Coronavirus precaution: 611 expatriates return to their home countries from Kuwait

Coronavirus precaution: 611 expatriates return to their home countries from Kuwait
About 611 expatriates and Gulf nationals left Kuwait for their home countries while 306 Kuwaiti citizens were repatriated as a precaution to the spread of coronavirus. (KUNA)
Short Url
Updated 26 March 2020

Coronavirus precaution: 611 expatriates return to their home countries from Kuwait

Coronavirus precaution: 611 expatriates return to their home countries from Kuwait

DUBAI: About 611 expatriates and Gulf nationals left for their home countries while 306 Kuwaiti citizens were repatriated as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus, the Kuwait Interior Ministry said.

Three planes carrying 306 Kuwaiti nationals coming from Lebanon, Egypt and Bahrain – those countries have reported coronavirus cases – arrived at Kuwait International Airport, part of phase one of repatriation measures that will run until March 29.

The ministry said 195 Kuwaitis arrived from Egypt, 74 from Lebanon and 37 were from Bahrain.

The repatriated citizens were tested for coronavirus and were subsequently quarantined at the resorts of Al-Joan and Seashell and would remain at the secured locations to ensure they have not contracted the virus.

The ministry also said that the expatriates – 342 Egyptians, 254 Filipinos and 15 Bahrainis – completed preventive measures before they were allowed to travel.


Baghdad suicide blasts expose gaps in Iraq’s strained military

Baghdad suicide blasts expose gaps in Iraq’s strained military
An Iraqi security force member checks a man near the damage site in the aftermath of a twin suicide bombing attack in a central market, in Baghdad, Iraq January 22, 2021. (REUTERS)
Updated 23 January 2021

Baghdad suicide blasts expose gaps in Iraq’s strained military

Baghdad suicide blasts expose gaps in Iraq’s strained military
  • PM’s security overhaul sees new federal police commander and chief of elite Falcons Unit

BAGHDAD: Twin suicide blasts in Baghdad claimed by the Daesh group have exposed gaps within Iraq’s security forces, weakened by the COVID-19 pandemic, rival armed groups and political tensions.

At least 32 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in the double-tap suicide attack that targeted a commercial district in Baghdad on Thursday.
Following the US-led invasion in 2003, Iraq’s security forces had to be effectively rebuilt from the ground up, relying heavily on training by foreign armies. The pandemic put an abrupt halt to that.
Living together at bases with little social distancing, Iraqi troops were some of the country’s first coronavirus victims.
In March 2020, the US-led coalition announced it was pulling out foreign trainers to stem the pandemic’s spread.
“The decreased training over the past year because of COVID-19 created a gap there,” a top US official in Baghdad told AFP last month.
It also meant Iraq’s security services had decreased access to the coalition’s communications surveillance — “an early warning system” that was crucial to nipping Daesh attacks in the bud, said Watling.
Many of those withdrawals became permanent.
The US-led coalition announced last year that Iraq’s army was capable of fighting Daesh remnants on its own and pulled out of eight bases across the country.

HIGHLIGHT

In March 2020, the US-led coalition announced it was pulling out foreign trainers to stem the pandemic’s spread. The decreased training over the past year because of COVID-19 created a gap there.

At the same time, citing the improving security situation, Baghdad’s authorities lifted the concrete blast walls and checkpoints that had congested the city for years.
Battle-hardened units were moved out of cities to chase down Daesh sleeper cells in rural areas, with less-experienced units taking over urban security.
Security analyst Alex Mello said those rotations combined with less-reliable intelligence may have eventually granted Daesh “a gap to exploit.”
Iraq’s security forces include army troops, militarized police units and the Hashd Al-Shaabi, a network of armed forces incorporated into the state after 2014.
Many were backed by Iran, which generated a mutual distrust with some forces trained by its arch enemy, the United States.
Tensions spiked following the US drone strike last year that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Hashd deputy chief, Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis. “The real strain has been political,” said Watling.
“During the fight against Daesh, there was a lot of informal information sharing between the Hashd, the coalition and others. That’s just not there anymore, which reduces situational awareness,” he said.
Navigating those tensions has been a major challenge for Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhemi, seen as US-friendly.
Following Thursday’s attack, Kadhemi announced an overhaul of Iraq’s security leadership, including a new federal police commander and chief of the elite Falcons Unit. Kadhemi is hoping those changes will not only plug holes that Thursday’s attackers exploited, but could also resolve the deeper issues of trust and coordination.