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Jul 1, 2015

Islamic State weaves web of support in Gulf Arab states

KUWAIT/DUBAI (Reuters) – When a Saudi Arabian man flew to Kuwait in the early hours of Friday to carry out the country’s worst militant attack, a bomb vest, Kuwaiti-style Arab robes, a place to prepare, and a car and driver to take him to his target were all lined up for him.

The vest had been ferried across from Saudi Arabia a few days before in a complex operation suggesting Islamic State now commands a capable network of militants, propagandists and sympathizers on the Arabian peninsula, a security source said.Among those Fahd Suliman Abdul-Muhsen al-Qabaa contacted when his overnight flight via Bahrain landed, one had a family tie to Islamic State and another links to al Qaeda attacks in Kuwait a decade earlier, a security source and Kuwaiti media have reported.

Jul 1, 2015

Insight – Islamic State weaves web of support in Gulf Arab states

KUWAIT/DUBAI (Reuters) – When a Saudi Arabian man flew to Kuwait in the early hours of Friday to carry out the country’s worst militant attack, a bomb vest, Kuwaiti-style Arab robes, a place to prepare, and a car and driver to take him to his target were all lined up for him.

The vest had been ferried across from Saudi Arabia a few days before in a complex operation suggesting Islamic State now commands a capable network of militants, propagandists and sympathisers on the Arabian peninsula, a security source said.Among those Fahd Suliman Abdul-Muhsen al-Qabaa contacted when his overnight flight via Bahrain landed, one had a family tie to Islamic State and another links to al Qaeda attacks in Kuwait a decade earlier, a security source and Kuwaiti media have reported.

May 12, 2015

Camp David summit to show Obama Gulf’s generational shift

RIYADH/DUBAI (Reuters) – The new generation of Gulf Arab leaders meeting U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday appear more assertive than their fathers, want a range of alliances instead of dependence on Washington, and may be readier to say ‘no’ to their main ally.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, 79, caused a stir this week when he said he would send his two heirs to the United States for the summit instead, raising fears about Gulf anger over U.S. policy and reluctance to bless its plans for an Iran nuclear deal.

May 11, 2015

King’s absence from U.S. summit shows Saudi displeasure over Iran push

DUBAI/RIYADH (Reuters) – The Saudi king’s absence from a regional summit to be hosted by President Barack Obama shows how Gulf states, displeased by what they see as U.S. indifference to Iranian meddling in the Arab world, may hesitate to bless any nuclear deal with Tehran.

Analysts and diplomats in the Middle East described King Salman’s decision to skip the meeting at Camp David this week as a snub, despite denials from U.S. officials and some Saudi insiders.

Apr 2, 2015

Aden showdown tests Saudi project to tame Yemen

DUBAI (Reuters) – A week of bombing by a Saudi-led coalition has failed to force Yemen’s Houthis to the negotiating table or rupture their alliance with a powerful ex-president, and the defiant militia could now claim the second city of Aden as its next prize.

The fall of the southern port would be more than a symbolic blow to Riyadh: It would complicate Saudi efforts to persuade Yemeni tribal and army units to turn on the Iranian-allied Houthis.

Apr 2, 2015

Insight – Aden showdown tests Saudi project to tame Yemen

DUBAI (Reuters) – A week of bombing by a Saudi-led coalition has failed to force Yemen’s Houthis to the negotiating table or rupture their alliance with a powerful ex-president, and the defiant militia could now claim the second city of Aden as its next prize.

The fall of the southern port would be more than a symbolic blow to Riyadh: It would complicate Saudi efforts to persuade Yemeni tribal and army units to turn on the Iranian-allied Houthis.

Jan 23, 2015

New heir to Saudi throne is relatively liberal outsider

RIYADH/DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince Muqrin represents the biggest break from the kingdom’s tradition of any of his predecessors in the role – both because of his lowly maternal birth and his foreign education.

Seen as a relative progressive in the ruling family, with a grasp on the need for long-term reform, Muqrin has also voiced traditional hawkish views on Iran, but it is far from clear how much influence he will have during Salman’s reign.

Dec 14, 2014

OPEC chief defends policy, says group to try to ride out price fall

DUBAI (Reuters) – Oil producers group OPEC can ride out a slump in oil prices and keep output unchanged, its head said on Sunday, arguing market weakness did not reflect supply and demand fundamentals and could have been driven by speculators.

Speaking at a conference in Dubai, Abdullah al-Badri defended November’s decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to not cut its output target of 30 million barrels per day (bdp) in the face of a drop in crude prices to multi-year lows.

Nov 19, 2014

Saudi Arabia leans on Gulf states to close ranks as region boils

DUBAI/DOHA (Reuters) – Gulf Arab states have shelved a bitter row among themselves, hoping to repair an alliance that has been sorely tested by chaos in the Middle East and the prospect of an Iranian nuclear deal that could tilt the regional balance of power toward their old foe Tehran.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain agreed at a meeting on Sunday to return their ambassadors to Qatar, signaling an end to an eight-month dispute over Doha’s backing of Islamist militants in Syria and elsewhere and its promotion of Arab Spring revolts.

Oct 14, 2014

Yemen on the brink as rebels oust the old guard

SANAA/DUBAI (Reuters) – The Houthi rebels who stunned the Arab world with the sudden seizure of Yemen’s capital will have to strive to cement their power in the face of well-armed rivals, a test of strength that could tip the unstable country deeper into turmoil.

A suicide bombing last Thursday that killed 47 in Sanaa is an example of the indiscriminate tactics Yemenis fear some armed groups are prepared to employ to check the ascent of the Shi’ite Muslim movement that swept into the city on Sept 21.