Showing posts with label Arab World. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arab World. Show all posts

17 January 2018

Clausewitz Takes Down the Caliphate: The Center of Gravity in the Destruction of the State of the Islamic State

by Michael J. Mooney

On June 29, 2014, the spokesman for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, proudly announced to the world that the “the sun of jihad has risen…the flag of the Islamic State…a dream that lives in the depths of every Muslim believer,” now represented more than an arcane, ideological underground movement. “Our caliphate” he said, “has indeed returned with certainty.”  1,206 sunrises later, on October 17, 2017, another announcement was made to the world. However, this one was not from al-Adnani. The target of a coalition air strike, al-Adnani had been dead almost 14 months. Issued by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the message was simple: the city of Raqqah, Syria, had been liberated from the Islamic State (IS). The Commanding General, Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) was more definitive with his words: “Today… Raqqa is free. The ISIS caliphate has crumbled. Their capital is lost.” 

Jihadism and Information Warfare beyond Daesh

By Dounia Mahlouly for European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed)

Dounia Mahlouly argues that social-media based propaganda may have been essential in the development of the so-called Islamic State’s (ISIS) transnational recruitment efforts and successes. However, she also points out that the reach of ISIS’ propaganda had decreased significantly since 2015, meaning we should broaden our focus when it comes to information warfare strategies in the Middle East. For instance, Mahlouly contends it’s now essential to recognize the potentially negative implications of regional political elites’ current information strategies, which are capitalizing on the fear of terrorism and radicalization.

President Trump's "Ultimate Deal:" Is Israeli-Palestinian Peace Possible?


Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes took part in a January 11 panel discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, appearing alongside Rep. Ron DeSantis, former Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams, and Heritage Foundation Senior Research Fellow James Phillips. In reply to the above question, my answer is yes. But I propose a completely different approach from the current one to achieve it. The existing approach of a "peace process," which goes back 30 years, is not working. It can be improved, which the Trump administration is doing, but it ultimately will crumble because it depends on Palestinian acceptance of Israel, which has not come about, and is not coming about. And that is the problem that needs to be addressed, a problem that cannot be addressed by diplomacy. It needs to be addressed in a very different way.

The Lingering Dream of an Islamic State

By AZADEH MOAVEN

It was inevitable, a young lawyer in Tunisia told me, that the first attempts at a modern Islamic state would flounder. Young Muslims had grown up under the paradigms of nationalism, European racism and harsh police states, he said. They carried these inherited behaviors into the caliphate formed by the Islamic State, a place that was supposed to be just and colorblind but instead reveled in violence and was studded with mini neocolonial enclaves, where British Pakistanis lorded over local Syrians, and Saudis lorded over everyone. It would take one or two generations to unlearn these tendencies and deconstruct what had gone so wrong, he said. But he remained loyal to the idea — partly because the alternative he currently lives under is worse. “When the police become the state itself,” he said, “it is truly terrifying.”

16 January 2018

Danish intelligence: al-Qaida could grow as IS weakens

Danish intelligence: al-Qaida could grow as IS weakens 

Danish intelligence officials say al-Qaida “still has ambitions to attack the West,” adding that support for the extremist network may increase as the Islamic State group weakens. Finn Borch Andersen, head of Denmark’s Security and Intelligence Service, says al-Qaida’s capability primarily lies in North, West and East Africa and in Yemen but the network has also “a significant presence” in Syria that may pose a threat to the West. Borch Andersen says foreign fighters who have left Syria and Iraq represent “a terror threat” but added access to Europe is “restricted by increased security measures,” such as border controls within the European Union. In the agency’s terror threat assessment for Denmark, presented Friday, he said the threat to the country remains significant and “is primarily posed by militant Islamism.”

From Bad To Worse? 5 Things 2018 Will Bring To The Middle East

by James L. Gelvin

After all, few experts foresaw Anwar al-Sadat’s trip to Jerusalem in 1977, which led to the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab state, nor did they predict the Iranian Revolution of 1978-79 or the Arab uprisings of 2010-11. Having taught and written about the Middle East for three decades, however, I feel confident in making the following forecast for the region in 2018.

1. The Syrian conflict will drag on without resolution.

15 January 2018

America's Forgotten Wars

Emma Sky

Daniel Kurtz-Phelan discusses the November/December 2017 issue of Foreign Affairs magazine with contributors Emma Sky and Lisa Monaco. The latest issue puts U.S. interventions under serious scrutiny to sketch where things are, where they are going, and what the United States should do next.  I am Dan Kurtz-Phelan. I’m the executive editor of Foreign Affairs. I have been at the magazine for about two months, so I can take no credit for the issue that we’re talking about today. (Laughter.) But nor can you blame me for anything at this point, so save your complaints for my colleagues when you see them.

U.S. Turns Military Focus to Afghanistan as ISIS Battles Ebb

The Pentagon is planning to double down on the Trump administration’s new approach in Afghanistan by reallocating drones and other hardware while sending in approximately 1,000 new combat advisers, according to U.S. and military officials. The idea is to bulk up the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan by the time the traditional fighting season begins in the spring. The military will send a larger number of drones, both armed and unarmed, to Afghanistan for air support as well as for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The Pentagon also plans to bolster capabilities such as helicopters, ground vehicles, artillery and related materiel, according to U.S. officials, moves made possible by a reduction of combat operations in Syria and Iraq against the Islamic State extremist group.

THE IMPORTANCE OF LAND WARFARE: THIS KIND OF WAR REDUX

Since the terrorist attacks on the U.S. homeland on 11 September 2001, the United States has been engaged in worldwide military operations. The initial campaigns during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom demonstrated the unmatched conventional capabilities of the U.S. military, developed mostly during the Cold War, as they rapidly toppled the regimes of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. These rapid victories soon turned into protracted irregular wars, for which the United States and its allies and partners were not fully prepared. In the years that followed, new concepts and capabilities rapidly evolved to fight these wars. Nowhere were these adaptations more profound—and costly—than in U.S. land forces. 

The Lingering Dream of an Islamic State

by Azadeh Moaveni 

It was inevitable, a young lawyer in Tunisia told me, that the first attempts at a modern Islamic state would flounder. Young Muslims had grown up under the paradigms of nationalism, European racism and harsh police states, he said. They carried these inherited behaviors into the caliphate formed by the Islamic State, a place that was supposed to be just and colorblind but instead reveled in violence and was studded with mini neocolonial enclaves, where British Pakistanis lorded over local Syrians, and Saudis lorded over everyone. It would take one or two generations to unlearn these tendencies and deconstruct what had gone so wrong, he said. But he remained loyal to the idea — partly because the alternative he currently lives under is worse. “When the police become the state itself,” he said, “it is truly terrifying.”

Finding A Path To A Post-Revolutionary Iran

by Matthew Bey

Almost four decades after the toppling of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a revolutionary ideology continues to underpin the Iranian state. As the years have passed, the relevance of its governing philosophy risks being lost on the country's younger generations, and the internal and external challenges to its government continue to mount. The recent spate of demonstrations that quickly spread across the country highlighted one of the revolutionary state's largest shortcomings: It is a 40-year-old revolution that has not arrived at a sustainable economic model.

14 January 2018

Finding A Path To A Post-Revolutionary Iran

by Matthew Bey

Almost four decades after the toppling of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a revolutionary ideology continues to underpin the Iranian state. As the years have passed, the relevance of its governing philosophy risks being lost on the country's younger generations, and the internal and external challenges to its government continue to mount. The recent spate of demonstrations that quickly spread across the country highlighted one of the revolutionary state's largest shortcomings: It is a 40-year-old revolution that has not arrived at a sustainable economic model.

13 January 2018

Iran's Regime at War With Itself

By Kamran Bokhari

Public agitation in Iran has many wondering about the fate of the almost 40-year Islamic republic. As evident from the way in which the latest wave of protests has been contained, popular unrest is unlikely to bring down Iran’s clerical regime. That said, the demonstrations underscore a political economic problem in the Shiite Islamist state. Before it can truly address its economic problems, it needs to sort out the war that the regime is having with itself.

Mossad Chief: Israel Has Eyes, Ears and ‘Even More’ in Iran

Mossad Chief: Israel Has Eyes, Ears and ‘Even More’ in Iran

Mossad chief Yossi Cohen said Tuesday in a rare public appearance that Israel “has eyes, ears and even more” in Iran. Speaking at a Finance Ministry conference, Cohen addressed the ongoing protests in Iran, saying that Iranian civilians are protesting the Islamic Republic’s current economic woes “because despite high expectations from the popular [President Hassan] Rohani, he has not managed in the eyes of a large part of the population to improve the economic situation.” Cohen added that “this reality is pushing people out into the streets, but one must temper expectations. I would like to see a revolution, but the protesters are faced with opposing forces. Meanwhile, we are seeing that Iran is spending more and more on security in order to push its aspirations of spreading influence throughout the Middle East.”

12 January 2018

Saudis watch Iran protests intently

Bruce Riedel 
While Saudi Arabia's economy is suffering due to low oil prices and discontent at home grows, the kingdom is following the protests in Iran with great interest, hoping national issues will distract from Iran's regional advances.

Saudi Arabia is following the unrest in Iran with intense interest, hoping it will force its regional rival to turn inward. The Saudis have little capacity to influence Iranian domestic developments, however, and share many of the same problems as Tehran. The Iranian question is unlikely to help resolve Riyadh’s biggest foreign policy challenge: the expensive quagmire in Yemen that is only getting worse. 

Iraq After ISIS: The Other Half of Victory

By Anthony H. Cordesman

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.

11 January 2018

Cyber Vigilantes & Hacktivists: Double-Edged Sword Against ISIS

LEVI MAXEY

Bottom Line: Cyber vigilantes and “hacktivists” increasingly fill the void left by governments in combating terrorist activity online. While such politically motivated non-state hackers are relatively effective at removing the presence of terrorist content, their continued operations could damage overall counterterrorism efforts by undermining intelligence operations – say by taking down a website that the CIA or NSA is monitoring. By letting these groups run loose – if even for a noble cause – the U.S. risks undermining international norms of cyber operations among states by legitimizing the phenomenon of “patriotic hackers” used as proxies by governments engaging in deniable operations.

A Spending Spree as a Means of Fulfilling the Saudi Vision


Saudi Arabia's 2018 budget calls for spending a record amount of money, and based on precedent, actual spending will likely eclipse that figure. About 20 percent of the budget is devoted to military spending, but it also includes a substantial increase in spending on programs benefiting the populace. The careful introduction of new tax measures and a levy on expatriate workers are part of the government's unprecedented push to expand non-oil revenue.

10 January 2018

When the Protests Die Down, Iran's Economic Problems Will Live On


Some of the grievances behind the recent wave of protests in Iran, such as disappointment with the nuclear deal and low oil prices, will remain beyond the government's power to change.Unstable food prices, decreasing purchasing power and high rates of unemployment and underemployment will continue to pose problems for everyday citizens across the country.
The sensitive reform measures necessary to overhaul subsidy systems, labor laws and business contracts, which are as much political as they are economic, will probably set off more unrest in the future. 


How $650 drones are creating problems in Iraq and Syria

By: Mark Pomerleau 

Top U.S. defense officials have long stressed that the nation’s air superiority is at risk as other countries build rival state-of-the-art planes. But now U.S. forces face another significant challenge in Iraq and Syria: inexpensive, commercially available drones. For the first time in nearly 65 years, U.S. ground forces are under attack from enemy aircraft, primarily small quadcopters or drones that cost about $650.“Our ground forces have not come under attack from enemy aircraft since the Korean War 65 years ago,” the Air Force said in a video presented during an event hosted by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies Jan. 4.