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(photo credit: Bloomberg)
The US State Department on Friday released a report on terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa in which it detailed efforts by the region's countries and the US to combat terrorist threats and activity in 2009.
In the Mideast-North Africa Overview report, the State Department mentioned the Iraqi government's "significant strides in mitigating the threat posed by Sunni militant organizations, including Al-Qaida in Iraq." Iraq was able to achieve a "sharp reduction in the number of security incidents...including a decrease in civilian causalities, enemy attacks, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) attacks in the last quarter of the year" explained the report. Yet, "Iran and Syria, both state sponsors of terrorism, continued to play destabilizing roles in the region" said the US.
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In regards to Israel, the report states, "while Israel remained vulnerable to rocket and mortar attacks launched from inside Gaza, it continued to be largely successful in confronting the threat posed by suicide bombers and rockets from the Palestinian territories." The transfer of some control of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority is also cited in the report, which was allowed by the Israeli government as security improved in the area.
"Hizbullah continued its acquisition of smuggled arms, primarily via Iran and Syria, in violation of UN resolution 1701," said the Overview report about Lebanon's terror activities. "Sporadic rocket fire from southern Lebanon into Israel did occur throughout the year, with select Sunni militant groups responsible for most of the attacks."
The State Department explained that "Iran continued its financial, material, and logistical support for Hizbullah, Hamas, and other terrorist and militant groups throughout the Middle East and Central Asia" along with Syria who "continued to provide safe-haven as well as political and other support to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, and a number of other designated Palestinian terrorist groups."
Saudi Arabia "was affected by continued instability in Yemen and the
involvement of some Saudi citizens in terrorist activity and training in
Yemen," the US said. Nonetheless, "the Saudi government continued to
confront extremist ideology through government-funded education
programs, official pronouncements from prominent clerics, and
government-organized rehabilitation programs."
A dramatic decrease in terrorist incidents was reported in Algeria, yet
Al-Qaida "continued to stage numerous attacks in suburban and rural
areas, mostly targeting government installations."
The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), which provided "a
statistical annex to the report...cautions against placing too much
emphasis on the use of attack data to gauge success of failure of our
[the US] counterterrorism efforts."