NATO chiefs urged to seek Mideast allies against terror

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May, US President Donald Trump and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrive for a working dinner at The Parc du Cinquantenaire — Jubelpark Park in Brussels on July 11, 2018, during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit. (AFP / POOL / BENOIT DOPPAGNE)
Updated 12 July 2018
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NATO chiefs urged to seek Mideast allies against terror

  • Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst and fellow at the New America Foundation’s International Security Program, says "collective European defense requires renewed effort to effectively combat hybrid asymmetric threats, to include terrorism."
  • US President Donald Trump has demanded that NATO members double their spending on defense.

JEDDAH: NATO chiefs were urged on Wednesday to seek allies in the Middle East to counter terrorist threats before they emerged in Europe. 

“Collective European defense requires renewed effort to effectively combat hybrid asymmetric threats, to include terrorism,” said Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst and fellow at the New America Foundation’s International Security Program, who is attending the NATO summit in Brussels.

“The recently uncovered terror plots in Paris and Belgium, which have all the hallmarks of state sponsorship, and the mass terror attacks in Europe in 2016, should really highlight the need for NATO member states to counter such threats with innovative methods.

“This means not only depending on the US as a strategic partner, but also greater investment in their own defense and working with partners from the Middle East to South Asia to counter and deter asymmetric threats before they hit European shores.”

US President Donald Trump shocked allies as the summit began by suddenly demanding that they double their spending on defense. “He suggested that countries not only meet their commitment of 2 percent of their GDP on defence spending, but that they increase it to 4 percent,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

Trump’s surprise demand came after he clashed with Chancellor Angela Merkel, called Germany a “captive” of Russia because of its gas links and singled out Berlin for failing to pay its way.

Later all 29 NATO leaders, including Trump, backed a joint statement committing themselves to greater “burden sharing” and to the alliance’s founding commitment that an attack on one member is an attack on them all — with no mention of the 4 percent.


Is a spate of terror incidents in Egypt a ‘last dance’ for militants or a failure in security operations

Updated 15 min ago
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Is a spate of terror incidents in Egypt a ‘last dance’ for militants or a failure in security operations

  • Some have speculated that the sudden spate of incidents is the militants lashing out to spoil the image that Egypt is returning to stability

CAIRO: Three terrorist attacks in the space of as many days have raised questions over whether the Egyptian security forces have brought extremist militancy in the country under control.

The attacks between Friday and Monday came after a period of relative calm. The Egyptian military has been involved in an extensive operation against terrorist groups in their stronghold in the Sinai Peninsula for more than a year. Police forces have also been carrying out operations against cells in a large number of governorates.

The first of the three incidents was a failed attempt to plant a bomb near security forces in Cairo on Friday. On Saturday, however, a massive blast killed 14 members of the military on a security mission near El-Arish in Sinai.
The third bombing on Monday could have been just as deadly. A suicide bomber blew himself up after he was chased by police in the densely populated Al-Hussein district of Cairo near Al-Azhar Mosque. In the end three officers were killed.
The attacks came after months of relative calm in an insurgency that began after the Muslim Brotherhood president Muhammad Mursi was removed from power in 2012.
Since then, militants have targeted the Egyptian security forces, churches, coptic Christians, tourists and ordinary Egyptians, killing hundreds.
In November 2017, gunmen carried out the deadliest terror attack in Egyptian history — killing more than 300 people at a Sufi mosque in northern Sinai.

In response, the military launched a vast operation in February last year to “eliminate terrorism in Egypt.” The operation is ongoing.

Some have speculated that the sudden spate of incidents is the militants lashing out to spoil the image that Egypt is returning to stability.

“[Terrorists] want to give Egypt a bad image to foreigners living abroad, on order to make a point. They want to abort the democratic reform process that Egypt’s been implementing in the past period,” MP Mohamed Maher Hamed told Arab News.

Author and political analyst Walid Qutb said Egypt is keen to host more important regional and international events and forums, including the African Nations football tournament, and a drop in terror-related incidents is key to this.

He said the return of terrorist operations at this time is an attempt to send a clear message that Egypt is not a safe country. What the extremists have done recently is a final dance and lost, Qutb said.
But political analyst Nabil Omar told Arab News that the elimination of terrorism requires more than just maintaining security forces.
There needs to be improved education and the spreading of correct information to improve the mentality of Egyptians, he said.
“I don’t think that the return of terrorist operations happening currently is linked to changes in politics in Egypt,” Omar said. “It has nothing to do with how well security is either. “Terrorist attacks are happening because the terrorists in question have decided to do so.”
The recent incidents in Cairo are both strange, Omar said. They targeted police forces in locations packed with civilians.
This could mean that terrorists want their attacks to be even bigger and deadlier, even if that comes at the cost of the innocent or unarmed.
“The positive thing here is that these recent terrorist attacks came after a long period of silence. During that period of time, the Egyptian military had the upper hand in relation to the terrorists – who used to be more in control before,” Omar said.
The attacks came after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi described to the Munich Security Summit this week the Egyptian experience in regards to terrorism.