All Posts (85)

India-Gulf Ties - January 2017

Both UAE and Saudi Arabia were well-represented at the “Vibrant Gujarat” Global Summit in Gandhinagar. The UAE delegation was led by the UAE Minister of State, Dr Rashid Ahmad bin Fahd. At a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the UAE chairman of the DP World Group said that UAE had already invested $ 1.2 billion for the development of five ports in India that together handled 30% of the country’s container traffic, and planned to invest another $ 1…

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Oil prices 

The main news over the last fortnight was that OPEC members were regularly announcing their compliance with the cuts in production they had agreed to in Vienna in November. In tandem with this, there were reports that oil prices were moving upwards: Brent was usually between $ 56-58/ barrel, while WTI hovered around $ 53. Some analysts suggested that Brent could reach $ 60 over the next few weeks. A poll of oil analysts by Reuters revealed their…

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1. Saudi budget: On Thursday, 22 December, Saudi Arabia unveiled its first budget after the announcement of the "Vision-2030" in April 2016, which is aimed at reducing dependence on oil revenues and boosting the role of the private sector in taking the national economy forward in coming years. Its most striking feature was that the national deficit of SR 297 billion ($ 79 billion) for 2016 was 16% less than what had been budgeted, i.e., SR 367 billion ($…

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Oil prices 

The OPEC agreement of 30 November to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day (mbd) and the associated pledge that non-OPEC producers led by Russia would also cut production by another 600,000 b/d from 1 January, 2017, has led to a price rise of over 15%: at end-December, Brent was at $ 55.59, while WTI was $ 53.73. Oil prices received a boost when the OPEC and selected non-OPEC members met in Vienna on 10 December and were able to agree on a…

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Political Developments - January 2017

1. Overview of on-going military conflicts

Iraq and Syria

Two raging conflicts in West Asia- in Iraq and Syria could be reaching endgame. In the case of Iraq, operations against the Islamic State (IS) "capital" at Mosul commenced from end-October, with the Iraqi coalition making quick progress and surrounding Mosul by mid-December. The forces began a pause in the military action on 21 December, described by the…

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About the Author

Ambassador Talmiz Ahmad joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1974. Early in his career, he was posted in a number of West Asian countries such as Kuwait, Iraq and Yemen and later, between 1987 and 1990, he was Consul General in Jeddah. He also held positions in the Indian missions in New York, London and Pretoria. He served as Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia (2000-03; 2010-11); Oman (2003-04), and the UAE (2007-10). He was also Additional Secretary for International Cooperation in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in 2004-06. In July 2011, the Saudi Government conferred on him the King Abdul Aziz Medal First Class for his contribution to the promotion of Indo – Saudi relations. After retirement from the Foreign Service in 2011, he worked in the corporate sector in Dubai for three years. He is now a full-time academic and holds the Ram Sathe Chair for International Studies, Symbiosis International University. He has published three books: Reform in the Arab World: External Influences and Regional Debates (2005), Children of Abraham at War: the Clash of Messianic Militarisms (2010), and The Islamist Challenge in West Asia: Doctrinal and Political Competitions after the Arab Spring (2013). He writes and lectures frequently on Political Islam, the politics and economics of West Asia and the Indian Ocean and energy security issues.