Nato says its fight against terrorism in Middle East is intensifying

The alliance's 'building defence capacity' programmes underpin its partnerships with Arab nations

Jordanian security forces in Karak, south of the capital Amman. AFP
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The threat of terrorism remains a pressing challenge for Nato as it increases its ties with Arab states, a senior alliance official told The National on Thursday.

The western alliance has been developing its “building defence capacity” programmes over the years with countries such as Jordan, Tunisia and more recently Mauritania.

The programmes underpin Nato’s partnerships, he said.

This week, Nato member states met in Madrid to discuss a new strategy for countering international threats, and to adapt an evolving security response.

In Jordan, the alliance has been assisting the government in its fight against terrorism since 2014.

The latest updates to the region's defence capabilities demonstrate “Nato’s commitment to Jordan and to the region, and that the fight against terrorism is growing and becoming more intense and in-depth,” the official said.

“The most recent update of Jordan’s package emphasises special operations forces, border security and other key counterterrorism capabilities,” said the official.

“It’s one of a good set of success stories,” he said.

In terms of capacity building, Nato has been assisting Jordan's National Centre for Security Crisis to “achieve full operational capacity. For example, it helped co-ordinate the country's Covid-19 pandemic response,” said the official.

The alliance has also supported the training of 200 military and law enforcement officials in dealing with improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

And a new military training centre has been built in Jordan for women, he said.

In Tunisia, Nato has enhanced its intelligence and cybersecurity forces and now has 11 initiatives which were updated at Nato's summit in Madrid this week.

Nato's programme has aimed to increase the professionalism of Tunisia's special forces, enhance its IED capability, its intelligence, and cybersecurity.

“All of these things help support the fight against terrorism and help the nation of Tunisia to be more stable and more secure,” said the official.

Soldiers from Burkina Faso patrol on the road of Gorgadji in the Sahel area, Burkina Faso. Reuters

Nato is also concerned about the Sahel region's deteriorating security situation.

“I reaffirm that Nato’s approach to Sahel is focused on building a long-standing relationship with Mauritania; it has six initiatives and it intends to help enhance its key security concerns,” the official said.

The initiatives include enhancing counterterrorism capabilities, working with security forces and strengthening maritime security. Other initiatives include military education, he said.

The Madrid summit's declaration, published late on Wednesday, stated that “terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, continues to pose a direct threat to the security of our populations, and to international stability and prosperity.”

“With determination, resolve, and in solidarity, allies will continue to counter Russian threats and respond to its hostile actions and to fight terrorism, in a manner consistent with international law.”

Updated: June 30, 2022, 12:04 PM