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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Fighting escalates in Yemen, whilst diplomacy fails to deliver a much awaited ceasefire

Fighting escalates in Yemen, whilst diplomacy fails to deliver a much awaited ceasefire

Fighting has escalated in the last weeks in Marib and Al-Jawf, as intense diplomacy is failing to deliver any tangible progress towards reaching a ceasefire. Both the Houthis and the coalition admitted several airstrikes conducted by the coalition on various parts of Yemen over the last week. Meanwhile, government forces say they are keeping the Houthis at bay as they defend Marib city. 
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UN Envoy in Aden in an attempt to salvage the Riyadh agreement

UN Envoy in Aden in an attempt to salvage the Riyadh agreement

The UN special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, is in Aden where he met with prime minister Maeen Abdulmalik to discuss ways to salvage the Riyadh agreement between the recognised Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC). Grundburg stressed the need to implement the Riyadh agreement noting its economic, social and political benefits. 
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Qatar holds its first ever legislative elections

Qatar holds its first ever legislative elections

Qatar has concluded its first-ever elections for the Shura Council – a consultative assembly that helps the Emir draft legislature, monitor the ministerial performance and approve the national budget. Qataris voted for 30 members out of the 45 seat council. The other 15 members will be chosen directly by the Emir. 
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Opinion
Opinion: In the South Caucasus, Tehran has its red lines too

Opinion: In the South Caucasus, Tehran has its red lines too

For 30 years, Iran has adopted a cautious approach to developments in the South Caucasus, wary of the risk of encirclement. Iran's current massive military drills on the border with Azerbaijan are meant to send a signal that Tehran has its red lines too, argues Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed for commonspace.eu
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Ethiopia expels seven UN officials accusing them of hindering aid

Ethiopia expels seven UN officials accusing them of hindering aid

The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday (30 September) told seven senior UN officials to leave the country within the next 72 hours accusing them of 'meddling in internal affairs. The decision to expel came two days after the UN Humanitarian Chief, Martin Griffiths, warned of a government man-made blockade of aid that would likely lead to a famine.
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Biden’s top security advisor visits Saudi Arabia and the UAE

Biden’s top security advisor visits Saudi Arabia and the UAE

US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, travelled to Saudi Arabia on Monday (27 September) to and later will travel to the UAE to discuss a range of “regional and global challenges”. With Yemen expected to be a key topic in the discussions, the Yemeni PM travelled back to Yemen.