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GULF IN REVIEW 01 – 06 March 2020

BY Nikola Zukalová

Al-Fateh Grand Mosque in Bahrain

Kingdom of Bahrain Kingdom of Bahrain-img

Tuesday, 3 March — Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, discussed bilateral relations and the latest regional developments, notably the Middle East Peace Process, the situation in Libya and Syria, and security in the Arab Gulf, with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, in Cairo. He also met with Egypt’s President, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, to deliver a message from Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa.

Wednesday, 4 March — During his official visit in the United Kingdom, Bahrain’s National Security Advisor and Royal Guard Commander, Major-General Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, held talks with several British senior officials, notably Prince Charles of Wales, heir apparent to the British throne; Senior Defence Adviser for the Middle East, Lieutenant General Sir John Lorimer; National Security Adviser, Sir Mark Sedwill; Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly; Minister of State for Defence Procurement, Jeremy Quin; and Minister of State for International Trade, Conor Burns, about ways to strengthen bilateral ties and cooperation in various fields.

Thursday, 5 March — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE participated in the Warsaw Process Counterterrorism and Illicit Finance Working Group in Marrakech, Morocco, organised by the United States, Poland, Morocco, and Kenya, which comprised 55 delegations from various countries and international organisations, such as the European Union and the United Nations. The meeting focused on countering the evolving threat posed by Al-Qaeda and its affiliates and adopted a set of non-binding, strategic-level, diplomatic principles.


State of Kuwait Sultanate of Oman-img

Monday, 2 March — Kuwait’s Minister of Electricity and Water, Mohammad Bushehri, resigned from his post after the Court of Cassation convicted him of leaking a confidential report when he was a senior employee at the Ministry of Electricity. He is the second Minister in the Government, formed by Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah on 11 December 2019, to resign.

Wednesday, 4 March — Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, Dr Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah, held separate talks with his counterparts from Libya, Tunisia, Jordan, Bahrain and Oman, on the sidelines of the 153th Session of the Council of the Arab League at the Ministerial level in Cairo. The Session discussed the joint Arab action and regional issues, including the Palestinian cause and efforts to resolve the conflicts in Libya, Syria and Yemen.


Sultanate of Oman Sultanate of Oman-img

Sunday, 1 March — Sultan of Oman, Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said, issued ten Royal Decrees, which included the appointment of the former Secretary General of the Ministry of Heritage and Culture, Fatik bin Fahr Al-Said, as Sultan’s Special Envoy, with a rank of Minister; Mansoor bin Majid Al-Said as Sultan’s Special Adviser, with a rank of Minister; and Salim bin Mohammed Al-Mahrouqi as Minister of Heritage and Culture; among others.

Monday, 2 March — Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said and Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, held talks with the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, in Muscat. They discussed enhancing cooperation in various areas and ways to strengthen their partnership as well as the diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation in Yemen, Syria and Libya. Raab then travelled to Turkey for talks with his counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, before going to Saudi Arabia.

Wednesday, 4 March — Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Defence, Prince Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, and Oman’s Sultan, Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said, held talks in Muscat, centred on bilateral relations, cooperation and regional developments, particularly the situation in Yemen. Prince Khalid and his accompanying delegation also met with Minister of the Royal Office, General Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Nuamani, during the visit.


State of Qatar State of Qatar-img

Saturday, 29 February — Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani held separate talks with the United States’ Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo; a co-founder of the Taliban and Head of Taliban’s Political Office in Qatar, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and his accompanying delegation; and Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, on the margins of the US-Taliban Afghanistan Peace agreement’s signing ceremony in Doha.

Wednesday, 4 March — Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, held discussions with Germany’s Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, in Berlin about the two countries’ bilateral relations, the situation in Libya and northern Syria, Sudan’s peaceful transition, the Afghan peace agreement, and the promotion of foreign workers’ labour rights in Qatar, among others issues. Maas asked the Bundestag, Germany’s Parliament, to extend Germany’s mandate in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, 4 March — Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, met with France’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, in Paris to discuss strengthening bilateral partnership, particularly concerning economic exchange and cultural cooperation. They also discussed regional crises, notably in Libya and Idlib, along with the risks of regional escalation.


Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-img

Monday, 2 March — Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Defence, Prince Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, held talks with Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, in Islamabad. They tackled ways to enhance bilateral cooperation, especially in defence and security, and the latest regional developments. Prince Khalid later met with Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, to discuss bolstering military cooperation, regional security and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

Wednesday, 4 March — Saudi Arabia temporarily suspended the Umrah Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina for the Kingdom’s citizens and residents following last week’s halting of Umrah visas for foreign pilgrims as a measure to limit the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). However, Saudi citizens and residents can still visit Mecca and Medina and pray there.

Wednesday, 4 March — Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel Al-Jubeir, held separate talks with the United States Deputy Assistant Secretary for Levant Affairs and Special Envoy for Syria, Joel D Rayburn, about the Syrian crisis and efforts to resolve it.

Thursday, 5 March — Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud received British Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, for talks. Raab also held separate discussion with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, and Adel bin Ahmad Al-Jubeir, Minister of the State for Foreign Affairs, focused on consolidating bilateral ties and the latest regional developments, notably in Yemen. Additionally, Raab met with Yemen’s President, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, in Riyadh to discuss the prospects of ending the war.

Thursday, 5 March — The Conference of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed to recommend the 8th OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting, to cut oil production by 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) until the end of 2020 to curb the negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the oil market and global economy. The cuts would be split between the OPEC (1 million bpd) and non-OPEC (0.5 million bpd) members.

Friday, 6 March — Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Finance, Mohammed Al-Jadaan, replaced Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri as Minister of Economy and Planning. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud appointed Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri as Adviser at the Royal Court at the rank of Minister.

United Arab Emirates-img

United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates-img

Sunday, 1 March — Lieutenant General Saif bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, UAE’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, led the UAE delegation to the 37th Arab Interior Ministers Council in Tunisia, which focused on the initiatives to enhance security and police cooperation. On the sidelines, he held talks with Tunisia’s President, Kais Saied; Egypt’s Interior Minister, General Mohamed Tawfiq; Lebanon’s Interior Minister, Ahmed Fahmy; Executive Director of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), Catherine De Bolle; and the Director of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) and the Office of Counter-Terrorism, Dr Jehangir Khan, among others.

Sunday, 1 March — Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, met with Xia Huang, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the Great Lakes Region, to discuss the potential for investment and trade in the African Great Lakes region, which would provide the UAE an opportunity to expand its footprint in East Africa.

Tuesday, 3 March — The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) announced that, the UAE officially became the first Arab peaceful nuclear energy-operating nation following the successful completion of fuel assembly loading into the Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant. Once all four units are completed, the Plant will generate up to 25% of the country’s electricity demand.

Wednesday, 4 March — Foreign Ministers of Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the Secretary General of the Arab League participated in the Arab Ministerial Quartet Committee Meeting, tasked with the follow-up on the crisis with Iran and ways to counter its interference in Arab countries’ internal affairs, in Cairo. The meeting denounced the Iranian and Turkish continued interference in Syria, Iran’s support for terrorism and the attacks by Tehran and its proxies on maritime and energy security in the Gulf.