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.

Iran reopens embassy in Saudi Arabia, consulate opening Wednesday
Iran has reopened its embassy in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Tuesday (6 June), the Saudi outlet Al Arabiya reported on Tuesday. The agreement to reopen embassies in each other's respective capitals was struck on 10 March in Beijing, re-establishing diplomatic ties that had been broken for years. You can read more about the 10 March agreement here. “We consider today an important day in the relations of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Alireza Bigdeli told a flag-raising ceremony, adding that “the cooperation between the countries is entering a new era.” At a meeting with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud in Cape Town last Friday (2 June), Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian expressed satisfaction with the "good progress made in bilateral ties". The two foreign ministers were meeting in South Africa on the sidelines of the “Friends of BRICS” summit. The next BRICS summit between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will take place in Johannesburg in August. Meanwhile, the opening of the Iranian consulate in Jeddah is expected to take place on Wednesday (7 June).
patrickn97 Wed, 06/07/2023 - 09:51 UAE withdraws from joint naval patrols with the US

An announcement on Wednesday (31 May) that the UAE had withdrawn its participation from the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) coalition is supposed to have caught the US by surprise. 

patrickn97 Tue, 06/06/2023 - 13:16

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Air strikes hit Khartoum despite ceasefire, thousands rush to Red Sea for evacuation
The Sudanese capital of Khartoum has been hit with air strikes despite a ceasefire that was supposed to allow civilians to flee. Fighting between the Sudanese army the a rival paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), broke out on Sunday (15 April) as talks over a transition to a civilian government broke down, and a power struggle between the army and the RSF erupted into violence. The army has said that the purpose of the air strikes was to flush out the RSF from the capital, Khartoum, reports the BBC. More than 500 people are confirmed to have been killed in the fighting, with the true number likely much higher. Over the past week, there have been reports of increasing food and water shortages in Khartoum as residents were unable to go outside having been warned against doing so. Despite attempts at enabling civilians to evacuate, millions are believed to still be stuck inside the capital. Last week, many countries evacuated diplomats and civilians from Sudan, including the US, European countries, and many GCC countries. The BBC also reports that aid has begun to arrive in the country, with an International Red Cross flight arriving in the country yesterday, on Sunday (30 April), in the Red Sea city of Port Sudan. 
patrickn97 Mon, 05/01/2023 - 08:42
Editorial: Sudan put the “new era of peace” in the Middle East to an early test
The processes that have been taking place in the Gulf region and the wider Middle East over the last year - which healed the schism within the GCC, reconciled Turkey with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, started the process of bringing back Syria within the Arab fold, and, even more dramatically, started the process of reconciling Saudi Arabia and Iran - appeared in recent days to have even reached Yemen, when the exchange of large numbers of prisoners during the Ramadan month, and the meetings between Saudi officials and the Houthi leadership, augured well for that painful conflict to be also finally resolved. Yet, just as pundits hailed a new era of peace in the Middle East, Sudan erupted into a civil war that has already claimed hundreds of lives, and potentially can be hugely devastating.
patrickn97 Tue, 04/25/2023 - 12:35
Saudi Foreign Minister meets Syrian President Assad in Damascus

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan arrived in Damascus on Tuesday (18 April) for talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad amid Syria's gradual rehabilitation into the Arab community.

The visit is the first by a senior Saudi diplomat since relations were severed following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

According to the Saudi Foreign Ministry, the Prince Faisal and President Assad discussed steps to "achieve a comprehensive political settlement that...contributes to Syria’s return to the Arab fold."

patrickn97 Wed, 04/19/2023 - 10:36
Editor's choice
Qatar and Bahrain agree to restore diplomatic ties

Qatar and Bahrain agree to restore diplomatic ties

Qatar and Bahrain have announced that they have agreed on restoring diplomatic ties after a meeting on Wednesday (12 April) at the headquarters of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) General Secretariat in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. According to a statement released by the Qatari foreign ministry, both sides agreed to "enhance the Gulf unity and integration according to the GCC Charter". The agreement ends a dispute that began in 2017, when Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, imposed a diplomatic blockade on Qatar alleging it had worked to support "terrorism", backed hardline groups, maintained too close ties with Iran, and had meddled in those countries' internal affairs. Doha has always firmly denied the allegations. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt had banned Qatari planes and ships from using their airspace and waters, as well as cutting trade links. All but Bahrain resumed these ties in 2021, however, but UAE and Qatar have not yet opened their respective embassies. The agreement between Bahrain and Qatar is the latest in a series of regional rapprochements. Most significant was the 10 March deal struck between Saudi Arabia and Iran to normalise relations between them. 
Editor's choice
Editorial: the surge towards peace across the Muslim Middle East is an expression of pragmatism, not heavenly inspiration

Editorial: the surge towards peace across the Muslim Middle East is an expression of pragmatism, not heavenly inspiration

Although we are in the middle of the holy month of Ramadan, and peace is in the air across the whole of the Muslim Middle East, writes in this editorial that "problems are being patched up, not resolved. Many of the causes or factors that triggered the conflicts in the first place remain as acute as ever. But for the moment the region is exhausted. Visionary leaders need time and space to implement their reforms; others such as the Iranian clerical regime, need time to regroup after being rattled by internal and external turmoil. There is then the issue of the wider picture. The Gulf region has for decades been the epicentre of geopolitical rivalry, which often overspilled into violence. It appears to be now losing this unenviable role. Open warfare is ongoing on the European continent following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. This is unlikely to end any time soon."
Surprise OPEC oil production cut pushes global prices up

Global oil prices have soared after a surprise announcment by several key oil-producing states on Sunday (2 April) that they would cut production by as much as one million barrels per day.

Saudi Arabia, Iraq and several Gulf states all announced that they would cut production by more than one million barrels per day, while Russia also said it would extend its cut of half a million barrels per day until the end of the year.

patrickn97 Mon, 04/03/2023 - 14:24
Commentary: Yemen is where the resilience of the Iran-Saudi deal will be tested
Developments in Yemen over the last days do not augur well for the 10 March Iran-Saudi Arabia normalisation deal, writes in this commentary, writing that "it is in Yemen where the biggest test for the resilience of the Beijing agreement will come, sooner rather than later." On 10 March in Beijing, Iran and Saudi Arabia together with China signed an agreement that amongst other things provides for the restoration of diplomatic relations between Tehran and Riyadh. The agreement has many other provisions, and remains confidential, but it is widely understood that it contains provisions for lessening tensions in the region and taking the heat out of some hotspots where the two regional powers continue to look each other in the eye. Yemen invariably is at the top of the agenda.
patrickn97 Tue, 03/28/2023 - 12:37