, in February during Pontif’s visit to the UAE. The Committee includes Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; Professor Mohamed Hussein Mahrasawi, President of Al-Azhar University; Monsignor Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, Pope Francis’ Personal Secretary; or Dr Sultan Faisal Al Rumaithi, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Elders, among others.
Wednesday, 21 August—The UAE rejected accusations that it would support the seizure of the Yemeni de facto capital, Aden, by the Southern Transitional Council (STC), highlighting its efforts to de-escalate the situation in Yemen and its role as a key partner in the Saudi-led Arab Coalition fighting the Houthis in support of the internationally recognised Yemeni government.
Thursday, 22 August—Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, received a phone call from the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, in which they discussed bilateral relations and ways to strengthen them, along with some regional issues of mutual concern.