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Issue 1071 - 13 December 2018

Iraq/Yemen: Terrorism deaths fall in 2017

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Despite a notable fall in the number of deaths caused by terrorist activity, Iraq continues to rank as the country worst affected by terrorism, according to the latest Global Terrorism Index, compiled by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP). IEP recorded 4,271 deaths attributable to terrorism in Iraq in 2017, down from 9,783 the year before and the lowest number since 2012. There was also a significant fall in the number of terrorist incidents in Iraq, with 1,956 in 2017 compared to 2,969 the year before.

Yemen | Iraq
Free

The State Department has approving the sale of five Armed Bell 407GX helicopters configured with M240 7.62mm machine guns to the Iraqi government, at a total cost of $82.5m. Also included as part of the package are secure communication radios, automatic plume detectors, airborne countermeasure dispensing systems and rocket launchers.The helicopters will help compensate the Iraqi Security Forces for the loss of seven IA407 helicopters in combat in recent years. The new models represent an upgrade on the IA407.

Iraq
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Kuwaiti deputy foreign minister Khaled Al-Jarallah has publicly backed a proposal from the United States to form a new Middle East Security Alliance (MESA), popularly referred to as an ‘Arab NATO’. Speaking at an event in Kuwait City on 11 October, he said “we have always welcomed this idea as we believe we are in need of such alliances in light of the challenges we face. We need a bloc capable of meeting these challenges.”

Kuwait
Issue 1066 - 21 September 2018

UAE/Abu Dhabi: Anti-terror chief meets MBZ

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Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) military commander General Raheel Sharif held talks with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and UAE Armed Forces deputy supreme commander Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (MBZ) at Al-Shati Palace in Abu Dhabi on 9 September. The official statement said they discussed efforts to combat terrorism and reviewed the IMCTC’s strategy and mechanisms.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Iranian and Israeli forces have traded fire across Syria’s border with the Israeli-held Golan Heights. The attacks began with around 20 Iranian-made Grad and Fajr rockets being fired at Israeli army bases in the early hours of 10 May. Israel alleged the assault was carried out by the Quds Force, the elite wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), and swiftly retaliated with strikes on dozens of Iranian military sites in Syria and on Syrian air defences.

Israel | Iran
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There was one awkward element to Crown Prince and defence minister Mohammed Bin Salman’s protracted tour of the United States: a New York court on 28 March rejected Riyadh’s attempts to dismiss a lawsuit against the Saudi government for its alleged role in providing support to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 1053 - 08 February 2018

Bahrain: Review of UK security pact

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Interior minister Lieutenant-General Sheikh Rashid Bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa travelled to the UK in late January for talks with government ministers and backbench MPs, in an effort to impress upon London the terrorist threats his government says it is facing.

Bahrain
Issue 1052 - 25 January 2018

Qatar: Security agreement with NATO

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Doha took another step to bolster its standing with key Western allies by signing a security agreement with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in Brussels. The deal was signed on 16 January by Qatar Armed Forces head of international military co-operation Brigadier General Tariq Khalid Alobaidli and NATO deputy secretary-general Rose Gottemöller. It provides a framework for the exchange of classified information and is similar in scope to existing security agreements NATO has with Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE.

Qatar
Issue 1051 - 11 January 2018

Region: Fewer suicide attacks in 2017

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The Institute of National Security Studies (INSS) on 7 January issued its annual tally of suicide attacks, which the Israeli think tank said “remain one of the most effective tools available to terrorist organisations to achieve their objectives” and to “ build an image of power that is far greater than their actual power”. The INSS’s Terrorism and Low Intensity Conflict research programme said 348 suicide attacks were carried out in 23 countries by some 623 terrorists in 2017, the lowest number since 2013.

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The Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC), a group now consisting of 41 countries that was announced by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and defence minister Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) in December 2015, finally held its inaugural meeting on 26 November in Riyadh. The half-day event held under the theme ‘allied against terrorism’ marked the official launch of the organisation, which promises to co-ordinate efforts against terrorism in terms of ideology, communications, financing and military action.

Issue 1042 - 04 August 2017

Boat seizures add to Gulf water risks

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A series of incidents involving Iranian and Saudi naval forces over recent weeks is heightening the risk of a more violent confrontation between rivals. The first notable event was on 16 June when Saudi Arabia claimed to have captured members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) intent on attacking the offshore Marjan oil field. Iranian officials insisted they were fishermen who had inadvertently drifted off course in heavy seas. Since then IRGC forces have seized Saudi boats in the waters off Bushehr provinces on two occasions, on 7 and 22 July, for trespassing into Iranian waters.

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The French Ministry of Defence is providing a $1.1m grant to fund a US-French consortium developing technology to digitally document heritage in conflict zones. The Art Newspaper reported that the three-year BIG3D project is intended to widen access to the 3D data, which can be used by troops on the ground and scholars around the world to assess the condition of at-risk monuments and sites. Peacetime applications include sites threatened by climate change and urban growth.

Issue 1040 - 07 July 2017

UAE: Border patrol aircraft deal

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The UAE is reportedly close to finalising a deal with US-based Iomax to buy 12 more Archangel border patrol aircraft, with options for a further dozen, according to defence industry specialist Jane’s.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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In a surprise announcement on 14 June, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Doha said it had withdrawn its troops deployed on the border between Eritrea and Djibouti. Underlining the extent that Qatar and other Gulf states have become significant players in East Africa, the move quickly triggered a crisis. On 16 June, Djiboutian foreign minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf said Eritrean troops had seized the contested Dumeira Mountain and Dumeira Island areas, and his country’s military was on alert.

Qatar
Free

With Islamic State (IS or Daesh) continuing to lose ground in Mosul, the time will soon come when Iraqis can look beyond the destruction wrought by that invidious group and dare to focus instead on the future. They can do so buoyed by some promising signs that things could at last start to move in the right direction. A recent survey of 1,338 Iraqis found they were more optimistic about the country’s direction, not least because of improvements in security and reductions in sectarianism.

Iraq