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Middle East Regional Report Jun 23 – Jul 02 2016

Regional Intelligence Reports to 12 November 2014

Regional Intelligence Reports to 12 November 2014

Fuller versions of these reports and more are available from 5 Dimensions Consultants

Yemen

Former President Saleh secures the ouster of Hadi as the leader of the GPC party. Although Hadi remains president of Yemen, Saleh and the Houthis may well push him out.

Yemen has formed a government that is broadly representative and incudes a majority of new cabinet members. However it remains to be seen how much independence they will have at governing. It is difficult to be positive about Yemen’s future on the medium term. Although the Houthis appear to be making inroads against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and its ally Ansar al-Sharia in places like Bayda and Hodeida, the group will have more difficulty routing out Sunni extremists in the more mountainous areas of the south. Ideology, and the growing Sunni-Shiite rift will also influence the war against these extremists across the region.

Turkey

The AKP demands that the HDP replaces its members who are part of the Imrali Dialogue, a peace-building initiative between the Kurdish separatist group PKK and the government.

Turkey is likely to remain in a state of recurrent violence with localized guerilla forces. We expect a degeneration in security in the South East of the country, with regular bursts of armed conflict.

It will contribute to the spread of nationalistic and, for some, anti-AKP sentiment among other sections of the population. Most of the latter group are preoccupied by the increase in violence and the increasingly oligarchic image of the AKP. As a result, the far right opposition party MHP seems to be gaining considerable ground, though it is still far too weak to fully destabilize the AKP.

Saudi Arabia

Intelligence sources in Saudi Arabia are certain that an Islamic State (IS) terror cell was responsible for the killing of seven Shiites and two police officers in Eastern Province and Qassim earlier this month.

Security sources suggested that 16 of the men involved in planning and carrying out the al-Ahsa attack were on a government watch list and had had their passports confiscated. In addition, one had previously been imprisoned and released after successfully going through a rehabilitation programme. The sources say six men were directly involved in the attacked (not three, as previously reported) and that at least 10 were guarding safehouses where the attackers were arrested.

There are three key takeaways from the incident:

– It is the first successful attack in Saudi Arabia by the IS.

– While outwardly sectarian, the attack also aimed at undermining the country’s political and social structure.

– It succeeded in alienating some elements within the Shiite community.

There is undoubtedly more sectarianism as a result of this attack, despite clear efforts by the media to portray Saudi Arabia as united. Although there is no statistical data, our sources within local companies based in Eastern Province say there is a noticeable increase in sectarian rhetoric on both sides.

Sectarianism is good news for the IS but also for Iran, which has positioned itself as the key Shiite opponent to Sunni extremist groups and has inadvertently grown more popular among some Shiites within the kingdom. Indeed following the attack, pictures of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomenei were raised in the targeted Husseiniyah (and possibly others in al-Ahsa).

On the security front, we expect more targeting of Shiites by Sunni extremists in the coming months. How Shiites respond to this will also have a major impact on sectarian tensions in the foreseeable future.

Lebanon

On November 5, Lebanon’s parliament decided to extend its mandate by two years and seven months. It is the second time the mandate has been extended, the last time this took place was in May 2013 when the government extended its term for 17 months.

On November 5, Lebanon’s parliament decided to extend its mandate by two years and seven months. It is the second time the mandate has been extended, the last time this took place was in May 2013 when the government extended its term for 17 months.

Longer term this continued extension is not good for democracy.

Egypt

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (ABM) officially declared its allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the Islamic State (IS).

ABM’s pledge of loyalty to IS is indicative of the latter’s growing appeal to other Islamist militant groups. In practical terms, the allegiance could see the IS sharing a greater proportion of its resources (including finances and arms) with that the group which could lead to a rise in the number of attacks in the Sinai and beyond. Although Egyptian Ministry of Interior officials say the announcement will make little difference in the fight against militants, privately they are will be concerned. Greater surveillance and intelligence cooperation (with regional powers) is likely as the military carries on with operations in the Sinai.

Of note this was predicted by 5 Dimensions in their report on 06 Dec 13.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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