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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Saudi Arabia transfers 4% of Aramco shares to sovereign wealth fund

Saudi Arabia transfers 4% of Aramco shares to sovereign wealth fund

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the transfer of 4 percent of the Saudi oil giant Aramco’s, shares to the Public Investment Fund, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund. The transferred share are valued up to $80 billion. The move is another step by the Kingdom to diversify the economy and move it away from dependency on oil. 
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Iran negotiations "take a break"

Iran negotiations "take a break"

The talks on the Iran nuclear file in Vienna have stopped for a short break. A statement by the European External Action Service on Friday (28 January) said that "the 8th round of negotiations in Vienna in the framework of the JCPOA will take a break. Participants will go back to capitals for consultations with their respective governments. The talks will reconvene next week." Media reports however suggest their is a split in the US delegation on the next steps.