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THE INKERMAN GROUP IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

 

We produce the following publications covering this area:

The MENA Examiner - a weekly publication which is a predictive move aimed at mapping out the threats and risks facing clients across the region. It includes weekly trend reports detailing the situation to date and the way ahead for each country in the eighteen member region, from Morocco in the West to Iran in the East. The document provides an assessment of developments taking place across the region, providing travellers and businesses operating in these countries with a comprehensive overview of the risk level alongside predictive analysis of the potential outcomes.

The Libya Daily - a daily report monitoring the political, security, and economic developments in the country as well as The Libya Monthly report, providing a longer-term analysis of developments within Libya, including geographical and trend analysis.

To subscribe to any of these publications, please email alice.boyes@inkerman.com

 


 

Since the beginning of the turmoil in the MENA region, The Inkerman Group has continued to provide a wide spectrum of services to its clients – working with them to minimise the risk to the safety of both their staff and assets, and reduce the disruption caused to their business operations.

The Inkerman Group has multiple operational teams in the region and is providing a wide range of services:

Discreet Security Protection Personnel
(use of ex-UK police and military personnel, complete with communications support, GPS tracking and medical trauma equipment for first line support to clients).

Security and Contingency Planning:

Intelligence monitoring and reporting throughout the region:

Kidnap & Ransom:

In-country operations supported by:

Crisis Management Training and support

Security Awareness Training to workers and families (delivered in multiple languages and including elements of basic self-defence, medical awareness training as well as basic security driver awareness training)

Security Training to locally employed / retained security guards to include development of operating protocols in line with clients’ operating stance.

 

For further details of these services, please contact operations@inkerman.com

 


LATEST UPDATE ON THE MENA REGION FROM THE INKERMAN GROUP

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region remains in flux following the region-wide unrest which began in January 2011, and continues into a fifth year. The so-called “Arab Spring” manifested itself in different ways in the various countries it affected, but at its outset largely followed a similar pattern of calls for reform, transparency and greater representation through mass protests, strikes and even armed insurrection. In some cases, this led to the downfall of authoritarian regimes which had dominated the political landscape of the region for decades, but in many it has also led to the opening of a “Pandora’s box” which will be extremely challenging to close.

Tunisia, often seen as the “birthplace of the Arab Spring”, has arguably taken the most substantial steps towards implementing the reforms demanded by the 2011 protesters. Nevertheless, in recent months even Tunisia has come to face heightened security threats, as militant attacks against security forces have accelerated due to instability in the region. More than 3,000 Tunisian nationals are believed to have travelled to fight in Syria and Iraq, many of whom joined the forces of the IS. While many are believed to have remained abroad, a number have reportedly returned to their home country, where it is feared they will seek to utilise their new-found skills to launch attacks in Tunisia. Politically, however, the emerging story is one of success. While the country’s transition period experienced fluctuations, the situation has now calmed substantially, leading to the lifting of the State of Emergency (which had been in place since 2011) in March 2014. Following the assassinations of two senior opposition leaders in February and July 2013, respectively, mass protests were held throughout the country, calling for the dissolution of the Ennahda-led government. Breaking with the traditional response to such calls seen elsewhere in the region, the government agreed to hand over power to a non-partisan, technocratic government in January 2014. Further illustrating the progress being made in Tunisia’s political transition, a long-awaited election law was passed on 01 May 2014, setting the stage for presidential and parliamentary elections to be held later in 2014. The law, passed by a huge majority, excluded the controversial ban on the involvement of officials from the former regime from standing for office, demonstrating the efforts being made by various political factions to take a more conciliatory approach to law-making. The exclusion of the ban was also an indication of shifting public opinion. Moving away from the politics of the Islamist Ennahda party, the majority of Tunisians voted for candidates from Tunisia’s main secular party, Nidaa Tounes, in parliamentary elections on 26 October 2014, and in the presidential polls on 23 November 2014. Indeed, Nida Tounes won eighty-five seats in the 217-member parliament while the party’s leader and former Ben Ali regime figure Beji Caid Essebsi won the run-off presidential election on 21 December 2014. With political stability thus seeming to be on the return to Tunisia, the country is increasingly looking towards the future and how to rebuild its social and economic institutions.

In Libya, the situation is not only much less promising, but actually threatens to undermine the stability of its regional counterparts. Civil conflict has engulfed the country as clashes intensified and spread through much of the country, including in Benghazi, western Libya, the Oil Crescent and along the Tunisian-Libyan border. While the various conflicts in Libya often appear separate, they are actually closely related, as they represent an ongoing power struggle between Islamists and anti-Islamists in Libya, which has worsened drastically over the past few months. Indeed, the country is now largely divided between the internationally-recognised House of Representatives in the east and the rival self-declared National Salvation Government in Tripoli, which is largely under the control of an Islamist-led militia coalition. While the United Nations Support Mission in Libya has undertaken significant efforts to bring the various Libyan actors to the negotiating table, the dialogue process has been plagued with mistrust, controversy and entrenched positions. The ongoing fighting and lack of political compromise has also caused the economy to deteriorate rapidly as oil production drops, foreign investors leave and the people are left facing rising prices and acute shortages of fuel, electricity and water. Meanwhile, an exodus of refugees and a growing presence of extremist militants, including foreign jihadist fighters, have made the Libyan conflict an increasing security concern for both the region and the international community.

The situation in Yemen has deteriorated dramatically in recent months. In the time since the Houthi rebels performed a soft-coup in September 2014 by seizing military bases, security checkpoints and essential securing control over much of the capital, they have spread their authority over territory in eight out of Yemen's twenty-one provinces. This has led to an uneasy integration of Houthis into vital areas of the government and security apparatus. The growing influence of the rebel movement has allowed the Houthis to successfully demand a number of key concessions from the government, which in many ways is considered “under the Houthi thumb”. It is also widely believed that former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is still, to a large extent, holding the reigns of the current situation and influencing matters towards his own interests. Furthermore, the increased instability has given momentum to a resurgent Sunni insurgency led by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and has also given renewed impetus to the southern secessionist (Hirak) movement. More generally, the traditional oligopoly of powerbrokers has retained its influence, and the informal systems of governance constructed by Saleh have persisted.

More than three years after the uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Egypt still finds itself in the grip of political and economic turmoil, although President Abdel Fatah el Sisi has managed to exert some control over the country’s situation in the time since he assumed office on 08 June 2014. Although Egypt had high hopes for the potential of progressive electoral politics, the country’s first freely elected government of Sisi’s predecessor, President Mohammad Morsi, failed to live up to expectations and to achieve a satisfying political consensus with all of Egypt’s political interests. As a result, millions of people took to the streets of Egypt’s major cites between 28 June – 02 July 2013 to protest President Morsi, and to demand his resignation. Egypt’s military intervened on 03 July 2013 by ousting President Morsi. Following this, violent clashes erupted between Morsi supporters and opponents, resulting in an intense crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and its supporters, with the government banning the group, and formally listing it as a terrorist organisation in December 2013. Following the crackdown, there was a large increase in the number and sophistication of terrorist attacks, which generally target the security forces, although the heightened security programme put into place by Sisi has seen a gradual decline in the number of violent incidents in recent months. However, over the past year there has also been a rise in the presence and operational tempo of the Sinai-based insurgency, led by the IS-linked terror group Ansar Beyt al Maqdis (ABM). Despite these risks and continuing sporadic demonstrations against the government, the wider mood in the country is currently one of cautious optimism, although many consider the consolidation of the Sisi regime has returned the country to what is basically the same autocratic leadership as previously witnessed under Hosni Mubarak.

The region continues to be beset by the ongoing Syrian Civil War, which has gravely affected the Syrian population, inflamed tensions in Lebanon and Iraq, and strained relations between regional powerbrokers supporting opposing belligerents in the conflict. Following the breakdown of the Geneva II peace process in early 2014, there has been little prospect for a negotiated end to the violence between the Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad and the fragmented opposition. The rise of the IS also continues to cause major concern, with the group consolidating its hold over swathes over territory in northern Syria. A US-led air campaign has slowed its advances; however, there is little certainty that any of the strategies currently being implemented or prepared will achieve success in countering the extremist movement. As the war has become increasingly sectarian, so too has violence in its equally ethnically and religiously divided neighbours: Lebanon has faced frequent bombing targeting neighbourhoods due to their inhabitants’ religious identities, clashes in ethnically divided cities like Tripoli, and fierce fighting near the Lebanese-Syrian border where Islamist fighters regularly stream across the frontier to launch attacks. Elsewhere, regular protests continue to call for greater political reforms and inclusion of the Shi’ite majority in Bahrain, whilst slightly more muted calls for reform persist in Morocco as well as across the majority of the Gulf States (Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia).

The poor security situation in Iraq has continued to fester, with IS forces remaining in control of much of the centre and the north of the country. The advances of the IS between June – September 2014 were rapid, particularly after the seizure of Mosul and the resulting collapse of the Iraqi security forces in much of Iraq’s north, however the months since have seen the extremist group’s momentum halted, and some of their earier gains overturned. The Iraqi military has been bolstered by the resurgence of numerous anti-IS Shi’ite militias, and the well-respected peshmerga military forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), however a violent stalemate persists in many areas. The United States and its allies continue to launch targeted airstrikes against IS forces, as well as humanitarian air-drops to relieve citizens pushed out of their homes by fighting. Meanwhile, the spotlight has once again been shone onto sectarian divisions, after a growing number of serious incidents have raised fears of a return to the wholesale sectarian bloodshed witnessed during the dark period between 2006 and 2008. In Baghdad itself, the increases in the size and the number of actions undertaken by Shi’ite militias operating in the city has also served to raise tensions. Members of these militias, and those opposing them, have engaged in an ongoing cycle of abductions and brutal killings, with bodies often “unceremoniously dumped” in ditches, alleys, fields and roadsides. One glimmer of light has been an improvement in the overall political situation, after former leader Nouri al Maliki (a very divisive figure) was forced to step down and a new government was formed by Haider al Abadi. However, the government is still largely Shi’ite-led, and continues to be accused by its detractors of marginalising some Sunni political leaders, but nonetheless represents a positive development compared to that of its predecessor. 

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