Gulf in the News – November 5, 2013

Saudi-US ties enduring: Kerry

Source: Saudi Gazette (Read full story)

The Kingdom and the United States reiterated here on Monday that they would continue to work together, with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal saying “our two friendly countries” are busy dealing jointly with troublesome issues like Syria, Iran and the Mideast peace process.  “There is no room for emotion and anger here, but rather for policies of commonsense and level-headedness,” Prince Saud said at a joint press conference with Kerry.  “The fact of the matter is that the historic relationship between the two countries has always been based on independence, mutual respect and constructive cooperation,” he said.  He said that “the Kingdom’s declination of membership in the Security Council in no way shape or form amounts to the withdrawing from the United Nations.” He also lamented the international organization’s “failure to make the Middle East a nuclear-free zone.”

For his part, Kerry said: “This is a deep relationship and it has endured for 75 years and it will endure well into the future […] Our relationship is strategic, it is enduring and it covers a wide range” of issues, Kerry told reporters as he wound up a visit, including a two-hour meeting with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.

Source: Khaleej Times (Read full story)

A Bahraini court on Sunday sentenced four people to life imprisonment and six others to 15 years in jail on charges of setting up a terror cell called “Imam Army”.  The court acquitted 14 others of the charges. Two of the four sentenced to life were tried in absentia.  In February, Chief of Public Security Major General Tariq Al Hassan said that security intelligence information obtained by the National Security Agency indicated that a group was attempting to form a terrorist cell targeting sensitive civil and military locations as well as public figures.  A joint team was formed by the Ministry of Interior and the National Security Agency to probe the network, including its members, funding and training activities. Investigations revealed the formation of a network to set up a terrorist cell as a nucleus for what was called “Imam Army” to carry out acts of terror.

GCC chief extolls [sic] role of Gulf financial institutions, banks

Source: Kuwait News Agency (Read full story)

Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Abdullatif Al-Zayani said here Monday that the GCC financial institutions and banks have managed to keep abreast of developments and international requirements through the prestigious professional level they have reached.  Al-Zayani said in his opening speech before the 11th banking conference of the GCC states, dubbed (Role of the Banking Sector in Supporting Eeconomies [sic] of the GCC Countries), that the GCC financial institutions have been keen to implement effective banking control systems issued by world organizations such as the (Basel) Committee, especially with regard to standards of transparency, disclosure and capital adequacy.

Qatar may soon introduce rules affecting financial services sector, says S&P

Source: Gulf Times (Read full story)

Global credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P) expects that Qatar, along with Kuwait, may soon introduce new rules, including capital charges for bank lending to projects, which ought to affect financial services sector.  Moreover, it noted that the proposed Basel III capital norms could lead to drying up of long-term finance to Gulf projects from European lending institutions, thus paving way for project bonds in the region.  Highlighting that the Gulf project finance bank market does face regulatory “hurdles”, it said the implementation of Basel III could have a direct impact on the tenors for long-term project financing and reduce the involvement of European financial institutions in long-term lending to the region.  “Closer to home, SAMA, the central bank of Saudi Arabia, has adopted new regulations affecting financial services firms, and we anticipate that similar controls will shortly be introduced in Kuwait and Qatar. The regulations introduce capital charges for bank lending to projects that previously were not required,” it said in the report titled ‘How Project Bonds Could Plug the Potential Gap in the GCC Infrastructure Financing’.

Shelling takes death toll in Yemen to 100

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

Overnight shelling has taken the death toll from fighting between rival Shiite and Sunni groups in a northern town in Yemen to at least 100 people, a spokesman for one of the groups said on Monday.  Sectarian fighting in the town of Damaj has cast a shadow over national reconciliation efforts in Yemen.  Clashes broke out on Wednesday when Houthi fighters, who control much of Saada province on the border with Saudi Arabia, accused Salafi rivals in Damaj of taking in thousands of foreign fighters to prepare to attack them.  The Salafis say the foreigners are religious students who travel from abroad to study theology at Dar Al-Hadith academy established in the 1980s.