Region

Gulf and Red Sea Regions

Stories under this heading cover the Gulf and the Red Sea regions, including the Arabian Peninsula, Iran and the countries bordering the Red Sea.

Editor's choice
News
Ship attacked by Yemen's Houthis in the Red Sea has sunk, but uncertainty remains over other vessel

Ship attacked by Yemen's Houthis in the Red Sea has sunk, but uncertainty remains over other vessel

Debris and oil have been found in the Red Sea, where the Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned bulk carrier M/V Tutor was attacked by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis on 12 June 2024. According to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), the vessel is believed to have sunk. One crew member, believed to be in the Tutor's engine room at the time of the attacks, remains missing.
Editor's choice
Editorial
Hajj tests Saudi Government, year after year

Hajj tests Saudi Government, year after year

Last week, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, politely declined an invitation by Italian Prime Minister, Georgia Meloni, to attend as a special guest at the G7 summit held in Italy. Prince Mohammed said he could not attend as he had to oversee the annual Hajj. Whilst to some, this may have seemed like a weak diplomatic excuse, in fact, it was a very real one. Year after year, the Hajj has presented a serious political, logistical, and humanitarian challenge to the Saudi authorities. Domestically, Saudi governments are often judged by how they manage the Hajj. The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia,  the holiest city for Muslims. The Hajj is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and of supporting their family during their absence from home.

Filter archive

Publication date
Editor's choice
News
Ship attacked by Yemen's Houthis in the Red Sea has sunk, but uncertainty remains over other vessel

Ship attacked by Yemen's Houthis in the Red Sea has sunk, but uncertainty remains over other vessel

Debris and oil have been found in the Red Sea, where the Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned bulk carrier M/V Tutor was attacked by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis on 12 June 2024. According to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), the vessel is believed to have sunk. One crew member, believed to be in the Tutor's engine room at the time of the attacks, remains missing.
Editor's choice
Editorial
Hajj tests Saudi Government, year after year

Hajj tests Saudi Government, year after year

Last week, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, politely declined an invitation by Italian Prime Minister, Georgia Meloni, to attend as a special guest at the G7 summit held in Italy. Prince Mohammed said he could not attend as he had to oversee the annual Hajj. Whilst to some, this may have seemed like a weak diplomatic excuse, in fact, it was a very real one. Year after year, the Hajj has presented a serious political, logistical, and humanitarian challenge to the Saudi authorities. Domestically, Saudi governments are often judged by how they manage the Hajj. The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia,  the holiest city for Muslims. The Hajj is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and of supporting their family during their absence from home.
Editor's choice
News
In Kuwait, Emir dissolves parliament and suspends part of the Constitution

In Kuwait, Emir dissolves parliament and suspends part of the Constitution

Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmad Al Sabah has issued a decree dissolving parliament and suspending some of the articles of the constitution for “a period not exceeding four years”, after weeks of political tension following recent elections. Speaking on television on Friday night (10 May), the Kuwaiti leader said: “We ordered the dissolution of the National Assembly and the suspension of some articles of the constitution for a period not exceeding four years,” the Emir said in a televised speech on Friday evening. “The recent turmoil in the Kuwaiti political scene has reached a stage where we cannot remain silent, so we must take all necessary measures to achieve the best interest of country and its people.” During the period of suspension of the articles of the constitution, all aspects of the democratic process will be studied, the Emir said. The powers of the National Assembly will be assumed by the Emir and the country's cabinet, state TV reported. “Kuwait has been through some hard times lately … which leaves no room for hesitation or delay in making the difficult decision to save the country and secure its highest interests,” the Emir added. The Gulf country held its fourth elections in as many years last month, with 39 of the 46 members from the previous parliament retaining their seats.
Editor's choice
News
Iran seizes Israel-linked container ship in the Gulf of Hormuz

Iran seizes Israel-linked container ship in the Gulf of Hormuz

Amid heightened tension in the Middle East, and an expectation of some sort of Iranian attack on Israel, it was announced on Saturday (13 April) that Iranian Revolutionary Guards naval units had seized an Israeli linked container ship in the Straits of Hormuz. “A container ship named ‘MCS Aries’ was seized by the Sepah (Guards) Navy Special Forces by carrying out a heliborne operation,” IRNA, the Iranian state news agency reported, adding that the operation took place “near the Strait of Hormuz” and “this ship has now been directed toward the territorial waters” of Iran. Several media sources have aired a video that shows commandos raiding a ship near the Strait of Hormuz by helicopter. The video showed the attack earlier reported by the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations. It described the vessel as being “seized by regional authorities” in the Gulf of Oman off the Emirati port city of Fujairah, without elaborating. The vessel involved is likely the Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries, a container ship associated with London-based Zodiac Maritime. Zodiac Maritime is part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group. Zodiac declined to comment and referred questions to MSC, which did not immediately respond. The MSC Aries had been last located off Dubai heading toward the Strait of Hormuz on Friday. The ship had turned off its tracking data, which has been common for Israeli-affiliated ships moving through the region. Regional media reported that 20 Filipinos were on board the ship.
Editor's choice
News
Too little, too late, but Arabs hope UNSC resolution dents US-Israel relations

Too little, too late, but Arabs hope UNSC resolution dents US-Israel relations

The situation in Palestine continues to cast a shadow over the Ramadan festivities in the Arabian Peninsula and across the Arab and Moslem worlds. On Monday (26 March), the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) finally adopted resolution 2728, demanding an immediate ceasefire for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which started on 10 March, leading to a “lasting sustainable ceasefire”. The resolution, which was put forward by the Council’s elected members, also demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages and that the parties comply with their obligations under international law in relation to all persons they detain. Resolution 2728 emphasises the need to expand humanitarian assistance and reinforce the protection of civilians in the Gaza Strip. It also reiterates the Council’s demand to lift “all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale”. Arab and Muslim governments have generally welcomed the adoption of UNSC resolution 2728. But amongst a wary public in the GCC and beyond, there is widespread frustration and cynicism, and many consider it as being too little, too late. Palestinian envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, speaking in New York yesterday, reflected this mood, saying it had taken “six months, over 100,000 Palestinians killed and maimed, 2 million displaced, and famine for this Council to finally demand an immediate ceasefire.” Palestinians have been killed “in their homes, in the streets, in hospitals and ambulances, in shelters, and even in tents,” he added. “This must come to an end now. There can be no justification for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.” Acceptance of any justification for such crimes would be a renunciation of humanity and destroy the rule of international law beyond repair, Mansour said.
Editor's choice
News
More than eight million people displaced in Sudan amid threat of widespread famine as a result of the ongoing conflict

More than eight million people displaced in Sudan amid threat of widespread famine as a result of the ongoing conflict

Sudan is suffering one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history after nearly a year of war, the United Nations has warned. Fighting between the army, headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, since last April has killed tens of thousands of people, as the threat of famine looms amid international inaction. “By all measures – the sheer scale of humanitarian needs, the numbers of people displaced and facing hunger – Sudan is one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent memory,” Edem Wosornu, director of operations at the UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said on Wednesday (20 March). “A humanitarian travesty is playing out in Sudan under a veil of international inattention and inaction,” Wosornu told the UN Security Council on behalf of OCHA head Martin Griffiths. According to the UN, the conflict has led to more than eight million people being displaced. In early March, the Security Council called for an immediate ceasefire during Ramadan and urged better access to humanitarian aid. However, the ceasefire was not realised due to disagreements between the warring sides. More than 18 million Sudanese are facing acute food insecurity – 10 million more than at this time last year – while 730,000 Sudanese children are believed to be suffering from severe malnutrition.
Editor's choice
News
Balochi separatists attack Pakistani port of Gwadar, hub of Chinese Pakistani Economic Corridor

Balochi separatists attack Pakistani port of Gwadar, hub of Chinese Pakistani Economic Corridor

Baloch separatists armed with guns and bombs, on Wednesday (20 March) attacked the strategic port of Gwadar, key to the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), the most prominent of several separatist groups in Balochistan, claimed responsibility for the audacious assault which once more highlights controversy around Chinese backed infrastructural projects on the Belt and Road project. Pakistani security forces later reported that they had killed eight Baloch Liberation Army militants who stormed a complex outside the strategic port of Gwadar. Armed with guns and bombs, the militants attacked the complex that houses offices of government departments, intelligence agencies and paramilitary forces. They detonated a number of bombs before opening fire, said Saeed Ahmed Umrani, a government commissioner. China has invested heavily in the mineral-rich southwestern province of Balochistan, including developing Gwadar, despite a decades-long separatist insurgency. The deep-water port in the Gulf of Oman near the strategically important Strat of Hormuz is key to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which also encompasses roads and energy projects and is part of Chinese President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative. The Baloch Liberation Army, the most prominent of several separatist groups in Balochistan, has previously been involved in attacks on Pakistani and Chinese interests in the region and elsewhere. Chinese targets have also come under attack by other Baloch militant groups in Pakistan, who have been fighting for decades for a larger share in the regional wealth of mines and minerals that they say is being denied by central government in Islamabad. Belt and Road projects in Pakistan have been plagued by security concerns. In 2021, a bus carrying engineers to a construction site near a dam in northwestern Pakistan was hit by a bomb, killing 13 people including nine Chinese workers.
Editor's choice
News
Sombre mood across the Islamic world as Muslims think of Gaza at the start of Ramadan

Sombre mood across the Islamic world as Muslims think of Gaza at the start of Ramadan

Muslims round the world today marked the first day of fasting at the start of the Islamic Holy month of Ramadan in a sombre mood, as communities reflected on the suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza. In Gaza the population is on the verge of starvation, and in other Palestinian territories the shadow of war is not far away either, with tensions high in East Jerusalem. Thousands of Israeli police have been deployed around the narrow streets of the Old City in Jerusalem, where tens of thousands of worshippers are expected every day at the Al Aqsa mosque compound, one of the holiest sites in Islam. Israel's relentless campaign in Gaza has caused increasing alarm across the world as the growing risk of famine threatens to add to a death toll that has already passed 31,000. In the ruins of Gaza itself, where half the 2.3 million population is squeezed into the southern city of Rafah, many living under plastic tents and facing a severe shortage of food, the mood was correspondingly sombre. "We made no preparations to welcome Ramadan because we have been fasting for five months now," said Maha, a mother of five, who would normally have filled her home with decorations and stocked her refrigerator with supplies for the evening Iftar celebrations when people break their fast. "There is no food, we only have some canned food and rice, most of the food items are being sold for imaginary high prices," she said via chat app from Rafah, where she is sheltering with her family.