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Saudi Arabia - Issue 202 - 03/Aug/1987

INADEQUACIES EXPOSED

At the end of their recent meeting in Taif, having held an "open" session for more than a month, the GCC foreign ministers welcomed the UN Security Council resolution on the Iran-Iraq war and urged the world community to "take positive attitudes" that would bring "peace, security and stability in the Gulf region". The ministers, meeting as the GCC Ministerial Council, also confirmed support for the arrangements made by Kuwait to preserve its safety and "hailed" the positive stance adopted by Iraq in relation to the Security Council resolution .

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Saudi Arabia - Issue 201 - 20/Jul/1987

HAJ SEASON

More than two million pilgrims are expected to come to Saudi Arabia to take part in this year's Haj, currently in progress. A considerable government administrative effort is under way to provide pilgrims with essential services and facilities. As well as the 22m one-litre plastic packs of iced drinking water provided by the government for distribution at the holy sites, the authorities have also mounted substantial security precautions against any political disruption of the ceremonies.

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Saudi Arabia - Issue 200 - 06/Jul/1987

RAISING THE STAKES

Kuwait's Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister, Shaikh Sabah al Ahmad, set off at the end of last month on a tour of the other member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The avowed reason for the trip, according to the official Kuwaiti news agency, was to explain "the dangerous situation in the Arab Gulf region, caused by the continuation of the Iran-Iraq war that is threatening the freedom and safety of navigation in the territorial waters of the Gulf". Since every member state of the GCC has officially, openly and frequently pronounced on the grave dangers of the Iran-Iraq war and the GCC collectively makes constant reference to the same subject, Shaikh Sabah's tour could have appeared, in its announced purpose, to have been quite unnecessary. The official news agency statement was nothing more than a bit of public relations Dim-flam, designed to avoid giving a more accurate account for Shaikh Sabah's travels.

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Saudi Arabia - Issue 199 - 22/Jun/1987

MORAL IMPERATIVES

Social corruption has become a prevalent obsession of the Saudi authorities. Scarcely a speech or an address goes by from Interior Minister, Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz, or his deputy, Prince Ahmed, without a warning on the subject of narcotics, AIDS, foreign travel or the moral protection of youth. A survey of official statements and press editorials reveals a growing concern with the moral and physical health of the kingdom's population.

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Saudi Arabia - Issue 198 - 08/Jun/1987

PRIORITIES - AND PROBLEMS

The end of the holy month of Ramadan occasioned a summary of Saudi Arabia's foreign policy from King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah. Celebrating the festival of 'Id al Fitr which concludes Ramadan, King Fahd delivered a television address which emphasised Saudi Arabia's chief external political concerns: Arab unity, the solidarity of the Muslim world, the resolution of the Iran-Iraq war, the conflict in Lebanon, the war in Afghanistan and - most of all - the Palestinian problem.

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Saudi Arabia - Issue 197 - 25/May/1987

THE CONFLICT SPREADS

King Fahd performed a valuable service when he brokered the recent meeting between President Chadli Benjedid of Algeria and King Hassan of Morocco. The two North African countries have been on bad terms with each other over various issues for several years, and to have brought the two leaders together was a creditable political achievement by the Saudi monarch. However, the mere fact of their meeting did not produce solutions to any or all of their joint problems and, since then, there has been no suggestion that any further negotiations are in progress on matters of dispute.

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Saudi Arabia - Issue 196 - 11/May/1987

DIVISIONS AND DIVERSIONS

There was no official comment from Saudi Arabia on the PLO's reunification congress in Algiers last month. This looks rather odd at first sight, given the kingdom's constant reassertion of its interest in rebuilding and maintaining Arab unity. What deeply disturbs the Saudis, however, is the growing possibility that estrangement of the PLO moderates from Egypt and Jordan will create new rifts in the Arab world - and dash all hopes of forming a united front at the long-promised forthcoming Arab summit conference.

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Saudi Arabia - Issue 195 - 27/Apr/1987

PREFERRED PARTNERS

Prince Sultan, Minister of Defence, referring to King Fahd's recent state visit to France, has stressed the close cooperation in military matter between Saudi Arabia and France. Speaking at a recent graduation ceremony at the King Abdul Aziz Military Academy, Prince Sultan said that France had expressed readiness to cooperate with the kingdom in the field of armaments and other defence sectors.

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Saudi Arabia - Issue 194 - 13/Apr/1987

AN ESSENTIAL PRELIMINARY

Leo Tindemans, the Belgian foreign minister and currently President of the European Economic Community Council of Ministers, is to visit several Middle East capitals in the coming few weeks to try to inject some impetus in the moves to hold an international conference on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

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Saudi Arabia - Issue 193 - 30/Mar/1987

ULTIMATE IRONIES

The ultimate irony of the arms-for-Iran funds-for-Contras scandal must have been reached with the disclosure that a large slice of the money, perhaps between $2m and $3m, raised by the sale of US arms to Iran. found its way not to the US-supported Nicaraguan rebels, but to the Global Islamic Movement, an organisation controlled by the designated successor to Ayatollah Khomeini, Ayatollah Hossein Montazeri. According to accounts published by the New York Times, drawing on the latest confessions of the Iranian go-between, Manuchur Ghorbanliar, US funds were diverted ("for services rendered") to the Swiss bank account of the Global Islamic Movement. This is an organisation which, amongst its various activities, funds those specialists of the political kidnap operation, the Hizbollah, Party of God, in Lebanon.

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