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Posts tagged ‘Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf’

LIGNET: US Shift on Iran Forcing Saudis to Shore up Gulf Alliance.

Image: LIGNET: US Shift on Iran Forcing Saudis to Shore up Gulf Alliance

Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General Abdul Latif Al Zayani, left, and Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Hamad Al Sabah, Kuwait’s minister for foreign affairs, attend the last session of the 34th GCC summit in Kuwait on Dec. 11, 2013. (AP)

Iran’s recent diplomatic breakthrough with the United States has invaded the comfort zone of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council and forced it to embrace unification of militaries as well as true political and economic union. Rising suspicion of the Saudi push for closer solidarity could be linked to aggressive Iranian lobbying of several Gulf countries in recent months.

Click here to read the full analysis from top intelligence experts at

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Kuwait urges Iran to address worries on nuclear plant.



MANAMA (Reuters) – Kuwait urged neighboring Iran on Monday to cooperate more with the U.N. nuclear watchdog to allay Gulf Arab concerns about the safety of an Iranian nuclear power plantthat lies just across the waterway from the emirate.

The emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, said a recent shutdown at the Bushehr plant indicated Tehran had to work with the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy (IAEA) to ensure the safety of the facility near the coastal town of Bushehr.

He was speaking in Bahrain at the annual summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a grouping of six oil-exporting Gulf Arab countries at odds with Tehran over a series of issues and who see the Islamic Republic as a rival for regional influence.

Bushehr, a Russian-built symbol of what Iran calls its peaceful nuclear ambitions, was shut down in October to limit any damage after stray bolts were found beneath its fuel cells, a Russian nuclear industry source said in November.

The explanation for the procedure at the 1,000-megawatt plant contradicted assurances by Iran that nothing unexpected had happened and that removing nuclear fuel from the plant was part of a normal procedure.

Sheikh Sabah said: “The news that was reported recently about the technical failure that hit the Bushehr reactor confirms what we mentioned about the importance of Iranian cooperation with the IAEA, and committing to its criteria and rule, to ensure the safety of the region’s states and its people from any effect of radioactivity.”


Iran is the only country with an operating nuclear power plant that is not part of the 75-nation Convention on Nuclear Safety, which was negotiated after the 1986 nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear plant.

Although the West suspects the Islamic Republic of trying to develop the means to build nuclear arms – a charge it denies – Bushehr is not considered a major proliferation risk by Western states, whose fears are focused on sites where Iran has defied global pressure by enriching uranium beyond levels needed to fuel civilian atomic power plants.

Nevertheless Western officials voiced concern in November about what they described as an unexpected unloading of fuel at Bushehr and said Tehran, which has dismissed it as a normal step, must clarify the issue.

Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA said in November that Tehran was determined to make sure safety at Bushehr was guaranteed after the plant is turned over to Iranian operators.

The plant, whose start-up has been delayed for years, was finally plugged into Iran’s national grid in September 2011, a move intended to end protracted delays in its construction. The plant’s Russian builder was quoted in October as saying Bushehr would be formally “handed over for use” to Iran in March 2013.

Sheikh Sabah also appealed to Iran to resolve separate long-standing disputes with GCC members, who comprise Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Kuwait.

“We renew our calls to our brothers in Iran to respond to our invitations to put an end to pending issues between the GCC countries and Iran … through direct negotiations or by resorting to international arbitration,” he said.

Bahrain has repeatedly accused Tehran of meddling in its internal politics. Saudi Arabia has complained about alleged border breaches by Iran, and the UAE has a long-standing dispute with the Shi’ite Muslim power over three Gulf islands. Iran denies seeking subvert Bahrain or any other Gulf Arab state, and says its intentions in the region are purely peaceful.

(Reporting by Asma Alsharif, Writing by William Maclean; Editing by Mark Heinrich)


By Asma Alsharif | Reuters

IMF chief praises Gulf effort on oil price management.


RIYADH (Reuters) – IMF chief Christine Lagarde praised Gulf oil exporters on Saturday for their help in stabilizing the global economy by managing oil prices, despite complaints by some Western countries that energy costs are still too high.

“It gives me an opportunity to thank the GCC countries for their … stabilizing role in the global economy because of the good monitoring and good management of oil prices and oil reserves …” the International Monetary Fund’s managing director said.

Lagarde was speaking at a news conference after meeting with senior officials of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which groups six oil-exporting countries – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.

Lagarde appeared at pains to enlist the support of wealthy Gulf oil exporters in a year when the Fund has been working to increase its resources, although she said she didn’t plan another financing campaign this year.

She also said talks with Greece on its fiscal position had been very good and that the resumption of loan negotiations with Egypt later this month were not subject to preconditions.

Since OPEC ministers last met in June, Brent crude oil prices have surged about 20 percent and have hovered around $112-$117 a barrel since mid-August, despite fragile economic growth in many consuming countries.

Last month, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), which represents 28 importing countries said high oil prices were a concern for these nations.

In effort to cap high oil prices, sources told Reuters the United States is considering an emergency oil stocks release. Other members of the IEA, such as France and Great Britain, could also join the move.

The Gulf states have managed to maintain high production levels, making up for lower supplies from Iran because of sanctions, and outages in the North Sea.

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia’s supply remained steady at 9.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in July and August, off multi-decade highs of over 10 million bpd earlier in the year.

The big three Gulf OPEC producers – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates – collectively increased supply by around 400,000 bpd thanks to a 600,000 bpd jump in Kuwaiti production to 3 million bpd.


Asked about the possibility of another Greek debt restructuring, Lagarde said talks with Athens on its fiscal position were “very good and very productive” but did not elaborate. She did not comment on other areas of the IMF’s discussions with Greece, which she said included structural reforms, financing and debt sustainability.

Lagarde said the IMF’s visit to Cairo later this month to resume talks on a loan of $4.8 billion or more to Egypt was not subject to preconditions.

The IMF wants Egypt to put in place a program to reduce a budget deficit that has grown to 11 percent of gross domestic product since last year’s uprising and the election this year of a new government led by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi.

“Clearly we need a political environment that is solid enough to have someone to discuss with, and President Mursi and his government are providing that framework for this dialogue,” she said.

Earlier this year, GCC members pledged billions of dollars in additional financial resources to the IMF, and they have promised billions more in aid to poorer Arab states since last year’s uprisings in the region.

Lagarde praised the “stabilizing role” played by the Gulf countries in supporting “neighboring Arab countries in transition”.

Next week she will attend a meeting of finance ministers from the G7 group of major developing nations in Tokyo after an IMF conference with the World Bank.

She said efforts by the fund to increase its resources had resulted in pledges so far this year of $456 billion, but that she had no plans for another fundraising campaign this winter.

(Reporting by Angus McDowall and Marwa Rashad; Writing by Amena Bakr; Editing by Catherine Evans)



Syria expels ambassadors of Tunisia, Libya.

Flags of Syria and TunisiaSYRIA has expelled the ambassadors of Libya and Tunisia and given them 72- hour deadline to leave the country.

Reports quoting Syria’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said the Syrian embassy in Qatar was also shut down, and Syrian ambassadors to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have also been expelled.

The move comes apparently in retaliation to similar actions taken against Syrian diplomats in those countries, Xinhua reported.

Tunisia was the first Arab country to announce the decision to expel Syria’s ambassador and to cut ties with the Syrian government.

Libyan Foreign Ministry had also announced its decision to expel Syria’s charge d’affaires and his staff, adding that it expects all Syrian diplomats to leave the country within the next 72 hours.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have also decided to withdraw their ambassadors in Syria, according to a GCC statement issued earlier this month.


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