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ARAB-EUROPEAN RELATIONS - Feb. 24 - BA Scales Back Flights To Gulf.

British Airways says in a statement it is reducing its services to the Gulf and relocating stop-over crews to Cyprus in response to mounting regional tension. (The company is one of the first - along with German carrier Lufthansa - to relocate staff ahead of a possible conflict in Iraq. The move follows the Feb. 21 official advice to British nationals not to travel to Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar or Saudi Arabia "unless on essential business". The four countries were added to a list headed by Kuwait following the Feb. 20 fatal shooting in Saudi Arabia of Robert Dent, an employee with BAE Systems, the UK defence contractor - see last week's Recorder. BAE Systems, which employs 3,000 expatriate and local staff in Saudi Arabia, has tightened its security but said it had no plans to evacuate any of its workers from the kingdom. Other western companies based in Saudi Arabia have been encouraging dependants of staff members to leave, although most of the community appears to be choosing to stay, at least for the short term. The American Business Group of Riyadh said: "The security situation in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is relatively calm although tension in the expatriate community is high". Control Risks, the international security consultant, predicted that killings by suspected Islamic terrorists would continue in the coming weeks, and that the general threat against UK and US interests would increase in the event of military action against Iraq. Control Risks Managing Director Nigel Churton said: "It is very clear that we are getting more of these attacks by individuals who are sympathetic to the aims of Al Qaida and who are floating around the region with the aim of picking on individual targets". The expectation remains that an invasion of Iraq is likely before end-March. The last five months have witnessed a spate of attacks on westerners in the Middle East, including the assassination of a US diplomat in Jordan in Oct. 2002, the killing of a US missionary in Lebanon in Nov. 2002, the killing of three US medics in Yemen in Dec. 2002, and several shooting incidents in Kuwait).
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Title Annotation:British Airways
Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Mar 1, 2003
Previous Article:ARAB AFFAIRS - Feb. 24 - Iraqi Plea Over Summit Divides States.
Next Article:ARABS-ISRAEL - Feb. 23 - Violence Continues In Gaza.

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