By Becca Wasser, Program Officer and Research Analyst, IISS–US and John Drennan, Research Assistant, IISS-US
Throughout 2012, the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) approach to counter-terrorism and security focused on building operational ties to its strongest international partner, the United States.
The US–GCC Strategic Cooperation Forum (SCF) was launched in March of this year, bringing together the foreign ministers of the GCC states and top US officials. The aim is for both sides to strengthen and better coordinate their security efforts. While the GCC has a long relationship with the US, this high-level forum illustrates the continuing importance of the Gulf region to the US national security agenda.
By Becca Wasser, Program Officer and Research Analyst, IISS-US
A series of coordinated bomb attacks shook Iraq yesterday, on the ninth anniversary of the US-led invasion and just days before the Arab League summit, scheduled for 27-29 March. The blasts bore all the hallmarks of al-Qaeda in Iraq, which soon claimed responsibility, saying that it had wished to derail the ‘meeting of Arab tyrants in Baghdad‘. Parliamentary speaker Osama al-Nujaifi had already blamed the terrorists for wanting to keep Iraq ‘feeling the effects of violence and destruction’.
The latest bombings – in Kirkuk, Karbala, Samarra, Baghdad and other cities – are part of an upsurge in violence following the withdrawal of US troops on 18 December 2011. In the first three months since troops left (to 18 March 2012) there were 204 bombings – a 70% increase on the same period last year. With no more real US military targets in the country, the spike necessarily means that Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence has increased, and illustrates the need for a strengthened local security force.