The Gulf states, the GCC and America

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We have described in earlier postings the near-crisis in US/Saudi relations over disagreements on the Arab spring, Egypt, Syria and Iran, and the reaction of other Gulf states to Iran in particular. One Emirati commentator Mish’al al-Gergawi wrote in the Dubai-based Gulf news on 4 December of a sense of betrayal across the Arabian gulf; “A new generation is taking the helm in many Arab Gulf states. Questions abound over where it will direct their interests and capacities and address the region’s …

Saudi Arabia: twitter and dissent

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Human rights and political dissent in Saudi Arabia are constantly examined by NGOs and the media. Like all nations they are also routinely reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council; at the last review in October according to a Reuters report Britain, the US and Germany raised issues including the abolition of male guardianship …

Saudi positions: policy and paranoia

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The impact on Saudi Arabia of developments over Syria and Iran, and Saudi reactions to them, continue to generate heated debate. The Hizbullah leader Hasan Nasrallah has told Lebanese TV that the suicide bombing of the Iranian embassy in Beirut last month which killed 25 people, and was claimed by a Lebanese Sunni group, was linked …

Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf: Labour conditions

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Since our posting of 28 September working conditions of foreign labour in Qatar have continued to attract criticism, kept in the headlines by reports of preparations for the football World Cup in 2022 and more recently by visits by an international labour delegation and by François Crépeau, the UN Special Rapporteur on the …


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For some years now it has been common talk that the impact of unconventional gas (shale gas, tight gas) becoming available in enormous quantities will have a dramatic effect on world energy prices, so dramatic that it will fundamentally change the relationship between the oil exporting Middle East and the oil importers, above all America which is seen as a leader in unconventional gas; on 1 November the first major natural gas pipeline in America in 40 years is to go on stream bringing gas from Pennsylvania into Manhattan. Yet …

Saudi Arabia: rebooting?

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Statements by the Saudi head of intelligence Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former head of intelligence Prince Turki bin Faisal and the Saudi ambassador to the UN Abdullah bin al-Mu’allimi following the Saudi decision not to take up its seat on the Security Council emphasise disappointment with American policy over Palestine, Egypt, Syria and Iran. A long

Saudi Arabia and the Security Council

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Following the Saudi decision not to make the customary national presentation at the UN General Assembly, the unprecedented decision not to accept a place on the Security Council nevertheless took everyone by surprise, a move more characteristic of the late Muammar al-Qadhafi’s occasional cries of "stop the world I want to get off" than of …

Saudi Arabia and the Gulf: external

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Since our posting of 22 September it has become clearer that Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies face a number of new regional policy dilemmas, which together require some rethinking of relations with America: the current success of the Iranian peace offensive, the new international approach to Syrian chemical weapons and perhaps the civil war, …

Saudi women not driving yet

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The question of women driving in Saudi Arabia, regarded by some as peripheral but by others as symbolising the wider question of women's role and rights (as well as having practical importance), has been prominent recently in both the traditional and the social media. A statement last month by Shaikh Salih bin Saad al-Luhaydan, a judicial …