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Protesters have been returning to the streets of Iraqi cities in increasing numbers over the course of July, leading to a number of deaths and highlighting the fact that Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has yet to come up with any clear solution to the many governance, infrastructure and economic problems which have long plagued the country. 

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Sheikh Khalifa Bin Rashid Al-Khalifa has been appointed to manage the security affairs of his grandfather prime minister Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa, in an edict issued on 4 July by the premier. The following day, Khalifa Bin Rashid held a meeting with PM’s Court Guard commander Brigadier General Mohammed Salman Al-Qassimi and facilities protection department head Colonel Khalid Mohammed Al-Sada. The appointment comes after Khalifa Bin Rashid was appointed an adviser to the PM in late May, with the rank of minister.

Bahrain
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Both Oman and the UAE have reacted with deliberate calmness to the unusual death of Omani citizen Rashid Al-Shehi, who was shot by Emirati border guards on UAE soil on the border between the two countries on 19 June. The incident has not been used by either country to inflame tensions, with no press reports issued beyond the official notifications of the incident.

Oman | United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Denmark has taken Saudi Arabia to task after three members of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA) – a violent separatist movement in Iran – were charged on 10 June with terror-related activities, with the authorities saying they had received funding from an unnamed Saudi intelligence service.

Saudi Arabia
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Qatar Charity chairman Hamad Bin Nasser Al-Thani was named in a lawsuit filed in the District Court for the Eastern District of New York on 10 June against Qatar Charity and two Doha-based banks, Qatar National Bank and Masraf Al-Rayan. The civil case alleges that the Qatari government and Al-Thani family members were involved in financing Palestinian groups, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, who then carried out terrorist attacks that killed and injured people in Israel.

Qatar
Issue 1105 - 19 June 2020

Oman follows UK cyber security lead

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Muscat is to set up a national Cyber Defence Centre affiliated to the Internal Security Service (ISS), under Royal Decree 64/2020 issued by Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq Al-Said on 10 June.The ISS’s existence is rarely acknowledged in Oman and its activities are seldom written about in the press. However, its foray into the public domain by announcing the new cyber centre is similar to the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)’s move towards greater transparency.

Oman
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A security unit on board the British-flagged, Norwegian-crewed Stolt Apel fired at six gunmen aboard two speed boats that had fired an RPG7 rocket-propelled grenade at the 23,000t chemical tanker and were attempting to board the ship. The incident, on 17 May, unfolded 120km off Mukulla in the Gulf of Aden, the UK Maritime Trade Organisation reported.Maritime security company Dryad Global said this was the ninth such incident this year in the international transit corridor through the Gulf of Aden.

Yemen
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The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said it had killed two members of a ‘terrorist group’ and wounded four others, in a clash in the Marivan general district of Kurdistan province on 19 May. It was the latest in a long line of security incidents along Iran’s western border. The latest operation, carried out by the IRGC’s Hamzeh Seyed Al-Shohada Base in partnership with local intelligence agencies, followed an incident on 5 May, when three IRGC soldiers including Colonel Shakiba Salimi were killed by what official sources labelled “counter-revolutionary terrorists” in Divandere.

Iraq
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The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) cadet who killed three US sailors and injured eight others at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida last December was regularly in touch with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), including the night before the attack, US attorney general William Barr told a news conference on 18 May. The Federal Bureau of Investigation found that Second Lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani had joined the RSAF to carry out a “special operation”.

Saudi Arabia
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Coronavirus security impact: The Covid-19 pandemic has undermined the military campaign of Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led campaign against Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria. Training for Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) has been put on hold and some foreign forces were withdrawn. Among those to confirm redeployments were Australia, France and Portugal. The activities of the Combined Joint Task Force have also been hampered by attacks from Iranian-backed militia, according to the US State Department, Defense Department and US Agency for International Development’s latest quarterly report on Operation Inherent Resolve, covering Q1 2020.

Iraq
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Economic dangers: KRG officials have told their United States counterparts they are concerned the region’s economy “is close to collapsing,” according to the latest Operation Inherent Resolve quarterly report covering Q1 2020. The economy is suffering from a collapse in oil revenues as well as the impact of the coronavirus lockdown. The KRG’s Q1 income from oil exports was expected to average $63m a month, down from $300m-350m/month last year.

Iraq
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Iran’s Supreme National Security Council secretary Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani met the Iraqi top team during an early March visit to Baghdad, including President Barham Salih, caretaker prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, National Intelligence Service chief Mustafa Al-Kadhimi and national security advisor Falih Fayyadh. Itn the first visit by a senior Iranian since the United States attack in January which killed Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp’s Quds Force head Qassim Soleimani and Popular Mobilisation Units deputy chief Abu Mahdi Al-Mohandes, Shamkhani claimed the attack marked “the countdown to the expulsion of America from the region”.

Iraq
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Sierra Leone has sent a delegation to work at the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) headquarters in Riyadh, bringing the total number of countries with permanent delegates to 21. The organisation was set up at the behest of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in December 2015, but has developed only slowly since then. IMCTC has 41 members drawn from around the Gulf, the wider Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Saudi Arabia
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A number of Omani bloggers have come under additional pressure from their government to stop posting online, in the wake of Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq Al-Said assuming power in January. Sources told GSN that a number of online activists had been subjected to a campaign by Oman’s internal security services to persuade them to go off-line. It comes as a number of London-based political exiles have been ramping up their output since the change in ruler, offering additional commentary on the evolving political scene.

Oman
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The United States’ Central Command (Centcom) in late February submitted its ‘unfunded priorities’ list to Congress. On top of its 2021 budget request submitted earlier in February, Centcom commander US Marine Corps General Kenneth ‘Frank’ McKenzie wants an extra $371m to increase intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capacity in the region, and to conduct, inform and influence activities against “malign state actors and their proxies”. McKenzie also wants $21m to build up facilities at the Omani port of Duqm.

Oman