Gulf in the News – January 17, 2014

Zarif trip to Lebanon includes signal to Saudi Arabia

Source: Al-Monitor (Read full story)

The most noticeable aspect of the visit by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Beirut on Jan. 12 were the positions he took toward Saudi Arabia and Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, as they clearly contradicted those of Hezbollah, especially some of the Party of God’s recent stances.  Hezbollah has recently waged an anti-Saudi Arabia campaign, which included Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah accusing Saudi intelligence of being behind the November 2013 bombing of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut. In addition, Hezbollah has launched harsh attacks against Suleiman, be it via repudiation of the Baabda Declaration or raising suspicions about the Saudi-French initiative to support the Lebanese army, the latter of which is considered to be an achievement for Suleiman.

Saudi hospital becomes lung transplant leader

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center (KFSHRC) has become the regional leader in lung transplants with the use of innovative new techniques, local media reported.  Qasim bin Othman Al-Qasabi, executive supervisor of the KFSHRC, said the hospital’s use of the new technique is part of its strategic plan to remain the region’s leader in this type of surgery.  Surgeons performed 17 lung transplants in 2013, with a success rate comparable to well known international hospitals, including 15 two-lung, and two one-lung operations, he said.   He said this was an increase of 20 percent from 2012, when doctors completed 14 operations.

Splits in Syrian opposition coalition ahead of vote

Source: Al-Monitor (Read full story)

US Secretary of State John Kerry again urged a “positive vote” from the coalition, reiterating that “the Geneva peace conference is not the end but rather the beginning, the launch of a process, a process that is the best opportunity for the opposition to achieve the goals of the Syrian people and the revolution.”  Numbers are stacking toward a positive vote, with one coalition source estimating to Al-Monitor that 65 members out of 121 are leaning toward a ‘yes’ vote. But the coalition faces complications if it chooses to attend the talks in Switzerland, with the Syrian National Council threatening to withdraw should a ‘yes’ vote pass.

Amir pledges $500m for Syria at donor meeting – Aid pledges total $2.4bn, less than half of UN target

Source: Kuwait Times (Read full story)

HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah yesterday opened the second international donors conference for Syria by pledging $500 million, as he highlighted the plight of the Syrian people and urged the international community to donate generously to alleviate the humanitarian catastrophe in the Arab nation. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon meanwhile announced at the end of the one-day conference that $2.4 billion in pledges were made at the conference, and the “funds will be spent over the next six months.”

His Majesty appoints Ministry of Defence Secretary General by Royal Decree

Source: Times of Oman (Read full story)

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said has issued a Royal Decree No. (6/2014) appointing a Secretary General at the Ministry of Defence.