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  • Author: Cornelius Adebahr
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The rift between Europe and the United States over Iran is deepening. To regain leverage, the Europeans should engage all eight Gulf states in talks about regional security and nonproliferation. The rift between Europe and the United States over Iran is deepening. Two years of U.S. maximum pressure on Tehran have not yielded the results Washington had hoped for, while the Europeans have failed to put up enough resistance for their transatlantic partner to change course. Worse, the U.S. policy threatens to destabilize the broader Persian Gulf, with direct consequences for Europe. To get ahead of the curve and regain leverage, the European Union (EU), its member states, and the United Kingdom have to look beyond their relations with the Islamic Republic and address wider regional security challenges. The United States’ incipient retreat as a security guarantor and Russia’s increased interest in the region make it necessary for Europe to engage beyond its borders. Despite being barely alive, the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran offers a good starting point. The Europeans should regionalize some of the agreement’s basic provisions to include the nuclear newcomers on the Arab side of the Gulf. Doing so would advance a nonproliferation agenda that is aimed not at a single country but at the region’s broader interests. Similarly, the Europeans should engage Iran, Iraq, and the six Arab nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council in talks about regional security. Rather than suggesting an all-encompassing security framework, for which the time is not yet ripe, they should pursue a step-by-step approach aimed at codifying internationally recognized principles at the regional level.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Robert Springborg, F.C. "Pink" Williams, John Zavage
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The United States, Russia, and Iran have chosen markedly different approaches to security assistance in the Middle East, with dramatic implications for statebuilding and stability. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is the world’s testing ground for the effectiveness of security assistance provided by global and regional powers. That security assistance has contributed to the intensity and frequency of proxy wars—such as those under way or recently wound down in Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq—and to the militarization of state and substate actors in the MENA region. Security assistance is at the core of struggles for military, strategic, ideological, and even economic preeminence in the Middle East. Yet despite the broad and growing importance of security assistance for the region and for competition within it between global and regional actors, security assistance has been the subject of relatively little comparative analysis. Efforts to assess relationships between the strategic objectives and operational methods of security assistance providers and their relative impacts on recipients are similarly rare.
  • Topic: Security, Geopolitics, Political stability, State Building
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Max Erdemandi
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Recent discussions on the Turkish state’s actions, which have devastated Kurdish people within and outside of its borders, suffer from a familiar deficiency: they neglect the historical and cultural foundations of the dynamics that placed the Kurdish people at the center of Turkey’s national security policy. Serious human rights violations and voter suppression in southeast Turkey, the massacre of Kurdish people in various parts of northern Syria, and purging of Kurdish politicians on false accusations are all extensions of Turkey’s decades-long, repeated policy mistakes, deeply rooted in its nationalist history. Unless there is a seismic shift in the drivers of Turkish security policy, especially as it pertains to the Kurdish people, Turkey is bound to repeat these mistakes. Furthermore, threat externalization with linkage to legitimacy of rule will further erode the democratic institutions of the state and other authentic aspects of Turkish identity.
  • Topic: Security, Nationalism, Ethnicity, Syrian War, Borders, Violence, Kurds
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria, Kurdistan
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Federal forces now patrol Kirkuk, the diverse, oil-rich province disputed between the central and Kurdish regional governments. The arrangement is unsettling communal relations, with Kurds feeling excluded. With outside help, Baghdad and Erbil should design a joint security mechanism including a locally recruited multi-ethnic unit. What’s new? In October 2017, the Iraqi army restored central government control over the disputed Kirkuk governorate and its oil fields in the country’s north. Since then, multiple federal forces including paramilitaries have policed the area. The new arrangement reassured the province’s Arabs and Turkmen but left local Kurds feeling abandoned. Why did it happen? The federal government’s move into Kirkuk was triggered by a Kurdish independence referendum staged the previous month, which raised Baghdad’s concerns that the Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil would declare Kurdish statehood and annex Kirkuk, other disputed territories and their petroleum riches. Why does it matter? Finding an equilibrium that satisfies Kirkuk’s three main ethnic groups by ensuring that none dominates the security apparatus at the others’ expense is a fundamental condition for the area’s stability. Only such a configuration will ensure peaceful coexistence and help prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State. What should be done? With international support, Baghdad and Erbil should establish joint security management in Kirkuk that includes a locally recruited multi-ethnic force under federal command. This arrangement would help protect the area from renewed insurgency, contribute to intercommunal peace and lay the foundations for an eventual settlement of Kirkuk’s status in Iraq.
  • Topic: Security, Oil, Kurds
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Kirkuk
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: For years, Gulf powers have mulled the notion of regional dialogue to calm existing crises and head off new ones. Today, with several active Middle Eastern conflicts, all sensitive to rising U.S.-Iran tensions, it is an idea whose time has come. What’s new?* Middle East tensions spiked in the past year following attacks on oil tankers and Saudi oil facilities, the U.S. killing of a senior Iranian commander and Iranian military retaliation. Some of Washington’s allies, losing confidence the U.S. will reliably extend military protection, have started making cautious diplomatic overtures to Iran. Why does it matter? While these tentative steps toward de-escalation are welcome, they risk being inadequate, particularly in the absence of regular, high-level communication channels among potential conflict actors. Existing UN-led mechanisms for resolving individual conflicts, such as Yemen, are worthwhile but insufficient to lessen region-wide tensions. What should be done? Diplomatic efforts are needed to both de-escalate tensions and make progress toward resolving regional conflicts. Gulf actors, supported by external stakeholders, should consider launching an inclusive sub-regional dialogue aimed at reducing the risk of inadvertent conflict by opening new communication channels.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Ehud Eiran
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Israel is still holding to its traditional security maxim. Based on a perception of a hostile region, Israel’s response includes early warning, deterrence and swift – including pre-emptive – military action, coupled with an alliance with a global power, the US. Israel is adjusting these maxims to a changing reality. Overlapping interests – and perhaps the prospect of an even more open conflict with Iran – led to limited relationships between Israel and some Gulf states. These, however, will be constrained until Israel makes progress on the Palestine issue. Israel aligned with Greece and Cyprus around energy and security, which may lead to conflict with Turkey. Russia’s deployment in Syria placed new constraints on Israeli freedom of action there. The US’s retrenchment from the Middle East is not having a direct effect on Israel, while the Trump administration’s support for Israel’s territorial designs in the West Bank may make it easier for Israel to permanently expand there, thus sowing the seeds for future instability in Israel/Palestine. The EU could try and balance against such developments, but, as seen from Israel, is too divided to have a significant impact. Paper produced in the framework of the FEPS-IAI project “Fostering a New Security Architecture in the Middle East”, April 2020.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Gas, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, United States of America, Mediterranean
  • Author: Telli Betül Karacan
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Studies of IS propaganda show that it uses both new and old, proven methods to recruit members and conquer new territories following the loss of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Terrorism, Non State Actors, Fragile States, Islamic State, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, India, Asia, North Africa, Syria
  • Author: Teresa Val
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: EastWest Institute
  • Abstract: Terrorism in Afghanistan: A Joint Threat Assessment is intended to serve as an analytical tool for policymakers and an impetus for joint U.S.-Russia action. The report provides an overview of the security situation and peace process in Afghanistan, taking into account U.S. and Russian policies, priorities and interests; surveys the militant terrorist groups in and connected to Afghanistan and explores the security interests of various regional stakeholders vis-à-vis Afghanistan. Challenges relating to border management, arms trafficking and terrorist financing in Afghanistan are also briefly addressed.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Counter-terrorism, Peace
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, United States, Europe, Middle East, North America
  • Author: C. Anthony Pfaff
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Security cooperation with Iraq remains a critical component of the US-Iraq relationship. Despite neighboring Iran’s ability to limit US political and economic engagement, Iraq still seeks US assistance to develop its military and to combat resurgent terrorist organizations. This monograph provides a historical and cultural basis from which to understand the limitations and potential for US cooperation with Iraq’s armed forces.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Armed Forces, Military Affairs, Islamic State, Economy
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ghaith al-Omari
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: By granting Israel much more say over the sovereignty of a future Palestinian state and its ability to absorb refugees, the document may undermine the administration’s ability to build an international coalition behind its policies. President Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan was presented as a departure from previous approaches—a notion that invited praise from its supporters (who saw it as a recognition of reality) and criticism from its opponents (who saw it as an abandonment of valued principles). The plan does in fact diverge from past efforts in fundamental respects, yet there are also some areas of continuity, and ultimately, the extent to which it gains traction will be subject to many different political and diplomatic variables. Even so, the initial substance of the plan document itself will play a large part in determining how it is viewed by various stakeholders, especially those passages that veer away from the traditional path on core issues. Part 1 of this PolicyWatch assessed what the plan says about two such issues: borders and Jerusalem. This second installment discusses security, refugee, and narrative issues.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Refugees, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Even as their lack of transparency worsens the public health crisis, the Supreme Leader and other officials have systematically gutted any civil society elements capable of organizing substantial opposition to such policies. Iran’s ongoing coronavirus epidemic has left the people with less reason than ever to trust the information and directives issued by their leaders. Part 1 of this PolicyWatch discussed the clergy’s role in aggravating this problem, but the state’s mistakes and deceptions have been legion as well. They include scandalous discrepancies between official reports after a period of denial that the virus had entered the country; a health system that was unprepared to deal with such a disease promptly and properly; and official resistance to implementing internationally recommended precautionary measures, such as canceling flights from China and quarantining the center of the outbreak. These decisions have sown widespread confusion about facts and fictions related to the virus, the most effective medically proven ways to control it, and the degree to which it is spreading throughout the country. As a result, an already restive population has become increasingly panicked about the future and angry at the state. Yet can the coronavirus actually bring down the regime? The harsh reality is that the state has left little space for opposition to organize around health issues, or any issues for that matter. Instead, it has sought to confuse the people and redirect their anger toward external enemies, even as its own policies contribute to the crisis.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Civil Society, Health, Public Health, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: James M Dorsey, Raffaello Pantucci, Bilveer Singh, Noor Huda Ismail
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The high-profile assassination of General Qassim Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force (QF), on January 3 in Baghdad marked the lowest point in US-Iran relations in recent times. It triggered a new spell of geopolitical tensions in the Middle East with far-reaching consequences for South and Southeast Asia. Soleimani’s killing has also coincided with the potential rejuvenation of the Islamic State (IS), and ongoing anti-government protests in Iraq, Iran and Lebanon. Soleimani’s killing was bound to have reverberations beyond the Middle East. Muslim-majority states in South and Southeast Asia, where both Saudi Arabia and Iran have engaged in sectarian proxy wars by funding and influencing the Sunni and Shia segments of the population. While states in both regions have condemned Soleimani’s killing, they have stayed largely neutral to avoid getting sucked into rising geopolitical tensions. Against this backdrop, the March issue of the Counter Terrorists Trends and Analyses (CTTA) features three articles that explore different dimensions of Soleimani’s death and their geopolitical implications. In the first article, James M. Dorsey argues that as US-Iran tensions have eased in recent months, Iranian hardliners, emboldened by a sweeping mandate earned in recent domestic elections, remain committed to a well-honed strategy of escalating asymmetric warfare. According to the author, this raises the prospects for a full-scale war, with the United States also still pursuing a maximum pressure campaign on Iran that has to date, yet to produce tangible results. In the second article, Raffaello Pantucci reasons that despite a general consensus that the US-Iran rupture will ease pressure on transnational jihadist groups in the Middle East theatre, it remains unclear how Soleimani’s killing will shape their future behaviour. On the one hand, Iran-backed Shia militias are likely to step up their operations, which will exacerbate sectarian fault-lines in the region and feed into IS’ self-portrayal as the saviours of Sunnis. Conversely, pragmatism continues to define interactions between Tehran and Sunni jihadist groups such as the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, who appear happy to cooperate to ensure broader strategic goals. Next, Bilveer Singh examines the implications of Soleimani’s assassination for South and Southeast Asia. regions where both Iran and Saudi Arabia enjoy ideological influence among the Muslim-majority states. Sunni Malaysia and Indonesia have reservations about Tehran, but domestic political pressures are likely to endear Iran to them more than the US. The impact in South Asia could be more varied, mostly affecting Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iran through its Shia militant proxies can undermine US interests in Afghanistan. The QF has also recruited significant Shia militias in Afghanistan and Pakistan respectively for operations in Syria. Moreover, Pakistan has to walk a tight rope given Iran has an inside track to its significant Shia population. Besides cross and intra-regional assessments of Soleimani’s assassination within the broader US-Iran fissures, the threat landscapes in Indonesia and West Africa, both long-time hotbeds for terrorist activity in their respective regions, are also examined in this issue. Firstly, Noor Huda Ismail takes a closer look at pro-IS terrorist networks in Indonesia, a country that is home to the world’s largest Muslim population. By examining the background, tactics and modus operandi of local terrorist groups, both online and offline, and comparing their legacy with those of previous militant Islamist movements, the author believes important learning lessons can be drawn to help mitigate future security threats. Finally, Atta Barkindo analyses the jihadist threat in the Sahel region, where a landscape conducive to terrorist activities provides the fertile ground for IS and Al-Qaeda to grow by linking up with local militant networks. The tactical sophistication exhibited in terrorist attacks by Sahelian jihadist groups, particularly in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, testifies to a growing footprint of global jihadism. Sahel provides an arterial life-line through the region, by facilitating the movement of goods and people between the Mediterranean and West Africa, which has been enormously beneficial to terrorist groups involved in organised criminal enterprises. Moreover, desertification and environmental degradation have also created a conducive environment for criminal activities and terrorism.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Bilateral Relations, Counter-terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Protests
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Lebanon, Southeast Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Ong Keng Yong, Noorita Mohd Noor, Iftekharul Bashar, Muhammad Saiful Alam Shah Bin Sudiman, Nodirbek Soliev, Remy Mahzam, Amalina Abdul Nasir
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The January issue provides an overview of terrorist and violent extremist threats in key countries and conflict zones in the Asia-Pacific throughout 2019. Regional specific threats and responses covering Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, China and the Middle East are assessed. In addition, themes such as the online narratives propagated by global threat groups and counter-ideological dimensions of terrorism and violent extremism are analysed. Globally, despite suffering severe territorial, leadership and organisational losses in 2019, Islamist terror groups Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda (AQ) continued to pose the most potent terrorist threat. Early in the year, IS’ territorial reign was ended by American-backed coalition forces, following which its networks became scattered and, in a bid to overcome its physical decimation, more decentralised across the globe. The death of IS’ “Caliph”, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, in October 2019, raised further questions about the group’s continued resiliency. Yet, IS has proved persistent and adaptive. The group’s violent ideology continues to bind its myriad followers across regions. In the aftermath of its territorial and leadership losses, IS’ terror attacks and online offensives have been sustained. The global security landscape was further complicated by the emergence of Right Wing Extremist groups as violent actors on the world stage in 2019. Mass political protests around the world further underscored growing dissatisfaction with the present status quo, amid perceptions that some states are unable to articulate masses’ aspirations and meet their demands. The threat of Islamist terrorism will persist into 2020, especially with escalating geo-political tensions in the Middle East. Overcoming the physical and ideological threat by global militant groups, including far-right extremist groups, will remain very much a work in progress in the year ahead.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Protests, Violence
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, North Africa, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Kirill Semenov
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The situation in Idlib poses a challenge to the Assad government. Damascus has neither the forces nor the means to resolve the problem. Moreover, any operation conducted against the Syrian moderate opposition and the radical alliance “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham” (HTS) concentrated in this region could be significantly problematic for the government. Turkey seeks to establish a protectorate or security zone in Idlib to accommodate those fleeing regime-held areas and prevent a new refugees flow into Turkey. The gains achieved by the Turkish operation in Idlib by the establishment of the security zone has potentially been lost as a result of the subsequent Russian backed Syrian government offensive, which has created a problem for Turkey with hundreds of thousands heading toward the Turkish border and threatening to exasperate what is already a costly refugee problem for Ankara. In order for Turkey to address issues in Idlib, including IDPs and economic problems, it first needs to deal with the HTS, ideally finding a way to dissolve the group. This could potentially be an area of cooperation for Moscow and Ankara. This may be necessary to prevent a deterioration in the security situation and long-term destabilisation of the area.
  • Topic: Security, Refugees, Economy, Political stability, Displacement, Syrian War, Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), Transition
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Jean-Pierre Keller
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Since the fall of Baghuz city in North East of Syria in March 2019, thousands of women, children and former IS fighters have been imprisoned in either camps or prisons. Following the Turkish military operation in October 2019, the security conditions have deteriorated, resulting in fewer guards as well as more instability and vulnerability for all those imprisoned. The worsening living conditions, the absence of adequate medical care and lack of access to education endanger the future of the children imprisoned in the camp. Moreover, the influence of the Muhajirats remains constant as a means for the spreading of propaganda inside and outside the camps.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, Children, Women, Islamic State, Transition
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Marcin Andrzej Piotrowski
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Iran’s official figures on cases and deaths from COVID-19 (the disease resulting from coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2) do not reflect the real scale of the pandemic in that country, which might be among the hardest hit in the world. The pandemic will deepen the economic crisis and disfunction of the state, becoming a challenge to Iran’s ruling elite. The regime might survive thanks to the security apparatus and, in parallel, continue its support of Shia militias in Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen, and the Syrian government. Only the succession of power after Ali Khamenei will be the real test of the coherence of the Iranian elite, and in case of disruption, it might result in the collapse of Iran’s theocracy.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Economics, Government, Health, Coronavirus, Pandemic, Elites
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Yemen, Lebanon, Syrian Arab Republic
  • Author: Sara Nowacka
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The activity of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), a state-financed organisation of around 60 militias, deepens the political crisis in Iraq. This was mirrored in their brutal suppression of anti-government protests and a series of attacks between PMF Kataib Hezbollah (KH) forces and U.S. troops. The structure of the PMF and their political influence in Iraq and abroad prevent the state from controlling the militias. This hinders attempts to calm the ongoing protests in Iraq and threatens the security of the military missions present there. The absorption of PMF members directly into the army and demobilisation of some militias could counteract this.
  • Topic: Security, Non State Actors, Islamic State, Protests, Militias
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Phil Thornton
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The world is facing unprecedented health and economic crises that require a global solution. Governments have locked down their economies to contain the mounting death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic. With this response well underway, now is the time to move into a recovery effort. This will require a coordinated response to the health emergency and a global growth plan that is based on synchronized monetary, fiscal, and debt relief policies. Failure to act will risk a substantial shock to the postwar order established by the United States and its allies more than seventy years ago. The most effective global forum for coordinating this recovery effort is the Group of 20 (G20), which led the way out of the global financial crisis (GFC) in 2009, the closest parallel we have to the current catastrophe. Eleven years ago, world leaders used the G20 meeting in London as the forum to deliver a unified response and a massive fiscal stimulus that helped stem economic free fall and prevented the recession from becoming a second Great Depression. A decade on, it is clear that the G20 is the only body with the clout to save the global economy. This does not mean that the G20 should be the only forum for actions for its member states. The United States, for example, should also work closely with like-minded states that support a rules-based world order, and there are many other fora where it can and must be active with partners and allies. But no others share the G20’s depth and breadth in the key focus areas for recovery. The other multilateral organizations that could take up the challenge lack either the substance or membership. The United Nations may count all countries as members but is too unwieldly to coordinate a response. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has the resources but requires direction from its 189 members. The Group of Seven (G7), which once oversaw financial and economic management, does not include the fast-growing emerging economies. The G20 represents both the world’s richest and fastest-growing countries, making it the forum for international collaboration. It combines that representation with agility.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, G20, Global Markets, Geopolitics, Economy, Business , Trade, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Canada, Asia, Saudi Arabia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: JD Work, Richard Harknett
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Reported Iranian intrusions against Israeli critical infrastructure networks and alleged Israeli actions against Iranian proliferation-associated targets pose substantial new challenges to understanding ongoing competition and conflict in the Middle East. These cyber exchanges may be interpreted through two distinct lenses: as the struggle to achieve deterrence using the instrument of cyber operations, or as the contest for initiative in order to establish conditions for relative security advantage in a cyber-persistent environment. Either way, these ongoing incidents are best understood not as “bolt out of the blue” attacks, but rather fleeting glimpses of continuing cyber campaigns leveraging previously disclosed and newly developed capabilities as each side grapples to anticipate cyber vulnerability and shape the conditions of exploitation. The opaque nature of these interactions is further complicated by potential bureaucratic politics and interservice rivalries, as well as unknown dynamics of a counter-proliferation campaign to slow, disrupt and potentially destroy Iranian nuclear capacity. In the end, observed cyber actions may not represent reflections of accurate strategic calculation, and even if aligned to the operational environment they may not lead to intended outcomes. Continuous failure to deter, or inability to manage persistent interactions, may lead to greater dangers.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Cybersecurity, Non-Traditional Threats
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Scott Crino, Conrad "Andy" Dreby
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The use of drones as weapons in the Middle East and North Africa has grown rapidly in recent years, especially as non-state actors from the Houthis in Yemen to militants in Syria seek to level the playing field. Often powered by widely available commercial technology, these systems present a real and present security challenge. What should policymakers do to adapt to this new threat? How can they best structure defenses and leverage available technology to protect key assets? “Drone Attacks Against Critical Infrastructure,” by Dr. Scott Crino and Conrad “Andy” Dreby, addresses these questions and more. Crino is founder and CEO and Dreby is director of red-teaming at Red Six Solutions, LLC. The authors analyze developments in the use of weaponized drones in the Middle East and beyond, exploring how regional policymakers can adapt to mitigate this threat.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Weapons , Drones
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Nicholas Blanford, Assaf Orion
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Almost fourteen years since the 2006 war, Hezbollah and Israel seem to be drifting closer to war than at any time in the last decade. Even as Lebanon and Israel grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, neither the Israeli military nor Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah are allowing the disease to distract from their long-running enmity. With the military buildup on both sides, the mutual destruction would be far reaching. Given the risks at hand, the Atlantic Council has released a new report, “Counting the Cost: Avoiding Another War between Israel and Hezbollah,” authored by Nicholas Blanford, a Beirut-based nonresident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Middle East programs, and Brig. Gen. (Res.) Assaf Orion, senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. The authors examine the current force posture of the Israel Defense Forces and Hezbollah, identify potential triggers that could lead to a war, analyze how the next war would be fought by both sides, and offer recommendations to at least maintain the current relative calm and avoid a conflict that could cost thousands of lives and bring unprecedented ruin to both Lebanon and Israel.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Conflict, Crisis Management, Hezbollah, Israel Defense Forces (IDF)
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: C. Anthony Pfaff
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: With US-Iraq ties strained and a Strategic Dialogue between the two countries set to begin in June 2020, this Atlantic Council Iraq Initiative report by Nonresident Senior Fellow and former White House National Security Council Iraq Director Dr. C. Anthony Pfaff analyzes the current challenges in the relationship and presents policy recommendations. Dr. Pfaff argues in the report that the United States should: Avoid dragging Iraq into its broader campaign against Iran; Play to its comparative advantage: The United States can be a better security partner for Iraq than other countries and can also assist with integrating it into the international community and developing the economic and financial capabilities necessary to participate in the global economy; Continue to insist on the integration of Iran-backed militias into Iraq’s security forces; Highlight US aid to Iraq and while acknowledging US mistakes, push back against politicized narratives that explain Iraq’s lack of recovery; Emphasize military interoperability, so that in the event of an ISIS resurgence – or the emergence of a like-minded group – US forces can quickly fill in the Iraqi armed forces’ capability gaps; Promote reconciliation and provide an alternative to Iranian mediation while at the same time avoiding advocacy for a particular outcome; Provide economic assistance to set conditions for foreign investment by US companies and like-minded partners; Focus additional COVID-19 related assistance on economic recovery;.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Bilateral Relations, Military Affairs, Economic Development , COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Paul D. Miller
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: At the outset of some of the most impactful wars in history, policymakers have assumed that the duration of conflict would be brief. Unfortunately, their assumptions were often wrong, as may wars like those in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan only grew more complicated with the passage of time. However, at least in these three cases, the reality of prolonged stalemate did not stop policymakers from setting withdrawal deadlines to assuage public anxieties and improve military performance. The pressures contributing to these consistent decisions across time are still relevant now. Therefore, as the United States currently seeks to deter great-power rivals and rogue regimes while combating terrorism, it is as important as ever to understand the roles and potential outcomes of withdrawal deadlines in war. In this new Atlantic Council report, Withdrawal Deadlines In War: Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Dr. Paul D. Miller examines the effect of withdrawal timetables on public opinion, military success, and policymakers’ goals across the three titular case studies. He finds that “Withdrawal timelines do not achieve the political benefits that policymakers desire, but they do incur the risks policymakers rightly fear.” In the face of prolonged and difficult military challenges, withdrawal deadlines can exacerbate outcomes at crucial moments, and thus policymakers must tread carefully.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, History, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, South Asia, Middle East, East Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Liel Maghen, Shira Kronich
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: IEMed/EuroMeSCo
  • Abstract: Over the last decades, the Middle East, and more specifically the Eastern Mediterranean region, has experienced a rapid process of desertification. In water-scarce areas, access to water is thus of key importance for economic prosperity, political stability and the vitality of the civilian population. As a result, in those Eastern Mediterranean countries facing severe water scarcity water has been framed as an existential threat, leading governments to use and justify emergency measures highly concentrated at the governmental and military level. The overall analysis of this Joint Policy Study asserts that though water management is highly securitised in the Middle East, and access to the resource is considered a national security issue, water security and multilateral cooperation is not ensured but jeopardised by ongoing securitising trends. Securitisation promotes a national and centralised approach towards water management at the expense of the participation of civil society, neutral monitoring and data collection, and the creation of secure, sustainable and transparent access to water for local communities.
  • Topic: Security, Water, Food Security, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Mediterranean
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This policy paper sets out the various interests and goals of global powers (the US, Russia, China and the EU) in the Mediterranean, and the measures they are undertaking to implement them. The document also describes Israeli policies vis-àvis the powers’ activities in this region, and points to the principles that should guide them. The paper is based on a July 2019 meeting in Jerusalem of the research and policy working group on Israel in the Mediterranean, held at the initiative of the Mitvim Institute, the Hebrew University’s Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations and Haifa University’s National Security Studies Center.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Middle East, Israel, United States of America, Mediterranean
  • Author: Ronen Zeidel
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The final months of 2019 were marked by widespread, prolonged protests throughout Iraq, which began in October. Baghdad was the focal point of the demonstrations, which were directed at the ruling political elite and the state backing it: Iran. Prime Minister Adil AbdulMahdi resigned at the end of November, throwing official Iraq into a political vacuum and guaranteeing that any premier appointed to replace him would be considered an interim ruler and as such, his government would only be accepted by the weakened political elite, but not by a significant part of the population. This article reviews the changes that occurred in 2019 in the nature of Israel-Iraq cooperation, as they relate to diplomatic, security, economic and civilian aspects.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Civilians
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Einat Levi
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This article examines the current Israel-Morocco cooperation and its development through 2019. It briefly describes developments in diplomatic, security, economic and civilian arenas in order to find common ground and identify trends. Naturally, the paper will not elaborate much on the security-intelligence aspect of the cooperation, despite its centrality, due to its classified nature.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North Africa, Morocco
  • Author: Dina Smeltz, Craig Kafura
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: American Public Support for US Troops in Middle East Has Grown FEBRUARY 10, 2020 By: Dina Smeltz, Senior Fellow, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy; Craig Kafura, Assistant Director, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy “As we defend American lives, we are working to end America’s wars in the Middle East,” President Donald Trump declared at State of the Union on February 4. Democratic presidential candidates, too, have made halting so-called “endless wars” a key talking point, ranging from cutting back troop levels to withdrawing the US military presence in the Middle East. A Chicago Council survey completed January 10–12 shows that as tensions with Iran have risen, Americans see an increased need to keep watch over the Middle East by maintaining a troop presence there. Key Findings: A majority of Americans say the US military presence in the Middle East should be maintained (45%) or increased (29%). Just 24 percent think it should be decreased. A majority support long-term military bases in Iraq (55%, up from 41% in 2014) and Kuwait (57%, up from 47% in 2014). Nearly half favor keeping bases in Afghanistan (48%, up from 43% in 2014). A combined majority (54%) say alliances in the Middle East benefit both Middle East partners and the United States or mostly benefit the United States.
  • Topic: Security, Public Opinion, Armed Forces, Troop Deployment
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Samar Batrawi
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: During 2019, the original Syrian conflict entered its closing phases, except for the battlefields of Idlib and in the north east. As a result, conflict dynamics have become somewhat easier to read, as the regime and its key allies have shifted towards a triumphalist ‘post-war’ narrative and corresponding governance styles, deal-making and decision-making. These developments can be witnessed in three interlinked spheres: security, civil, and political economic practices. Together, they largely form the Assad regime’s political economy, which – although poorly understood due to limited access – is crucial to understand to assess the negative externalities likely to result from its wartime survival and re-entrenchment. The paper analyses six such externalities: 1. risk of conflict relapse due to economic pressures 2. the politics of refugees 3. risks and instrumentalisation of terrorism 4. regional instability 5. humanitarian culpability 6. deterioration of the international legal order. These externalities are interconnected and emerge from the political economy of the regime – the accumulation of its security, civil and political economic practices. Their nature and volume suggest that the Syrian civil war will plague its neighbors, as well as Europe, for a long time to come. These externalities also focus our attention on the fact that adequate containment strategies should be designed as a matter of urgency, to limit their negative impact.
  • Topic: Security, International Law, Political Economy, Terrorism, Refugees, Conflict, Syrian War, Bashar al-Assad
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Eleanore Ardemagni, Ahmed Nagi, Mareike Transfeld
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: As the war in Yemen enters its sixth year, plenty of new and traditional security providers operate, and compete, at the local level. Changes in security governance describe quick political fragmentation and reordering of security relations: in many cases, the agents of protection are, contemporarily, agents of coercion.1 In the eyes of local communities, multiple security actors fill the same roles and perform similar or overlapped duties. As violence and instability persist, Yemenis have paradoxically had to deal with a rising number of local, “national” and foreign security providers in their everyday life, especially in areas held by the Houthi insurgents. Each territory has its own particularities; but some general trends can be identified, depicting a country where local communities fluctuate between bottom-up decentralization and self-governance. Yemen remains fractured into three main competing political-military entities claiming legitimacy: the internationally-recognized government relocated in Aden, the “quasi-state” of the Houthi insurgents based in the capital Sanaa, and the self-proclaimed and secessionist Southern Transitional Council (STC) in Aden and surrounding areas. In the eastern part of Yemen, local authorities remain formally under the internationally-recognized government (as in the case of the Mahra governorate). But beneath these rival “states”, what happens at a community level? Who really provides security on the ground? And since 2015 onwards, what has changed, or not, in terms of security provision and governance?
  • Topic: Security, Governance, Law Enforcement, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Marina Calculli
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: Lebanon’s sovereign default comes at a heavy price for Hezbollah. This is not simply because of Hezbollah’s powerful role within the government that failed to repay a $1.2 bn bond on 10 March 2020. This is mainly because Hezbollah’s rivals are likely to use the current financial crisis to impose an external authority over Lebanon and increase pressure on the ‘Party of God’ to disband its armed wing.
  • Topic: Security, Financial Crisis, Economy, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: The coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout may rewrite the security as well as the political and economic map of the Middle East. The crisis will probably color Gulf attitudes towards the region’s major external players: the US, China, and Russia. Yet the Gulf States are likely to discover that their ability to shape the region’s map has significantly diminished.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Relations, Security, Trade
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Middle East, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is at odds with just about everybody. He is on opposite sides with Russia in Syria as well as Libya and is trying the patience of his US and European allies. Turkey and Russia are testing the limits of what was always at best an opportunistic, fragile partnership aimed at capitalizing on a seemingly diminishing US interest in the Middle East, already evident under President Barack Obama and continuing under Donald Trump, who is haphazardly redefining what he sees as America’s national interests.
  • Topic: Security, Geopolitics, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Libya, Syria
  • Author: Uzi Rubin
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s warning on the emergent Yemen-originating missile threat corresponds to Iran’s modus operandi of surrounding its foes with missile “rings of fire” and will enable Tehran to complete the missile encirclement of the Jewish state as a step toward its eventual demise. Israel must do its utmost to confront this new strategic threat by establishing an alert system and defense capabilities against Yemen-originating cruise and ballistic missiles, whatever the cost.
  • Topic: Security, Military Affairs, Geopolitics, Weapons
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Yemen
  • Author: Dina Fakoussa, Laura Lale Kabis-Kechrid
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Jordan’s stability is severely challenged by socio-economic hardship. The country is plagued by high un-employment rates, an alarming debt-to-GDP ratio of around 94 percent, corruption, and dismal social ser-vices. The fight against terrorism has also resulted in further infringement of rights such as freedom of expression. These grievances have led to a series of protests and strikes in the past two years; the latest strike by teachers has had a far-reaching impact on the public.
  • Topic: Security, International Cooperation, Terrorism, Employment, Economy, Freedom of Expression, Protests, Unemployment, Social Cohesion
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Jordan
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: The security crisis facing the Kadhimi government and the Iraqi state is a major obstacle to stability and economic development in Iraq, representing a significant drain on the country’s resources and capacities.
  • Topic: Security, Natural Resources, Governance, Economic Development , Militias
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Liel Maghen, Shira Kronich, Christiane Frohlich, Mahmoud Shatat, Tobias von Lossow, Ali Oguz Diriöz, Giulia Giordano, Desirée A.L Quagliarotti
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Israel/Palestine Creative Regional Initiatives (IPCRI)
  • Abstract: Over the last decades, desertification and water-scarcity have become major problems in the Middle East, and more specifically in the Eastern Mediterranean region (Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Syria). These developments have had significant political and socioeconomic impacts for the region. Increasingly securitized, water has been transformed into a political card, discouraging inter-state cooperation. Securitization of water has also led to exclusion of civil society and non-governmental actors from resource management. ​ This Joint Policy Study resulted from a partnership between IPCRI, AIES and Euromesco. IT discusses securitisation and de-securitisation trends in the region and examines the policies that can ensure water security. It argues that multilateral cooperation can trigger effective cooperation over shared water resources. Furthermore, civil society should be reincorporated into management and monitoring of water resources, which would lead to gradual desecuritisation of this resource.
  • Topic: Security, Regional Cooperation, Natural Resources, Water
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan
  • Author: Przemysław Osiewicz, Alex Vatanka, Suzanne Kianpour
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The relationship between the European Union and the Middle East is facing a critical period of change, given the changing leadership in key European Union bodies, rising tensions with regard to Iran, and increasing confrontation between the United States and Iran. The Middle East Institute is pleased to invite you to a conversation with MEI scholar Przemysław Osiewicz, who will discuss his recently released paper series on the impact of leadership changes in key EU bodies such as the EU high representative for foreign and security policy, the European Commission, and the European Council on EU-MENA relations. He will be joined by MEI Senior Fellow Alex Vatanka and moderator Suzanne Kianpour to explore divergences between the United States and the EU approaches in their policies toward Iran, internal divisions within the EU on engagement with Iran, the role of economic factors, and the future of the JCPOA.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Politics, Geopolitics, Leadership
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Tens of thousands of foreign men, women and children affiliated with ISIS are detained in northeast Syria. The camps where they are held pose a formidable security and humanitarian challenge to the region. Western governments should, at minimum, accelerate the repatriation of women and children. What’s new? Alongside the thousands of foreign fighters detained in north east Syria are thousands of non-Syrian children and women. Western governments have for months publicly wrestled with political and policy qualms about repatriating their nationals. Turkey’s incursion into Syria highlights that the window for repatriation or transfer could close suddenly. Why does it matter? The long-term detention of these men, women and children in north east Syria has always been deeply problematic for security and humanitarian reasons. The Turkish incursion and shifting balance of power in the region makes the security of the camps where they are held more precarious. What should be done? As a first step toward addressing this challenge, Western governments should accelerate repatriation of their national children and women. They should recognise the diversity of women’s backgrounds and repatriate those who are unthreatening. They should also pour substantial diplomatic and financial resources into developing responsible options for the remaining population.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Law Enforcement, Islamic State, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Selman Almohamad
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This paper argues that the scholarship on security sector reform (SSR) tends to neglect regional politics in the formulation of its concepts and policies, and that this neglect deprives the study of SSR of a valuable analytical level. It therefore uses comparative historical analysis and the model of regional conflict formations (RCFs) to examine army reforms in Sierra Leone and Iraq from a regional angle, thereby illustrating the explanatory potential that regional politics could bring to the study of SSR and its implementation. The paper also distinguishes between convergent and divergent regional formations, whereby the relationship between SSR outcomes and regional politics is conceived of as constitutive, entangled, and holistic.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Military Affairs, Reform
  • Political Geography: Africa, Iraq, Middle East, Sierra Leone
  • Author: Assem Dandashly, Gergana Noutcheva
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The European Union’s (EU) impact on the political governance of the European neighbourhood is varied and sometimes opposite to the declared objectives of its democracy support policies. The democracy promotion literature has to a large extent neglected the unintended consequences of EU democracy support in Eastern Europe and the Middle East and North Africa. The EU has left multiple imprints on the political trajectories of the countries in the neighbourhood and yet the dominant explanation, highlighting the EU’s security and economic interests in the two regions,cannot fully account for the unintended consequences of its policies. The literature on the ‘pathologies’ of international organisations offers an explanation, emphasizing the failures of the EU bureaucracy to anticipate, prevent or reverse the undesired effects of its democracy support in the neighbourhood.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Democracy, Economy, Bureaucracy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Eastern Europe, North Africa, European Union
  • Author: Andrea Dessì
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: This study on Libya is one of a series of reports prepared within the framework of the EU-LISTCO project, funded under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. Libya is a special case within the EU-LISTCO project. It is in the western region of North Africa, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Algeria and Tunisia to the west, Chad and Niger to the south, Sudan to the south-east and Egypt to the east. The security and stability of Libya is fundamental for the economic and political future of Europe, particularly in relation to migration, radicalisation and political economy. Because of the NATO-led intervention that brought about the collapse of the Libyan Arab al-Jamahiriyah, the country has now entered an interrelated social, economic and political crisis, and violence has been simmering for the past eight years. While the collapse of the previous government has been beneficial for some, numerous armed political actors now control the Libyan territory, supported and funded by external powers that often have contradictory political agendas. The purpose of this report is to answer the following research questions: what is the background of areas of limited statehood and contested order in Libya?; how and when can areas of limited statehood and contested order in Libya turn into governance breakdown and/or violent conflict, and how can these threats affect the security of the EU?; what are the resilience mechanisms in Libya?
  • Topic: Security, Governance, Political stability, State, Crisis Management, Resilience
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Libya
  • Author: Maria-Louise Clausen
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Despite the Iraqi Security Forces’ success in the military defeat of Islamic State (IS) and reconquering of territory seized by IS in 2014, the Iraqi state faces substantial challenges. These challenges have been exacerbated by IS, but did not emerge with IS and will therefore also not disappear with the defeat of IS. This DIIS Report underlines the fragmentation and policization of the security sector as a concern. Although the continued threat from IS has a destabilizing impact on the Iraqi state, the report especially points to the role of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF: an umbrella term for more than 50 armed groups that mobilized against IS in 2014), the sustained focus on identity politics and the pressure on the Iraqi state as key issues for the rebuilding and stabilization of Iraq. The presence of PMFs in Iraq is a challenge to the Iraqi state’s monopoly of violence and the PMFs continue to commit violations with impunity. Moreover, the PMFs (Popular Mobilization Forces) are capitalizing on their role in the defeat of Islamic State to increase their political role. Finally, despite the recent movement towards issue-based politics, identity remains a vital element in Iraqi politics, as seen in the continued practice of power-sharing between Kurds, Shias, and Sunnis. This combined with the Iraqi population’s general lack of trust in the political system challenges reconstruction. Nonetheless, the report asserts that there is a window of opportunity for Iraq, that should be seized by the Iraqi elite and the international community to engage in the difficult process of reconstruction and reconciliation. The report provides a brief overview of some of the main challenges facing Iraq that must be dealt with if Iraq is to break the cycle of violence that has haunted the country for decades.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Democratization, Poverty, Terrorism, Non State Actors, Inequality, Fragile States, Economy, Conflict, Violence, Peace, Justice
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Maja Touzari Greenwood
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The broad definition of the term ‘foreign fighter’ causes operational problems for risk assessments. It is therefore important for security officials to identify significant variations by classifying actors into major categories. RECOMMENDATIONS ■When assessing the risk of continued security threats from foreign fighters, it is crucial to distinguish strategically between foreign fighters who join local rebel groups and those who join globalist groups. ■Ways should be provided for foreign fighters who have joined local rebel groups to ‘opt out’ and return home after the end of fighting in order to discourage them from becoming globalist foreign fighters and to stem potential flows of foreign fighters to new theatres of conflict.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Terrorism, Fragile States
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Maria-Louise Clausen
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The state of Iraq is struggling to exert control over its territory. As a result, remote surveillance is being used to enhance the effectiveness of policing. However, constant surveillance may have a negative impact on emerging state–society relations. RECOMMENDATIONS ■ Invest in research focusing on the impact of surveillance on state–society relations in the Global South. ■ Work to introduce transparency in the use of surveillance in the Global South. ■ Encourage a discussion of issues of privacy and the regulation of airspace in the Global South.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Fragile States, Surveillance, Violence, Justice
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Global South
  • Author: Adnan Mazarei
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Suffering under Western sanctions and security challenges, Iran faces problems as well from its fragile banking system, which has been languishing for decades. Liquidity and solvency weaknesses pose a growing risk to the country’s financial stability. The sanctions reimposed by the United States in 2018 have heightened these vulnerabilities, but the problems also result from the heavy-handed role of the state, corruption, and the Central Bank of Iran’s failure to regulate and supervise the system. Iran’s ability to avoid a run on its banks is aided by their reliance on liquidity assistance, deposit insurance, and regulatory forbearance from the central bank. Depositors are forced to be patient because they have limited options to invest elsewhere. Iran has thus avoided a full-blown banking crisis. But the situation is not sustainable. Banks remain susceptible to external shocks, which could come from a complete halt to oil exports or war.
  • Topic: Security, Financial Crisis, Sanctions, Banks, Financial Institutions
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Christine Sixta Rinehart
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: The United States has been using Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) to assassinate terrorist targets since its first RPA strike on November 3, 2002, when a U.S. Predator fired a hellfire missile at a car traveling through the Mar’ib province of Yemen. The intelligence cycle of this targeted killing process is murky at best, and the policy has changed throughout the successive administrations of U.S. presidents. Details exist but there is no defined tangible chain of analysis concerning the selection of the target, the monitoring of the target, and finally, the assassination of the target. This paper attempts to elucidate the intelligence chain of analysis concerning American targeted killing and examine how the intelligence cycle of targeted killing varies through successive presidential administrations. ​ This paper will begin with a short analysis of relevant literature, although sources concerning this topic are scarce. The occurrence of targeted killings of U.S. citizens will also be explained in the literature section. The paper will continue with an elaboration of a generic intelligence cycle model, which will be used to illustrate the intelligence cycle of U.S. targeted killings using both the Reaper and the Predator RPA.[1] The paper will then address differences in the intelligence cycles and processes that have occurred between successive presidents since targeted killing first began in 2002 with President George W. Bush. Lastly, the paper will provide policy prescriptions in reference to improving targeted killing in the Middle East and Africa...
  • Topic: Security, Intelligence, Drones, Targeted Killing
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ghaith al-Omari, Ben Fishman
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the peace treaty, both parties and the United States have strategic interests in upholding and reinforcing the relationship. The optimism that characterized the signing of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty a quarter-century ago has long since dissipated. Today, the peace rests on a strong security foundation but lacks popular support, particularly on the Jordanian side. Nevertheless, there remain important opportunities for strengthening Israel-Jordan relations and preserving that pillar of America’s steadily eroding security architecture in the Middle East. It is critical for Washington to prioritize Jordan on its agenda. This includes urging the still-to-be-formed Israeli government to take responsible action on two fronts: keeping Amman’s interests in mind when formulating policy toward the West Bank, and implementing long-delayed initiatives that would help Jordan’s struggling economy.
  • Topic: Security, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Territorial Disputes, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jerusalem, Jordan, United States of America
  • Author: Nur Aziemah Azman, V. Arianti, Amalina Abdul Nasir, Sylvia Windya Laksmi, Kenneth Yeo
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The Islamic State’s (IS) territorial losses and military defeat in Iraq and Syria have not weakened the militant landscape in Southeast Asia. Rather, the regional threat landscape has become more resilient and competitive, with pro-IS militant groups exhibiting better operational capabilities, knowledge of explosive-making and networking linkages. Moreover, pro-IS groups in the region have found traction by exploiting local issues to spread the terror group’s extremist ideology. Several major challenges have emerged from the recent setback to IS in the Middle East. First is the issue of returning foreign fighters (FTFs) and how to deal with them. Such returnees pose a plethora of legal, political and security challenges to Southeast countries, particularly Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. A second challenge is IS’ efforts to declare new wilayat (provinces) in different parts of the world. While IS has officially declared the East Asia wilayat based in the Philippines, the declaration of new wilayat cannot be ruled out as witnessed in South Asia and Africa. Further, terrorist groups such as IS constantly require increasing financial resources to expand and sustain their operations. In Southeast Asia, IS-linked groups have set up Islamic charities to raise funds and conceal their activities. Against this backdrop, the September issue of the Counter Terrorists Trends and Analyses (CTTA) features four articles looking at different aspects and dimensions of Southeast Asia’s threat landscape in the post-territorial caliphate environment. The first article by V. Arianti and Nur Aziemah Azman argues that the IS fighters in Indonesia may continue to empower their affiliated groups in the country. According to the authors, this is evident by the apparent attempts by Indonesian IS fighters in Syria to create a wilayah (province) in Indonesia by strengthening two Indonesian militant groups, the Mujahidin Indonesia Timur (MIT, Mujahidin of Eastern Indonesia) and Jamaah Ansharud Daulah (JAD, Congregation of Supporters of IS). IS acknowledged Indonesia as part of its East Asia Wilayah (encompassing primarily the Philippines and Indonesia) in July 2018. In the second article, Sylvia Windya Laksmi examines the nexus between charities and terrorism financing, through the case-study of the IS-affiliated Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) in Indonesia. Given recent reports of convictions around the world of non-profit organisations that misuse their revenues to finance the activities of terrorists, the article details three themes that emerge from JAD’s activities in Indonesia: (i) sham charities set up by the group as a conduit to generate funds to ensure its sustainability; (ii) funds raised for charitable causes funneled into terrorist activities and (iii) social media used to not only recruit members but also raise funds. Given IS’ focus on global expansion in the post-caliphate era, the multi-pronged threat posed by its affiliate networks in Indonesia and surrounding region, of which terrorism financing is a component, will need to be addressed by policymakers and security agencies going forward. The next article by Amalina Abdul Nasir upholds that despite numerous setbacks in Syria, IS is quite determined to stay alive in Malaysia. The pro-IS Malaysian militant groups are exploiting local issues to advance the terror group’s extremist ideology. In this new phase, according to the author, Malaysian IS supporters have acquired better bomb-making capabilities and fostered deeper operational linkages with foreign militants. Moreover, Malaysia is also dealing with the issue of returning fighters. The Malaysian policymakers need to ensure an effective rehabilitation policy in dealing with returning militants and to continue to carefully manage the ethnic and religious climate in Malaysia so as to minimise exploitation of related local issues by pro-IS groups. Finally, Kenneth Yeo discusses the prospects for a consolidation of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) in the Southern Philippines following IS‘ territorial losses this year. According to the author, IS’ weakened presence in the Iraq-Syria theatre has positioned the Philippines as an attractive destination for FTFs in Southeast Asia given its status as an alternate conflict theatre within jihadist discourse. The article argues there could be a consolidation of rebel forces in hotspots such as Mindanao, with IS affiliated groups seeking to complement local fighters with FTFs and youth militants to launch attacks and gain territory. With the added impetus of a leadership transition within IS’ networks in the Philippines, comprehensive counter-terrorism measures are needed to address these developments, which also have regional implications.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Islamic State, Political stability, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Malaysia, Middle East, Philippines, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Abdul Basit, Iftekharul Bashar, Amresh Lavan Gunasingham, Jade Hutchinson
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Current narratives on terrorism and violent extremism by governments, policymakers and law enforcement agencies are largely Islam-centric with an overt focus on the military defeat of terrorist groups. This issue firstly looks into the assumed link between a reduction or elimination of territorial control by terrorist groups and their so-called ‘defeat’. Using the Islamic State (IS) as a study, this issue explicates further on a group’s cross-border/global networks, linkages and ideological spread to assert that the victory-defeat framework against IS is flawed, as its threat has transformed into a network of smaller cells and geographically dispersed cells. Secondly, this issue looks at the rising threat of far-right extremism and terrorism; a phenomenon which has been under-explored, given the Islam-centric nature of terrorism in recent decades. For instance, it has been reported that 71 percent of fatalities linked to terrorism between 2008 and 2017 in the United States were committed by far-right extremists and white supremacists. This issue specifically examines the recent Christchurch terrorist attack in New Zealand by a far-right extremist and possible implications for the Asia Pacific region. In the first article, Abdul Basit discusses the narrative of defeat against IS after US forces eliminated its last physical stronghold in Syria. It is argued that while IS territory shrank considerably, the group is still active with its ideological appeal attracting smaller networks and cells globally. The author states that IS has managed to remain relevant and active despite losing its physical sanctuaries due to three reasons: (i) revising the ideological narrative; (ii) organisational restructuring; and (iii) forming new networks. This is likely to have far-reaching implications on the global threat landscape that will witness a rise in low-end urban terrorism, more competition from rival groups and reactionary violence from right-wing extremists. Next, Amresh Gunasingham studies the recent attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday that heightened post-war ethnic tensions and brought forth civil war traumas amidst an ongoing political crisis. The article examines the possibility of a communication gap among security agencies that prevented early detection of one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the country’s history. It further details the motivations for the attack as: (i) the Wahhabi factor; (ii) anti-Muslim violence furthering radicalization; and (iii) the possible links to IS. Possible implications and responses to the attack include a rise in anti-Muslim sentiments and violence with tightened security measures imposed by the state. In order to ensure long-term stability, the state needs measures to promote ethnic and religious harmony with strong counter-terrorism legislation. Iftekharul Bashar details the threat landscape in Western Myanmar, focusing on (i) Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), an ethno-nationalist group and (ii) IS and Al-Qaeda (AQ), both Islamist terrorist groups. The article argues that the threat brought on by ethnic violence and Islamist terrorism is facilitated by grievances of the local Rohingya Muslims and motivations for revenge and active presence of IS and AQ networks in the South and Southeast Asia region. The exploitation of the local refugee crisis by IS and AQ coupled with ARSA’s resilience requires comprehensive responses that centre on communal harmony in addition to hard-power measures. Lastly, Jade Hutchinson discusses the far-right terrorist threat, specifically in light of the Christchurch shooting at two mosques in New Zealand in March 2019 where 51 people were killed. The article focuses on the attack, the attacker, his links to other far-right extremist groups and the key role the Internet and social media played in facilitating the attack. This incident in New Zealand signals the possibility of further copycat attacks in Australia and other countries, further recruitment towards far-right extremism online and the need to devise policies to effectively counter far-right extremism in the online space.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Refugees, Islamic State, Political stability, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Middle East, Sri Lanka, Syria, New Zealand, Myanmar, United States of America
  • Author: Amalina Abdul Nasir, Mustapha Kulungu, Shafi Mostofa
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The landscape of Islamist terrorism is diverse, multifaceted and fractious, simultaneously characterised by inter and intra-group rivalries and various forms of cooperation at the operational, tactical and strategic levels. It cuts across geographical, gender and ideological lines/boundaries. More importantly, it evolves at a very rapid pace resulting in fluid security and conflict environments in different geographical locales. For instance, there are local groups like Nigerian Boko Haram that are trying to globalise their jihadist agenda through affiliations with the Islamic State (IS). However, this cooperation is not entirely collegial and is marked by friction and a trust deficit on both ends. In contrast, Al-Qaeda’s (AQ) South Asian affiliate, Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), despite its regional character is localising its recruitment and operational strategies to avoid visibility from media and security agencies. AQIS is abstaining from violence while Boko Haram is engaging in violence to gain public attention. At the same time, the evolution of the terrorist landscape in Indonesia and Malaysia from Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and AQ-dominated to IS-led and inspired, has affected the recruitment and participation of women. The growing involvement of female militants in diverse roles gives rise to further security threats. In this issue, the first article by Mustapha Kulungu examines the genesis of Boko Haram in Nigeria as a local movement representing grievances of Muslims to its transformation as an operationally strong terrorist group. The author writes that the growing links over the last few years between IS and Boko Haram have added to the lethality and brutality of the latter, which has relied on narratives of Muslim victimhood in Nigeria to expand its footprint outside the country. The article analyses Boko Haram’s organisational structure, operational strategies, sources of funding and ideological ambitions. While it is argued that Boko Haram’s growing capabilities will undermine the US’ interests in Africa, enhancing US-Nigerian security cooperation may act as a counter Boko Haram’s threat. The second article by Shafi Mostofa discusses AQIS’ online and offline propaganda operations in Bangladesh and the various political and ideological narratives the group has used to grow further. Along with issuing several online videos and pamphlets, AQIS publishes two Bengali language magazines: Al-Balagh and Azan. In these publications, AQIS has frequently invoked four themes to justify its activities in Bangladesh. These four themes are: Indian hegemonic ambitions in South Asia, Muslim persecution, religious credentials of the head of a Muslim state and Islamic values. The author argues that AQIS is targeting affluent Bangladeshi youth for recruitment. AQIS’ continued online propaganda is likely to have negative security implications. As such, the author recommends adoption of long-term kinetic and non-kinetic counter-terrorism and counter-extremism strategies to neutralise AQIS. The last article by Amalina Abdul Nasir observes how women’s roles in terrorism have evolved in Indonesia and Malaysia from JI to an IS-dominated threat landscape. Overall, the roles of women have become more diverse due to IS’ physical inroads in the region, particularly in light of online recruitment through the open and close media platforms. The author discusses the evolution of women’s roles from wives and mothers to suicide bombers and combatants as recently witnessed in Indonesia and Malaysia. This development will need to be addressed by counter-terrorism agencies so as to mitigate its impact on the security threat landscape. It also requires an examination of the current perception of women in terrorist groups, and developing policies that factor in the gender-inclusive nature of the terrorist landscape in parts of Southeast Asia.
  • Topic: Security, Gender Issues, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Women, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Boko Haram
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, Africa, South Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Middle East, North Africa, Nigeria, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Frank Umbach
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS)
  • Abstract: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is officially neither a Chinese “Marshall Plan” nor a geopolitical master strategy. At present, it involves 84 countries, rising from 65 countries in 2015, and 15 Chinese provinces. Over the last year, the number of countries being concerned or ambivalent about China’s motivations and strategic objectives behind the BRI have increased. Despite officially supporting China’s BRI, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also warned last April, that China is supporting unneeded and unsustainable projects in many countries, leading to heavy and unpayable debt burdens. In ASEAN, Chinese investments are welcomed but there are also misgivings about the BRI’s strategic objectives which may constrain ASEAN’s policy options. As China is presently and will remain the single most influential country in global energy markets in the next decades, it is not surprising that its infrastructure plans of building railways, highways and ports are often interlinked with China’s energy and raw materials projects abroad and its domestic energy policies. This paper analyses the energy dimensions of the BRI and its strategic implications for its wider economic, foreign and security policies in Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Energy Policy, Military Strategy, ASEAN, IMF
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Abbas Kadhim
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Iraq has a long and complicated history with the United States, and security and military engagements have been the primary driver of the relationship. Iraq’s relations with Russia, on the other hand, have been more transactional and economically-oriented. At a time when there are signs of US disengagement from the Middle East and North Africa while Russian and Chinese activities in the region are increasing, it is useful to trace the past US and Russian strategies in Iraq and assess how the United States could better tailor its strategy toward Iraq in the future in order to achieve durable outcomes that would bring benefits to both sides such as a responsive government, a thriving economy, and security. This chapter is part of an edited volume that gathers analysis on the policy choices pursued by Washington and Moscow in the MENA region and develops case studies of the two powers’ policies in the countries beset by major crises.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iraq, Eurasia, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Roee Kibrik, Nimrod Goren
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This document outlines major trends in Israel’s regional foreign policies over the past six months. It is based on the Mitvim Institute’s monthly reports that cover ongoing developments in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process/conflict, Israel’s relations with the Middle East, Europe and the Mediterranean, and the conduct of Israel’s Foreign Service.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Peace, Hamas
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Mediterranean, West Bank
  • Author: Haim Koren
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This article describes the relationship and cooperation between Israel and Egypt, and discusses the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on them. It focuses on the current political and security cooperation between the two countries regarding the Gaza Strip, the fight against terror, the Palestinian issue, the relations with the US administration, and the regional rivalry between Arab Sunni states and Iran. The article emphasizes that when it comes to civil and economic ties between Israel and Egypt, the potential for cooperation has yet to be fulfilled. Nevertheless, there are a few signs for economic cooperation in the areas of natural gas and industry (with the enlargement of the QIZ system), and to some positive change in the public attitude of the Egyptian government towards relations with Israel. The challenges to bolstering Israel-Egypt relations include bureaucratic, economic and politicalsecurity (e.g. the nuclear issue) components. Above all, however, stands the Israeli- Palestinian conflict and the perception of the Egyptian public that normalization with Israel cannot be reached prior to a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Politics, Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Egypt
  • Author: Muriel Asseburg, Nimrod Goren, Nicolai von Ondarza, Eyal Ronen, Muriel Asseburg
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Over the last 40 years, since the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty (that alluded to but did not solve the Palestinian question) and the European Community’s 1980 Venice Declaration, Europe has been seeking ways to help advance Israeli-Palestinian peace. The task was not an easy one, mostly due to United States of America (US) dominance of peace negotiations and negative Israeli attitudes towards Europe as a mediator. Thus, while Europeans were key in shaping international language on the conflict, they have remained in the back seat when it comes to shaping dynamics on the ground. Since the collapse in 2014 of the John Kerry initiative to advance the peace process, the task has become even more difficult for the Europeans. Realities on the ground, such as a right-wing government in Israel lacking interest in advancing a peace process, expanded settlement construction, as well as the internal Palestinian split and governance deficiencies in the Palestinian Authority, make the two-state solution ever more difficult to achieve. In addition, Israel’s leadership has worked to weaken and divide the EU in order to limit its role on the issue. In this endeavor, it has profited from different interests and priorities among EU Member States as reflected in discussions and decision-making processes regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These trends have increasingly intensified in recent years, and it is the goal of this publication to analyze them, assess their impact on European capacities and policies, and devise recommendations to tackle and perhaps even reverse them. The publication includes three analytical chapters focusing on internal European dynamics, on Israel’s foreign policy towards the EU, and on EU policy-making regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict/peace process.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Peace
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: For the past two years, Mitvim Institute experts have been studying the changing relations between Israel and key Arab states – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq. They examined the history of Israel’s ties with each of these states; the current level of Israel’s diplomatic, security, economic and civilian cooperation with them; the potential for future cooperation and the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Israel’s ties in the Middle East. Based on their research and on task-team deliberations, the experts put together a snapshot of the scope of existing and potential cooperation between Israel and key Arab states, as of mid-2019.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, United Arab Emirates
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: For the past two years, Mitvim Institute experts have been studying the changing relations between Israel and key Arab states – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq. They examined the history of Israel’s ties with each of these states; the current level of Israel’s diplomatic, security, economic and civilian cooperation with them; the potential for future cooperation and the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Israel’s ties in the Middle East. Based on their research and on task-team deliberations, the experts put together a snapshot of the scope of existing and potential cooperation between Israel and key Arab states, as of mid-2019.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Economy, Peace
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Stéphane Valter
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: This paper presents a study of Egyptian Shiʿism by providing historical context as well as a focus on actual or current issues. The study includes a historical overview of local Shiʿism (Fatimid period, late nineteenth century, 1940s–1960s, and contemporary period); Shiʿi institutions and personalities; the situation following Egypt’s 2011 revolution; the hectic one-year government of the Muslim Brotherhood (2012–2013); President al-Sisi’s authoritarian takeover; and, finally, an exploration of the current geopolitical stakes, focusing mainly on the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran over religious hegemony.
  • Topic: Security, Geopolitics, Shia
  • Political Geography: Africa, Iran, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Nick Grinstead, Christopher Solomon, Jesse McDonald
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: The Eagles of the Whirlwind are one of the many militias that have fought on the part of President Assad’s forces in the Syrian civil war. The regime allowed it to defend and police Syrian territory and, in some cases, to fight alongside the Syrian Arab Army on the frontlines. The group proved to be a capable and effective paramilitary auxiliary. What makes the Eagles of interest is that its parent political party - the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) – was able to increase the space for its political activities in exchange for the battlefield services of its militia. This is not a mean feat under the authoritarian system of decades of Assad-rule that brooked no political diversity whatsoever. It is all the more remarkable because the SSNP has historically been a political rival to the Syrian Ba’ath party. This policy brief analyses the main interests and dynamics by which the SSNP managed to translate the battlefield support and achievements of the Eagles into ministerial positions and open recruitment rallies for party members across regime-held territory. It also examines the SSNP as a novel form of support to the Assad regime that traded greater political auton¬omy for paramilitary mobilization in support of the regime - without, so far, resulting in a more permanent role for the Eagles in the Syrian security architecture. While accepting greater political autonomy for the SSNP was a price the Assad regime was willing to pay for extra auxiliary fighting capacity, it remains to be seen how durable the SSNP’s hard-won autonomy will be.
  • Topic: Security, Non State Actors, Authoritarianism, Syrian War, Militias, Bashar al-Assad
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Brendon J. Cannon, Federico Donelli
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: In December 2017, at the end of a bilateral meeting, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Sudanese counterpart Umar al-Bashir announced a deal to restore Suakin, a ruined Ottoman port town on Sudan’s Red Sea coast. The agreement also gave Turkey the right to build a naval dock to maintain civilian and military vessels. More than one year later there are doubts as to how much work Turkey will do beyond restoring the Ottoman town. However, certain regional states are uncomfortable with the apparent consolidation of a permanent Turkish presence in the region, thereby feeding a process of perceived securitization in and around the Red Sea. A few months later, in April 2018, the flag of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) began to flutter on the small island of Socotra. The position of this isolated Arabian Sea island makes it a strategic outpost for the conduct of ongoing UAE military operations in Yemen as well as control of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the entrance, from the south, to the Red Sea. The two seemingly unrelated events are yet more evidence, for some, of a complicated game of chess between rival ideological and political blocs in the Middle East that now stretches into Africa. The Middle East region has been the scene, for decades, of political balancing acts amidst continuous power and influence scrambles due to its structural characteristics – a highly dynamic and amorphous regional system in which power relations are fluid and order is in short supply – and the lack of a clear regional hegemon. As noted by professor Fawaz Gerges, following the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, a “psychological and epistemological rupture” has occurred in the Middle East.[1] Although mostly limited to the domestic dimension of the states, these dynamics appear to have taken on an extra-regional dimension that increasingly feeds perceptions and narratives of shifting distributions of power. A wide range of academic and think tank literature has emphasized these changes in light of an emerging identity Cold War pitting conservative Sunni monarchies against a revolutionary Shi’a Iran. Recent security interactions across the Red Sea seem to form part of this intertwined rebalancing dynamic across the wider Middle East regional security complex (MERSC).
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Power Politics, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, Turkey, Middle East, Horn of Africa
  • Author: Dlawer Ala'Aldeen
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Turkey is in every way ideally placed to bridge the EU with its southern neighbours and together tackle their common challenges and myriad business opportunities. The question is, can they align priorities and policies to make the most of the opportunities? The answer is: not easily. Given the complexity of and uncertainty in Turkey and Iraq, as well as Syria’s security dynamics, sustained EU-Turkey convergence in all areas of common interest is unlikely in the foreseeable future. Although both Turkey and the EU have adopted multifaceted foreign policies vis-a-vis the Middle Eastern countries, yet they have converged only on specific issues, such as dealing with the Iran nuclear deal. Both sides consider the US withdrawal from the deal as a “matter of concern”, believing that maintaining the deal and keeping Iran engaged through diplomatic and economic means instead of sanctions or military threats is crucial even after the US withdrawal. Otherwise, Turkey and the EU diverge on the overall approach to the most troubled neighbours, namely Iraq and Syria, which have been sources of grave concern to all. Iraq continues to be a fragile country, struggling to keep its integrity. The country was at the brink of failure between 2014-2017 after the emergence of the so called Islamic State (IS), and further threatened by the Kurdish referendum for independence in 2017. Iraq was pulled back to survival, mainly by international assistance. Interestingly, in 2018 Iraq saw two transformative general elections, one for the Federal and the other for the Kurdistan Region’s Parliament. The outcome of these elections brought about a degree of change in the political landscape, a sense of optimism for future recovery and a clear promise for creating new business opportunities for international partners. However, in keeping with the past, the formation of government in both Baghdad and Erbil became protracted and problematic. These features indicate that the Iraqi leaders remain ill focused on the country’s priorities in terms of state-building and provision of services or addressing the root causes of its fragility. Turkey and the EU share the objectives of accessing Iraq’s market and energy supply, and prevent onward migration of the displaced populations. Of course, the EU is to a large extent dependent on Turkey to achieve its goals. Therefore, it would make sense for the two sides to converge and cooperate on these issues. However, Turkey’s foreign policies in the southern neighbourhood are driven primarily by its own domestic and border security considerations and – importantly – Turkey sees the economic, political and security issues as inextricable. While Iraq has lost its state monopoly over legitimate violence and is incapable of securing its borders, Turkey often takes matters into its own hands by invading or intervening in Iraq, both directly and indirectly (through proxies). Of course, the Iraqi government considers Turkey’s interventions as acts of aggression and violations of its borders, but is unwilling to take measures against them. For Iraq, Turkey is a regional power and an indispensable neighbour. It has control over part of Iraq’s oil exports, water supply and trade routes. The EU, on the other hand, considers Turkey’s interventions as acts of self-defence but frowns upon them as destabilising factors, adding to the fragility of Iraq. In Syria, the political landscape and security dynamics are very different from Iraq, but the EU-Turkish policies follow similar patterns. Syria remains a failed state with its regime struggling to secure survival and regain control over its territories. Meanwhile, Turkey has become increasingly interventionist in Syria via direct military invasion and through proxies, culminating in the occupation of a significant area west of Euphrates, and threatening to occupy the Eastern side too. Turkey has put extreme pressure on the USA for permission to remove the Syrian Democratic Front (SDF) and its lead organisation (Democratic Union Party, PYD) from governing North East Syria (also referred to as Rojava). However, the EU and USA consider the SDF and PYD indispensable in the fight against IS and fear the Turkish interventions may have grave consequences. Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative and Vice-President of the European Commission recently emphasised that “Turkey is a key partner of the EU”, and that the EU expect the “Turkish authorities to refrain from any unilateral action likely to undermine the efforts of the Counter-IS Coalition”. Therefore, EU-Turkey divergence or even conflict with some EU Member States is possible over Syria.
  • Topic: Security, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, European Union, Islamic State, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Syria
  • Author: Emma Hesselink
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Now that IS has been defeated, at least territorially, governments, donors and the international community are investing in Iraq’s state building programmes both at national and local levels. However, Nineveh governorate, which suffered greatest damage and requires greatest attention, has been the scene of a highly divided security landscape since its liberation from IS. The chronic divisions between different actors such as Peshmerga and Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are only worsened by the presence of the Hashd al-Shaabi and other non-state actors in the Disputed Territories. This brief provides an analysis of the risks posed by Hashd in Nineveh and offers recommendations into regaining a grip on the situation.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Islamic State, State Building
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad
  • Author: Dlawer Ala'Aldeen, Goran Zangana
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Chemicals are widely used in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region (KRI) for various civilian purposes. Terrorist organizations have demonstrated their intention, know-how and capacity to convert chemicals of civilian use to chemical weapons. Without an urgent and comprehensive policy response, the KRI can face significant breaches in chemical security with immeasurable risks to the population and the environment. This report follows a special MERI workshop on chemical security, where major challenges were identified and a number of policy recommendation made.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Chemical Weapons
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Federico Borsari
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Stabilisation and recovery in Iraq are intimately tied to the structural sustainability and accountability of the security apparatus across the country. The Kurdish Peshmerga forces are currently undergoing an ambitious process of modernisation and institutionalisation aimed at transforming them into an apolitical and professional entity, to the expected benefit of both Erbil and Baghdad. This policy brief examines the contours of this process against the backdrop of Iraq’s precarious security landscape and offers policy recommendations.
  • Topic: Security, Political structure, Institutionalism, Recovery
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Over the past decade and a half, the KRI’s share of the federal budget and oil revenue has been the most significant point of tension between Erbil and Baghdad. Each year, when the budgetary law is formulated and voted upon, a new crisis is initiated; the next is already brewing, as the budget law is currently under discussion. According to journalist Hiwa Osman, this bilateral relationship is also affected by ongoing neutralisation disagreements over the disputed territories, which are manifested in the positionalities of the Peshmerga, paramilitary, and federal security forces.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Budget
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad, Erbil
  • Author: Sarah L. Edgecumbe
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: The contemporary displacement landscape in Iraq is both problematic and unique. The needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq are many, particularly as protracted displacement becomes entrenched as the norm rather than the exception. However, minorities originating from the so called ‘Disputed Territories’ and perceived Islamic State (IS)-affiliates represent two of the most vulnerable groups of IDPs in Iraq. Iraqi authorities currently have a real opportunity to set a positive precedent for IDP protection by formulating pragmatic durable solutions which incorporate non-discriminatory protection provisions, and which take a preventative approach to future displacement. This policy paper analyses the contemporary displacement context of Iraq, characterized as it is by securitization of Sunni IDPs and returnees, as well as ongoing conflict and coercion within the Disputed Territories. By examining current protection issues against Iraq’s 2008 National Policy on Displacement, this paper identifies protection gaps within Iraq’s response to displacement, before drawing on the African Union’s Kampala Convention in order to make recommendations for an updated version of the National Policy on Displacement. These recommendations will ensure that a 2020 National Policy on Displacement will be relevant to the contemporary protection needs of Iraq’s most vulnerable IDPs, whilst also acting to prevent further conflict and displacement.
  • Topic: Security, Migration, Religion, Refugees, Displacement
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Camille Lons, Jonathan Fulton, Degang Sun, Naser Al-Tamimi
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: China has significantly increased its economic, political, and – to a lesser extent – security footprint in the Middle East in the past decade, becoming the biggest trade partner and external investor for many countries in the region. China still has a limited appetite for challenging the US-led security architecture in the Middle East or playing a significant role in regional politics. Yet the country’s growing economic presence is likely to pull it into wider engagement with the region in ways that could significantly affect European interests. Europeans should monitor China’s growing influence on regional stability and political dynamics, especially in relation to sensitive issues such as surveillance technology and arms sales. Europeans should increase their engagement with China in the Middle East, aiming to refocus its economic role on constructive initiatives.
  • Topic: Security, Power Politics, Geopolitics, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Louis René Beres
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: On core matters of peace and security, two closely interrelated questions must be asked: 1. What precisely does Donald Trump have in mind regarding any potential armed conflict with Iran? 2. What might such a possibility portend for Israel, a US ally? Answers to these questions must extend beyond narrowly partisan simplifications. They should be nuanced and subtly overlapping. At a minimum, once a shooting war were underway, the Israeli armed forces (IDF) could become involved, possibly to a substantial degree. In a worst case scenario, clashes would involve unconventional weapons and directly affect Israel’s civilian population. The worst of the worst could involve nuclear ordnance.
  • Topic: Security, War, Nuclear Power, Peace, Israel Defense Forces (IDF)
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America, Israel
  • Author: Ferry de Kerckhove
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: The art of war has changed considerably since the end of the Second World War. In the last 15 years, the centre of gravity has slowly shifted from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The West is increasingly being destabilized. Hybrid warfare and cyber-attacks have become increasingly effective alternatives to both hard and soft power. Russia is a major player in this domain; so is Iran. Other players are joining the fray, most of them hostile to the West, such as Iran and Russia’s client states. The barriers between civilian and military are fading quickly. All-out war now happens in a space that’s invisible to the naked eye. Not only is such warfare threatening us, but it also has consequences we have barely begun to assess. The divide between good and bad is blurring. Marshall McLuhan said the medium is the message. Today, the medium and the message are an undecipherable continuum where evil and lies coexist with truth and goodwill. Technological prowess increases vulnerability, but technology is also at the heart of corresponding systems of security. Thus, we have fully entered a new arms race where deterrence comes from the other side knowing what you don’t want him to discover, but what you want him to fear. Voltaire said: “If you wish to speak to me, let us start by defining the meaning of our words.” In this day and age, this mantra is particularly applicable to the definition of contemporary threats as well as of the targets, or even who is in the sights of Russian and Middle Eastern leaders. “Cyberspace is a domain characterized by the use of electronics and the electromagnetic spectrum to store, modify, and exchange data via networked systems and associated physical infrastructures. In effect, cyberspace can be thought of as the interconnection of human beings through computers and telecommunication, without regard to physical geography.” Consequently, “(c)ybersecurity is the practice of protecting systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks. These cyberattacks are usually aimed at accessing, changing, or destroying sensitive information; extorting money from users; or interrupting normal business processes. Implementing effective cybersecurity measures is particularly challenging today because there are more devices than people, and attackers are becoming more innovative.” Discussions focus on whether Russia or China is the heavyweight in terms of threat. Some argue that China is more subtle while Russia is more of a rogue. But it is undeniable that China’s attempt to change the fundamental paradigm of international relations, while using and hopefully subduing the existing international order’s mechanisms to its advantage, represents a holistic approach and is thus more threatening to the world if it even partly succeeds. Indeed, the planet’s centre of gravity is moving from the Atlantic to the Pacific and that means the global threat comes from China. If we needed a reminder, in 2014 Chinese hackers stole the personal information of more than 22 million people connected to U.S. security clearance processes. Not bad for five years ago!
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Rukban camp on the Jordan-Syrian borders constitutes a double crisis of a humanitarian and political nature. While there are signs that the humanitarian crisis is on its way to be resolved through an understanding to alleviate the suffering of tens of thousands of the displaced persons in the camp, the political crisis remains very complex. This is primarily because of obstacles to dialogue between the concerned parties. The camp falls under the scope of the American al-Tanf base. While Russia and the Syrian regime are pushing for dismantling the largest human enclave on the road to al-Tanf, the US does not share the same desire on the grounds that there is still a need for guarantees for the return of displaced persons to their homes, which are currently under the control of the regime. This shows how far the crisis is linked to the fate of the US military presence in Syria as well as the Russian and Syrian positions.
  • Topic: Security, Refugees, Syrian War, Rukban
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, North America, Jordan, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Mutual escalation has come to define the constant confrontations between the Nigerian movement Boko Haram and the Multinational Joint Task Force, formed by some West African countries, to confront its activity and weaken its ability to expand beyond the national borders, namely to Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. This escalation may continue over the coming period, as the movement becomes one of the main branches of ISIS, on which the latter relies to stage counter-strikes in response to the losses sustained in Syria and Iraq.
  • Topic: Security, Violent Extremism, Counter-terrorism, Islamic State, Boko Haram
  • Political Geography: Africa, Iraq, Middle East, West Africa, Syria, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger
  • Author: Maha Yahya, Jean Kassir, Khalil El-Hariri
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: As the Syrian regime regains territory, there have been growing calls in neighboring countries for refugees to go home. Yet refugees have conditions for a return—conditions that political efforts to resolve the Syrian conflict have largely ignored. To understand refugee attitudes toward return, the Carnegie Middle East Center listened to the concerns of Syrians—both male and female, young and old—struggling to build meaningful lives in Lebanon and Jordan. What is most striking is that despite the increasingly difficult challenges they face, a majority are unwilling to go back unless a political transition can assure their safety and security, access to justice, and right of return to areas of origin. Economic opportunity and adequate housing are important but not requirements. Above all, their attitudes make it clear that both a sustainable political settlement and a mass, voluntary return are contingent upon international peace processes that account for refugee voices.
  • Topic: Security, Refugee Crisis, Conflict, Syrian War, Peace, Justice, Transition
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States, its allies, and international organizations are just beginning to come to grips with the civil dimensions of "failed state" wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, the Sudans, Syria, and Yemen. In each case, it is clear that the civil dimension of the war will ultimately be as important as the military one. Any meaningful form of "victory" requires far more than defeating the current extremist threat in military terms, and reaching some temporary compromise between the major factions that divide the country. The current insurgent and other security threats exist largely because of the deep divisions within the state, the past and current failures of the government to deal with such internal divisions, and the chronic failure to meet the economic, security, and social needs of much of the nation's population. In practical terms, these failures make a given host government, other contending factions, and competing outside powers as much of a threat to each nation’s stability and future as Islamic extremists and other hostile forces. Regardless of the scale of any defeat of extremists, the other internal tensions and divisions with each country also threaten to make any such “victory” a prelude to new forms of civil war, and/or an enduring failure to cope with security, stability, recovery, and development. Any real form of victory requires a different approach to stability operations and civil-military affairs. In each case, the country the U.S. is seeking to aid failed to make the necessary economic progress and reforms to meet the needs of its people – and sharply growing population – long before the fighting began. The growth of these problems over a period of decades helped trigger the sectarian, ethnic, and other divisions that made such states vulnerable to extremism and civil conflict, and made it impossible for the government to respond effectively to crises and wars.
  • Topic: Security, War, Fragile/Failed State, ISIS, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sundan
  • Author: Gurmeet Kanwai
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Issue The development of Gwadar Port is a key element of the greater China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It speaks to both the strength of the China-Pakistan relationship and the reach of China’s grand strategy. With Pakistan’s two other major ports operating near capacity with no room for expansion, projects in Gwadar promise to eventually handle one million tons of cargo annually, while also providing significant industrial, oil, and transportation infrastructure. Though a “monument of Pakistan-China friendship,” there are misgivings on both sides about CPEC, including the safety of Chinese workers, the resentment of Baloch nationalists, and the growing debt trap created by the project. The prospect of the PLA Navy in Gwadar poses greater security questions, as it forms another link in China’s efforts to expand its maritime presence in the Indo-Pacific region. The members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or “Quad,” comprised of India, Japan, Australia, and the United States, should counter China’s strategic outreach by networking with other like-minded countries on cooperative security frameworks to ensure a free, open, prosperous, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
  • Topic: Security, Oil, Regional Cooperation, Global Political Economy, Trade
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Japan, China, Middle East, India, Asia, Australia
  • Author: Deniz Çıtak
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: On January 20, 2018 at 17:00 local time, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) entered Afrin, a city in northern Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan named the military operation “Operation Olive Branch” (Zeytin Dalı Harekâtı) for the region’s many olive trees. According to Turkey, the operation does not violate international law because the operation was against the PYD and YPG as an act of self-defense, aiming to guarantee the security of Turkey’s borders. For Turkey, the links between the PKK and Syrian Kurdish groups classify Kurdish activity in northern Syria as a threat to Turkey’s domestic security.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Military Intervention, Conflict, Syrian War, Kurds
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Helle Malmvig
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: After years of war, the Syrian state apparatus has fragmented into a loosely knit network of overlapping and competing authorities that hold sway over different areas. Multiple groups are enacting and performing what are perceived to be key state tasks, sometimes living side by side, and sometimes fighting, competing and negotiating in overlapping networks of power. These cross-cutting ties defy any easy dichotomies between rebels and government of the sort we have become all too familiar with from military control maps. This does not imply that theSyrian state is on the verge of collapse or sectarian ethnic division. Rather the Syrian government has continued to function internationally as a sovereign state, and it has been able to draw on its administrative and institutional capacities, and even to nurture new and old local power elites in the form of prominent families, business leaders, clans and sheiks. In order to survive, the Assad regime has paradoxically outsourced or co-shared key state functions – the means of violence, border control, taxation and service provision – to or with a multiplicity of foreign and local actors, whether foreign Shia militias, the Kurdish YPG or Local Defense Forces. Many of these foreign powers and militias are likely to remain in Syria after the war in order to secure so-called strategic depth, and they thrive on a certain degree of ‘controlled state chaos’. Similarly, the multiplicity of local actors and intermediaries that have been empowered during the war will not easily relinquish their new found autonomy, and may, just like the Syrian opposition, push the Syrian state towards greater localization and decentralization.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Diplomacy, International Organization, Politics, Science and Technology, Terrorism, Power Politics, Non State Actors, Fragile States
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Robert Hamilton
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: U.S. Army Colonel Robert E. Hamilton is a Black Sea Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and is a professor in the Department of National Security and Strategy at the U.S. Army War College. He has served as a strategic war planner and country desk officer at U.S. Central Command, as the Chief of Regional Engage- ment for Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan, and as the Chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Georgia and as the Deputy Chief of the Security Assistance Office at the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan. Colonel Hamilton was a U.S. Army War College fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, where he authored several articles on the war between Russia and Georgia and the security situation in the former Soviet Union. Colonel Hamilton holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Virginia. Colonel Robert Hamilton spoke with The Fletcher Security Review in early November 2017 at Fletcher’s Religion, Law and Diplomacy Conference. The following conversation is an excerpt from their extensive interview.
  • Topic: Security, Conflict, Syrian War, Identities, Interview
  • Political Geography: Bosnia, Middle East, Syria, North America, United States of America
  • Author: C. Nna-Emeka Okereke, Syed Huzaifah Bin Othman Alkaff, Abdul Basit
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The continuing terrorist attacks in the West and different parts of Asia and Africa underscore the resilience, adaptability and regenerative nature of the prevailing global terrorist threat. With these attacks, the contours of the post-IS threat environment are now becoming increasing clear. It entails four major issues: a decentralised threat landscape, the challenge of returning foreign fighters from Iraq and Syria, the emergence of new IS hotspots in the Philippines, Afghanistan and parts of Africa, and cyber radicalisation. This requires continued vigilance, collaborative responses and sharing of best practices between security institutions and intelligentsia. In the context of continuing terrorist threat, the massacre of over 500 civilians in Eastern Ghouta in Syria by the Bashar Al-Assad regime is concerning for several reasons. The brutal use of violence will continue to fuel jihadist recruitment, strengthen the extremist narrative and create space for IS-linked and other militant groups to survive. Whether it is Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan, the absence of conflict stabilisation has undermined counter-terrorism efforts in these war-torn territories. The imagery of civilian killings in Ghouta plays right into the hands of groups like Al-Qaeda and IS as these groups continue to be the by-products of anarchy and lawlessness in active conflict zones. Against this backdrop, the first article by Abdul Basit explores the urban footprint of pro-IS jihadists in South Asia. The author observes that the dissemination of IS ideology of Jihadi-Takfiri-Salafism has galvanised a new generation of South Asia jihadists, which is narrowly sectarian, brutally violent and tech savvy. This pro-IS generation of jihadists uses various social media platforms for propaganda dissemination, recruitment and operational planning. In recent months, they have moved from open-end to encrypted social media applications. This development coupled with their segregated cell-formations makes their detection challenging. In conclusion, the author suggests that in addition to robust social media monitoring capabilities and operational preparedness, various South Asia governments would also require robust counter-ideological responses to overcome and neutralise IS appeal in this generation of South Asia jihadists. Highlighting the threat from social media, Syed Huzaifah Bin Othman Alkaff examines the trajectory of online radicalisation of a young Filipino girl, whose quest to atone herself from a ‘sinful’ past life exposed her to IS-recruiters online. The recruiters encouraged her to undertake the so-called ‘hijra’, after which she emerged as the head of IS’ female wing in Marawi (Mindanao, Phillipines). Syed highlights the need for a proactive approach by the governments and mainstream Islamic scholars to impart correct interpretations of key Islamic concepts such as jihad, caliphate, hijra and takfir to Muslim youth. It is argued that these efforts will circumvent the exploitation of these concepts by violent-extremist groups. Departing from the discussion on Islamist terrorist groups, this issue carries an article by C. Nna-Emeka Okereke focusing on the dynamics of the current indigenous Anglophone (English-speaking population) crisis in Cameroon and the escalating violence between the community in the northwest and southwest and the government. The Anglophone community is resentful towards what is perceived to be their marginalisation and the erosion of their unique identity as a result of various government actions relating to issues such as the creation of a centralised state from a two-state federation, and status of the English language. A segment of the Anglophone community has resorted to violence to address its grievances, conducting arson attacks and bombings targeting schools, government and security personnel. The instability has resulted in the displacement of thousands of refugees into Nigeria and poses security challenges to the country as it goes into the Presidential elections, and to the entire Lake Chad Basin.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Islamic State, Political stability, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, South Asia, Middle East, East Asia, Philippines, North Africa, Syria, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Marc Finaud, Bernd W. Kubbig
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: In our new Track II initiative we will present, discuss, and disseminate Cooperative Ideas jointly developed at two International Expert Conferences in Frankfurt and Berlin (see issue No. 1 of this New Publication Series at academicpeaceorchestra.com). The aim is to help establish promising focal points around which especially the relevant regional actors in the disarmament & non-proliferation area can rally. They may ultimately lead to constructive and sustainable dialogue mechanisms which are so rare – and so needed – in the Middle East/Gulf. The Two Expert Panels in Vienna are our starting point with a Third Panel envisaged for the Second NPT PrepCom in Geneva as a follow-up event. They are presented in this POLICY FORUM No. 2.
  • Topic: Security, Communications, Conference
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Daniel Muller
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: This Policy Forum issue advocates using elements of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or agreement/accord) in prospective negotiations to create a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery vehicles (DVs) in the Middle East. In a stalemated situation resembling efforts to negotiate a zonal arrangement, the JCPOA after more than 12 years of negotiations succeeded in striking a multilateral deal among adversaries with diverging capabilities and agendas who doubted each other’s intentions and were reluctant to make concessions.By establishing an incentive-based mechanism that encouraged and facilitated cooperation, the JCPOA succeeded in trading various issues to reach common ground in an incremental step-by-step approach of carefully sequenced quid pro quos. Framed as an agreement among equals and safeguarded by multiple compliance mechanisms, the JCPOA (or aspects of it) could serve as a toolbox for zonal negotiations on disarmament, help to link hardened actors, and break up entrenched interest structures and dogmatic policy positions.
  • Topic: Security, Treaties and Agreements, Weapons , Disarmament
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Marc Finaud, Bernd W. Kubbig
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: This New Publication Series POLICY FORUM is in addition to the Two Expert Panels conducted at the First NPT PrepCom in Vienna on May 8 and 10, 2017 our second Track II tool. Both aim at presenting, discussing, and disseminating the jointly developed Cooperative Ideas as potential rallying points for the most important actors in the entire Middle East/Gulf. The main goal is to help achieving what is most needed: relaunching New Communication & Conference Processes in the disarmament & non-proliferation area; this is seen as the core element of, ultimately all-inclusive, security arrangements for the region consisting of two centers of gravity relevant for our new, comprehensive approach for the entire Middle East/Gulf.
  • Topic: Security, Weapons , Disarmament, Nonproliferation, Trade, Conference
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Nikolay Surkov
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Discussion paper for the workshop on: “The emerging security dynamics and the political settlement in Syria”, Syracuse, Italy, 18-19 October 2018. Since 2015, Syria has been a test-ground for many Russian military innovations. Among them the Russian Military Police (RMP), which quickly became one of the symbols of the Russian involvement in the Syrian crisis. After defeating the militants, the Russian stabilisation and reconciliation strategy included the deployment of forces that could provide security for civilians, negotiators, demining teams and medics. Furthermore, once the ceasefire agreement was reached in 2016, a peacekeeping force was needed to oversee its implementation. Due to domestic and international circumstances, Russia could not deploy combat troops, so the RMP was chosen for its effectiveness and low profile. The RMP provided support to the Reconciliation Centre (RC), secured humanitarian evacuations and monitored de-escalation zones. Despite certain achievements, total success was limited. Due to its size, the RMP was unable to maintain a massive presence in the governmentcontrolled areas to protect the civilian population and shape the security environment. As such, it could not be a substitute for the local and national Syrian forces that were needed to bring peace and stability in the long run.
  • Topic: Security, Military Affairs, Syrian War, Police, Reconciliation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Syria
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: En 2004, le leader d’Al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahiri, déclarait: “Plus de la moitié de la lutte a lieu dans les médias… nous sommes au cœur d’une bataille médiatique dans la course pour gagner les esprits et les cœurs de notre Oumma (Communauté musulmane)”[1] Alors que l’incitation à la violence est largement connue du grand public, un autre pan entier de la stratégie de communication djihadiste l’est beaucoup moins : l’utilisation de la poésie, de la musique ou encore de la narration comme vecteur de son idéologie, notamment au travers de plateformes en lignes.[2] La pieuvre artistique et médiatique mise en place par l’État Islamique depuis sa création lui a permis d’exploiter toutes les possibilités du web. Que ce soit à travers la publication de revue et communiqués ou encore la production de vidéos et photos, tous les volets de la stratégie de l’État Islamique ont eu pour cœur opérationnel internet et ses milliers de fenêtres qu’il ouvre vers le reste du monde.[3] Ainsi, l’Etat Islamique est actif en ligne sur tous les fronts : diffusion de son idéologie, levée de fonds, recrutement de sympathisants, coordination et revendication de ses attaques, etc.
  • Topic: Security, War, Islamic State, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Bernd W. Kubbig, Marc Finaud, Ali Fathollah-Nejad
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The dangerous spiralling of the rivalry between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran for hegemony/supremacy in the Middle East/Gulf is the factor that has the most negative impact on the entire region. The authors make the case for using the specific features and successful negotiations of the historic Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as a way to downgrade this bilateral rivalry. This agreement was the focal point of (pre-)negotiations especially between the United States and Iran that de-escalated the tensions between the two enemies and turned them – at least during the administration of President Barack Obama – into adversaries with an interest in selective cooperation. The agreement is living proof that formerly incompatible interests can be overcome. It is true, however, that, despite its complexity, the JCPOA can only have a limited influence on developments in the region. This is why the authors identify the roots of the intensifying Saudi Iranian rivalry at the domestic, regional and international levels – with corresponding recommended steps to de-escalate this struggle. The prospects for such a positive scenario appear to be particularly promising if elites in both Riyadh and Tehran – especially since they are facing increasing domestic challenges to regime/government stability – opt to slow down or even reverse their countries’ current course. A more assertive population, especially among women and the youth, has become a new factor for serious change. This may incentivise these elites to pursue less costly foreign policy approaches – including finding appropriate forums for serious dialogue, with de-escalating the mutually demonising rhetoric as the first step.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Treaties and Agreements, Hegemony
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Rik Coolsaet, Thomas Renard
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: According to intelligence estimates, there are around 1,400 European children in Syria and Iraq, many of them born there. The fate of these children confronts European governments with moral, legal, political, diplomatic and security dilemmas. Governments are divided over the issue, but almost all are reluctant to address it head-on. None have taken a proactive stance with regard to these children, creating several security voids. This policy brief looks into the fate of these European children before exploring in more detail the situation of the Belgians among them. It analyses the position of the Belgian government with regard to repatriation and reviews existing policies concerning returning children. The authors end up with a number of recommendations for Belgian and European authorities, including a plea for a more proactive response.
  • Topic: Security, Children, Displacement, Reparations
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Middle East, Belgium, Syria
  • Author: Esra Cavusoglu
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Turkish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
  • Institution: Turkish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
  • Abstract: British withdrawal from the Persian Gulf in 1971, started a new era in the region with new political order and new security map. Iran and Saudi Arabia emerged as the guardians of the status quo to be filling the power vacuum left by the British in behalf of the West. Britain adopted a new post-imperial role in the region along with new post-colonial foreign policy in the post-withdrawal context. British policy towards the regional security is analysed in this article with central focus on the shift emerged in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution in the British policy. After 1979, Iran, no longer a Western ally, has been defined as the major internal threat for the regional security following the major external threat of the Soviet expansion in the British foreign policy. This paper argues that the shift in the British policy came along with a sectarianist approach towards the region. The sectarianization emerged with the securitization of the Gulf based on “Iran threat” within the determinants of the Anglo-American alliance on the regional security. The sectarianist discourse adopted by the British foreign policy was employed as an effective tool of the securitization of the Gulf that was deepened during the regional conflicts, the Iran-Iraq War and the Gulf War.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Persian Gulf
  • Author: Giuseppe Dentice
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: In the wake of the killing of more 300 Muslim worshippers by allegedly Jihadist militants during al-Rawdah massacre in November 2017, President Sisi launched a new military campaign - “Comprehensive Operation-Sinai 2018” - with the aim of putting an end to terrorism and restoring security within three months in turbulent Egypt. The military operation, which precedes the presidential election of March 26-28, 2018, has pursued growing repression of the opposition and militarization of institutions in the country. Despite the media fanfare and pro-Sisi triumphalism, the Egyptian government needed a red herring and the construction of an ‘enemy’ to help engineer some ‘national unity’ among disgruntled Egyptians, with the aim of diverting public attention away from atrocities and structural reform failures. Operation Sinai-2018 represents a new step in the militarization of the restive northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, where the State and the Army have reasserted their control under authoritarian policies based on brutal force and harsh methods against the local population. This paper analyses the reasons behind the military operation and examines the threats arising from the militarization policy in Sinai and the impact of authoritarian measures on domestic politics. It also probes into the emerging correlation between military measures and militaristic nationalism, and how new risks may arise during Sisi’s second presidential term.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Military Affairs, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt, Sinai Peninsula
  • Author: Dlawer Ala'Aldeen, Susan Cersosimo, Kamaran Palani
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: There are major security events, issues and trends within Iraq since 2003 and Syria since 2011, that have influenced and impacted Turkey-European Union (EU) relations. In this policy paper we deconstruct the causal mechanisms that act as the primary drivers impacting bilateral relations. We then compare and contrast Ankara’s and Brussels’ current security interests, priorities and perceptions toward security threats originating in this troubled neighbourhood. Finally, we classify opportunities as culminating in three possible discrete or combined security policy scenarios: conflict, cooperation and/or convergence and make recommendations to improve Turkey-EU relations. To address how Iraq’s and Syria’s security environment evolved to its current state and predict the subsequent outcomes and impacts on EU-Turkey relations, we look back and critically analyse Ankara’s and Brussels’ views on the following key events, issues and trends: security and political dynamics following the second term of al-Maliki, the withdrawal of the US forces in 2011, the 2011 Syrian revolution, the war against the Islamic state (IS), The Global Coalition against Daesh (GCD) backing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in northern Syria, the rise of Kurdish nationalism and aspirations for statehood in Iraq and autonomy in Syria, the enhanced influence of Iran in Iraq and the growth of IS with subsequent mass displacement of person across both Iraq and Syria. Iraq is now largely free of IS reign, yet is still threatened by terrorism, mass population displacement and weak governance, among other ills. In parallel, now that the Syrian civil war enters its seventh bloody year, generating large numbers of casualties and millions of displaced persons, Brussels and Ankara are strongly incented to converge and/or cooperate on security policies which mitigate the escalating humanitarian crisis and ease the path to a durable peace agreement. However, finding durable solutions to address high value, high impact problems stemming from Iraq and Syria requires identifying and mitigating the causes vs symptoms of these countries’ instability and insecurity affecting Ankara’s and Brussels’ own security interests, priorities and threat perceptions. Central security priorities for the EU in post-IS Iraq include stabilization, the return of internally displaced people and refugees and eliminating violent jihadist organizations and ideologies. While Turkey shares these objectives in principle, Ankara’s security interests concentrate primarily on neutralizing the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and its affiliates’ presence and influence. Since 2014, Ankara and Brussels have mostly bifurcated on how they perceive security threats in Syria. Turkey-EU leaders continue to disagree on the Kurd’s role in the Syrian war and how Turkey should control its borders to cut flows of foreign fighters into Syria. As the IS invaded parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014, European states began providing PKK affiliated Kurdish groups in Syria with both intelligence and military support. Alternately, since the Kurdistan Region of Iraq held its referendum for independence on 25 September 2017, EU and Turkish leaders have mostly converged on how they perceive security threats in Iraq with both staunchly supporting the country’s territorial integrity, thus, both refused to recognize the referendum’s legitimacy. We consider the issue of terrorism as a highly relevant driver of EU and Turkish security policies, perceptions and priorities. Though we see both countries as highly concerned with this issue, they diverge on which organizations pose the greatest threat. Ankara places the PKK at the top of its terrorist list – both within its borders and across the region – while Brussels prioritizes neutralizing jihadi terrorist threats on its soil, thus, the probability of convergence and cooperation and positive impact on EU-Turkey relations is moderate for this issue. Moreover, the IS is not given the same degree of priority by the two sides in the neighbourhood, including Iraq and Syria. Unlike the EU, Turkey considers the threat posed by the IS equal to the one posed by the PKK, but not as strategic. Here, the two sides diverge. In sum, dissent between Brussels and Ankara is highly likely given the Turkish Armed Forces’ broad kinetic engagement in both Iraq and Syria which negatively impacts EU and US efforts to roll back terrorism, stabilise the region, deliver humanitarian aid and help displaced persons return to their homes. Thus, regardless of whether Baghdad and/or Damascus formally grant Ankara permission to launch assaults, the EU views these actions as bellicose destabilizers competing with its own interests, thus, degrades EU-Turkey relations. Ultimately, this study calls for the EU and Turkey to prioritize mending cracks and fissures in their relationship and focus on the gains to be made through rapprochement on security issues originating in Iraq and Syria. Likewise, the EU can use its tremendous mediating capacity as an honest broker to settle entrenched disputes between warring parties in Iraq and Syria and for Turkey restart the peace process at home. More than ever, both must develop a long-term strategic security framework to ensure that bilateral security interests, priorities and interventions do not derail current stabilisation and reconstruction procedures in Iraq and/or progress toward a durable peace in Syria.
  • Topic: Security, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, European Union
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Syria
  • Author: Sandro Knezović
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: The European strategic landscape has changed dramatically over the course of the last decade. The post-Cold War mantra about the obsolescence of conventional threats in the wider European space proved to be short-sighted with developments at its eastern �lanks, while security dysfunctions in the MENA region and their immanent consequences for the safety of European citizens have loaded a heavy burden on compromise-building and decision-making in the �ield of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) of the EU. Furthermore, the approach of the new US administration to European security and the strategic consequences of Brexit have changed the wider framework in which security of 'the Old Continent' is to be determined, hence stimulating European leaders to rethink European security in a strive for strategic autonomy of their own. The very ambitiously phrased EU Global Strategy that came out in June 2016, served as both catalyst and umbrella document for such an endeavour. However, in order to achieve measurable progress in responding to contemporary security challenges, it was clear that the EU needs to develop a structural way for member states to do jointly what they were not capable of doing at the national level. This is so especially in the environment in which China, Russia and Saudi Arabia are championing the defence spending, right after the US, while European states are signi�icantly trailing behind. The fact that the EU collectively is the second largest military investor and yet far from being among the dominant military powers only emphasises the burning issue of ef�iciency of military spending and the level of interoperability among member states’ armies. High-level fragmentation of the European defence market and the fact that defence industries are kept in national clusters is clearly contributing to that. The reality on the ground is obviously challenging traditional methods of co-operation that operate mainly in ‘national boxes’ and calling for a paradigm change in the wider policy context of CSDP. However, it remains to be seen to which extent will this new security environment actually be able to push the European defence policy context over the strict national boundaries.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Military Strategy, European Union
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Middle East, Asia, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Gregory Waters
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The Tiger Forces is a Syrian Air Intelligence-affiliated militia fighting for the Syrian government and backed by Russia. While often described as the Syrian government’s elite fighting force, this research portrays a starkly different picture. The Tiger Forces are the largest single fighting force on the Syrian battlefield, with approximately 24 groups comprised of some 4,000 offensive infantry units as well as a dedicated artillery regiment and armor unit of unknown size. Beyond these fighters are thousands of additional so-called flex units, affiliated militiamen who remain largely garrisoned in their hometowns along the north Hama and Homs borders until called on to join offensives as needed. Despite a decentralized command structure, the Tiger Forces' capabilities far exceed any other unit currently fighting in the Syrian civil war. The main source of the unit’s success stems from its two full-strength infantry brigades with dedicated logistical support and the ability to call on the Syrian air force—and after September 2015 the Russian air force—at will. While there is likely some degree of higher-than-average competence among the Tiger Forces’ officer corps, this research demonstrates that the true power of the unit does not come from their alleged status as elite fighters but instead from their large size, supply lines, and Russian support.
  • Topic: Security, Armed Forces, Military Affairs, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Bilal Y. Saab
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: An Iran-Saudi Arabia war is unlikely, but it is now more likely than ever before. A military confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran should command respect and inspire concern because it could cause tremendous harm to an already volatile Middle East and possibly to the global economy. Iran seems to have an upper hand in a direct military confrontation with Saudi Arabia because of its combat experience, geography, manpower, strategic depth, and greater cost tolerance. However, none of these attributes give Iran any decisive advantages in a contest with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is neither helpless nor without military options. While it is easy to start a war with Iran, it is anything but to finish it. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would have to think hard about the capabilities of the Saudi military and the resilience of Saudi society before embarking on such a risky course. In any war dynamic between Iran and Saudi Arabia, U.S. military intervention or support would be the most decisive exogenous factor for both Riyadh and Tehran. The United States has a security commitment to Saudi Arabia, but the extent to which Washington can tolerate subtle Iranian aggression against the kingdom that falls below the threshold of conventional warfare, while potentially upending Saudi stability, is unclear.
  • Topic: Security, Military Affairs, Conflict, Proxy War
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Gerald Feierstein, Sama'a al-Hamdani, Timothy Lenderking, Bruce Abrams, Abdulrahman al-Eryani, Latifa Jamel
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Three years into Yemen’s civil war, the country continues to see severe humanitarian devastation, widespread food insecurity, and lack of economic access, against the backdrop of an increasingly complex geopolitical environment. An intensification of fighting in Hodeidah and elsewhere in the country has added to the human costs of the conflict and threatens to become catastrophic. Increasingly, Yemenis are war-weary and anxious to see progress on the UN-led negotiating process intended to end the fighting and restore the peaceful transition interrupted three years ago. The Middle East Institute (MEI) hosted a half-day conference to assess the priorities for ending the conflict and scenarios to move forward. This conference convened two panels and a keynote address to assess urgent priorities and potential pathways forward for Yemen.
  • Topic: Security, Civil War, Reconstruction, Political stability, Conflict, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen
  • Author: Victoria Rodríguez Prieto
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on International Security Studies (RESI)
  • Institution: International Security Studies Group (GESI) at the University of Granada
  • Abstract: “The Global Strategy Foreign Policy and Security of the European Union” has triggered significant measures in comparison with previous framework, which was elaborated in 2003 and updated in 2008 by then High Representative J. Solana. Those measures aim to promote more security in response to all vulnerabilities which tests stability, especially in European neighbourhood. Likewise, new European response should be understood in the framework of Lisbon Treaty´s innovations. The latter have let European Union (EU) provide with a more ambitious action in tune with external context. Regarding European neighbourhood, changes in Southern but also Eastern regions remains as main concern. While this is true that major challenges are in the southern area due to civil war in Syria, failed-state Libya, presence of Daesh and other extremist groups in the area. Meanwhile, to the East, context has undergone in the last few years owing to the Ukrainian crisis but also the Belarus dictatorship headed by V. Lukashenko, high levels of corruption in Moldova, recent political and social riots in Armenia, non-changes in Azerbaijan or the increase violence in Nagorno-Karabakh region. New strategy seeks to address these challenges through measures based on a great reinforcement of European normative dimension. Concerning neighbouring states, principle of pragmatism and resilience are the most relevant. All this strengthens by principle of differentiation, co-ownership and more flexibility embedded in the recent revised ENP, which facilitates their implementation. Our main purpose lies in analyzing innovations’ global strategy with regard to the Eastern neighbouring states whose relations with EU are within the so-called Eastern Partnership. This article argues that, to a certain extent, those have a certain impact on Eastern Partnership. However, significant results will become more visible in the mid-long term.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, European Union, Partnerships
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eurasia, Middle East
  • Author: Ches Thurber, Austin Bowman
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Ches Thurber is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Northern Illinois University. He was previously a research fellow at the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism at the University of Chicago and at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. His current book project, Strategies of Violence and Nonviolence in Revolutionary Movements, examines why political movements seeking to overthrow the state embrace strategies of either armed insurgency or civil resistance.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Non State Actors, Sectarianism, Social Movement, Conflict, Interview
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Rand Quinn
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Despite a profound global impact over the first half of the twentieth century, polio is largely an afterthought throughout the developed world. Vaccines engineered in the late 1950s paved the way for a precipitous drop in global disease burden with the onset of the World Health Organization-led (WHO) Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) starting in 1988. Recent indicators of the program’s success include a declaration of eradication in India[1] and a teeteringly low infection rate in Nigeria;[2] two of the disease’s last bastions. This progress, however, has been notably stifled by the steady persistence of a wild poliovirus reservoir centered in northern Pakistan along the Afghanistan-Pakistan (Af-Pak) border. Throughout significant portions of recorded history this region’s volatility has been well-documented, including a currently sustained network for the training of terrorist fighters dating back to the period of the 1979 Afghan-Soviet War.[3] These networks serve to both attract fledgling radical jihadist recruits and supply fighters globally, markedly providing many of the transnational fighters taking part in the Syrian Civil War. Their movement in and out of the Af-Pak region has provided a major disease vector for poliovirus. The location of a terrorist network transit hub in by far the world’s largest remaining reservoir of wild poliovirus poses a major challenge for policymakers. Due to several factors, including a decline in healthcare infrastructure throughout the western world, the situation presents a legitimate epidemiological threat. However, the issue is more importantly an exemplar of the morphing nature of multidimensional threats, which are likely to become more prevalent in an era of globalization, failed states, and an inability to effectively address social issues amidst the threat of kinetic warfare...
  • Topic: Security, Environment, Health, Terrorism, World Health Organization, Infectious Diseases, Borders
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, South Asia, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Graeme Wood, Eli Stiefel
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Graeme Wood is a correspondent for The Atlantic. He was the 2015 - 2016 Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and is a lecturer in political science at Yale University. He was formerly a contributing editor to The New Republic and books editor of Pacific Standard. He was a reporter at The Cambodia Daily in Phnom Penh in 1999, then lived and wrote in the Middle East from 2002 to 2006. He has received fellowships from the Social Sciences Research Council (2002-2003), the South Asian Journalists Association (2009), the East-West Center (2009-2010), and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide (2013-2014). He has appeared many times on television and radio (CNN, ABC, BBC, MSNBC, et al.), was the screenwriter of a Sundance Official Selection (2010, short film), and led a Nazi-hunting expedition to Paraguay for a History Channel special in 2009.
  • Topic: Security, Non State Actors, Islamic State, Journalism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Melanie Carina Schmoll
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Military and Strategic Studies
  • Institution: Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Security and resources are closely linked together. To broaden the category of security from strictly military and defense issues to include energy and resource security is not a new idea. Ultimately, “security is what actors make it.“ This definition of securityis a wide ranging one and includes political and military aspects as well as societies and their developments including many actors and different levels and sectors – so called `units`. This wide definition is also useful for analysing the Levant region, which is currently undergoing a period of transformation. On the one hand, developments since 2010 have applied increasing pressure on the actors of the so called sub-Regional Security Complex (RSC) Levant. On the other hand, new development can be observed in the level of interdependence in the substitution of natural resources like water, gas and oil. Internal transformation of the region has occurred and will lead to a transition of the region. The impact on security dynamics with regard to energy and resources will have consequences for the entire Levant and beyond.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Regional Cooperation, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Mediterranean, Levant
  • Author: Pavlo Ignatiev
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: AUSTRAL: Brazilian Journal of Strategy International Relations
  • Institution: Postgraduate Program in International Strategic Studies, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
  • Abstract: Iraqis very important for the world community because of its strategic position at the crossroads between the Persian Gulf, theMideteraneanSeaand theRed Seaalong with huge oil and mineral wealth. Moreover, Iraqi case illustrates all aspects of the US Middle Eastern policy since the end of the Cold War. The article analyses political and economic processes in Iraq after the demise of Saddam Hussain’s regime, evaluates the efficiency of post-war reconstruction of this Arab country in security and economic fields, singles out the reasons behind the civil war between Sunni and Shia followers, explains the paradox of semi-independent status of Iraqi Kurdistan as well as foreign policy of official Baghdad towards important neighbours – Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The rise of Islamic State of Iraq andLevantcapitalizing on sectarian devide and an attempt of Iraqi leadership to neutralize this threat also has become the part of analyzis.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Violent Extremism, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Baghdad, Saudi Arabia, Jordan
  • Author: Sarah Cliffe, Alexandra Novosseloff
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Global Peace Operations Review
  • Abstract: ince 1945, the United Nations has helped support many successful peace processes and protected millions of civilians around the world. Peace operations deliver results: research estimates suggest that the presence of a UN peace keeping mission can reduce the risk of relapse into conflict by 75 – 85 percent;1 and that larger deployments diminish the scale of violence and protect civilians in the midst of fighting.2 Peace operations can be highly cost effective, with one General Audit Office assessment finding the cost to be roughly half of what a bilateral stabilization operation would cost.3 Different types of peace operations - from mediation and special envoys through to multidimensional peace-keeping and specialized justice and emergency health missions - have helped end long running conflicts and prevented violence from escalating or recurring in situations as diverse as Burkina Faso, Cambodia, the Central African Republic, Gabon, Guatemala, Guinea, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Namibia, Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste. Yet in 2017 the UN’s peace and security pillar faces deep challenges. Three reviews in the past two years have highlighted serious inadequacies in UN peace and security responses at large. Many of the recent challenges are due to real world shifts in the nature of conflict and geopolitical dynamics – the tragedy of Syria, renewed fighting in Yemen and South Sudan, continued crisis in Libya, difficulties in preventing a political and humanitarian crisis in Burundi, longstanding missions that are struggling to deliver sustainable peace in DRC and Haiti, and newer missions in Mali and CAR where geography creates sustained cross-border security risks. These situations are also affected by divisions amongst Member States that have prevented agreement on action in some cases. Part of the weaknesses, however, are managerial and structural. The sense of urgency pervading Member States at the UN, together with a new Secretary-General who has signaled his determination to reform this area, provides the opportunity to take a more fundamental look at what would give the UN’s peace and security pillar the right form to deliver the functions that it is called to serve, now and in the future. The purpose of this report is to analyze options for organizational restructuring in the UN’s peace and security pillar. It focuses on headquarters structures since this has been identified as a primary source of overlap and competition: the purpose however is to deliver better results in the field, from prevention through crisis management to post-conflict recovery. It does not cover wider reforms across the UN’s three pillars, which are supported in other CIC work streams.4 Following an introductory section, Section II traces the history of UN peace and security structures since the UN’s founding (see Box). The UN has had no shortage of reform in the past, each designed to address specific weaknesses or new demands. Cumulatively, however, these changes have resulted in a structure that is no longer fit to fulfill the functions needed.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, United Nations, Peace
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Yemen, Haiti, Syria, North America, South Sudan