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The Gulf Region & Yemen in September 2023

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Sept 1, 2023

  1. EU Envoy for Gulf Holds Security and Cybersecurity Talks in Qatar (Al-Khaleej Online). European Union’s Special Representative for the Gulf, Luigi Di Maio, met with Qatari officials, including the Minister of State for Interior Affairs and the Head of the Qatar National Agency for Cybersecurity. Discussions focused on issues of mutual interest and enhancing cooperation, particularly in the cybersecurity sector. The meetings aim to strengthen EU-Qatar relations and address regional challenges.

Sept 6, 2023

  1. Kuwaiti MP Links Iraq’s Sea Agreement Cancelation to Disputed Al-Dorra Field (964 Media). A Kuwaiti MP suggests Iraq’s withdrawal from the 2013 Khawr Abdullah maritime agreement may indicate plans to alter the maritime route to reach the disputed Al-Dorra gas field. Iraq’s Federal Court recently declared the agreement unconstitutional due to lack of a two-thirds majority.
  2. Saudi Arabia and Russia Extend Oil Production Cuts Through December 2023 (Al-Araby). Saudi Arabia will extend its voluntary oil production cut of one million barrels per day until December 2023, with monthly reviews. Russia will also continue its reduction of 300,000 barrels per day. Both moves aim to support OPEC+ efforts to stabilize oil markets.

Sept 7, 2023

  1. UAE and EU Discuss Enhancing Economic Cooperation (Alkhaleej Online). Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and EU’s Special Envoy for Gulf Affairs, Luigi Di Maio, discuss strengthening economic ties. The talks aim to enhance cooperation between the UAE and European Union countries across various sectors, according to the Emirates News Agency.
  2. Gulf Ministers Review Economic Unity Plans for 2025 (Alkhaleej Online). Finance and Economy Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries convene to discuss Gulf economic unity projects set for 2025. The meeting, held in Oman and chaired by Omani Minister of Economy Saeed bin Mohammed Al-Saqri, aims to advance economic and development objectives within the council.

Sept 8, 2023

  1. GCC Urges Iraq to Acknowledge Saudi-Kuwaiti Ownership of Al-Durra (Azzaman). The Council has called on Iraq to finalize the demarcation of its maritime borders with Kuwait and affirmed that the Al-Durra field and adjacent submerged areas are solely the joint property of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The Council categorically rejects any claims to these resources by other parties.

September 11, 2023

Significantly, Saudi Arabia has taken a pivotal role in advocating for swift action and the establishment of necessary mechanisms (Sharq al Awsat). The Kingdom is urging the immediate implementation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) inked during the G20 meetings in New Delhi, with the aim of establishing an economic corridor linking India, the Middle East, and Europe. This initiative involves key nations such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the United States, Germany, India, France, Italy, and the European Union.

Sept 12, 2023

  1. Saudi Arabia and India Ink Deals in Renewables, Petrochemicals, Agriculture, and Industry (Al Sharq Al Wsat). Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed agreements in renewable energy, petrochemicals, agriculture, and industry during the Saudi-Indian Strategic Partnership Council meeting. Bin Salman emphasized the mutual benefits of Saudi-Indian relations, underlining the importance of the Indian community in Saudi Arabia.
  2. U.S. and Bahrain to Sign Strategic Security and Economic Agreement (YP Agency). Axios reports that the United States is set to sign a significant security and economic agreement with Bahrain, enhancing American security commitment to the Kingdom. Bahrain’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, is expected to sign the agreement during his visit to Washington, where he will also meet with top U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

Sept 13, 2023

  1. Saudi Arabia’s Strategic Role in ‘The Economic Corridor’ Project (Al-Awsat). Saudi Arabia underscores its pivotal role in ‘The Economic Corridor’ project, citing its strategic location, energy reliability, and competitive strengths as essential for the initiative’s success, according to Saudi ministers.
  2. Saudi Arabia Pursues Climate Goals and Clean Energy Leadership (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Saudi Arabia is making significant efforts to develop its hydrogen sector, increase clean energy exports, and achieve Paris climate goals. Initiatives include converting land and sea areas into natural reserves, extensive tree planting, carbon capture and storage projects, and a focus on raising renewable energy’s share in its electricity mix. The country aims to become a global leader in clean hydrogen production and carbon capture and storage projects.
  3. Omani Sultan and Saudi Crown Prince Discuss Bilateral Cooperation (Sahafah). Sultan Haitham of Oman and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman emphasized the need to enhance bilateral cooperation across various sectors to fulfill the aspirations of their respective nations during their meeting in Muscat.
  4. Qatar and U.S. Conduct Joint Fighter Jet Exercises (Al-Khaleej Online). The Qatari Emiri Air Force is set to conduct joint exercises with the American Air Force, involving F35 and F15 fighter jets. Four F35 aircraft recently arrived at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar from the United States to participate in these exercises aimed at enhancing cooperation and training between the two forces.

Sept 14, 2023

  1. Kuwait Lacks Effective Drone Defense System (Al-Khaleej Online). Kuwait’s Defense Minister, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, revealed that the country’s air defense system lacks efficient protection against “1-2” category drones, known as “Soft Kill.” He explained that attempts to test three different systems in Kuwait failed, with no participation from other companies.
  2. Gulf States Caution Against External Interference in Sudan (The Nation Press).The Gulf Cooperation Council countries have urged Sudanese parties to prioritize dialogue, unite, and avoid external interference that could worsen the crisis and threaten regional peace and security

Sept 15, 2023

  1. The UAE Thwarts 13 Tons of Captagon Smuggling (24 Ae). UAE’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, revealed the successful interception of over 13 tons of Captagon tablets, valued at over 3 billion dirhams. A gang of six members was apprehended while attempting to smuggle the narcotics hidden indoors and decorative panels.
  2. US Imposes Sanctions on 150 Entities in Russia, Turkiye, UAE, and Georgia (Al-Hurra). The United States has announced sanctions on over 150 individuals and entities in Russia, Turkiye, the UAE, and Georgia, citing their involvement in activities related to the conflict in Ukraine. The sanctions target companies aiding Moscow in acquiring American and European electronic products.
  3. Bahraini Crown Prince Meets US National Security Advisor (Al Khaleej Online). Bahrain’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, held discussions with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan at the White House. They discussed the development of Bahraini-American relations, technology cooperation, and carbon capture initiatives aligned with common goals between the two countries.

Sept 18, 2023

  1. Gulf Tensions Escalate: Maritime Disputes, Energy Rights, and Diplomatic Standoffs Unveiled (Shafaq, Al Arabiya, Al Khaleej Online, Al Bawabh News). Kuwait protests an Iraqi Federal Supreme Court ruling over the Khor Abdullah maritime navigation agreement. At the same time, Iran reinforces its claim to the disputed Arash gas field with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Concurrently, Saudi Arabia suspends its normalization talks with Israel due to its policies towards Palestinians. Additionally, Kuwait calls for Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, underlining the need for regional stability.

Sept 20, 2023

  1. China Leverages Asian Games to Strengthen Arab Relations; Assad Also Invited to Event (Alkhaleej Online). Kuwaiti Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah will visit Beijing to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and attend the opening ceremony of the Asian Games in Hangzhou. This marks a significant step in China’s efforts to enhance its relationships in the Arab world, utilizing the Games as a diplomatic tool. Chinese Ambassador to Kuwait, Zhang Jianwei, sees the visit as boosting bilateral relations, especially in economic and trade cooperation. 
  2. Kuwait Protests Iraqi Court Ruling That Invalidates Khor Abdullah Navigation Agreement (CNN Arabic). Kuwait delivered a formal protest to Iraq after the country’s Federal Supreme Court deemed a 2013 agreement on navigation in Khor Abdullah unconstitutional. The court cited Article 61/Fourth of the Iraqi Constitution for its decision, saying any text violating the constitution cannot be implemented.

Sept 21, 2023

  1. GCC Foreign Ministers, Blinken Urge Iran to Cooperate with IAEA (Al Jazeera). This follows the IAEA’s criticism of Iran for limiting inspector access, which Iran defends as a response to politicization by the U.S. and European nations.
  2. Saudi Crown Prince Talks Nuclear Policy and U.S. Ties in Fox News Interview (AL Hadath). Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman warns Saudi Arabia would match Iran’s nuclear capability and underscores a “special relationship” with President Biden in a recent interview.

Sept 22, 2023

  1. Saudi FM Calls for UN Security Council Reform, Warns of Armed Groups (Sharq al Awsat). Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan called for UN Security Council reforms for more inclusive global crisis response at the 78th UN General Assembly. He also warned of the escalating threats from armed groups operating outside state control, urging immediate Security Council action.

Sept 25, 2023

  1. Al-Qaida’s Rise in Yemen (Xinhua News). Al-Qaida is suspected of targeting a military ambulance in Yemen, killing four soldiers This comes as the Houthi militia announces plans to control strategic areas, including the Bab al-Mandab Strait (Yemeni Post). Concurrently, Egypt reaffirms its commitment to a humanitarian ceasefire in Yemen during a meeting in New York (Anbaa Alyoum). Meanwhile, the World Bank grants $150 million to bolster Yemen’s human capital (Almashhad Alyemeni). 
  2. Qatari Prime Minister Reiterates Stance on Assad and Discusses Afghan Relations in CNN Interview (CNN Arabic). Qatari PM Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani reaffirms Qatar’s stance against Syria’s Assad in a CNN interview. He also discusses Qatar’s expectations for the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Sept 26, 2023

  1. Saudi Arabia Transitions to Comprehensive IAEA Safeguards for Expanding Nuclear Program (Al Hurra). Saudi Arabia has transitioned from limited IAEA oversight to comprehensive safeguards for its growing nuclear program. The decision aligns with IAEA’s push for stronger non-proliferation protocols. The Kingdom’s future nuclear ambitions remain unclear.

Sept 27, 2023

  1. Israeli Tourism Minister’s Landmark Visit to Saudi Arabia (TRT Arabic). Israeli Tourism Minister Haim Katz visits Riyadh for a UN tourism conference, marking the first public Israeli ministerial visit to Saudi Arabia. Despite talks of imminent normalization, Saudi Arabia insists on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict first.

Sept 28, 2023

  1. Dubai Reduces Public Debt by $7.9 Billion, Aiming for 25% of GDP by End of 2023 (Al Arabiya). The reduction is part of a broader public debt sustainability strategy, which includes repayments of various financial obligations such as Islamic bonds and bank loans. The strategy also aims to enhance investor confidence and prepare for future strategic projects like the Dubai Urban Plan 2040.
  2. Qatar Appoints New Ambassadors to Egypt and South Africa, Receives Credentials of Five New Envoys (The New Arab). The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, appointed Tariq Ali Faraj Hashem Al Ansari as the new Ambassador to Egypt and Mubarak Nasser Mubarak Al Khalifa as Ambassador to South Africa. The appointments come amid improving Egyptian-Qatari relations since the Al-Ula Summit in 2021. Additionally, the Emir received the credentials of five new ambassadors to Qatar, including the Emirati ambassador.

Sept 29, 2023

  1. Dollar Drops from 10-Month High as Speculation of Japanese Yen Intervention Grows (SNA Business). The US dollar index fell from a 10-month high but is still on track for weekly gains. The decline comes as investors anticipate potential intervention by Japanese authorities in the yen exchange rate. The dollar had previously risen due to expectations that the US economy would withstand rising interest rates better than other economies. This follows last week’s warning from the Federal Reserve about possible interest rate hikes. Ten-year US Treasury bond yields have reached their highest levels since 2007, at 4.688%.
  2. Oil Prices Dip as Western Economies Eye High Interest Rates to Tackle Inflation (Al Arabiya). Oil prices experienced a downturn due to increasing speculation that Western economies will sustain elevated interest rates to counter ongoing inflation. The drop in Brent crude and US West Texas Intermediate crude futures comes despite earlier gains attributed to low oil inventories and production cuts by Saudi Arabia and Russia. The looming OPEC+ meeting on October 4 adds to market uncertainties.
  3. Saudi Arabia and China Ink Agreement to Revolutionize Future of Modern Transportation (Khaligy). Saudi Minister of Transport and Logistics, Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, and Chinese Minister of Transport, Li Xiaoying, have signed an agreement to advance modern transportation methods. The deal aims to implement cutting-edge technologies, harmonize policies, and exchange expertise in areas such as digital transformation of highways, autonomous vehicles, and smart shipping. This collaboration is part of a broader strategic partnership between the two nations in the transport and logistics sector.
  4. Saudi Aramco Makes First International LNG Investment with $500 Million Stake in Med Ocean (Sky News Arabia). Saudi Aramco has finalized agreements to acquire a strategic minority stake in Med Ocean Energy for $500 million. Med Ocean, managed by investment firm EIG, is involved in liquefied natural gas (LNG) and is currently investing in four Australian LNG projects. This marks Saudi Aramco’s inaugural international investment in the LNG sector.

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