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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Sudan's Hamdok to resign

Sudan's Hamdok to resign

The Sudanese prime minister, Abdulla Hamdok has told a group of national political and civil society figures that he intends to resign today (22 December). The group had called on Hamdok to stay in office but sources claim he insists on leaving.
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JCPOA: No clear end to Vienna negotiations, but IAEA-Iran reach agreement on surveillance cameras

JCPOA: No clear end to Vienna negotiations, but IAEA-Iran reach agreement on surveillance cameras

Negotiations in Vienna to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), are “rapidly reaching the end of the road”, warned European negotiators. The negotiators retuned home for the second time after the talks resumed following a long summer break. Negotiators are still committed to constructive efforts and to move at a faster pace. However, media accounts at Palais Coburg on Friday (17 December) said the mood was somber. 
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Seventh round of nuclear talks with Iran leaves Europeans disappointed

Seventh round of nuclear talks with Iran leaves Europeans disappointed

The seventh round of talks between the JCPOA countries and Iran — and the first one with the new Iranian government — have been suspended on Friday (3 December) after European countries claimed that Iran walked back from all previous diplomatic progress. The talks are suspended till next week as negotiators are likely to head back to their capitals to seek instruction on the new situation. 
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Lloyd Austin to assure Gulf allies of US commitment to their defence

Lloyd Austin to assure Gulf allies of US commitment to their defence

A US Department of Defence official said that the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will assure Gulf countries of the US commitment to security in the region. Austin will also stress the need to refrain from normalisation with the Assad regime in Syria. The United States is committed to diplomatic means and sanctions to counter Iran’s nuclear file.