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Middle East – North Africa News Brief – Extended

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Regional Low Intensity Conflicts.
Covers October 9th to October 24th, 2017 – Current as of October 25th, 2017.

Bahrain:

Shia government opposition groups continue to call for nationwide protests, but have so far failed to reach a critical mass with the majority of resulting public gatherings containing less than 15 people. Security forces made minor arrests relating to Shia opposition groups. The government is reporting that 2017 has seen a noteworthy increase in Shia government opposition related violence.

Egypt:

Egyptian security forces continued their nationwide operations against safe houses and individuals believed to be affiliated with the Islamic State. At least 12 individuals believed to be affiliated with the Islamic State have been detained in the past week.

Security forces continue their operations against the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), and associated organizations, throughout the country. In the past week several raids have been conducted against believed safe houses and individuals with alleged MB affiliations. According to reports, the raids resulted in at least 15 individuals having been detained, and at least 4 individuals dead.

Date: October 20th
Location: Faiyum, Bahariya Oasis, Giza

A security forces team came under heavy attack as they were approaching a safe house in the Faiyum area of Bahariya Oasis in Giza. 16 members of the team were killed, and 13 injured. 15 militants, whose affiliations are yet to be released, were killed and wounded. At least 12 militants are believed to have escaped the scene.

Date: October 23rd
Location: The Libyan-Egyptian border area

The Egyptian Air Force targeted and destroyed a convoy of 8 SUVs traveling towards the Egyptian border in Libya. According to human intelligence (HUMINT) information the convoy was transporting “weapons, ammunition, and explosive materials” with an Salafist movement being the intended receiver.

Turkey:

Security forces have continued their nationwide crackdown on safe houses and individuals believed to be affiliated with the Islamic State. Several raids were carried out this past week, resulting in at least 19 individuals believed to have Islamic State affiliations having been detained, the majority of which have been described as foreigners.

Security forces also continued their long-standing nationwide crackdown on safe houses and on individuals believed to be affiliated with the Kurdish political and/or militant opposition. Several raids were carried out this past week, resulting in at least 21 arrests.

Date: October 9th
Location: Istanbul

Turkish police issued an arrest warrant for a US consulate worker. Police questioned the family in regards to the whereabouts of the US consulate worker throughout the day. The unidentified worker is described as a Turkish national, and is reportedly remaining inside the consulate compound, out of fear of arrest. Last week Turkish police arrested Metin Topuz, a Turkish national and a local US consulate employee. The arrest of Topuz was part of what initiated the diplomatic dispute between the US and Turkey, which resulted in both countries changing their visa standings towards one and other.

Date: October 12th
Location: Istanbul and Washington D.C.

The US Consulate in Istanbul passed a request to the Turkish government to present evidence to support its detention of a US Consulate employee, Metin Topuz, as well as several other American citizens. “We would call upon the government of Turkey to please provide us that evidence, if there is evidence, that they were involved in what Turkey alleges, and that is terrorism,” said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert on October 12th. A few days earlier US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had expressed “profound concern” over the detentions while on a conference call with Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish Foreign Minister.

Date: October 17th
Location: Yenisehir district, Mersin

A police bus was struck by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) while traveling through the Yenisehir district of Mersin. A reported 5 policemen were injured in the attack. No group has claimed the attack.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA):

Security forces continue their operations to counter the rising militant insurgency throughout the Kingdom. In the past week several raids have been conducted against believed safe houses and individuals with alleged militant affiliations. According to reports, the raids resulted in at least 12 individuals having been detained, and at least 2 individuals dead.

The Shi’a al Houthi militia in Yemen continue to send ballistic missiles aimed at population centers in Saudi Arabia. The majority of incoming missiles are reportedly shot down by the Saudi surface-to-air system (SAM), operated by the Royal Saudi Air Defense forces, which consists primarily of a series of US provided MIM-104 Patriot systems. The al Houthi tend to utilize variations of Soviet-era designed ballistic missile systems. One such example is the Qaher-1 missile, which is an improved variation of the Soviet SA-2 short to medium range ballistic missile design. There were no casualties reported due to al Houthi missile strikes this week.

Date: October 16th
Location: Riyadh

Ministry of Health (MoH) reported 4 new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) during the period of October 8th-21st. The majority of cases were found in the greater Riyadh area.

Palestine and Israel:

Date: October 12th
Location: Rafah, Gaza Strip, Palestine

Hamas and Fatah signed a boilerplate agreement to create a unity government in the Gaza Strip. The deal includes plans that the unity government will control the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, while Fatah will have administrative responsibilities in Gaza. The Egyptian government, which participated in signing of the agreement, has stated that the deal is to be into effect on.

Date: December 1st.
Location: New York City, USA

Israel and the US both left the United Nations world heritage body, UNESCO, citing “continuing anti-Israel bias” from the organization. The withdrawal will take effect on 31 December 2018.

Date: October 17th
Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his Security Cabinet to discuss the October 12th reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah, and creation of a unity government, and afterwards stated that there will be no diplomatic negotiations with the unity government. Netanyahu reaffirmed the longstanding Israeli government’s policy of refuting official negotiations with the Palestinian government as long as it includes a militant Hamas.

Iraq:

Date: October 13th
Location: Baghdad, Baghdad Governorate

The Rusafa federal court has ordered the arrest of several Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials.

Date: October 15th
Location: Erbil, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)

The President of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Masoud Barzani, renewed his government’s offer to negotiate with Baghdad, but rejected Baghdad’s demand to nullify the independence referendum vote.

Date: October 16th
Location: Kirkuk, Kirkuk Governorate and Baghdad, Baghdad Governorate

In response to the referendum, which seeks to create a independent from Iraq nation state, held in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) controlled areas, the Baghdad government deployed troops into the area and city of Kirkuk. This resulted in minor skirmishes between Iraqi and Kurdish forces, before the city was largely surrendered by the Kurds to the Iraqi government. The situation in the city has resulted in thousands of civilians fleeing the area. Kirkuk is one of the main oil producing areas in Iraq.

Syria:

Date: October 17th
Location: The city of Raqqa, Raqqa Province

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) coalition declared victory in the city of Raqqa. Raqqa was the de facto capital in the self-declared Islamic State caliphate. While the SDF has declared victory in Raqqa, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) has stated that 10% of the city remain under opposition control.

Date: October 22nd
Location: Deir Ezzor

SDF forces has gained control over the al-Omar oil field from the Islamic State. The al-Omar oil field is the largest oil field in Syria, and is located on the eastern bank of the Euphrates river.

Somalia:

Date: October 14th
Location: Mogadishu

A truck bombing resulted in the death of “at least 358 people and the injury of at least 400.” The truck was heading towards the Medina Gate, part of the secure compound housing international agencies and troops inside the international airport, when it was stopped by Somali security officials. The explosion leveled the nearby Safari Hotel, trapping hundreds under its rubble, and severely damaged the Qatari embassy. The airport compound house, among others, the United Nations presence, most embassies, and is the headquarters of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

The attack remains unclaimed for the time being, but in all likelihood it was carried out by either the Al Shabaab (AS) group, or a splinter group thereof. In recent months AS has reduced its claims to attacks, instead leaving other smaller groups to claim responsibility. Usually claims by such groups hold little merit and present little to no evidence of involvement.

Iran:

Date: October 15th
Location: Tehran

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on October 15th that Iran will continue to adhere to the 2015 nuclear deal so long as European signatories also remain committed to the agreement. “The resistance of the Europeans (against the US) will show whether the nuclear agreement can be carried forward or not,” Zarif said.

Yemen:

Date: October 16th
Location: Undisclosed location inside the al-Bayda province

Two Islamic State in the Arabian Peninsula training camps were struck by US air assets on October 16th. While both camps are believed to have been disabled, there have been no public release of the believed death toll.

LIMA CHARLIE, MENA Desk

Lima Charlie provides global news, insight & analysis by military veterans and service members Worldwide.

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