Un’analisi di Austin Long che coglie ed evidenzia l’evoluzione degli apparati di intelligence dei Paesi del Golfo (Arabia Saudita, Qatar ed Emirati Arabi). Un rafforzamento dovuto, secondo il docente della Columbia University, a tre cambiamenti di natura strategica:
First, the threat of terrorism in the Gulf States, while not new, became more acute after 2001. In Saudi Arabia, for example, a series of attacks in 2003 and 2004 sped up efforts to streamline the General Investigation Service, the domestic intelligence agency (almost universally known even to English speakers as the Mabahith), while also increasing the service’s budget. Similar attacks, or attempted attacks, increased the emphasis on domestic intelligence and security in the UAE and Qatar as well.
In addition, U.S. pressure on the Gulf States to curtail support to terrorist organizations from citizens of Gulf States gave some additional impetus to improvement in foreign intelligence. Gulf States began to curtail (though not eliminate) both donations and use of Gulf financial hubs to support terrorists, requiring increasing intelligence capabilities to track money flows. Further, as domestic intelligence services squeezed terrorists out, foreign intelligence services were required to conduct cross-border intelligence and operations. […]
The second major shift in the strategic landscape is U.S. engagement in the broader Middle East. Like terrorism, U.S. engagement has been a factor in the Gulf for decades. Yet after 2001 U.S. engagement first increased substantially following the invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan and then began to decrease substantially as troops left the region. This shift in U.S. presence in the Gulf combined with U.S. outreach to Iran, relative passivity in Syria, and announced reorientation of U.S. foreign policy to focus more on Asia has caused many in the Gulf States to reevaluate heavy reliance on the United States to achieve their security objectives. […]
The Arab Spring also contributed to this reevaluation. It underscored the potential for unrest and revolution and the perception (true or not) in the Gulf that the U.S. commitment to regional allies was ambivalent. It also created new opportunities for influence as U.S. influence waned and previously stable regimes fell, some of which was overt (such as aid to Egypt or military support to Bahrain) while some was undoubtedly covert and conducted by intelligence services.
At the same time, close ties to the United States are still seen as important and intelligence cooperation is one of the main assets that Gulf allies provide to the United States. The result has been a drive for improved unilateral Gulf State capabilities that can nonetheless also demonstrate value to the United States. This appears to have fueled the professionalization and expansion of Gulf intelligence services.
One of the most notable examples of this phenomenon is Qatar. In 2004 Qatar retooled its intelligence services, merging them into a single agency – Qatar State Security (QSS). QSS has subsequently become an increasingly professional organization, exemplified by its ‘no nonsense’ leader Brigadier General Ghanem al-Kubaisi. The general also exemplifies the duality of Qatari intelligence. On the one hand he made headlines for helping arrange the release of an American journalist from Syrian militants, allegedly without paying a ransom, demonstrating the utility of QSS to U.S. interests. At the same time QSS has, according to press reports, orchestrated a network providing arms and finances to Syrian rebels, many of whom are viewed with deep suspicion in the West.
The final reason for the evolution of Gulf intelligence services is Iran, which grew in regional influence after U.S. invasions eliminated hostile regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran’s own intelligence services also grew more powerful in this period. This was particularly true of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Qods Force responsible for proxy warfare, which the Iranians waged against the United States in Iraq and to a lesser extent Afghanistan. The cyber-attack on Saudi ARAMCO in 2012, reportedly conducted by Iran, further underscored the need for Gulf State technical intelligence capability. Confronted by the rising intelligence collection and covert action capabilities of Iran, the Gulf States were propelled to develop countermeasures. […]