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.

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Saudi King appoints Mohamed bin Salman as new prime minister

Saudi King appoints Mohamed bin Salman as new prime minister

King Salman ibn Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia has appointed Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman as prime minister. This is the first time that a Saudi King has not held himself the post of prime minister since the system of Cabinet of Ministers was first introduced. Seperating the two roles is likely to improve the process and speed of decision making in the Kingdom which in the past had seen backlogs of decisions and appointments waiting for the King's approval. The appointment formalises the authority of Mohamed bin Salman over the Saudi government, and is seen as part of the process of renewal that the Kingdom embarked on a few years back. Mohamed bin Salman, or MBS as he is sometimes called, has been a controversial figure since he was appointed as Crown Prince in 2016. The war in Yemen, the murder of Adnan Kashoggi and a heavy handed approach towards critics have made him a target of much criticism by western media. But inside Saudi Arabia itself, MBS is mostly seen as a reformer who has taken on, successfully, the conservative religious elite, that had dominated life in the Kingdom since the Saudi State was established in the early 20th century. His appointment as prime minister will help consolidate his power, and is likely to embolder him on to the next set of changes. Internationally, the appointment comes days after a Saudi diplomatic success, which saw Mohamed bin Salman negotiating the release of ten foreigners held as prisoners by Russia for their participation in the Ukraine war. 

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The Emirates in mourning following the death of Sheikh Khalifa

The Emirates in mourning following the death of Sheikh Khalifa

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) have started a forty days mourning period after the death was announced yesterday of the country's second president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan. Khalifa succeeded his father as Ruler of Abu Dhabi and President of the UAE in 2004. However since 2014, following a stroke, he has played only a symbolic role in public life, with most day to day government decisions taken by his heir and brother, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. Sheikh Khalifa was laid to rest on Saturday (14 May) in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.  The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates, each of which still have control over many internal issues. However all defence, foreign policy and security issues are decided at the federal level. The accession of Sheikh Mohammed as president is not automatic, since the rulers of the seven emirates will have to meet in the next thirty days to formally elect the new president. But tradition and real politik has it that the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, by far the richest and the strongest of the seven emirates, gets the position of President.
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Opinion
Opinion: China expands its military co-operation with Iran as it emerges as the main counterweight to US influence on the Eurasian landmass

Opinion: China expands its military co-operation with Iran as it emerges as the main counterweight to US influence on the Eurasian landmass

The visit last week of China's Defence Minister Wei Fenghe to Tehran marked a significant moment in the development of Chinese-Iranian military co-operation. Iran is becoming an increasingly important factor in Russia and China's efforts to create a partnership on the Eurasian landmass which can balance the US influence, writes Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed for commonspace.eu
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Millions of Muslims around the world celebrate Eid

Millions of Muslims around the world celebrate Eid

Millions of Muslims around the world are celebrating the Eid - the feast that follows the fasting month of Ramadan. Thousands of Muslims gathered in Makkah and Madinah to perform the Eid Al-Fitr prayers in the early hours of Monday morning, the Saudi Press Agency reported. In Makkah’s Grand Mosque, Imam Sheikh Saleh bin Abdullah bin Humaid led the prayer. The editorial team of commonspace.eu wishes Eid Mubarak to all our Muslim readers across the world.
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Iran and Saudi Arabia conclude another constructive round of talks in Baghdad

Iran and Saudi Arabia conclude another constructive round of talks in Baghdad

Iran and Saudi Arabia have held a fifth round of direct talks in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, aimed at restoring relations between the Middle East's two regional powers, according to sources close to Iran’s security forces. The meeting date was not publicised beforehand, and Iraqi and Saudi sources have made no reference to it.   Senior representatives of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) and Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief, Khalid bin Ali Al Humaidan, attended the talks.  The source mentioned that the main challenges to re-establishing ties between the two countries were discussed in a “positive” atmosphere that “painted a brighter outlook” for the future of bilateral relations. Iran and Saudi Arabia broke diplomatic ties in 2016, and recent efforts led by Iraq aim to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries as a first step. Both countries, however, downplayed the expectations of a major breakthrough anytime soon. A major achievement so far has been the reopening of Iran's office at the Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
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Intra-Yemeni consultations conclude kindling a hope for peace to country

Intra-Yemeni consultations conclude kindling a hope for peace to country

After years of intense fighting, Yemeni activists, politicians and key figures concluded a week-long consultation in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia aimed at discussing ways to end the conflict. The consultations witnessed politicians from across the spectrum discussing for the first time since 2015, ways  forward for peace in Yemen. In the meantime, UN Envoy Hans Grundeberg met with a delegation of Houthis in Muscat where both sides discussed the need to re-open Sana’a airport as soon as possible and maintain the current ceasefire. It is also expected that Grundberg will visit Sana’a soon for the first time since his appointment.
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Yemeni president transfers his powers to a new presidential leadership council

Yemeni president transfers his powers to a new presidential leadership council

In a televised address, Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi relinquished his powers today (7 April) after being elected in 2012 and announced the formation of a new Presidential Leadership Council. Hadi, who had led Yemen through one of its most turbulent times, said the Council was established to complete the implementation of the transition phase and will have the authority to negotiate with the Iran-backed Houthi militia to end the war.