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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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.

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Editor's choice
News
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. 
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Editorial
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, commonspace.eu 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."
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Commentary
Commentary: Yemen is where the resilience of the Iran-Saudi deal will be tested

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 commonspace.eu 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.
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Commentary
Saudi-Iran agreement: Welcome to the age of pragmatism

Saudi-Iran agreement: Welcome to the age of pragmatism

On Friday (10 March), it was announced in Beijing that with the mediation of China, Iran and Saudi Arabia had agreed to end decades of hostility, re-establish diplomatic relations that had been broken in 2016, re-open embassies in their respective capitals within two months, and work towards resolving all disputes between them through dialogue. The diplomatic world appeared taken by surprise, both by the Iranian-Saudi reconciliation, as well as by China’s involvement. The sight of a Sunni Kingdom, a Shia revolutionary republic, and a Communist state cosying together was somewhat unsettling for some. Many rushed to welcome the deal, others, especially among the chattering classes in Washington, rushed to criticise it. Diplomatic contacts have been ongoing between Tehran and Riyadh for some time, held mainly in Baghdad and Muscat with Iraqi and Omani facilitation. After the UAE normalised relations with Iran some months ago, it was assumed that sooner or later Saudi Arabia will follow. But the timing and context of the deal announced in Beijing last week remains a very significant development, with wide-ranging consequences. It also appears to herald a new age of pragmatism in international relations, with considerable implications.
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News
Saudi Arabia and Iran reach agreement to renew diplomatic relations

Saudi Arabia and Iran reach agreement to renew diplomatic relations

Following a meeting in Beijing, on Friday (10 March), Saudi Arabia and Iran have agreed to reestablish diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies within two months following years of tensions between the two countries. A joint statement released by the Saudi state news agency SPA read: “In response to the noble initiative of His Excellency President Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, of China’s support for developing good neighborly relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran...the three countries announce that an agreement has been reached between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran." "That includes an agreement to resume diplomatic relations between them and re-open their embassies and missions within a period not exceeding two months, and the agreement includes their affirmation of the respect for the sovereignty of states and the non-interference in internal affairs of states,” the statement said.