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Gulf States News - Issue 1084 - 04/07/2019

‘Rivalry and posturing’ by Gulf powers add to risks in Horn of Africa

The intense competition for influence among Gulf states and other regional players continues apace in the Horn of Africa, with potentially billions of dollars in financial support and investment flowing from the UAE and Saudi Arabia into Sudan, Ethiopia and their neighbours. But as the network of military bases and ports along the coast of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden gets ever more substantial, criticism of Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states’ impact on the region is also growing (GSN 1,082/5, 1,055/6).

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African Energy - Issue 395 - 27/06/2019

Instability in Ethiopia could undermine power sector reform

Ef forts to encourage private investment in power were under way in Ethiopia before Abiy Ahmed became prime minister in April 2018, but it is only since he assumed office and launched wide-ranging political and economic reform that a credible programme has emerged.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1083 - 20/06/2019

Tehran keeps the Gulf guessing as tanker attacks raise new questions

It is not yet another ‘Tanker War’, but the latest sabotage of oil tankers has highlighted again the region’s vulnerability to attacks on its key export. Oil prices have remained relatively steady – influenced by a global bear market and substantial stocks in major consumers – but the attacks on six ships in May and June still carry the risk that geopolitical tensions between Iran and the United States could spill over into a full-blown conflict, whether by accident or design.

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African Energy - Issue 394 - 13/06/2019

Management of Algeria’s economy under populist/nationalist pressure

The announcement by interim President Abdelkader Bensalah that Algeria will not, after all, hold a presidential election on 4 July points to many more months of political unpredictability. Protests remain largely peaceful, but there is a growing prospect of turmoil as a ruling elite led by deputy defence minister and army chief of staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaïd Salah seeks to outflank a popular protest movement whose leadership remains defined by its anonymity (AE 391/1, 388/1).

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Gulf States News - Issue 1082 - 06/06/2019

Mecca summits underline divisions and distrust among former Gulf allies

There was plenty of hype, but a pair of summits organised at short notice by Saudi Arabia as the holy month of Ramadan was coming to a close failed to foster any sense of unity among the regional actors. Instead the gatherings have served to highlight the region’s many divisions; a series of petty snubs and undiplomatic arguments before and after the Mecca summits suggest there is little prospect of the situation improving in the short-term.

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African Energy - Issue 393 - 30/05/2019

Mobisol and Solarkiosk insolvencies highlight risk in off-grid

Solar home systems (SHS) pioneer Mobisol has entered self-administered insolvency proceedings at the District Court of Charlottenburg in Berlin. The move announced on 18 April gives the management three months to turn the company around and conclude negotiations with prospective investors that began at the start of the year. Mobisol has been operating since 2011.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1081 - 23/05/2019

Region on edge as Tehran and Washington push war-like rhetoric

The threat of a major confrontation in the region remains real. While both sides publicly say they do not want a conflict, some senior figures in the United States, such as long-time Iranophobe national security advisor John Bolton, are acting as if they do, while hardliners in the Islamic Republican Guards Corp (IRGC) and other revolutionary and ‘principalist’ bastions in Iran would not shy away from confrontation either. In such an environment the biggest threat may be that misunderstandings lead to war by accident rather than by design.

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African Energy - Issue 392 - 16/05/2019

Zambia’s Zesco seeks to renegotiate power tariffs with IPPs

State power utility Zesco is seeking to renegotiate its power purchase agreements with independent power producers (IPPs) in an effort to curb its ballooning debt. At end-April 2019, Zesco owed IPPs about $680m, and the company says low power tariffs mean it has little hope of reducing the burden.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1080 - 09/05/2019

The pattern of Saudi power shifts as the ‘MBS cohort’ of royals emerges

Some 30 Al-Saud princes – and one princess – have been appointed to positions of authority by King Salman Bin Abdelaziz since 2017. The appointments have come in waves: 22 in 2017 (GSN 1,041/6), seven in 2018 (GSN 1,072/1, 1,061/6, 1,055/1) and four in spring 2019 (GSN 1,075/1). Many are notably young, in a system that has traditionally not favoured youth, and are drawn from the same cohort as Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS).

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African Energy - Issue 391 - 02/05/2019

Ould Kaddour sacked as Algerian regime seeks to show commitment to change

Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour was dismissed as head of state energy giant Sonatrach on 23 April, to be replaced by head of production Rachid Hachichi. Respected as an industry professional but widely distrusted for his links to the now discredited Bouteflika clan, and especially his ties to the politically ambitious former energy minister Chakib Khelil, Ould Kaddour’s position was in doubt even before Abdelaziz Bouteflika departed the presidency (AE 390/18, 388/3). His removal was announced by the interim president, Abdelkader Bensalah, as the remaining leadership – in which deputy defence minister and army chief of staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaïd Salah continues to play a leading role (AE 388/1) – sought to show protesters that the regime is capable of change.

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