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Gulf States News - Issue 1041 - 20/07/2017

The next insurgency beckons after Mosul, rebooting Iraq’s cycle of violence

The battle of Mosul finally ended after 267 days of major combat operations and well over a year of preparations before that. But even before the final diehards were forced out of their last-stand locations Islamic State (IS or Daesh) jihadists had already begun their shift to terrorism tactics within the city of Mosul.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1040 - 06/07/2017

Antagonists dig in for the long haul as Qatar crisis drags into a second month

Qatar’s predictable and probably inevitable decision to reject the list of 13 demands made of it by its Gulf Cooperation Council adversaries – Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE (dubbed by GSN the GCC-3, also known as the Troika) – and Egypt suggests the conflict will drag on for much longer than its second month (GSN 1,039/1, 1,038/1). Economists believe Doha can see out a protracted boycott, barring a still unlikely military intervention that Qatar’s much smaller forces would find hard to oppose, despite the recent Turkish deployment, discussed on page 5. Closer relations with Iran (see page 3) could have catastrophic consequences for the region if a new military alliance is seen to be forming – as the Qataris well know. Talk of ‘regime change’ to replace Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani is no more than speculation, as a majority of Qataris ‘rally round the flag’

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Gulf States News - Issue 1039 - 22/06/2017

Dynastic conflicts and generational shifts exacerbate regional crisis

The politics were long in the making before the crisis erupted between Qatar and three major Gulf Cooperation Council partners turned adversaries – Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE (the ‘GCC-3’) – plus Egypt and other allies from the wider Muslim world, but several of the immediate consequences emerging from the conflict are nevertheless unexpected.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1038 - 08/06/2017

Showdown with its neighbours heaps pressure on Qatar, threatens GCC’s future

The most consequential dispute among Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) members for years has escalated from a curious allegation of injudicious comments and hacking into a full-blown diplomatic and economic crisis in the space of a few weeks, to the point where it no longer feels fanciful to question the bloc’s long-term viability. Such is the dispute’s gravity that Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani’s rule has been called into question, while Qatar is confronted with a potentially deep and multi-faceted crisis.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1037 - 25/05/2017

Rouhani victory sets the scene for future battles between Iran’s competing factions

Hassan Rouhani’s landslide victory in the presidential election on 19 May – when he won 57% of the vote, removing any need for a second round – presents the second term head of government and the wider political establishment with short- and long-term challenges that will be difficult to resolve. At the most basic level, the result was a retort to the hardline conservative/principalist agenda, which has been roundly rejected by the population, allowing Rouhani to come first in 23 of the Islamic Republic’s 31 provinces.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1036 - 11/05/2017

Monarchies struggle with the complexities of their near abroad

The efforts by Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states to manage their ‘near abroad’ continue to cause difficulties and political trouble. GSN has been talking to senior players and well-placed analysts in a number of the region’s neighbours to gauge how the Gulf states – particularly Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar – are perceived, where their policies are working and where they are failing.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1035 - 27/04/2017

King Salman reshuffles the pack and wards off unrest with austerity reversal

In a flurry of several dozen royal orders on 22 April, King Salman Bin Abdelaziz turned back the clock on some key austerity measures while keeping an eye to the future with promotions for the younger generations of royals. A string of perks and payments removed under the austerity regime promoted by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) just a few months ago have been reinstated (GSN 1,023/5). King Salman also shook up the ranks of government and provincial administrations, setting the scene for the grandsons and great-grandsons of the country’s founder Ibn Saud to have a greater role.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1034 - 23/03/2017

Saudi Arabia remains under cyber attack

Four months after the start of a major new co-ordinated cyber attack and some five years since the Shamoon virus shook Saudi Arabian Oil Company – and the wider global oil industry, which was awakened to the potential for systemic chaos from cyber attackers by the assault on Saudi Aramco – Saudi government agencies and commercial organisations are struggling to return to normal operations,. The impact of the latest attacks are being felt by those directly affected and by others who recognise they too are vulnerable to online assaults.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1033 - 09/03/2017

UAE beefs up counter-radicalisation cred amid broader crackdown on dissent

The UAE leadership naturally prefers to emphasise classroom- and mosque-based counter-radicalisation approaches to signal its zero-tolerance approach to hardline Islamism – rather than the extent of surveillance and police activity that, so far, has largely kept the UAE free of major public terrorism attacks. Abu Dhabi is making all the right noises to convince allies it is rooting out extremism in all its forms. It has taken a lead in moves to eradicate Al-Ikhwan AlMuslimeen (the Muslim Brotherhood – see GSN view), as well as Islamic State (IS or Daesh), Al-Qaeda and other Salafist Jihadist groups – even though some Western governments still see the MB as part of the solution to stabilising the wider Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, rather than the problem as perceived by key power-broker, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and UAE Armed Forces deputy supreme commander Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (MBZ).

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Gulf States News - Issue 1032 - 23/02/2017

Emiri Diwan sidelines Qatar’s old guard in Tamim’s quiet revolution

Since coming to power in June 2013, Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani has seemed determined to lead a traditional rentier state into the 21st century amid a complex regional security environment and declining hydrocarbons revenue. He has done so by ditching the approach of ‘Father Emir’ Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, purging many of the old guard and creating far stronger oversight mechanisms to control ministers and their spending. The emir’s approach is a case study for cutting government spending but also in consolidating control by centralising power.

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