Kuwait mosque attack raises GCC security concerns

29 June 2015

Even politically stable countries are at risk of growing terrorism threat

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis)-supported bombing of a mosque in Kuwait has raised questions of GCC security against terrorist attacks, after it was reported that the Saudi attacker flew into the country on the morning of the attack.

The bombing of the Shia al-Imam al-Sadeq mosque in the Sawber district of the city, which killed 27 people and injured more than 200 people, is the first attack of its kind in Kuwait. Following the recent similar mosque attacks in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, this latest incident raises fears about security against potential Isis attacks in the GCC.

Apart from protests in Bahrain and smaller incidents in Oman, the GCC remained largely unscathed by the Arab Uprisings in 2011, where governments and leaders in countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region were overthrown or pressured to make significant social and economic reforms.

Four years later, however, and the threat of Isis is emerging as a focal point of the security concerns of GCC states.

The attack on Kuwait will raise fears that other, generally politically and economically stable GCC countries, such as the UAE, could become a target for terrorist attacks from the growing spectre of Isis.

While the GCC, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, continues to increase military spending, increasing resources will undoubtedly be diverted into infiltrating extremist groups and blocking attempts at attacks throughout the GCC. With the UAE and other GCC states pledging support to Kuwait in the aftermath of the bombing, intra-GCC cooperation on security is likely to be stepped up significantly in the coming months.

Occurring on the same day as the attack on a beach resort in Tunisia, also claimed by Isis, the threat of Islamist extremism is a growing, wider regional problem. However, the Kuwait bombing has shown that even the region’s most stable GCC countries must remain vigilant.

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