GULF IN REVIEW
19 - 24 May 2019
Kingdom of Bahrain
Sunday, 19 May—The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries deployed enhanced security patrols in close coordination with the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, in the waters around the Arabian Gulf, amid the recent regional escalations. The GCC countries are particularly enhancing coordination and communication among themselves to boost regional maritime security and cooperation to provide guarantees for oil tankers and ensure continuous supply of oil to global markets.
Wednesday, 22 May—Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa ratified and issued Law 8/2019 amending Article 11 of Law 58/2006 regarding the protection of the community against terrorist acts. The law punishes promotion, glorification, justification, admiration or encouragement of terrorist acts, punishable by law inside the Kingdom or abroad, with fines between 2,000 and 5,000 Bahraini dinars and imprisonment up to 5 years.
Thursday, 23 May—King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa arrived on an official visit to the UAE to meet Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. In addition to reinforcing their bilateral relations, they also discussed the latest regional developments and their impact on regional security and stability. King Hamad appreciated the UAE’s stances supportive of the Kingdom and highlighted Bahrain’s solidarity with the UAE in any security measures it may take to protect its security, stability and interests.
State of Kuwait
Monday, 20 May—Jordan’s King Abdullah II travelled to Kuwait, where he held talks with Kuwait’s Emir Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. The two leaders discussed the long-standing bilateral relations, ways to strengthen them and the recent regional and international developments.
Wednesday, 22 May—Iraq’s Prime Minister, Adel Abdel Mahdi, and his accompanying high-level delegation, arrived in Kuwait for an official visit, where they met a number of Kuwaiti officials, including Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, and the Speaker of the National Assembly, Marzouq Al-Ghanim, among others. Both sides focused on ways to enhance bilateral cooperation in various fields as well as the need for deescalating the latest tensions to maintain regional security and stability.
Sultanate of Oman
Monday, 20 May—Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, Yousef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, travelled to Tehran, where he met with Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif. During the meeting they discussed bilateral relations and the latest regional developments, with focus on the recent escalation in the Gulf.
Wednesday, 22 May—Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, Yousef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, and the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, signed a Comprehensive Agreement on Enduring Friendship to enhance cooperation in various fields, notably politics, economy, science, culture, technology, health, innovation, fisheries and agriculture. The Comprehensive Agreement complements the Joint Declaration on Enduring Friendship signed in March and the Joint Defence Agreement signed in February. The UK’s Foreign Secretary praised Oman as a key partner in peace efforts in Yemen and ensuring non-nuclear Iran. Both officials stated that they are working on defusing the tensions between Washington and Tehran to prevent further escalation.
State of Qatar
Sunday, 19 May—Qatar’s Amir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, arrived with his accompanying high-level delegation in Kuwait, where he held talks with the country’s Emir, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and senior officials. According to the statement, the two leaders exchanged Ramadan greetings, reviewed their bilateral ties as well as recent regional developments. The visit came amid increasing tensions in the Gulf.
Tuesday, 21 May—Qatar’s Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani, received the United Kingdom’s Defence Senior Adviser to the Middle East, Sir John Lorimer, and his accompanying delegation. During the meeting, they discussed bilateral relations, the latest regional developments and issues of common concern.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, 19 May—Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud called two emergency summits of the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council members and Arab countries scheduled for 30 May in Mecca to discuss recent armed escalations in the region, particularly the attack on four commercial vessels off the coast of the UAE’s Fujairah and armed drone attacks on Saudi Aramco’s oil facilities in the Kingdom, and their consequences as well as the 14th session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to coordinate the countries’ positions to enhance regional security and stability.
Monday, 20 May—Saudi Arabia’s air defences intercepted two missiles launched by the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen towards Mecca and Jeddah. On Thursday, Saudi air defences intercepted a bomb-laden drone launched by the Houthis towards the Najran civilian airport.
Wednesday, 22 May—The Aramco Services Company, a subsidiary of the oil giant Saudi Aramco, inked a heads of agreement with the Sempra LNG, a subsidiary of the US-based Sempra Energy. The agreement precedes the anticipated finalisation of a 20-year liquefied natural gas (LNG) sale-and-purchase agreement for obtaining 5 million tonnes of LNG a year from the Port Arthur LNG export terminal, currently under development in Texas by Sempra Energy. It will be the largest LNG deal in the recent years. As part of the deal, Saudi Aramco should also acquire 25% equity investment in the Phase 1 of Port Arthur LNG. Saudi Aramco has been developing its gas resources, eyeing opportunities in the United States, Arctic Russia, Australia, in a bid to become world’s major LNG player. It plans to increase its gas production from the current 14 billion standard cubic feet to 23 billion.
Thursday, 24 May—Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince and Minister of Defence, Mohammed bin Salman, met with the United States’ Special Representative for Syria Engagement and Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter Daesh, James Jeffrey, to discuss bilateral relations and recent regional events. The meeting was also attended by Saudi Arabia’s National Security Adviser, Dr Musaed bin Mohammed Al-Aiban, and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel Al-Jubeir, as well as the US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, John Abizaid, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Levant Affairs and Special Envoy for Syria, Joel Rayburn.
United Arab Emirates
Wednesday, 22 May—Jordan’s King Abdullah II arrived in Abu Dhabi, where he met with Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. They agreed on close coordination on the recent regional developments to ensure security and stability, including maritime security, and on conducting joint military exercises in the near future. King Abdullah reaffirmed that the security of the UAE and the Gulf region is crucial for Jordan's security.
Thursday, 23 May—Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, held a phone call conversation with Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, in which they discussed bilateral relations and recent regional developments. The phone call came two days after the German Chancellor discussed Iran in a joint telephone call with both, France’s President, Emmanuel Macron, and Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, during which the three leaders confirmed their commitment to preserve the Nuclear Deal and stressed the need to persuade Iran to remain part of it.