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Middle East – North Africa News Brief – Regional Low Intensity Conflicts

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MENA Regional Low Intensity Conflicts: October 2nd to October 8th, 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 contain less than 15 people. Security forces made minor arrests relating to Shia opposition groups. The government is however reporting that 2017 has seen a noteworthy increase in Shia government opposition related violence.

  • October 2nd
    • Budaiya Highway, Daih
      • 5 police officers were injured from an explosion while providing security for an Ashura procession. The Shiite militia group Wa’ad Allah Brigades claimed the attack.

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 have been detained in the past week.

Security forces also continued their operations against safe houses and individuals believed to be affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and its various breakaway factions. At least 26 individuals believed to be affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, or associated organizations, have been detained in the past week.

  • October 5th
    • Badee Street, Rawd al Faraq, Cairo
      • Security forces dismantled a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED). The vehicle was reported by witnesses as suspicious, and was found to have explosives inside it upon inspection. Also inside the vehicle were 2 automatic weapons. The vehicle was parked near both a police station and a church.

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 30 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 3 arrests.

  • October 3rd
    • Ankara
      • Local authorities apprehended an individual that they describe as a “senior Islamic State” commander during a raid against a safe house at an undisclosed location in Ankara. The man was identified by local authorities as Khaider Kareem, also known as Abu Yousef. Kareem is believed to have been a member of al Qaeda in Iraq who opposed US operations in Iraq. US Intelligence believed that he had been killed during a drone strike in Iraq some years ago. 38 sets of false identity papers were also discovered during the raid.
    • October 4th
      • Istanbul
        • Turkish authorities arrested a member of the local staff at the US Consulate in Istanbul. The individual was arrested on charges of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and Turkey’s government” and espionage. The US Consulate has stated that it believes the charges to be meritless, and accuses the Turkish government of attempting to skirt legal procedures.
      • Mugla
        • 40 men, including senior military officers, were sentenced on October 4th for their involvement in the attempted coup d’etat on Turkish President Erdogan in 2016. Among those sentenced on were Brigadier General Gokhan Sonmezates, And Major Sukru Seymen of the Special Forces, who led it. All sentenced were given aggravated life sentences, the harshest penalty available under Turkish criminal law.
      • Yüksekova District, Hakkari Province
        • 4 soldiers died and 4 others were injured in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) explosion. Turkish authorities claim that the device was planted by members from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
      • October 5th
        • Ankara
          • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that Turkey will soon proceed to close its border to northern Iraq, and close down the air space in the border area. This in response to the Kurdish Regional Government in Northern Iraq’s independence referendum.
        • October 8th
          • Ankara
            • US Embassy in Turkey announced that all non-immigration visa services available to Turkish citizens will be suspended.
            • Turkish authorities responded US Embassy’s statement by issuing a similar decree which introduced the same restrictions, but for US citizens.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:

  • October 4th
    • The greater Riyadh area
      • Security forces carried out 3 separate raids against safe houses believed to be used by Islamic State cells in the early hours of October 4th. The raids resulted in the deaths of 3 individuals, and the capture of 8. According to official statements, authorities discovered submachine guns, ammunition, explosive materials, and Islamic State propaganda at all sites.
    • Hail City, Hail Province
      • Security forces arrested 24 individuals for inciting tribal tensions by spreading rumors.
    • October 5th
      • Moscow, Russia
        • Russian President Vladimir V. Putin met with King Salman of Saudi Arabia in Moscow. The two leaders discussed the potential sale of Russian S-400 surface to air missile systems, and increased military and economical cooperation between the two nations.
      • October 6th
        • Washington D.C., USA
          • The US State Department has cleared a potential $15 billion request for Saudi Arabia to purchase the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system. The purchase is part of the $110 billion weapons sale offering that President Trump offered to the Saudi government during his May 20th visit to Saudi Arabia.
        • October 1-7th
          • Unspecified location
            • Ministry of Health (MoH) reported one new case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the last week. The case was discovered by doctors in Tabuk City on October 3rd.

Kuwait:

  • October 3rd
    • Umm al-Hayman, near Ali Sabah al Salem, Ahmadi Province
      • A weapons cache was discovered by construction workers. The cache contained 6 AK-47 patterned rifles, 1 pistol, 1 smoke grenade and ammunition. Local authorities describe the weapons as having been prepared for long term storage.

Iran:

  • October 2nd
    • Washington D.C., USA
      • US District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle ordered Iran to pay $63 million US Dollars to Amir Hekmati, a US citizen, for “pain and suffering”. Hekmati was arrested for espionage while visiting Iran in August 2011. He was initially sentenced to death, but Iran’s Supreme Court overturned that decision and gave him a 10-year sentence. He was released after over 4 years in an Iranian prison as part of a prisoner exchange deal made with the US.
    • October 4th
      • Tehran
        • An Iranian court has sentenced a member of Iran’s nuclear negotiation team to 5 years in jail for espionage. The individual sentenced was identified as Abdolrasul Dori Esfahani, an Iranian-Canadian. Iranian security agencies have in recent months arrested several businessmen, including Iranians holding joint American, European or Canadian citizenship, as part of a crackdown on “Western infiltration”. Those that have been tried in court have all been sentenced to espionage and cooperation with the US Government to a minimum jail sentence of 3 years.

Syria:

  • October 3rd
    • Town of Sukhna, Homs Province
      • 8 Hezbollah fighters died due to a US Drone strike against their positions, this according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.
    • October 8th
      • Idlib Province
        • Turkish affiliated militia groups advanced on Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) positions in the Idlib province.

 Yemen:

  • October 1st
    • Sana’a
      • A US MQ-9 Reaper drone was shot down by air defense systems controlled by the al Houthi militia in Sana’a. The MQ-9 is predominantly an armed hunter-killer drone but the unmanned aircraft is also capable of surveillance and intelligence collection. It is believed that the drone was operating in a intelligence collection capability at the time of the incident.
    • October 8th
      • Saoud District, Marib Province
        • A US drone strike took out a vehicle carrying 5 individuals believed to have belonged to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

 Tunisia:

  • October 8th
    • 54 kilometers outside of the Tunisian coastline
      • 8 bodies of Tunisian migrants were recovered after the vessel that they were traveling on collided with a Tunisian naval boat patrolling the waters. Between 70 and 80 people were onboard the boat when the Tunisian naval patrol boat collided with it.

Jordan:

  • October 5th
    • Amman
      • Jordanian State Security Court certified the Jordanian intelligence and security services accusations against 2 women accused of having recruited fighters on behalf, of and promoted the cause of, the Islamic State. The court will reconvene to review the case on October 11th.

Iraq:

  • October 1st
    • Mosul’s Old City, Western Mosul
      • Islamic State affiliated fighters carried out an ambush against Iraqi Federal Police forces on October 1st. The attack resulted in the death of 4 Islamic State fighters, and 2 Iraqi Federal Police soldiers.
    • October 2nd
      • Hawija Province
        • Iraqi Army and Shi’ite paramilitary forces jointly gained control over the Rashad air base, located 30 kilometers south of Hawija.
      • October 3rd
        • Baghdad
          • The Iraqi Government has ordered Iraq’s Central Bank to stop selling dollars and to no longer allow foreign currency transfers to leading banks in the Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq. This as part of the Baghdad government’s’ response to the Kurdistan Independence Referendum.
        • October 5th
          • Hawija Province
            • Iraqi forces has claimed to have “captured” the Islamic State’s stronghold in Hawija, northern Iraq, according to a public statement made by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Sudan:

  • October 4th
    • Washington D.C., USA
      • The US is preparing to lift certain economic sanctions against Sudan according to a statement made by a US State Department spokesperson. The lifting of sanctions will suspend a trade embargo, unfreeze assets and remove financial restrictions that have impeded the Sudanese economy. An official announcement is expected to be made on October 13th.

LIMA CHARLIE, MENA Desk

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

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