GCC News Roundup: Qatar opens new metro line, Houthi drones strike Saudi oil facility (May 1-31)

A general view of a preparatory meeting for the GCC, Arab and Islamic summits in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, May 29, 2019.  REUTERS/Waleed Ali - RC15D2874700

Content from the Brookings Doha Center is now archived. In September 2021, after 14 years of impactful partnership, Brookings and the Brookings Doha Center announced that they were ending their affiliation. The Brookings Doha Center is now the Middle East Council on Global Affairs, a separate public policy institution based in Qatar.

Qatar opens first metro line

Six years in the making, Qatar’s first-ever underground railway system has opened to the public, as the Gulf nation prepares to host the 2022 World Cup.

The Doha Metro Red Line started partial operations on May 8, running along the coast from al-Qassar district in the capital, Doha, to the southern city of al-Wakrah. Thirteen out of the 18 stations on the 40-kilometer Red Line route are currently operational.

Attack on oil vessels raises tensions between Iran, US

Charges that four oil vessels were attacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in mid-May have amplified fears across the region about the escalating tensions between Iran and the West.

Saudi Arabia said that two of its oil tankers had been sabotaged, and a Norwegian company reported that one of its tankers was damaged in the same area, near the Strait of Hormuz. The fourth ship belonged to the UAE. Since the attacks, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton has said that they were the work of “naval mines almost certainly from Iran,” while Iran has denied any involvement.

Yemen’s Houthis carry out drone strikes on Saudi oil facilities

Yemen’s Houthi rebels carried out multiple drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities on May 14, a day after Saudi Arabia said two of its oil tankers had been damaged in an act of sabotage, ratcheting up tensions in the region. 

A Houthi spokesman, Mohammed Abdul Salam, claimed responsibility for the drone strikes on Twitter, saying that they were a response to Saudi “aggression” and “genocide” in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia hosts summits for OIC, GCC, and Arab League

At the end of May, Saudi Arabia held summits for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and the Arab League.

In a joint statement at the end of the OIC summit, the leaders called on countries that have moved their embassies to Jerusalem to rethink their strategy, which they said constituted “a serious violation of international law and international legitimacy.”

US to reveal Israeli-Palestinian peace plan in BAHRAIN

On May 19, Washington announced that it would lead a conference in Bahrain in June to reveal the first part of President Donald Trump’s long-awaited proposal for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

In a joint statement with Bahrain, the White House said the gathering in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, would give government, civil, and business leaders a chance to rally support for economic initiatives that could be possible with a peace agreement. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said that Palestinian leadership was not consulted prior to announcing the conference.