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.

Editor's choice
News
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.

Filter archive

Publication date
Editor's choice
News
In Yemen the legitimate government announces appointment of a new prime minister whilst rebels continue attacks on Red Sea shipping

In Yemen the legitimate government announces appointment of a new prime minister whilst rebels continue attacks on Red Sea shipping

Yemen's legitimate government announced the appointment of new prime minister. The internationally recognized Presidential Leadership Council head announced that Yemen’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak will be the new prime minister. He succeeds Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, who was made an adviser to PLC president, Rashad Al-Alimi. In a post on X, the new prime minister promised to focus on improving living standards for Yemenis, reviving government institutions, and putting an end to the Houthi military seizure of power in Yemen. Meanwhile, Yemen’s Houthi militia on Tuesday launched another wave of missiles toward ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden as the group’s leader vowed to continue attacks until Israel lifted its blockade of Gaza. A cargo vessel sailing 57 nautical miles west of the Houthi-controlled port city of Hodeidah sustained minor damage to its bridge after one of the weapons passed through its deck, according to British maritime agencies the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), and Ambrey. The UKMTO reported that a small boat had been spotted off the ship’s port side. Meanwhile, Ambrey officials said a British-owned and Barbados-flagged cargo ship had been damaged in a drone attack while navigating through the southeast Red Sea. On Tuesday, the UKMTO warned shipping companies operating in the Gulf of Aden to exercise caution after receiving reports of an explosion near to a commercial vessel 50 nautical miles south of the Yemeni city of Aden.
Editor's choice
News
Sharp drop in Suez Canal revenues adds to Egypt's woes

Sharp drop in Suez Canal revenues adds to Egypt's woes

Egypt's already considerable economic problems took a turn for the worse last month as revenues from transit of shipping through the Suez Canal dropped by half as a result of security problems in  the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Attacks by Houthi rebels on commercial vessels forced major shipping companies to divert away from the key global trade artery. Income from the international strategic waterway last month dropped to $428 million, compared to $804 million in January 2023, Osama Rabie, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, said in an interview with Egyptian television channel ON TV. The total number of ships through the Suez Canal last month fell to 1,362 vessels, down 36 per cent from the 2,155 vessels navigating the canal during January 2023, he said. Houthi militants in Yemen began attacking commercial vessels in October in solidarity with the Palestinians in the Israel-Gaza war, and show no signs of retreating despite the US and Western allies attempting to deter the Iran-backed group with air strikes, which began on January 12.  Many shipping companies have rerouted their vessels away from the Red Sea to avoid the attacks, opting instead for the longer and more expensive route around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa. The Suez Canal is the shortest sea route between Asia and Europe. With about 12 per cent of the world's shipping traffic passing through it, the waterway is a major facilitator of global trade. The canal is also a crucial source of foreign currency for Egypt. The North African economy, already grappling with record inflation and a heavy debt burden was further impacted by the Israel-Gaza war, which has slowed tourism and decreased shipping through the Suez Canal. Egypt is "particularly exposed" to the Red Sea shipping crisis as the country generates about 2.2 per cent of its gross domestic product in annual balance-of-payment receipts and 1.2 per cent of GDP in fiscal revenue from Suez Canal dues, the International Monetary Fund said in its regional economic outlook in January.
Editor's choice
News
Houthis escalate confrontation in Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, firing missile at US warship

Houthis escalate confrontation in Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, firing missile at US warship

In an incident that is likely to further aggravate the already tense situation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, Yemen's rebel Houthi Movement on early on Saturday (27 January) fired a missile at an American naval vessel patrolling in the Gulf of Aden. The group, which has been attacking commercial shipping off the coast of Yemen in response to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, fired an anti-ship missile toward the U.S. destroyer USS Carney, according to a statement from U.S. Central Command. A terse statement from the US Central Command in Tampa said, On Jan. 26, at approximately 1:30 p.m. (Sanaa time), Iranian-backed Houthi militants fired one anti-ship ballistic missile from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen toward Arleigh-Burke class destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) in the Gulf of Aden. The missile was successfully shot down by USS Carney. There were no injuries or damage reported.  On Friday, the Houthi rebels also struck an oil tanker with an anti-ship ballistic missile, according to the ships operator, Trafigura. "The crew is continuing efforts to control the fire in one of the ship’s cargo tanks with support from military vessels," the company said in a statement.
Editor's choice
News
EU, AU and US say crises in Sudan and in Ethiopia-Somalia relations threaten regional stability in the Horn of Africa

EU, AU and US say crises in Sudan and in Ethiopia-Somalia relations threaten regional stability in the Horn of Africa

The African Union, European Union, and United States called Thursday (18 January) for an immediate cease-fire and constructive dialogue between warring factions in Sudan. They also called for an end to tension between Somalia and Ethiopia over an agreement signed between Ethiopia and Somalia’s breakaway region Somaliland. Representatives of the AU, EU and US spoke in Kampala, Uganda, after the meeting of an East African regional bloc. They said the two crises are threatening regional stability in the Horn of Africa. Annette Weber, the EU special envoy for the Horn of Africa, said the two crises have a common link with Red Sea, which she called a critical waterway carrying 10 percent of global cargo. Weber also said there needs to be a collective response among Horn of Africa countries against attacks on ships by Yemen-based Houthi rebels. Regarding Somalia, the AU, EU and US said they recognize the country’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, including the breakaway region of Somaliland.
Editor's choice
News
Commentary: encircled by war, violence and turmoil, can the six GCC countries sustain their quest for development?

Commentary: encircled by war, violence and turmoil, can the six GCC countries sustain their quest for development?

The six Gulf monarchies that form the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – project themselves as islands of peace and stability regardless of their difficult neighbourhood. For some time now their main focus has been the development of their economies – this to ensure that they can maintain their prosperity as the world transits away from hydrocarbon energy resources which up to now has been their main source of income. This they need to do not least to sustain the high standard of living to which their citizens have got used to. Ambitious plans, many costing tens of billions of euros to be implemented, are now in place. Most depend on peace, stability and tranquillity for their success. These attributes are these days in short supply in the wider region in which the GCC countries sit. An unprecedented level of war, crises and turmoil encircles the six countries. In this commentary commonspace.eu Managing Editor, Dr Dennis Sammut says that questions arise if the Gulf Monarchies have what it takes – not just in financial resources, and those things these resources can buy - but also in terms of wisdom, internal cohesion and strategic depth, to weather the storms of the future. Even if they are able to navigate the geopolitics of the moment, what impact is the tension that surrounds the region having on its domestic politics? Are the grandiose economic plans still viable, or is a more modest approach going to be necessary?
Editor's choice
News
US and UK attack Houthi controlled areas in Yemen

US and UK attack Houthi controlled areas in Yemen

The United States and the United Kingdom have conducted overnight a series of strikes on territory in Yemen controlled by the Houthi Movement. Other countries, including Australia, Bahrain, The Netherlands and Canada provided support. Saudi Arabia allowed overflight over its territory by the attacking aircraft. The strikes were led and coordinated by the US. The Pentagon said they were intended to disrupt and degrade the Houthis' military capabilities – specifically drone and missiles sites which they’ve been using in Yemen to target international shipping in the Red Sea. In the early hours of the morning, jets from a US aircraft carrier already in the region - backed up by a tomahawk fired from US warships hit more than 12 sites - including in the capital Sanaa and the port of Hudaydah. President Biden defended the action saying the strikes were in direct response to unprecedented Houthi attacks against international shipping. The British contribution in the attack was in the form of four Typhoon jets that flew from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus - a round trip of several thousand miles - which required refuelling. They used paveway bombs to hit 2 targets – a site said to be used for launching drones and an airfield from where the Houthis have fired missiles. In a statement soon after the strikes, Rishi Sunak said Britain would always stand up for the freedom of navigation and the free flow of trade. The Houthis were defiant before the threat of airstrikes – and also now after. One of its officials posted “the battle will be bigger and beyond the imagination and expectation of the Americans and British”. “Our country was subjected to a massive aggressive attack by American and British ships, submarines and warplanes,” Houthi Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Al-Ezzi said, according to official rebel media. “America and Britain will have to prepare to pay a heavy price and bear all the dire consequences of this blatant aggression,” he said. US Central Command described military strikes against Houthi sites as a ‘success’ in a statement on Friday morning.  The US Central Command said they hold the Iranian-backed Houthis responsible for attacks on international shipping over the past few weeks. These strikes aimed to undermine the Houthi ability to carry out more attacks. Sixty targets at 16 Houthi locations were hit by more than 100 precision-guided munitions, it said.
Editor's choice
News
UN Security Council adopts strongly-worded resolution condemning Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping

UN Security Council adopts strongly-worded resolution condemning Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping

The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday evening (10 January) adopted a resolution condemning Houthi attacks against international maritime shipping in the Red Sea. The resolution condemns “in the strongest terms” multiple Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea over the past two months, which have raised concerns over disruptions in global trade and regional security.  The council demanded that the group immediately cease such behavior and release the Galaxy Leader, a Japan-operated cargo ship with links to an Israeli businessman, and its 25 crew members.   Authored by the US and Japan, the resolution stated that there should be respect for international law that upholds the exercise of navigational rights and freedoms by operators of merchant and commercial vessels. It also noted that member states have the right to defend their vessels from attacks.  Since mid-November 2023, the Houthi rebels have repeatedly attacked commercial vessels in the Red Sea, at last count 24 times, and threatened to continue to do so until Israel ends its war on Gaza.   The capture of the Galaxy Leader was followed by an attempt to seize another commercial ship in the Gulf of Aden on Nov. 26. There have now been almost daily, and indiscriminate, attacks in the Red Sea.  Prior to voting on the draft resolution, Council members voted on three amendments to the text that Russia had proposed, none of which were adopted. In all three votes, four members voted in favor (Algeria, China, Russia, and Sierra Leone), two members voted against (the UK and the US), and nine members abstained. The Council then voted on the Japan-US draft text, without any of the Russian amendments, which received 11 votes in favor and four abstentions (Algeria, China, Mozambique, and Russia). The draft text was adopted as resolution 2722.
Editor's choice
News
UAE president, Mohamed bin Zayed, in Baku for talks with Aliyev (Updated)

UAE president, Mohamed bin Zayed, in Baku for talks with Aliyev (Updated)

A high level delegation from the United Arab Emirates, led by President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, travelled to Baku on Monday afternoon (8 January) for talks with president Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan. On Tuesday, President Mohamed bin Zayed and his delegation held talks with the president of Azerbaijan and other Azerbaijani officials. The official website of the Azerbaijani president also listed a number of documents agreed by the two sides that were signed in the framework of the visit. At the start of the visit, Sheikh Mohamed laid a wreath at the tomb of Heydar Aliyev, the founder of modern Azerbaijan, as well as at the Eternal Flame monument, according to UAE state news agency, Wam. The President was accompanied by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Presidential Court; Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, Ruler's Representative in Al Dhafra Region; Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad, Adviser for Special Affairs at the Presidential Court; Ali Al Shamsi, deputy secretary general of the Supreme National Security Council; Dr Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the President and former minister of state for foreign affairs; Suhail Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure; Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology; Mohamed Al Suwaidi, Minister of Investment; Ahmed Al Sayegh, Minister of State; and Mohammed Al Balushi, ambassador to Azerbaijan. President Aliyev later in the evening hosted an official dinner for the Emirati guests. No information has been released regarding the nature of the talks under discussion, but for sure Azerbaijani is keen to learn from the experience of the UAE in hosting COP28 in December, as it prepares to host COP29 in Baku later this year. COP29 will be the biggest international event ever held in the South Caucasus. 
Editor's choice
News
Borrell holds talks with Saudi leaders

Borrell holds talks with Saudi leaders

EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, visited Saudi Arabia on 7-8 January for talks with Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi. A statement from the European External Action Service  in Brussels said that the mission follows his trip to Lebanon and is part of Borrell’s engagement with regional partners to advance diplomatic efforts with a view to creating the conditions to reach a just and lasting peace between Israel, Palestine and in the region. "The trip will be an occasion to discuss all aspects of the situation in and around Gaza, including its impact on the region. He will also address the worrying escalation in the Red Sea", the statement added. During the meetings with Saudi officials in Al-Ula bilateral cooperation and regional priorities in the framework of the EU’s partnership with the Gulf Cooperation Council were discussed.