Durra gas field belongs to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, say GCC ministers

Durra gas field belongs to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, say GCC ministers
Joint Al-Khafji Joint Operations said that work had resumed at the site. (KJO)
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Updated 08 September 2023

Durra gas field belongs to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, say GCC ministers

Durra gas field belongs to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, say GCC ministers

RIYADH: Al-Durra gas field is exclusively owned by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and they alone have the right to its natural resources, Gulf ministers said on Thursday.

The Gulf Cooperation Council foreign ministers gathering in Riyadh also rejected “any claims that any other party has rights in this field or the submerged area adjacent to the area divided by its designated borders between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Kuwait,” in a statement issued by the bloc.

In July, Iran’s oil minister said his country will “pursue its rights and interests regarding exploitation and exploration” of the field, which Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have criticized.  

The Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan called on Iran to engage in negotiations to demarcate the eastern border of the area. Saad Al-Barrak, Kuwait’s oil minister, said he was surprised by the Iranian plan and added that the move from Tehran contradicts the basic principles of international relations.  

“The ownership of the natural resources in the submerged area adjacent to the Saudi-Kuwaiti divided zone, including the entire Al Durra field, is joint ownership between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Kuwait only, and they alone have full rights to exploit the wealth in that area,” the GCC statement said.

The Joint Al-Khafji Joint Operations, which comprises Kuwait Gulf Oil Company and Aramco for Gulf Operations, said on Thursday that production at the divided zone had resumed on Tuesday after the first phase after the completion of maintenance. In December both entities signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the field, which is expected to produce about one billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, along with 84,000 barrels of liquefied gas.

The Al-Durra gas field is a common submerged area between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait located in the Arabian Gulf. It is situated within the Al-Ahsa governorate, which is a part of the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia.

The discovery of this oil field dates back to the 1960s, which coincided with the commencement of the demarcation process for the maritime borders between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

The Al-Durra oil field’s strategic importance and the potential wealth it holds have attracted the attention of neighboring countries, particularly Iran.

The dispute over its ownership and exploitation rights arises from differing interpretations of maritime boundaries and conflicting claims by Tehran.

In 2001, Iran began granting contracts for its exploration, which prompted Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to finalize the demarcation of their maritime borders, which included the Al-Durra oil field.

GCC ministers also rejected Iranian occupation of the three UAE Islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Musa, calling on Tehran to consider Emirati efforts to resolve the issue through dialogue.

They stressed “support for the sovereignty of the United Arab Emirates over its three islands, territorial waters, airspace, continental shelf, and economic zone, as an indivisible part from the territory of the United Arab Emirates, and considering that any practices or actions carried out by Iran on the three islands are null, void and have no effect on the right of the sovereignty of the United Arab Emirates over its three islands.”

France lauds Morocco’s help in fighting terrorism

France lauds Morocco’s help in fighting terrorism
Updated 11 sec ago

France lauds Morocco’s help in fighting terrorism

France lauds Morocco’s help in fighting terrorism

RABAT: French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, on an official visit to Morocco, has lauded the kingdom’s help in fighting terrorism in France as Paris prepares to host the 2024 Olympics.

Darmanin’s visit to Rabat comes amid efforts to bring the two countries closer after a series of tensions and a sharp deterioration in France’s relations with countries in the Sahel.

“Without the Moroccan intelligence services, France would be more affected by terrorism,” Darmanin said in a meeting with Moroccan Interior Minister Abdelouafi Laftit.

Darmanin added: “We thank them greatly, particularly in anticipation of the Olympic Games,” which start in late July.

He said the two countries will cooperate to ensure safety for the African Cup of Nations football tournament, which Morocco will host next year.

Darmanin is among several French ministers who have visited Morocco over the past three months in an effort to bring about “a profound renewal and modernization of the French-Moroccan relationship,” Darmanin said.

Tensions between Rabat and Paris, the former colonial power, included France’s 2021 visa restrictions for Moroccan nationals. 

The kingdom has also been upset by French President Emmanuel Macron’s desired rapprochement with Algeria, its regional rival.

In the Sahel, France was forced to withdraw troops from Mali in 2022 and from Niger and Burkina Faso last year after coups saw relations nosedive and ushered in growing Russian military involvement.

Israel’s ‘war on the right to health’ deplored

Israel’s ‘war on the right to health’ deplored
Updated 8 min 13 sec ago

Israel’s ‘war on the right to health’ deplored

Israel’s ‘war on the right to health’ deplored
  • UN expert Tlaleng Mofokeng accused Israel of treating human rights as an “a la carte menu”

GENEVA: Israel’s war in Gaza has, from the start, been a “war on the right to health” and has “obliterated” the Palestinian territory’s health system, a UN expert said on Monday.

Tlaleng Mofokeng, the UN special rapporteur on the right to health, accused Israel of treating human rights as an “a la carte menu.”

Just days into the war that has been raging in Gaza since Hamas’s unprecedented attacks inside Israel on October 7, “the medical infrastructure was irreparably damaged,” she said in Geneva.

Amid the unrelenting Israeli bombardment of Gaza, healthcare providers had for months been working under dire conditions with very limited access to medical supplies, she said.

“This has been a war on the right to health from the beginning,” said Mofokeng, an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council but who does not speak on behalf of the UN.

“The health system in Gaza has been completely obliterated and the right to health has been decimated at every level.”

There has been growing global opposition to Israel’s offensive in Gaza, which has turned vast areas of the densely populated territory into rubble and sparked a dire humanitarian crisis, including warnings of famine.

Gaza’s hospitals, which are protected under international humanitarian law, have repeatedly come under attack.

On Sunday, Gaza’s civil defense said its teams had discovered 50 bodies buried in the courtyard of the Nasser Medical Complex in Gaza’s main southern city of Khan Younis.

And the World Health Organization said earlier this month that Al-Shifa, Gaza’s largest hospital, had been reduced to ashes by an Israeli siege, leaving an “empty shell” with many bodies.

“The destruction of healthcare facilities continues to catapult to proportions yet to be fully quantified,” said Mofokeng, a South African medical doctor.

The expert said she had received no response from Israel to the concerns she had raised about the situation and that she had not been able to visit the Palestinian territory or Israel.

But she said it was obvious that Israel was “killing and causing irreparable harm against Palestinian civilians with its bombardments.”

How Gaza conflict thrust Palestine statehood quest back to center stage

How Gaza conflict thrust Palestine statehood quest back to center stage
Updated 3 min 47 sec ago

How Gaza conflict thrust Palestine statehood quest back to center stage

How Gaza conflict thrust Palestine statehood quest back to center stage
  • Pre-war poll found just 41 percent of Arab Israelis and 32 percent of Jewish Israelis think peaceful coexistence is possible
  • However, analysts believe the ongoing conflict in Gaza could bolster support and action for the two-state solution

LONDON: Israel’s military operation in Gaza has raised questions about potential scenarios for postwar governance and security. The emerging consensus view — at least for now — seems to be the need for a two-state solution.

There are several barriers to the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, however. One immediate stumbling block is that the dream of Palestinian statehood rests on the fortunes of the incumbent administrations in Israel and the US.

The normally close allies appeared more divided than ever since Washington’s abstention in a UN Security Council vote on March 25 resulted in the passing of a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire.

Relations soured further after seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen were killed on April 1 in a series of Israeli airstrikes while distributing food in the Gaza Strip, leading to additional censure by Washington.

US President Bill Clinton (L) watches as Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (C) confers with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (R) on July 11, 2000. (AFP)

Even before these events, the US government had voiced open support for a Palestinian state. In his State of the Union address on March 8, US President Joe Biden made clear that “the only real solution is a two-state solution.”

However, Biden faces a tight election slated for Nov. 5. If he loses to his Republican challenger, Donald Trump — who was an ardent supporter of Israel’s hard-right policies during his last presidency — a two-state outcome seems unlikely.

Indeed, chatter among Trump loyalists suggests the former president may be leaning toward support for the removal of Palestinians from Gaza once and for all, with the starkest indication coming from his son-in-law and former Middle East adviser Jared Kushner.

Asked at the Harvard Kennedy School in March whether he expected Benjamin Netanyahu to block Gazans from returning in the event they were removed en masse, Kushner said: “Maybe,” before adding: “I am not sure there is much left of Gaza.”

On March 5, Trump told Fox News that Israel had to “finish the problem” in Gaza. When asked about a two-state solution, Trump avoided the question, simply stating: “You had a horrible invasion that took place that would have never happened if I was president.”

On April 18, 12 countries at the UN Security Council voted to back a resolution recommending full Palestinian membership. Only the US voted against, using its veto to block the resolution.

The draft resolution called for recommending to the General Assembly “that the State of Palestine be admitted to membership of the United Nations” in place of its current “non-member observer state” status, which it has held since 2012.

Palestinians look at smoke billowing during Israeli bombardment on the Firas market area in Gaza City on April 11, 2024. (AFP)

The majority of the UN’s 193 member states — 137, according to a Palestinian count — have recognized a Palestinian state.

Regardless of the outcome of the draft resolution, the fate of Palestinian statehood also rests on the actions of the Israeli government and the views of a divided public.

Polling data from the Pew Research Center suggest that dwindling support for a two-state outcome in Israel has been driven primarily by the country’s Arab population.

In 2013, some 74 percent of Arab Israelis said that they believed an independent Israel and Palestine could coexist, with this number dropping to 64 percent in 2014 before plummeting to 41 percent in April last year.

Conversely, belief in peaceful coexistence among Jewish Israelis has fluctuated between 46 and 37 percent over the past 10 years, dropping to 32 percent before the Oct. 7 attacks.


• 41% Arab Israelis who believe peaceful coexistence is possible, down from 74 percent in 2013.

• 32% Jewish Israelis who believe peaceful coexistence is possible, down from 46 percent in 2013.

(Source: Pew Research Center survey conducted in September 2023)

Crucially, however, support for a single Israeli state has never been a majority view, with some 15 percent undecided, suggesting that the hesitancy in support for it is based on not knowing what such a system would look like in practice.

This assessment reflects that of Benjamin Case, postdoctoral research scholar at Arizona State University, who said that with the right framing, Israelis could come around to supporting a two-state solution.

“Public opinion shifts in response to horizons of political possibility,” Case told Arab News. “Israelis want the return of their loved ones who are held hostage, and they want guaranteed safety — and of course they want things that most people want, like healthy, prosperous lives.

“If a real solution is offered that brings peace and security, I think most Israelis will eventually get behind it.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas poses for a picture with new Palestinian government on March 31, 2024, in Ramallah. (AFP)

Lawmakers in Washington, it seems, are trying to provide such a framing. On March 20, a group of 19 Democratic senators issued a public call for Biden to establish a “bold, public framework” for the realization of the two-state solution once the war in Gaza is over.

Cognizant of the ongoing security concerns in Israel, the call suggested a model based on a “non-militarized Palestinian state.”

It called for the unification of both Gaza and the West Bank under the Palestinian flag, and said that this newly recognized country could be governed by a “revitalized and reformed Palestinian Authority.”

Case said that while it is important to recognize Israeli security concerns in forging a Palestinian state, any model needed to pay particular attention to the rights of Palestinians.

He stressed that Palestinian human rights “must come before the preferences of Israelis,” but said that meeting those needs with a Palestinian state was a “sensible solution for the extreme violence in Israel and Palestine.

“A Palestinian state would likely deprive Hamas of its reason for existing,” he said. “Hamas grew out of conditions of prolonged occupation, and thrives on the conflict.

“What popularity it has among Palestinians comes less from its governance and more because it represents resistance against occupation in a hopeless situation. If a path to a Palestinian state is realized, Hamas would have to reform significantly or would lose power.”

Mouin Rabbani, co-editor of the independent Jadaliyya ezine and a former analyst for International Crisis Group, is concerned that despite growing Western support for a two-state solution, the world appears no closer to achieving this goal.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on February 7, 2024. (AFP)

“I don’t think a two-state settlement is now closer than previously,” Rabbani told Arab News. “The passage of time makes it increasingly difficult to achieve.

“A two-state settlement is a question of political will, not of artificial points-of-no-return. On this score, political will among Israel and its Western sponsors to end the 1967 occupation, without which there can be no two-state settlement, has been systematically non-existent.”

Nonetheless, he said, “in view of recent developments,” it was pertinent to pose “related but no less important questions” on the desirability of a two-state outcome and its durability in light of what he described as “the genocidal, irrational apartheid regime that is Israel.”

Regarding the positions of countries in the Arab world, he suggested there was “diminishing purchase” on the desire for peace with Israel.

Contesting Rabbani’s position, Case believes Palestinian statehood is now closer to becoming reality than it was on Oct. 6, and that the “gross disproportionality” of Israel’s response to the Hamas terror attack had played its part in this.”

“Ironically, had Israel shown restraint following the Oct. 7 attack, it may well have been the opposite,” he said.

“The brutality of the Hamas assault would likely have fostered unprecedented international sympathy for Israel, entrenching Israeli occupation policies.

US President Bill Clinton (C) stands between PLO leader Yasser Arafat (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzahk Rabin (L) as they shake hands for the first time, on Sept. 13, 1993. (AFP)

“However, the Israeli military response, especially the shocking scale of civilian casualties in Gaza, as well as the genocidal remarks made by many Israeli officials toward Palestinians, have reversed the backfiring effect, raising international awareness about the injustices of the occupation and generating urgency to find a durable solution.”

The two-state solution, a proposed framework for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was first proposed in 1947 under the UN Partition Plan for Palestine at the end of the British Mandate.

However, successive bouts of conflict, which saw Israel expand its area of control, put paid to this initiative.

Then in 1993, the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization agreed on a plan to implement a two-state solution as part of the Oslo Accords, leading to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority.

This Palestinian state would be based on the borders established after the 1967 war and would have East Jerusalem as its capital. However, this process again failed amid violent opposition from far-right Israelis and Palestinian militants.

Since then, the growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, reciprocal attacks, the undermining of the Palestinian Authority, and ever harsher security controls imposed by Israel, have left the two-state solution all but unworkable in the eyes of many.

For others, it remains the only feasible option.


Israeli fighter jets target site from which Hermes 450 drone was shot down

Israeli fighter jets target site from which Hermes 450 drone was shot down
Updated 7 min 53 sec ago

Israeli fighter jets target site from which Hermes 450 drone was shot down

Israeli fighter jets target site from which Hermes 450 drone was shot down
  • Hezbollah’s tactics now involve shooting down Israeli drones, in addition to targeting military outposts opposite the southern border
  • Spokesperson says Israel’s air force will continue to operate in Lebanese airspace to achieve aims

BEIRUT: Israeli warplanes targeted the outskirts of Aaichiyeh village in Lebanon’s southern region on Monday after Hezbollah said it had downed an Israeli drone on a combat mission.

Hezbollah announced it had shot down an Israeli Hermes 450 drone on Sunday night from the same location.

It is the second drone that Hezbollah has downed in Lebanese airspace in the last two weeks. The Iran-backed group’s tactics now involve shooting down Israeli drones, in addition to targeting military outposts opposite the southern border.

Hezbollah said that the drone was attacking “our noble and steadfast people.”

Explosions were heard on Monday afternoon after sirens sounded in the Israeli Kiryat Shmona settlement and its surroundings in the Upper Galilee.

Israeli Channel 12 reported that “a suspicious aerial target was intercepted over the Galilee panhandle near the Lebanese border.”

Israeli army spokesperson Avichay Adraee said that “a surface-to-air missile was launched toward an Israeli army drone that was operating in Lebanese airspace on Saturday night.”

The drone was hit and fell in Lebanese territory, he said, adding that the incident was under investigation.

Adraee claimed that Israeli warplanes struck the site from which the missile was launched, and added that the air force would continue to operate in Lebanese airspace to achieve the military’s aims.

Sheikh Nabil Qaouk, a member of Hezbollah’s Central Council, said the group’s drones “successfully bypass Israeli air defense systems every day.”

He said the distance between “us and Israeli settlements and sites is extremely close, and the distance between Kafr Kila and Metulla is zero, as well as Miskvam and Al-Manara.”

Qaouk said Hezbollah’s drones can hit their targets in Israeli settlements within a minute from launch.

He said: “You saw in Arab Al-Aramsha how the drone attacked the Israeli force, and we thus demonstrated our ability to evade all Israeli air defense systems.”

Qaouk added that “the increase in killings and attacks on homes in border towns will not alter the situation. It will not affect Hezbollah’s commitment to backing Hamas and will not result in the settlers going back to their homes (in northern Israel).”

Qaouk’s remarks came as confrontations on the Lebanese southern front continued on Monday as the Israeli army bombed Maroun Al-Ras village in Bint Jbeil.

The Israeli military also targeted a site near Maydoun village in western Bekaa, while shells reached the outskirts of Tayr Harfa, Dhahira, and Yaroun.

Meanwhile, sirens sounded at the UN Interim Force in Lebanon’s headquarters in Naqoura following Israeli bombing that had targeted the western sector of the country.

Hezbollah then launched missiles from Lebanon toward an Israeli military base in Western Galilee.

The group attacked an Israeli military position near Hanita with artillery shells and “successfully hit spy equipment across from the village of Al-Wazzani with suitable weapons.”

Meanwhile, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati has received Harvey Smyth, British deputy chief of the defense staff.

A statement said the talks had focused on the need “to reduce tension and achieve a ceasefire in southern Lebanon.”

Smyth also met Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri for talks which focused on the situation “in Lebanon and the region in light of Israel’s continued aggression against Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.”

European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi also led a delegation to meet the parliament speaker, and Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun.

Berri’s office said the parties discussed the “overall situation in Lebanon and the region.”

Lebanon is asking for help in boosting the number of Lebanese soldiers in the area south of the Litani River, in line with Resolution 1701, and is urging the global community to support the move.

UAE rolls out grand welcome for sultan of Oman’s state visit

UAE rolls out grand welcome for sultan of Oman’s state visit
Updated 42 min 11 sec ago

UAE rolls out grand welcome for sultan of Oman’s state visit

UAE rolls out grand welcome for sultan of Oman’s state visit
  • Leaders witnessed the signing of several memorandums of understanding and agreements which span a wide range of sectors

DUBAI: UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan welcomed Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq at an official reception at Qasr Al-Watan in Abu Dhabi on Monday, marking the sultan’s state visit, Emirates News Agency reported.

On Sultan Haitham’s arrival, his motorcade, escorted by Sheikh Mohamed, was greeted by a procession of riders on Arabian horses and camels.

Emirati folk groups performed music and dance to celebrate the visit.The ceremony included an inspection of the guard of honor by the leaders, alongside renditions of the UAE and Omani national anthems.A 21-gun salute was given in honor of Sultan Haitham’s visit as well as a flypast by the UAE Air Force’s aerobatics team, Al-Fursan, during which smoke was released in the colors of the Omani flag.

At Qasr Al-Watan, groups of Emirati children welcomed the leaders by waving the flags of both countries and chanting welcoming phrases. In celebration of the visit, Abu Dhabi’s landmarks and streets showcased Omani flags and displayed messages of welcome for Sultan Haitham.

Sheikh Mohamed and Sultan Haitham discussed the longstanding and historical ties between the UAE and Oman, focusing on cooperation across various sectors.

During their meeting, the leaders witnessed the signing of several memorandums of understanding and agreements which span a wide range of sectors, including investment, renewable energy, sustainability, railways, technology, and education.