West Asia & North Africa Digest By Ambassador Mahesh Sachdev | November  2022


  • Political Developments
  • Economic Developments
  • Bilateral Developments

IA) Political Developments: Pan-Regional and Global Issues

WANA and Ukraine Conflict:

  • On Oct 5, Ukraine alleged that the Russian forces had used Shahed-136 Kamikaze drones built by Iran. A swarm attack on Oct 17 at Kyiv by these drones killed 8 people. On the same day, the United States accused Iran of supplying Russia with drones and missiles in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231. Iran initially dismissed the charge, but Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian admitted on Nov 5 that Iran had supplied “a small number of drones to Russia a few months before the Ukraine conflict began on Feb 24.” On Oct 20, the US claimed that Iranian military personnel were deployed in Crimea to help with the operation of their drones against Ukrainian targets. Reuters reported on Oct 18 quoting unnamed Iranian sources to claim that during Iranian Vice President Mohammed Mokhber’s Moscow visit on Oct 6, Iran had agreed to supply more Shahed-136 drones and Fateh-110 and Zolfeghar surface-to-surface missiles to Russia. On Oct 21, E3 countries (the UK, France & Germany) formally asked the UN for a probe into Russian use of the Iranian drones – a move Tehran condemned. On Oct 21, Iran advised its nationals to avoid visiting Ukraine. Ukraine claimed on Oct 28 to have shot down 300 Iranian drones so far, belying Iranian denials. (Comment: (i) Russian use of Iranian drones against Ukraine with considerable initial success had puzzled the Western pundits into conjuring several possibilities ranging from Moscow’s inability to equip its forces with domestically produced weapon systems due to western sanctions to the inexpensive Iranian drones having better “bang-for-bucks” ratio. Such usage may also be intended to preserve the Russian arsenal for the future. Politically, Iran’s involvement may also be intended to show that while Ukraine is being propped up by NATO, Russia is not without friends. For Iran, too, the supplies provide a valuable validation of the quality of its defence products and earn it a useful IOU from Russia. (ii) While the 104-page UNSCR 2231(2015) itself is silent on arms transfers to and from Iran, its “Annex B: Statement” gives some description and timelines in this regard. Its para 5 mentions restrictions on transactions concerning, inter alia, “combat aircraft, attack helicopters, missiles or missile systems” for “five years after the JCPOA Adoption Day or until the date on which the IAEA submits a report confirming the Broader Conclusion, whichever is earlier.” While the restricted items list mentions missiles, it does not specifically mention “drones”. Therefore, the allegations that Iran is supplying missiles, although none have been used in conflict so far, to Russia seem intended to pin the two parties down with the violation of the UNSCR2231 with relevant consequences. Further Reading: “Iranian drones pose a fiendish military problem for Ukraine”, The Economist, Oct 19.)
  • On Oct 28, the CEO of Turkey’s defence company Baykar said that it is planning to complete the construction of its manufacturing plant in Ukraine in two years. However, the Eurasia Times reported on Oct 31 that the Turkish drone maker had reneged on its plan to set up a drone factory in Ukraine. According to the paper, the reversal was based on two reasons: firstly, their drones were fast becoming ineffective in wake of improved Russian air defences and electronic countermeasures. Secondly, it was a quid pro quo by President Erdogan to President Putin’s offer to create a “gas hub” in Turkey. On Oct 13, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a CICA summit in Astana and readily reacted positively to the latter’s offer of creating a “gas hub” in Turkey. On Oct 30, Russia “indefinitely suspended” the Grain agreement with Ukraine in the wake of alleged misuse of its safe corridor by Ukrainian forces to attack targets in Crimea on the previous day. Following intervention by Turkey and the UN, the Russian suspension was lifted four days later. (Comment: Turkey continued with its double-act on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. It is the only NATO member which has neither imposed sanctions on Russia nor approved Finland and Sweden’s request for the organisation’s membership. However, on Oct 1, it rejected the Russian annexation of four regions of eastern Ukraine. Turkey and Russia have long entered into a mutually beneficial transactional relationship with hints of a strategic tie-up. President Erdogan faces an uphill election next summer under near triple-digit inflation and economic meltdown. He needs all the economic succour he can get from Russia and its oligarchs. Russia, isolated and ostracised, finds Turkey useful as a pliable neighbour and the only conduit to the Black Sea, the Ukraine war theatre. Further Reading: Why Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan need each other” The Economist Oct 15.)
  • Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani met with Russian President Putin in Astana on Oct 13. They, representing the world’s largest two gas exporters, were thought to have discussed the turbulence in the global gas market due to the Ukraine conflict. 
  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, President of the UAE, met Russian President Putin in St Petersburg on Oct 12. They discussed “several issues of mutual concern, including the Ukraine crisis, and the importance of engaging in dialogue to reduce tensions and arrive at a diplomatic solution.” 
  • In wake of Russian drone attacks, Ukraine appealed for Israeli help in bolstering its air defences. However, on Oct 19, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz categorically refused the plea telling the EU diplomats “We will not provide weapon systems.” (Comment:  Israel is very careful not to antagonise Russia with which it has an unstated modus vivendi on it air attacks on Iranian military assets in Syria without being countered by strong Russian air defences deployed.)
  • On Oct 15, Saudi Arabia announced $400 mn in humanitarian aid to Ukraine. However, On Oct 26, US Secretary of State Blinken said that this act did not make up for the OPEC+ production cuts that Washington accused Riyadh of masterminding.

WANA Regional Security and Terrorism

  • On Oct 6, a U.S. military helicopter raid on a government-held village in Syria’s northeast targeted and killed Wahid al-Shammri, an Islamic State official.
  • On Oct 18, French cement maker Lafarge pleaded guilty in the US having paid nearly $6 mn to the Islamic State in Syria to enable its plants in the area controlled by the latter to operate normally. It agreed to pay a $778 mn fine to the US for that act of support to terrorism.
  • The new US National Security Strategy document was released on Oct 17. It was conspicuous in downgrading the middle-east security and avoiding energy security altogether.   

Pandemics and Other Natural Disasters:

  • On Oct 6, Lebanon detected its first case of cholera since 1993. By Oct 19, there were 169 cases with five deaths. The disease was even more rampant in neighbouring Syria, where at least 594 cases and 39 deaths were recorded in the government-held areas. Separately, at least 605 cases and 1 death were reported. 

Pakistan and WANA Region:

  • On Oct 28, the first meeting of the Saudi-Pakistani Steering Committee of the Economic Pillar was held in Riyadh. It was co-chaired by the Saudi Minister of Energy and the Pakistani Minister of Finance. 

 Arab League Summit

  • Algeria made preparations for hosting the next Arab League Summit on Nov 1 and 2. However, on Oct 23, Saudi Crown Prince and PM Mohammed bin Salman telephoned Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune about his inability to attend the event as his physicians had advised him not to travel.

IB) Political Developments


The popular agitation triggered by the death of Mehsa Amini in police custody in mid-September continued during the month despite increasingly stern warnings by the authorities and deterrence by the security forces and Islamic Republic Guards Corps (IRGC). Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei warned the protestors on Oct 14. President Raisi publicly blamed US President Biden on Oct 16 for inciting them and repeated his warning to the protestors on Oct 30. On Oct 29, the Commander of the IRGC bluntly told the demonstrators that it was their last day on the streets. On Oct 31, the first session of the judicial trials for “the rioters” began. 14 foreigners were arrested on Oct 19 for their involvement in the unrest. On Oct 27 a terrorist attack, later claimed by the Islamic State, at the Shah Cheragh shrine in the city of Shiraz killed 15 pilgrims. The incident prompted a call by the Supreme Leader for all Iranians to unite to punish the perpetrators. The police chief of the Sunni-minority eastern city of Zahedan was dismissed on Oct 27 apparently for his incompetence in handling the local demonstrators on Oct Sep 30 that led to the killing of 19 and injuries to 32. By Oct 27, the activist news agency HRANA put the number of protesters killed in the unrest at least 252, including 36 minors. It said more than 13,800 people had been arrested in protests in 122 cities and towns and some 109 universities. Among international supportive actions was US President Biden’s saying on Oct 3 that the US would impose the costs on Iranian leadership for curbing the protests. On Oct 17, the EU imposed sanctions on the Gasht-e-Irashad (moral police) and the Ministry of Information. In a symbolic gesture, the Canadian foreign minister convened a virtual conference of female foreign ministers on the Iranian Women’s protests. The US and Albania called for an informal meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the Iranian protests on Nov 2 – which Tehran lobbied for its boycott. (Comment: Iranian authorities’ unwillingness or inability to repress the protests, now in its third month has puzzled observers who have offered several explanations ranging from giving the protestors a long rope to fizzle out to inner dissensions within the ruling elite and from the caution to avoid Shah-type overreaction (-which could lead to an ever-rising backlash by the “40-day mourning resonance”) to genuine confusion about how to silence a women-led agitation. It contrasts sharply with their alacrity in using missiles against Kurdish groups in KRG for allegedly abating the protests and warning the Saudis for the same reason. The western media and Iranian exiles have largely misread this demurral as a sign of weakness and muddle, which it seemed anything but.) 

Biden administration seems to have put the revival of the Iran nuclear deal on the backburner during the month so as not to complicate its domestic agenda of Congressional mid-term polls. On Oct 21, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stressed that the US preferred diplomacy on Iran, but sees no nuclear deal “for now.” Meanwhile, the western media continued to carry reports from the IAEA about Iran racing to expand uranium enrichment at the underground facility at Natanz (Reuters, Oct 10).

Following Omani intervention, Iran released Baquer Namazi, 85, an Iranian-American on Oct 5 after being held for long on spying-related charges and allowed him to fly to Muscat. His son continued to be held in Iran.

On Oct 21, foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian officially inaugurated the Iranian consulate in Kapan in southern Armenia. (Comment: Kapan lies on the so-called “Zangezur corridor” across southern Armenia which Turkey and Azerbaijan seek to impose on Armenian territory to establish a bilateral west-east surface transport link. By opening a consulate in the city, Iran has signalled its opposition to the project which would cut the north-south surface link between Iran and Armenia.)


Lebanese President Michel Aoun demitted office on Oct 30 on completion of his term among what he called “constitutional chaos”. Despite three attempts, the parliament failed to elect a successor. Further, the prime minister and his cabinet are only in a caretaker capacity while the country faces an economic crisis made worse by political sclerosis. (Comment: History is unlikely to be kind to the outgoing president and his tenure. His 6-year term was marked by the strengthening of the political role of Hezbollah – which partnered with his own FFS party of Maronite Christians. It saw Lebanon plumb into the depth of an unprecedented economic crisis, which the World Bank described as “the worst in a peace-time situation.” The youth agitation for political reforms was stymied by the entrenched political elite and the huge blast at Beirut Harbour in 2020 which killed over 200 people blotted his tenure. The only saving grace was the signing of an indirect maritime border agreement with Israel during the last week of his term which could, in due course, allow the exploitation of the offshore gas reserves. While the Presidency was not above the general political induration afflicting the national polity, Michel Aoun’s various acts of commission and omission failed to show decisive statesmanship to fill the leadership vacuum. Yet, in his sunset times, he was not beyond suggesting that his son-in-law Gebran Bassil should succeed him.)

On Oct 27, President Aoun signed the agreement delineating the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel mediated by the United States Special envoy Amos Hochstein. Under its terms, Israel retains full rights to develop the Karish field (estimated gas reserves: 2.4tcf) while Lebanon retains full rights in nearby Qana (which is yet to be fully explored but prospected to hold around $3 bn of gas). As Qana extends southward across a border known as Line 23, Israel will be entitled to a share of royalties through a side agreement with the operator, the French company Total. President Aoun emphasised that signing the agreement did not constitute a peace accord and it was only a “technical document” without any political ramifications.  Hard-line Hezbollah Chief Hassan Nasrallah declared the agreement to be a big victory for Lebanon and announced an end to the militia’s mobilisation against Israel. The agreement was separately signed on the same day by Israeli PM Lapid in Jerusalem, his last week in power before Israeli elections on Nov 1.  The copies of the agreement were later exchanged at  Naqoura on their common land border. In a relevant development, on Oct 30, QatarEnergy commenced talks to acquire a 30% stake in the Lebanese offshore gas project. TotalEnergie and Eni are two other partners at the moment. A day before the signing, Israel permitted the London-based Evergean hydrocarbon company for production to begin at Karish.  

Taking a cue from the signing of a maritime border agreement with Israel, Lebanon also initiated negotiations with Syria about the delineation of its northern maritime border. Following a discussion on Oct 22, a Lebanese delegation led by the parliament’s deputy speaker and comprising of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Transport visited Damascus for this purpose.

The tug-of-war between the IMF and Lebanese politicians over the economic reforms needed for releasing the desperately needed financial aid continued during the month. On Oct 13, IMF MD declared that Lebanon had not implemented the prior actions necessary for the release of the financial package. Lebanese Deputy Prime Minister said on Oct 24 that the state’s plan to plug a $72 billion hole in the financial system would not be able to “save all depositors.” Lebanon has made slow progress on the rest of the IMF checklist, having passed both an amended banking secrecy law and a belated 2022 budget, although observers expect the IMF to have reservations about both. The parliament still needs to approve a banking resolution framework to address Lebanon’s bloated commercial banking sector and a Capital Controls Law. (Comment: Lebanese guileful political elite is resistant to the deep-rooted financial reforms as this would dismantle their patronage network in that sector. On the other hand, IMF believes that providing billions of dollars in assistance without these reforms would be not only non-productive but also set a bad precedent.)  

On Oct 12 Lebanon resumed the voluntary repatriation of estimated 8,00,000 Syrian refugees on its soil back to their country.


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s continued with his efforts to normalise Turkey’s relations with countries long estranged by Ankara’s pursuit of a more muscular foreign policy earlier. He met with the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Prague on Oct 6. The meeting was also attended by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. On Oct 27, three days before the Israeli general elections, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz visited Ankara to relaunch the bilateral defence ties after a hiatus of nearly a decade. On Oct 6, President Erdogan told a press conference that he could meet with Syrian counterpart Bashar Al-Assad “when the time was right.” (Comment: Turkey’s ties with all the three mentioned countries have been adversarial during much of the past decade. In particular, Turkey has been the mentor and vital lifeline for the anti-Assad Sunni groups, sustaining them for well over a decade. Turkey has taken in nearly 3.5 mn Syrian refugees. It has created security belts inside Syria’s border region to prevent Kurdish militias such as YPG and PKK from reigniting insurgency among its Kurds. Consequently, a normalisation between Ankara and Damascus would reshape the decade-long Syrian war. Willingness to reconcile with the Al-Assad regime, long shunned and demonised by Turkey, would nudge the Syrian rebels towards Damascus.)

Turkish Defence Ministry claimed on Oct 2 that its operations in Iraq and Syria have “neutralised” 30 PKK members. On Oct 20, it denied media reports suggesting that its forces used chemical weapons against Kurdish militias in northern Iraq.

Media reports hinted at Pakistan having acquired not only Bayraktar TB-2 but also a more advanced Akinci combat drone from Turkey. (Further Reading: “Headache for India, Pakistan Flaunts ‘Much Superior’ Turkish Akinci Combat UAVs In Promotional Video”, Eurasian Times, Oct 24.)

On Oct 13, the Turkish parliament adopted the controversial Disinformation Law, with a provision for up to 3 years in jail to those who spread false information online about Turkey’s security to “create fear and disturb public order.”


October was electioneering month in Israel as the country braced itself for its fifth election in four years to be held on Nov 1. As the month progressed, two inter-twined central tendencies emerged: prospects of the return of Benyamin (“Bibi”) Netanyahu, 73, the controversial longest-running prime minister of Israel and growing popularity of the ultra-religious Zionist fringe. (Comment: The combination of the two tendencies was a mixed blessing for Israeli politics: it promised a majority government with the latter backing Bibi; at the same time surging support for virulent Zionism bode ill for Israel, both as a liberal democracy and also as the regional peace process, particularly as a high-noon with Iran and Syria loomed.)

On Oct 26, US President Joe Biden met the visiting Israeli President Isaac Herzog in the White House for talks focused heavily on Iran, with the two leaders discussing Tehran’s nuclear program and the supply of Iranian weapons to Russia.

On Oct 3, a virtual meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council was held, for the first time in over a decade.  


In its fourth attempt, the Iraqi Parliament finally elected Abdul Latif Rashid, 78, nominee of the KDP as President of the Republic on Oct 13. He defeated outgoing President Barham Salih, who was from PUK. Immediately after his swearing, the new President nominated Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, 52, of the pro-Iran Coordination Forum as the new Prime Minister. On Oct 27 the Parliament approved the new cabinet comprising 21 ministers as the new PM promised to amend the electoral law in the next three months and have new elections within one year. Powerful cleric-politician Muqtada al-Sadr refused to join the new government calling it a “clear subordinate to the militias.” Meanwhile, on Oct 1, a large demonstration of Iraqi youth in Baghdad to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2019 agitation demanding political reforms and the end to the Muhasasa system, was tear gassed. (Comment:  The election of the President and appointment of the PM and his parliamentary endorsement allowed to kick-start the Iraqi polity one year after the parliamentary elections. By promising to reform the electoral law and holding fresh parliamentary elections, the new PM sought to appease both the agitators and the Sadrists. The political situation, nevertheless, remains at a knife’s edge for several reasons, including widespread distrust of the new political dispensation for its pro-Iran leaning and tensions between PUK and KDP – the two political arbiters in Kurdistan.) 

A bomb explosion in Baghdad on Oct 29 killed 10 persons and wounded 20.


On Oct 13, a bomb exploded on a military bus near Damascus, killing at least 18 soldiers and wounding 27 others. Three days later an operation in Daraa in southern Syria, Russian and Syrian forces killed 20 Islamic militants including those allegedly responsible for blowing up a troop bus.

On Oct 18, Turkey deployed its troops and armour around Kafr Jana in the Idlib exclusion zone in northwest Syria to stabilise the military situation after intermittent but intense fighting between two militant groups, both opposed to the al-Assad government. Five days of fighting between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the former Syrian branch of al-Qaeda and the Ankara-supported National Army halted on Oct 14 under Turkey facilitated ceasefire, but only resumed on Oct 17, forcing Ankara to deploy her troops. The new situation had HTS gaining the upper hand, raising the spectre of Russia resuming air raids on its territory.   


In the run-up to the FIFA World Cup Football tournament in Qatar from November 20, the country’s alleged unfair practices for migrant labour continue to make news. Following a meeting in Doha on Tuesday with labour ministry officials, union representatives and the International Labour Organization on Oct 5, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) said that Qatar will intensify labour inspections during the soccer World Cup including extra health and safety checks to protect the migrant workers from exploitation. On Oct 20, Amnesty International issued its” final pre-tournament report” which reiterated its call on FIFA to establish a compensation fund for abused migrant labourers, who despite improvements in their conditions, were still being denied wages and rest days, being exposed to unsafe working conditions, and faced barriers to changing jobs. It warned that progress on labour reforms “must not grind to a halt once the roadshow leaves Doha”. On Oct 20, Indian Express also issued an investigation report citing 8 cases of death of Indian workers in Qatar without compensation being paid. In response, it quoted Qatar’s “Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy” charged with the FIFA World Cup as saying “there were “significant improvements in accommodation standards, health and safety regulations, grievance mechanisms, healthcare provision, and reimbursements of illegal recruitment fees to workers.” At the same time, it admitted that there was “room for improvement”.  On Oct 28, Reuters reported that thousands of workers were evicted, often at 2 hours notice to make way for accommodation for World Cup fans. 

In a response to such criticism, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said in a televised speech on Oct 25 at the inauguration of the Shura Council that his country was being targeted by a “slanderous campaign of fabrications and double standards.”  On Oct 30, the Gulf Cooperation Council also condemned the German Interior Minister’s remarks against Qatar hosting the world cup.

On Oct 9, Qatar officially put its population at 2.94 mn residents of which only 380,000 were Qatari nationals. It expected the population to shrink by 1.2% annually (as extra labour called in for FIFA-related works to leave the country) to reach 2.5 mn by 2027.

On Oct 17, Qatar was given the right to host Asian Football Cup in 2023.

Saudi Arabia:

On Oct 3, the lawyers representing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman cited his appointment as Prime Minister a week ago to claim immunity from prosecution facing a U.S. lawsuit over the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

On Oct 4, Saudi Arabia was awarded the right to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games at Trojena in Neom city, currently under development.

On Oct 14, Saudi Aramco reached a deal with the Dubai-based International Cricket Council for sponsorship of all major men’s and women’s ICC events scheduled until the end of 2023, including the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia, the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa, the ICC World Test Championship Final in the UK, and the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 in India. It will connect Aramco with a global cricket audience of more than one billion cricket fans. (Further Reading: “Saudi Aramco cricket deal marks kingdom’s latest move into sport, FT Oct 15.)

On Oct 30, Triathlete Shachar Sagiv became the first Israeli to compete in Saudi Arabia.  


There were some political realignments among the various Palestine factions through two potentially far-reaching developments. On Oct 10, the representatives of 12 Palestinian groups, including rival Hamas and Fatah movements met in Algiers for reconciliation talks. At the end of these talks the next day Hamas, Fatah and 12 other Palestinian groups agree to hold legislative and presidential elections within one year aimed at resolving 15 years of discord. On Oct 19, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad received a delegation from Hamas, with the Sunni Palestinian Islamist faction saying the meeting could help “turn the page” after shunning Damascus for a decade of civil war where it sided with the Sunni rebels. (Comments: Shifting alliances in the WANA region, such as Turkey’s re-establishment of ties with Israel and the Abraham Accords have narrowed the regional support base for the Palestinian militant groups with Algeria and Syria among the few backers left for the “Palestinian Cause”. While Hamas’ attempt to gain ground on the West Bank alarms Fatah, the two also see the clear signs of greater popular angst that has been seeding the young Palestinians with either political alienation or extremism such as Islamic Jihad.)

Meanwhile, Israeli security forces continued with their operation “Breaking the Wave” to prevent the Palestinian militancy to gain hold in “Lion’s Den” in Nablus and Jenin cities of the West Bank. A raid by them on Oct 25 led to the killing of 6 Palestinian militants and the wounding of 20 others. In two separate incidents on Oct 8, two Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces which suffered one soldier dead and one guard wounded. The year 2022 has been one of the most violent years in this respect, having seen the death of over 100 Palestinians and 17 Israelis so far.  


As is a customary tradition in Kuwait, the parliamentary elections on Sept 29 were followed by the resignation of the cabinet on Oct 2 and the swearing-in of a new cabinet on Oct 5 under the same Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al-Sabah. Among the prominent changes were the ministers of oil and defence.

In his inaugural address for the new parliament on Oct 18, Acting Emir and Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Sabah called for an end to petty squabbling.

On Oct 6, the US State Department approved the supply of a Surface-To-Air Missile System and Medium Range Air Defense System worth $3 bn to Kuwait. 

The UAE:

During a trial on Oct 24, Tom Barrack, the chair of President Donald Trump’s 2016 inaugural committee, denied the Department of Justice’s charge that he acted as an undeclared agent of the UAE in the United States. Barrack, who is of Lebanese extraction, was subsequently cleared of all the 9 charges on Nov 4.

According to some media reports, the UAE deployed Barak-8 air defence systems jointly developed by the Israeli Ministry of Defence and India’s DRDO.


The first anniversary of the military coup d’état in Sudan was marked on Oct 26 with demonstrations in memory of more than 100 protestors killed by the security forces during the past year. 

Inter-communal clashes between Hausa (migrants from West Africa) and Berta ethnic groups during the month in Blue Nile state caused the death of over 220 persons. The government responded with the imposition of a curfew and dispatch of police reinforcements.           


On Oct 1, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken phoned Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud to discuss the imminent expiration of the U.N.-mediated truce in Yemen on the day after. Despite Saudi interest in extending the truce, it was not extended largely due to the unwillingness of the Houthi militia ruling north of the country. They want to see the full and unrestricted opening of the Sanaa airport, and the lifting of the entire blockade on Hodeidah, but were reluctant to open the roads blocking cities such as Taiz. On Oct 2 the UN Special Envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg said he “regrets that an agreement has not been reached today”. He thanked only the internationally recognised government for “engaging positively” in talks to extend the truce and avoided mentioning the Houthis. A Houthi drone attack targeting an oil installation in Aden was foiled by the government forces on Oct 21. (Comment: The Houthi militia’s reported disinterest in prolonging the truce seemed based on its perceived military edge given the following two developments: irreconciled divisions among the Saudi-supported government forces; and the tensions between Riyadh and Washington.) 


Egypt finally reached a $3 bn financing deal over the next 46 months with the IMF on Oct 27 under which Cairo agreed to have a flexible exchange rate regime. As a result, the national currency Pound fell by 14.5% on the day despite the bank rate being raised by 200 bps. The Pound has fallen by 34% against the US Dollar this year. The deal is expected to catalyse an inflow of $5 bn during the next financial year beginning in June 2023.

On Oct 17, the US Congress blocked $75 mn worth of military aid to Egypt over its poor human rights record.


Twin car bombings in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Oct 30, caused 100 deaths and 300 injured. It was claimed by the anti-government Al-Shabaab Islamic militants. Several countries, including India, condemned this act of mass terrorism.

III) Bilateral Developments

  • On Oct 29 Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had a telephonic conversation with Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to thank him for Diwali greetings, wished Qatar a successful FIFA World Cup and exchanged ideas to mark the golden jubilee of bilateral ties in 2023. 
  • While there were several media reports about the Saudi Crown Prince & PM visiting India, the event was postponed reportedly due to scheduling difficulties. 
  • External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar visited Egypt on Oct 16 an official visit during which he was received by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. He also addressed a meeting of the India-Egypt Business Forum in Cairo in which he noted that the bilateral trade has gone up by 75% in FY22 to reach $7.26 bn. 
  • On Oct 11, Minister of Commerce and Industry Shri Piyush Goyal co-chaired the tenth meeting of the Indo-UAE High-Level Joint Task Force on Investment with Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The event was held in Mumbai. In tandem CII organised an Indo-UAE Economic Forum at which UAE’s junior foreign trade minister Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi said that his country’s cumulative investments in India are over $20 bn, of which USD 14.4 bn are FDI, making the UAE the eighth largest FDI source for India. (Comment: Despite the signing of CEPA and creating various structures to facilitate the UAE’s investments in India, these have lagged behind their initial promise. Issues about legacy problems and India’s tax regime are often held responsible, but the UAE, too, has developed second thoughts on some mega projects such as the Ratnagiri refinery. On other hand, Thanks to a boom in Indians investing the UAE real estate, Indian investments in the UAE are nearly five times that of the UAE investments in India. Interesting to note that during the month, Indian tycoon Mukesh Ambani reportedly bought a villa in Dubai worth $163 mn, the most expensive real estate ever purchased by a foreigner in the UAE.) 
  • Indian Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Shri H.S. Puri participated in Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC) on Oct 31. In an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of the event, he noted that even though OPEC+ members were sovereign countries to decide their oil production. He, nevertheless, urged them to bear in mind the impact of their upcoming decision, expected on Dec. 4, on consumers as inflation soars across the world. 
  • Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan visited Muscat on Oct 3-4 during which he met with the Omani Foreign Minister and interacted with members of 650,000 strong Indian diasporas. During the visit, the two sides signed a pact on digital finance & payments to facilitate the use of RuPay cards and the UPI platform in Oman and collaboration for seamless digital remittances, benefitting Indian workers and professionals. 
  • Economic Times reported on Oct 30 that India and the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries are to commence negotiation in November 2022 aimed at signing a Free Trade Agreement. India’s bilateral trade with GCC countries in FY22 was $154.73 bn (Indian Exports: ~$44 bn; India’s imports: $110.73 bn). India’s exports to the GCC were 10.4% of our total exports and our imports from them were 18% of our global imports. 
  • Economic Times also reported on Oct 20 that Saudi Arabia and India were studying the feasibility of an undersea cable for an electricity grid involving South Asia and the Gulf countries. The two are exploring the commercial viability of such a project which could cost around $15 bn. 
  • On Oct 20, The Print quoted UAE firm Caracal has tied up with Icomm Tele Limited, an Indian company, to produce its portfolio of small arms in the country via the ‘Make in India’ route. 
  • India’s hydrocarbon fuel consumption rose in the Sep-Oct period as the economic activity revived and festival demand for energy went up. In particular, the state-owned retailers reported that their sales were up in October y/y in the following manner: petrol by 12.1%, Diesel by 12.0%, and Aviation Fuel by 26.4%. However, the LPG sales were down by -1.3%, possibly due to higher prices. 
  • According to the energy cargo tracker Vortexa, Russia became India’s top oil supplier with a 22% share, edging past the traditionally dominant suppliers Iraq (20.5%) and Saudi Arabia (16%). Russia supplied 946,000 bpd of crude to India during the month. 
  • During the month under review, the Customs authorities in India and Iran successfully concluded their first pilot of a fully digital intermodal TIR transport (international customs transit system) to expedite the trade between India and Russia via the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). 
  • A Hindu temple was inaugurated in the Jebel Ali village in the UAE on Oct 4 by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance & Coexistence & Amb Sunjay Sudhir. 
  • In an atypical move, the Makkah-based Muslim World League marked Gandhi Jayanti on Oct 2.  
  • Larsen & Toubro secured several high-value orders in Saudi Arabia and the UAE for putting up transmission lines and substations during Q3/22, the company notified in its regulatory filing. No precise values were provided. 
  • Bloomberg reported on Oct 21 that the Adani group was contemplating putting up 10 GW of solar and wind power generation capacity in Morocco to export the electricity to European countries. 

II) Economic Developments





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Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar, Former Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia; President, Institute of

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar, Former Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia; President, Institute of



Ambassador Sharat Sabharwal, Former High Commissioner of India to Pakistan and Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Ananta Centre


Pramit Pal Chaudhury, Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times, and Distinguished Fellow & Head, Strategic Affairs, Ananta
Mr AK Bhattacharya, Editorial Director, Business Standard, Distinguished Fellow, Ananta Centre Editorial Director

Pramit Pal Chaudhury, Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times, and Distinguished Fellow & Head, Strategic Affairs, Ananta

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar, Former Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia; President, Institute of

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar, Former Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia; President, Institute of



Ambassador Sharat Sabharwal, Former High Commissioner of India to Pakistan and Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Ananta Centre


Pramit Pal Chaudhury, Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times, and Distinguished Fellow & Head, Strategic Affairs, Ananta
Mr AK Bhattacharya, Editorial Director, Business Standard, Distinguished Fellow, Ananta Centre Editorial Director

Pramit Pal Chaudhury, Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times, and Distinguished Fellow & Head, Strategic Affairs, Ananta

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar, Former Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia; President, Institute of

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar, Former Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia; President, Institute of