GCC News Roundup: Gulf States’ foreign ministers meet with Pompeo, GCC military budget to reach $100 billion (September 1-30)

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By Sumaya Attia

Gulf States’ Military Budget to Reach $100 billion by 2019

Earlier this month, reports indicated an increase of 6 percent in military spending by countries in the GCC. The report was published in Jane’s by IHS Markit, a business that combines defense and security information. For the first time, GCC military spending is hitting an all-time high of $100 billion: “If we see any significant increases in oil prices we will probably see further growth or, at the very least, more procurement activity,” a Jane’s analyst said. The growth is attributed to the GCC countries’ ongoing involvement in several wars within the region. Upsurges in the military budget stem from ongoing turmoil in the region, with conflicts seen in countries such as Iraq and Yemen. On the other hand, the 2017 blockade has also influenced the Gulf states’ interest in boosting their military forces and expenses. Though North America and Europe has supplied much of the equipment in the past, the GCC countries are now considering obtaining their supplies from alternative countries such as Russia, Turkey, and Australia.

Emirati Minister says UAE will support U.N. proposals for new talks on Yemen     

The U.N. headquarters was the site for peace talks earlier this month, as global leaders focused on the status of Yemen.  New talks bring hope after a failed meeting in Geneva, an incident surfacing after the rebel group led by the Houthis accused Saudi Arabia of blocking their participation in the talks. The UAE and the U.N. have engaged in fruitful conversations regarding a peaceful process in the region. Furthermore, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted “very productive discussions on Yemen today in NY with Special Envoy Martin Griffith. Reaffirmed our strong support for UN-led political process after Geneva setback. Will fully support UN proposals for new talks soon.”

Saudi Crown Prince visits Kuwait for talks on Qatar

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Kuwait to discuss the status of the ongoing dispute with the State of Qatar. In attempts to sustain peaceful talks, the future heir of the Saudi Kingdom met with Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah. Many are hoping that the Gulf leaders will find a middle ground after more than a year of division among the GCC countries. 

Qatar to increase gas production amid gcc rift

Qatar Petroleum plans to increase gas production from 4.8 million to 6.2 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. Qatar’s plan involves adding a fourth liquefied natural gas (LNG) production line, which will continue to support the country’s strong LNG export numbers. Till this day, Qatar is the number one exporter of LNG. “The production increase will also contribute to Qatar’s economic growth and stimulating the economy, as well as the country’s overall development,” said Qatar Petroleum CEO Saad Sherida al-Kaabi.

BLOCKADE HAS DAMAGED GCC REPUTATION: SHEIKH TAMIM

On September 26, HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani joined hundreds of leaders for the annual UN General Assembly. Issues such as the ongoing wars in Syria and Yemen, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the GCC blockade were among the matters discussed. The Emir also stated that the current blockade has “harmed the reputation of the GCC countries” and has caused a poor reflection on the Council’s goal toward unity, for the sake of tackling regional and global problems.

u.s. pUSHES FORWARD WITH PLANS FOR ANTI-IRAN, ARAB ALLIANCE

Last Friday, the Trump administration expressed their plans to form an “Arab NATO” in hopes of uniting Middle Eastern partners in an anti-Iran alliance. Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, foreign minister of Qatar, responded by saying the GCC crisis should be solved first. He stated that, “The real challenge facing the U.S.-led alliance is to solve the Gulf crisis.” Though still unable to resolve the ongoing dispute, foreign ministers from Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE and other Arab countries met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to advance and discuss the project.