Defence and Security

UAE/Oman: South Korea considers enhanced military co-operation

The UAE is to deepen military co-operation with South Korea in areas such as intelligence, cybersecurity and munitions, undertaking joint research and exchanges of technology. UAE minister of state for defence affairs Mohammed Bin Ahmed Al-Bowardi...

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Iran: Naval exercise with Russia and China

Tehran ran a high-profile, three-day naval exercise in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman with Russia and China in late December, under the title Marine Security Belt. China’s Type 052D Xining guided-missile destroyer took part, along with three...

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GCC security academy by 2023

The Gulf Co-operation Council is moving forward with setting up a long-planned Gulf Academy for Strategic and Security Studies, to be funded equally by the six member states from 2022 onwards. The academy is due to start offering courses from the...

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Yemen: US Navy seizure offers clue to Houthi smuggling routes

The crew of the guided missile destroyer USS Forrest Sherman reported finding a cache of Iranian-origin “advanced guided missile components” when they intercepted a small Yemeni dhow in the Arabian Sea on 25 November. The missile components were...

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Saudi Arabia: France deploys radar systems to bolster its position

French defence minister Florence Parly has let slip that Paris is this month deploying “a robust package of advanced air defence warning”, including radars, to Saudi Arabia to counter low-altitude drone and cruise missile attacks of the type that...

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UAE: Dubai Airshow deals boost local firms

The General Headquarters of the UAE Armed Forces signed more than 40 deals over the three days of the Dubai Airshow at Dubai World Central airport in November, spending some Dh17.6bn ($4.8bn) in the process, much of it with local suppliers. The...

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A selection of free articles from GSN's extensive database

Yemen: Hospital bombing adds to human rights concern

Haydan Hospital in the northern Saada governorate was hit by at least two (some reports said up to six) airstrikes from around 23.00hrs on 26 October. The strikes were carried out by forces from the Saudi Arabia-led coalition. The hospital – which is supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) – had over a dozen people inside at the time; seven medical ...

Issue 1003 - 29 October 2015

Bahrain: US approves $150m deal for F-16 support

The US government said on 7 August that it had approved a possible sale of $150m worth of equipment to Bahrain to maintain its fleet of Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 fighter jets. The move comes as two senators submitted a bill to the Senate to reintroduce the arms export ban on Bahrain, lifted by the State Department at the end of ...

Issue 999 - 4 September 2015

From the archive: The Saddam solution

In the face of mounting evidence that Iraq has been using chemical weapons against its Kurdish population, the stream of categoric denials issuing from Baghdad carry little conviction. The United States’ announcement earlier this month that it is “convinced” that Iraq has employed chemical warfare in its military campaign against the Kurdish guerillas was followed by a vote in the ...

Issue 998 - 30 July 2015

Yemen: Rivals join forces in battle for Aden

Popular Resistance forces in the southern province of Aden may be forging a united front against northern Zaydi-Shia Houthi militias, but they are far from united. Groups of Sunni Islamist militants, secessionists and tribal elements, engaged in some of the most intense fighting against the Houthis, may face a prolonged conflict among themselves if the northern rebels eventually leave the ...

Issue 994 - 4 June 2015

A year overshadowed by threat from Sunni extremists

No one expected a quiet year in the Gulf, given the ongoing conflicts and ugly groundswell of sectarianism throughout the wider region. But while much of the news agenda in 2014 was filled with foreseeable preoccupations – squabbles between Qatar and the rest of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), the further deterioration of the situation in Yemen, tentative rapprochement with Iran, ongoing ...

Issue 983 - 11 December 2014

How Saudi Arabia’s terrorist rehabilitation programme works

Saudi Arabia’s strategy to combat extremism – the Prevention, Rehabilitation and Aftercare (PRAC) strategy – developed in the aftermath of the May 2003 bombings of residential compounds in Riyadh. It involves several ministries, but is led by the Ministry of Interior – specifically Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, who has been minister since November 2012, and was previously assistant to the interior minister for security ...

Issue 982 - 27 November 2014

Yemen: Houthis continue attacks on Al-Qaeda

Shiite Houthi militias have continued their advance against Al-Qaeda-linked militants in central Yemen, as newly appointed Yemeni Prime Minister Khaled Bahah struggles to form a government in Sanaa. Employing a strategy that relies largely on treaties with local tribes, the Houthis have been able to push hard against Ansar Al-Sharia (AAS), an affiliate of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), ...

Issue 980 - 30 October 2014

Governments seek response to drug trade

Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) and other regional trading centres have long been at the centre of the narcotics trade’s financial links to the world’s number one opium producer, Afghanistan. According to international organisations, including the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental body set up to combat money laundering, drug money is being laundered in jurisdictions such as ...

Issue 977 - 18 September 2014

UAE accused of airstrikes in Libya

The accusation that UAE war planes flew sorties from Egyptian air bases in mid- to late August to bomb pro-Islamist militia forces in the Libyan capital of Tripoli fits a wider trend of speculation about Gulf states’ involvement in Libya’s slow-burn civil war. But the allegation is far from proven, despite having originally come from United States government officials. ...

Issue 976 - 4 September 2014

Qatar: Stiff penalties for dodging conscription

Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani on 11 March signed into law the National Service Act, which will require Qatari males between the ages of 18 and 35 to spend three or four months training with the armed forces. Law number 5 of 2014 outlined harsh penalties for anyone seeking to avoid national service. According to The Peninsula newspaper, citizens dodging conscription will not be ...

Issue 966 - 25 March 2014

Saudi defence budget hits $60bn

Saudi Arabia has overtaken the UK to have the fourth largest defence budget in the world, with an annual outlay of $59.6bn in 2013, according to newly published estimates from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a London-based think tank. Riyadh’s defence spending has been ramped up massively over recent years. From just over SR69bn ($18.4bn) in 2002, the ...

Issue 964 - 20 February 2014

Iran: Rouhani tackles IRGC challenge

President Hassan Rouhani’s adept international diplomacy secured a quick win on the nuclear front, with the interim agreement signed by Tehran and the P5+1 on 24 November (GSN 959/1) paving the way for a scaling back of the crippling sanctions regime, and potentially an end to Iran’s years of isolation. But now he faces the arguably more onerous task of ...

Issue 960 - 12 December 2013

Yemen: Security vacuum expands

The security vacuum in Yemen has continued to expand as political factions battle for control of the security forces. Insecurity is plaguing central provinces such as Dhamar, where, on 24 November, deputy governor Abdullah Mayseri was kidnapped, and Taizz, where Mohammed Moneer, a nephew of governor Shawqi Ahmed Hayel, remains in the hands of kidnappers. There have also been a number ...

Issue 959 - 29 November 2013

Saudi Arabia: Salman Bin Sultan attends Red Alligator exercises


In early October, recently appointed deputy defence minister Prince Salman Bin Sultan Bin Abdelaziz attended the closing events of the British-Saudi Exercise Red Alligator 3 in Jazan Region. The prince was pictured in Al-Riyadh attending a weapons demonstration, which included a 40mm grenade launcher.

Issue 956 - 21 October 2013

Iraq: US deals


Iraq is looking to buy military equipment from the United States worth around $4.7bn. In a series of notices to Congress between 25 July and 9 August, the Defense Security Co-operation Agency reported the potential sales to Iraq.

Issue 953 - 6 September 2013

Prince Salman Bin Sultan named deputy defence minister

The early August appointment of Prince Salman Bin Sultan Bin Abdelaziz as deputy defence minister left Saudi-watchers puzzled, coming as it did just a few months after Prince Fahd Bin Abdullah Bin Mohammed was given the position (GSN 945/1). A son of the late crown prince Sultan Bin Abdelaziz (GSN 911/1), Prince Salman is in his late thirties, and has a degree ...

Issue 953 - 15 August 2013

Moving on from Iraq: Where are key players now?

GSN has been looking at the fortunes of some of the protagonists in the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Many have remained connected to Iraq, setting up or investing in Iraq-linked businesses, working as consultants or taking positions on boards of companies requiring Iraq expertise. Those profiled include Lewis Paul (‘Jerry’) Bremer III, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, Lieutenant General Jay ...

Issue 950 - 4 July 2013

Prince Khalid sacked as King Abdullah continues to clear out the old guard

Deputy defence minister Prince Khalid Bin Sultan was sacked on 20 April, and replaced by a former naval chief from a less prominent branch of the Al-Saud – a surprise to many, even though Khalid had long been considered unpopular with the king. The enfant terrible of Saudi military politics, his 12-year stint at the ministry of defence ended with a brief ...

Issue 945 - 25 April 2013

Peninsula Shield and Abu Musa

Defence ministers of the GCC states, meeting in Kuwait, endorsed an earlier proposal by Oman that the Peninsula Shield joint defence force be increased tenfold to 100,000 men. Currently the Peninsula Shield force, based at Hafr Al-Batin in north-eastern Saudi Arabia, has a strength of about 10,000 men.

Issue 450 - 30 November 1992

It is how weapons are used, not where they come from, that counts

Sweden’s defence minister quit last week after outcry at government plans to help Saudi Arabia build a weapons plant. Swedish outrage at the idea of signing military agreements with undemocratic countries is admirable; British and US newspapers have also recently decried massive arms deals to the Gulf. But arguably, the provenance of weapons – while important to the domestic politics ...

Issue 921 - 5 April 2012

From tense Basra and Baghdad to ‘relaxed’ Anbar: Iraq’s security outlook as US withdrawal looms

With the 31 August deadline looming for the withdrawal of US combat forces in Iraq, GSN has visited locations across the country to conduct a wide-ranging assessment of the security situation and the likely impact of withdrawal. We asked what the drawdown would mean on the ground and whether the Iraqi Security Forces will cope.

Issue 881 - 16 July 2010

Pressure builds for F-22 sales to Gulf

If Iran acquires an advanced, ‘double-digit’ surface-to-air missile (SAM) from Russia or China, the only aircraft capable of operating safely within its airspace would be the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor.

Issue 876 - 7 May 2010

Yemen-based networks take fight to the Kingdom

Yemeni-based militants constitute one external threat to expatriates. Indeed, the prospect of establishing bases in Yemen has been mentioned prominently in militant communiqués and in Saudi government statements since 2006.

Issue 839 - 24 October 2008

Search for security underpins Iran’s economic co-operation with Iraq

The confusion of a post-Saddam Iraq has presented Iran with countless opportunities to extend its tentacles of influence. GSN outlines the Islamic Republic’s strategy for keeping its rival at bay

Issue 889 - 12 November 2010

US confirms Omani role in Iranian release

The US State Department on 15 September confirmed the role of the Omani government in securing the release of imprisoned hiker Sarah Shourd, who was arrested with two other Americans by Iran 13 months ago when walking in the mountainous Iranian/Iraqi border region

Issue 885 - 17 September 2010

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Bahrain's Economic Performance

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Gulf boundaries and hydrocarbons infrastructure

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The Gulf region: economy and society

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Iraqi Kurdistan hydrocarbons infrastructure map

Revised in January 2015, this map provides a detailed overview of hydrocarbons infrastructure in the Kurdistan area of Iraq.

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GSN View

Volatility challenges continuity as Iranians prepare for elections

Heightened tensions with the United States since President Donald Trump came to power in 2017 have undermined the Iranian...

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Threats from jihadists to liberals dog Saudi security agenda

Head of state security General Abdelaziz Bin Mohammed Al-Howairini faces another challenging year at the helm of the...

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A bonanza for sports fans in Saudi Arabia’s soft power games

How quickly the most novel of announcements can become the new normal. The Saudi Press Agency reported on 9 December that,...

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