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.


Rocket hits site of foreign oil firms in Iraq's Basra

Updated 1 min 8 sec ago
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Rocket hits site of foreign oil firms in Iraq's Basra

  • The rocket hit Burjeisa residential and operations headquarters west of Basra
  • Police said the rocket was a short-range Katyusha missile

BASRA: A rocket landed at the headquarters for several global major oil companies, including US giant ExxonMobil, near Iraq’s southern city of Basra early on Wednesday, wounding two Iraqi workers, police said.

The rocket hit the Burjesia residential and operations headquarters west of the city, they said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

A security source said Exxon was preparing to evacuate some 20 foreign staff immediately.

Other companies operating at the site include Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Italian Eni SpA, oil officials said.

Police said the rocket was a short-range Katyusha missile that landed 100 meters from the section of the site used as a residence and operations center by Exxon.

Burjesia is near the Zubair oilfield operated by Eni.

Exxon evacuated staff last month after the United States cited unspecified threats from Iran for a decision to take hundreds of diplomatic staff out of Iraq.

Exxon had begun returning staff to Iraq, however, before Wednesday’s incident.

(developing)