Middle East – North Africa News Brief

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MENA BRIEF, SITREP September 3 – September 10: Middle East and Northern Africa Regional Low Intensity Conflicts.

[BAHRAIN]:

The past week saw an increase in Shia opposition groups calling for nationwide protests. Despite the surge in calls for protests, few individuals were persuaded to join, resulting in no major or noteworthy protests. However, security forces have made minor arrests during the Shia opposition’s anti-government actions.

[SAUDI ARABIA]:

The Ministry of Health (MoH) reported five new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) this past week. The majority of cases were reported in the Riyadh Province.

[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 three arrests.

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

[EGYPT]:

Egyptian security forces continued their nationwide operations against safe houses and individuals believed to be affiliated with the Islamic State. At least five individuals in Sinai, believed to be affiliated with the Islamic State, died this past week during an Egyptian Military operation.

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 10 militant suspects were killed in a raid in Ard al-Lewaa, Giza, on the morning of September 10th. At least six police officers were also injured during the Ard al-Lewaa raid.

[PAKISTAN]:

A military convoy was ambushed in Balochistan on September 4th, resulting in the death of three Pakistani Army officers. The surprise attack remains unclaimed, but it is believed that Taliban-affiliated militants, operating in the same area, were behind the ambush.

[IRAN]:

Iran has conducted the first live tests of its new air defense system, named Bavar-373. The missile system is Iran’s first long-range missile defense system, and is set to replace the Russian supplied S-300 systems in Iran. Presently, the Iranian air defense system is dependent on Russian-supplied radar and missile systems–chiefly the S-300–for its abilities to defend Iranian air space.

In a press conference on September 3rd, Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili unveiled the new air tracking system, which is intended to be used jointly for civilian and military use.The new system is actually an extension of the S-300 system, just with additional radar and computer systems tracking incoming objects, which makes up the S-300PMU2 system. According to a recent study by Jane’s, the new radar system will have a range of 300kms from each station. The missile system, when combined with the upgraded 48N6E2 missiles provided to the Iranians by the Russians, will have a range of just over 200km.

During the press conference, Brigadier General Esmaili’s also stated that the Iranian air defenses forced a, “U.S. U2 Spy Plane to break course as it was heading towards Iranian airspace.” The incident is said to have occurred over the Strait of Hormuz sometime last week. According to Brigadier General Esmaili, the “spy plane” broke course after it was targeted by “two separate radars, and missile systems” in the area. The missile systems in question were part of the S-300 missile system, which Russia agreed to supply Iran with in 2007. Due to international sanctions imposed on Iran in 2010, the completion of the systems delivery was postponed until 2017 when Russia delivered an upgraded version, the S300PMU2. The U.S. Military command in Qatar, which oversees the majority of U.S. air assets deployed in the region, has not yet commented on the accusations that one of its “spy planes” were about to enter Iranian airspace. The S-300 is also in use in neighboring Syria and Egypt.

Russia and Iran have in recent months held talks over the possibility of purchasing a number of the S-400 systems as well, Russia’s latest and most advanced air defense system. This week’s unofficial demonstration of the Bavar-373 system might be part of this trade negotiation.

LIMA CHARLIE, MENA Desk

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