Security situation looks more uncertain in GCC

11 December 2014

Recent terror attacks in the GCC show it will be hard to prevent attacks on Western interests

On 4 December, the UAE’s Interior Ministry released a video of the police operation to arrest the suspected killer of Ibolya Ryan, an American primary school teacher who was stabbed to death in an Abu Dhabi shopping mall in what has been called a “personal terrorist act” by the UAE authorities.

In the video, armed police officers are briefed by officials before they burst into a residential compound and arrest the suspect.   

Despite the footage demonstrating how well-equipped and efficient the UAE police force is, it may not have done enough to fully reassure foreign companies doing business in the GCC.

The murder in Abu Dhabi comes after a series of attacks on Westerners in Saudi Arabia, including a shooting that has been claimed by supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis).

In the wake of these attacks, risk consultancies have reported increased demand from concerned firms for security briefings on countries in the region.

Analysts say the threat level in the GCC remains low compared with elsewhere in the Middle East, but it may well worsen due to the large number of fighters that are returning from jihad in Syria, and increased government military action against Islamists in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Egypt.

The GCC’s well-funded security forces mean large-scale attacks on high-profile targets are unlikely, but opportunistic attacks on Western interests carried out by individuals or small groups will be hard to prevent.

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