Image MENA Middle East News

Middle East – North Africa News Brief – Extended

by

Regional Low Intensity Conflicts. Covers November 20th to November 29th, 2017 – Current as of November 30th, 2017.

| [Read Middle East Bureau Chief John Sjoholm’s analysis of the ongoing developments in Lebanon, and the previous article on how it links in with recent events in Saudi Arabia]

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, however, is reporting that there has seen a noteworthy increase in Shia government opposition related violence in 2017.

Bahrain is quickly finding itself on the forefront of the increasingly active, low intensity conflict between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Iran. Several incidents, particularly a recent surge in Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks, in the last few months have been attributed to Shia militia organizations that allegedly have direct or indirect ties to Iran. The recent attack on the oil pipeline hub in Buri on Nov. 10 has been attributed to Iranian proxy agents.

Egypt

Egyptian security forces continued their nationwide operations against safe houses and individuals believed to be affiliated with the Islamic State. At least 6 individuals believed to be affiliated with the Islamic State have been detained in the past week. A raid on a safe house in the Ismailia Province, in northern Sinai, resulted in the death of 11 individuals suspected of being part of local Islamic State affiliated militia movements.

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 2 individuals dead.

Security operations continue along the Egyptian-Libyan border area with the Egyptian Air Force striking Salafist-Jihadist groups convoys crossing from Libya to Egypt. The border land, on the Libyan side, have become a haven for emerging new militia groups, including the al Qaeda-linked group Ansar al-Islam.

-November 23rd, Wadi al Nutrun, Beheira Province, South of Alexandria, Egypt

Teams from the Egyptian police counter terrorism unit carried out a set of raids against “terrorist”-safe houses throughout the Wadi al Nutrun and al Nubaria areas. 3 suspects were shot and killed during an exchange of fire with one of the police entry teams during a raid in Wadi al Nutrun. That raid resulted in 9 arrests.

-November 23rd, al Salam City, al Hamoul area, Kafr el Sheikh, North to Cairo, Egypt

Teams from the Egyptian police counter terrorism unit carried out a set of raids against “terrorist”-safe houses throughout the al Salam City area of Kafr el Sheikh. The locations raided are described by the Ministry of Interior (MoI) as “high value targets”. The safe houses are believed to be linked to the Liwa al-Thawra militant group.

-November 24th, Bir al-Abed, Northern Sinai, Egypt

An attack on the al Rawda Mosque in Bir al-Abed in northern Sinai resulted in the death of 235 people, and 130 injured. The attack was initiated by using 2 separate backpack Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that were thrown into the main prayer hall during Friday Prayers. As people inside the mosque attempted to flee the scene of the explosion, gunmen opened fire outside the mosque. The Cairo government responded to the attack by increasing their security presence throughout the Sinai peninsula, and to announce 3 days of mourning.

The attack also resulted in the postponement of the reopening of the Rafah Palestinian-Egyptian border crossing in Gaza, which was scheduled for Nov. 25.

-November 26th, Cairo, Egypt

The central Egyptian court upheld the death sentence of 7 people over the beheadings of 21 Christians in Libya earlier this year. The individuals sentenced are all believed to be affiliated with the Islamic State. The court also sentenced 10 people that had supportive roles in the beheadings to 25 years in jail.

-November 27th, Gambo, Central African Republic

Christian militias killed an Egyptian UN peacekeeper during an attack on a UN convoy. The attack was carried out in Gambo, located 60 miles from the town of Bangassou, where more than 100 civilians and 3 Moroccan peacekeepers were killed during incidents in May and July. Central African Republic (CAR) is presently undergoing a near-civil war state between militia and government entities. In response to the situation in CAR, the United Nations has created a 13,000-strong Central African Republic mission, known as MINUSCA. The mission for MINUSCA is to attempt to restore order throughout the country. The death of the Egyptian peacekeeper makes for the 13th death of UN peacekeepers this year in CAR.

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 26 individuals believed to have Islamic State affiliations having been detained. The majority of these individuals have been described as foreigners. Among the detained this week is a “high-ranking” commander known by his nom de guerre, “Abu Hanzala.” During the raid on Abu Hanzala’s facility in Ankara’s Etimesgut district, 60 children were “rescued” from extremist indoctrination and training.

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 5 arrests.

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 3 individuals having been detained.

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.

The Saudi Ministry of Health (MoH) announced on Nov. 28 that 2 new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) were discovered between Nov. 19 and 25.

Somalia and Somaliland

US air assets have increased its air-to-ground operations against Islamic State, and affiliated organizations operatives and hubs. In the past week, US drones under the control of US Africa Command (AFRICOM) have carried out at least 1 attack, which resulted in over 100 Shabaab affiliated individuals. AFRICOM has carried out more than 12 strikes in Somalia targeting al-Shaabab and Islamic State fighters since it initiated its new, intensified, strategy on Nov. 3. Since the intensified strategy was deployed, US air assets have carried out at least 16 attacks, resulting in an estimated 140 deaths. The latest strike was against the so called “Raso Camp” in the Bulobarde province, roughly 100 miles north of Mogadishu and was coordinated with the central Somali government.

The number of US military forces in Somalia has more than doubled during 2017 to over 500 people. This is according to a recently released Pentagon report. The majority of men deployed are described as special operations personnel on a mission to advise local forces in the US-supported fight against Islamic militants throughout Somalia. The men largely fall under the command of AFRICOM. The total contingent of US military personnel in Somalia is now the largest it has been since the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” incident, where 18 US soldiers died.

Yemen

US air assets have increased its air-to-ground operations against Islamic State operatives and hubs. In the past week, US drones have carried out at least 3 attacks, resulting in the death of 5 individuals that are described as Islamic State fighters. Since January, the US has carried out more than 100 strikes against ground targets in Yemen.

Iraq and Kurdistan

-November 21st, Tuz Khurmatu, north of Baghdad, Iraq

A Suicide Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (SVBIED) exploded in a market, killing at least 21 people. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State through their al Amaq news outlet.

-November 27th, Narawan area, east of Baghdad, Iraq

5 suicide vest carrying Islamic State-affiliated fighters entered a crowded market area in the Nahrawan area on Nov. 27. Police officers on the scene were able to disable 3 of the attackers. The 2 remaining attackers detonated their vests, resulting in the death of 11 people. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State through their al Amaq news outlet.

-November 27th, Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq

The Kurdistan Regional Governments premier Nechirvan Barzani, son of Massoud Barzani, accused the Iraqi central government in Baghdad of avoiding dialog with Kurdish representatives. Specifically, Barzani is accusing the Iraqi government of skirting the issue of the future of the independent Kurdistan.

LIMA CHARLIE, MENA Desk

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

For up-to-date MENA news, please follow us on twitter at @LimaCharlieMENA and John Sjoholm @JohnSjoholmLC

In case you missed it:

Image Lima Charlie News Headline Saudi Arabia Business B.Jones NOV24Image Lima Charlie News Headline Saad Harari un resignation NOV22