Arabia Arms Spending:
Arabia reviewing arms spending, and deals with Yemen, which has given
up on the idea of joining the GCC, while trouble looms in Kuwait parliament.
King Fhad's youngest
son meets President Clinton and denies any rift
over the 1996 bombing investigation, but his claim conflicts with an
FBI account. But this also reflects the illusive nature of the Saudi American
The oil rich emirate's
is threatened with dissolution as deputies seek to question ministers on
arms-import deals, alleged corruption, and the illicit drug trade and human
rights issues. The deputies are trying to force the defence ministry to
scrap plans to buy 48 "unsuitable" M109A6 Paladin 155mm self-propelled
howitzers from the US. The entire government failed to attend a parliamentary
session on 10 June. The parliament was dissolved by the Emir after opposition
grew in the 1980's.
Arabia faces massive deficit:
The Kingdom is planning
to save money by spending about $1 billion to improve its armoured personnel
carriers and infantry fighting vehicles. This contract will include 130
90mm canons, 260 50-calibre heavy machineguns, 160,000 anti-tank shells
and training facilities. Save money? 'Yes,' say the Saudis. 'We are not
buying new weapons.' With good reason. The army already has about 3,000
armoured vehicles, and there aren't enough troops to go on them!
Saudi Arabia and Yemen
have agreed that their joint technical and legal committee should continue
meetings for the final demarcation of their border, the Saudi Press Agency
reported on 8 June. The last round of talks was held in May 98.
Having its application
to join the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) put on hold since 1966 turned
down several times Yemen said it would not repeat a request to join the
grouping again. Yemen may only expect to receive observer status in the
group, which is striving somewhat unsuccessfully to enhance political,
military and economic ties between the member states. The GCC comprises
Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, only UAE president
Sheikh Zaied once spoke openly for his desire to accept Yemen, in an interview
with Adel Darwish for the Independent in December 1989 in order to keep
Yemen away from Iraq.
kidnapping of sixteen foreign tourists in Yemenon 28 December and the
tragic death of four of them during a rescue operation. This incident marked
a change in the kidnaping saga as it took a serious political dimension
and came only 24 hours after tribsemen attacked the oil pipleline.
Some Yemeni tribesmen,
who have been involved in kidnapping foreigners, say they will help the
government put an end to the abductions, which have threatened the growth
of tourism. But many observers don't believe that since kidnapping has
become a lucrative business.
to America in the Gulf:
The US Navy cancelled
shore leave in the region and advised servicemen to be extra cautious.
Two years ago this month a bomb went off in the US military compound in
Al-Khobor killed several service men. Recent threats by Saudi dissidentOsama
Bin Laden - who is the prime suspect in the attack have also contributed
to the tension. Security has been tightened around US at embassies throughout
the Middle East. American citizens were advised to be alert and inconspicuous
when travelling in the region. The US has withdrawn its Air Force Air Expeditionary
Wing from Bahrain's Sheikh Isa airbase. Bahrain had agreed in March to
extend the deployment of US aircraft on its territory for a further two
months at the height of the crisis between Iraq and the UN over weapons
inspections The last of 12 F-117 stealth fighters deployed in Kuwait last
November returned to the US on 7 June.