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The Saudi Ministry of Interior said on 23 March that it had arrested two men in connection with an attack on two German diplomats who were driving near Awamiyah, in Eastern Province, on 14 January. The diplomats were unharmed, but their car caught fire. A security spokesman for the ministry was quoted on state news agency SPA as saying Ahmad Bin Hussain Bin Ali Al-Aradi had been arrested on 3 February, and that Hadi Bin Yousef Radhi Al-Hezaim had been arrested on 16 March, accused of involvement in the shooting attack on the diplomatic car “and other terrorist operations in Awamiyah”.

Saudi Arabia
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As Iraq readies itself for elections just six weeks away, there is still no improvement in the security situation. At the time of writing, more than 250 people had been killed in March, according to a tally by the French news agency AFP. On 9 March, 45 people were killed and 157 injured in a bomb attack on a security checkpoint in the city of Al-Hilla, while another series of bomb attacks on 15 March killed 19 people in Baghdad. Parliamentary candidate Mohammed Hussein Hamid, who was going to stand in the coming elections with Saleh Al-Mutlaq’s Al-Arabiya list (GSN 965/5), was shot dead by gunmen in Baghdad on 8 March. He was the second candidate to be assassinated this year, and the security situation for parliamentary candidates is expected to deteriorate; 14 candidates were killed ahead of provincial elections in April 2013 (GSN 952/6).

Iraq
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Iraq’s relations with Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been hostile for some time, but Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s 9 March interview with France 24 upped the ante. In a 20-minute interview filmed at the opulent presidential residence in Baghdad, Maliki – with the 30 April general election in his sights – unequivocally accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of supporting terrorism in Syria and Iraq, going so far as to say that “Iraq’s sectarian and terrorist crisis is primarily the responsibility of these two countries”. “I accuse them of inciting and encouraging the terrorist movements. I accuse them of supporting them politically and through the media, of supporting them with money and buying arms for them,” Maliki told journalist Marc Perelman in a measured tone. “I accuse them of declaring an open war against the Iraqi government. I also accuse them of sheltering the leaders of Al-Qaeda and takfiris...”

Saudi Arabia | Iraq | Qatar
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On 28 August 2009, 23-year-old Yemeni born Islamic militant Abdullah Hassan Tali Al-Asiri approached Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef (MBN), and detonated a bomb thought to have been hidden in his rectum. Never before had an Al-Qaeda militant come so close to killing a high-profile Saudi prince. MBN, who was deputy interior minister at the time, had been due to meet Al-Asiri, just as he had met dozens of militants who had sought amnesty themselves since 2003. Al-Asiri had been communicating with the Ministry of Interior (MoI) for three months, and having surrendered to officials in Najran on 27 August, kept the bomb hidden until an iftar at a palace in Jeddah the next day, where he was to meet MBN.

Saudi Arabia
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The US Department of Treasury has imposed sanctions on two prominent Gulf citizens – Abd Al-Rahman Al-Nuaymi, the Qatari head of Geneva-based rights organisation Alkarama, and Abd Al-Wahhab Al-Humayqani, the secretary-general of Yemen’s Rashad Union – accusing them of publicly working for human rights while secretly channelling finances to Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Al-Nuaymi and Al-Humayqani were both named Specially Designated Global Terrorists on 18 December; Nuaymi – a history professor who is thought to have resigned from the Alkarama foundation following the US decision – has issued a statement denying what he called “totally unfounded accusations” aimed at silencing his objections to US policies in the Arab world.

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In a brazen show of force, militants attacked Yemen’s Ministry of Defence compound on 5 December. The attack and subsequent clashes killed 56 people, according to state news agency Saba. A preliminary report submitted to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi indicated the assault was conducted by 12 men, most of whom were Saudi nationals, just before 9am. After storming the compound, the attackers detonated a car bomb near the hospital inside it. Clashes between militants and special forces continued until around 4:30am on 6 December. According to Saba, among the fatalities was the country director of German development agency GIZ and his assistant.

Yemen
Issue 959 - 29 November 2013

Yemen: Security vacuum expands

Free

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 of violent attacks in Sanaa, including the killing of a Belarussian defence contractor by gunmen on a motorbike on 26 November.

Yemen
Issue 958 - 14 November 2013

Yemen diplomatic missions on high alert

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Following the murder of a German citizen on 6 October, foreign diplomatic missions have enforced limited mobility in Sanaa, and are increasingly concerned over the deteriorating security environment throughout Yemen. The man, a guard at the German embassy, was attacked by three assailants outside the main entrance of Al-Jandul supermarket in the Hadda district, where the embassy is located. Diplomatic sources told GSN that most western missions have responded to rising security threats by granting non-essential staff extended leave, coinciding with the Eid Al-Adha holiday which fell in mid-October. 


Yemen
Free

The images and tales that emerged from Al-Shabaab’s attack on Kenya’s Westgate mall were searingly dreadful. Mothers shielding toddlers, blood pooling on tiles, the sheer terror of gunfire in what was supposed to be a benign location. Rarely has the vocabulary of winning been so unconsonant. “We have defeated our enemies,” Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta declared as the four-day siege came to an end on 24 September, leaving at least 70 people dead. For all the bravery of security forces, for all the unity of horrified Kenyans, it is wrong to suggest that anyone wins.

Yemen
Issue 953 - 07 September 2013

Saudi Arabia: Counter-terrorism donation

Free

Saudi Arabia has donated $100m to the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCTT). The 7 August announcement was made during King Abdullah Bin Adelaziz’s annual Eid Al-Fitr address, in Mecca. Saudi Arabia and the UN signed an agreement to set up the UNCCT in 2011, with Riyadh giving $10m towards its establishment. Based in New York, it works with experts to reinforce UN counterterrorism initiatives.

Saudi Arabia
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On 2 August, the United States issued a global security alert, warning of “the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula”. A string of embassy closures by the US and other governments followed two days later; some remained closed for a week. In Yemen, which seemed to be the epicentre of concerns, the embassy in Sanaa remained closed for routine consular services to the time of writing. US officials said the alarm was raised following intelligence that senior members of Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) had been discussing a major attack. Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi expanded on that on 23 August in an address to police cadets which was broadcast on state television.

Yemen
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In the midst of a resurgent security crisis, the embattled government of Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki is grasping at an ambitious plan to expand the country’s special forces, apparently preferring a security-led approach to a full commitment to sectarian reconciliation. It is a plan which, under scrutiny, appears to be more difficult and less decisive than Baghdad hopes
By April 2010, when a US guided bomb killed Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) emir Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi and military commander Abu Ayyub Al-Masri, the US’ Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) had man-hunting in Iraq down to a fine art. GSN readers will remember the blow-by-blow coverage of Iraq’s security comeback in 2008-10, an important aspect of which was the defeat of AQI.

Iraq
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A Kuala Lumpur-bound Oman Air flight from Muscat, with 226 passengers and 11 crew on board, made an emergency landing in Mumbai on 23 June, following a mid-air bomb scare, Press Trust of India reported. Security agencies searched every passenger and baggage but nothing was found, a Mumbai Airport spokesperson said.

Oman
Issue 949 - 21 June 2013

Yemen: Pipeline explosion


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Yemen’s main oil export pipeline was blown up again on 13 June. Local officials told news agencies that the flow of crude had to be stopped after tribesmen attacked a section of the line in pipeline. The pipeline, which goes to the Red Sea, had just been repaired following a similar attack on 24 May.

Yemen
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Two Gulf banks – Bank of Muscat in Oman and Rakbank in the UAE – were the victims of a brazen global $45m cyber-heist, when hackers accessed the systems of their card-processing companies and used the data to withdraw millions of dollars from cash machines around the world. The highly co-ordinated attack – which involved harvesting pins, erasing withdrawal limits and encoding the magnetic strips on dummy cards – saw so-called casher cells swoop on ATMs in more than 20 countries in just a few hours. A total of nine people – seven in the US and two in Germany – have so far been arrested, but the hackers themselves remain at large.


Oman | United Arab Emirates (UAE)