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

21 May 2018

What Trump’s JCPOA Withdrawal Means for India

By Tanvi Madan

Over the last few years, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has sought to deepen its relationships in the Middle East (or what Delhi calls West Asia). It has continued its predecessors’ approach of maintaining links with Israel, the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (both the Qatar and Saudi/UAE wings), and Iran. Arguably, the latter is the least significant of the three for India—and definitely less crucial than India’s partnership with the United States for Indian interests. Nonetheless, for Delhi, Iran is important because of a) India’s energy interests, and b) connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia. Both could be affected by the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the JCPOA, which Modi in an India-Iran joint statement two years ago said represented a “triumph of diplomacy and sagacity.” In its response today, New Delhi was careful not to condemn the U.S. action—but it will not welcome the step, particularly as it comes at a time of global and regional flux and uncertainty.

Views on Islam in Times of Terrorism

By Darius Farman and Enzo Nussio for Center for Security Studies (CSS)

How have recent jihadist terrorist attacks in Western Europe and the attendant debate over countermeasures affected Swiss attitudes towards Islam? Darius Farman and Enzo Nussio highlight that despite some fluctuations, there has been no significant increase in anti-Muslim sentiment in Switzerland since the 1990s. However, they also point out that public debate on Islam has shifted, particularly in terms of its prevalence and Islam’s portrayal as a potential threat. Further, discrimination against Muslims has risen, possibly because of the erosion of inhibitions against such behavior due to the hardening of negative attitudes.

Iran Energy Profile: Holds Some Of World’s Largest Deposits Of Proved Oil And Natural Gas Reserves – Analysis


Iran holds some of the world’s largest deposits of proved oil and natural gas reserves, ranking as the world’s fourth-largest and second-largest reserve holder of oil and natural gas, respectively. Iran also ranks among the world’s top 10 oil producers and top 5 natural gas producers. Iran produced almost 4.7 million barrels per day (b/d) of petroleum and other liquids in 2017 and an estimated 7.2 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of dry natural gas in 2017.[1]  The Strait of Hormuz, off the southeastern coast of Iran, is an important route for oil exports from Iran and other Persian Gulf countries. At its narrowest point, the Strait of Hormuz is 21 miles wide, yet an estimated 18.5 million b/d of crude oil and refined products flowed through it in 2016 (nearly 30% of all seaborne-traded oil and almost 20% of total oil produced globally). Liquefied natural gas (LNG) volumes also flow through the Strait of Hormuz. Approximately 3.7 Tcf of LNG was transported from Qatar via the Strait of Hormuz in 2016, accounting for more than 30% of global LNG trade.

Closing the Deal: The US, Iran, and the JCPOA

Payam Mohseni

On May 8, President Donald Trump framed the withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as a dire necessity, calling attention to the "rotten structure of the current agreement" and promising a new era of allied engagement to devise a more robust deal to constrain Iranian ambitions in the region. Trump's decision, however, is strategically incoherent. On the one hand, he is preaching the old neoconservative rhetoric - doubling down on hawkish policies towards Iran, signalling regime change, and undertaking unilateral US actions against Iran without the support of key historical allies. On the other, he is practising Fortress America on the cheap - pledging to reduce American commitments to the Middle East, announcing removal of troops from Syria, and demanding US allies in the Middle East share the financial burden of American security umbrellas.

Challenges in Implementing JCPOA after the US Withdrawal

S. Samuel C. Rajiv

President Donald Trump announced on May 8 that the United States ‘will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal’.1 Trump went on to note that the US will be ‘reinstating nuclear sanctions against the Iranian regime’. These sanctions, which were waived as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in return for significant Iranian commitments on its nuclear programme, were imposed by successive administrations as part of a ‘dual-track’ policy of ‘applying pressure in pursuit of a constructive engagement and a negotiated solution’.The JCPOA was the result of more than 12 years of negotiations, which initially began with the European Union-3 (EU-3; made up of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom) in 2003 and later expanded to include the other members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) after Iranian nuclear concerns were referred to the UNSC in February 2006.

Russian Analytical Digest No 219: Russia in the Middle East

By Mark N Katz and Nikolay Kozahanov for Center for Security Studies (CSS)

In this edition of the RAD, Mark N Katz first examines how President Putin’s Russia seeks to maintain good relations with multiple actors in the Middle East that consider one another as adversaries, and the limits to this policy. Nikolay Kozhanov then considers the Russia-Saudi Arabia relationship, noting that the efforts to promote better relations between the two have not as yet been derailed by various stress-tests in their relations. The two articles featured here were originally published by the Center for Security Studies (CSS) in the Russian Analytical Digest on 3 May 2018. What Do They See in Him? How the Middle East Views Putin and Russia

A Primer on Countering Terrorism

By Isaac Kfir

Terrorism’ is usually defined as the real or threatened use of violence by a non-state actor against non-combatants or civilians to achieve political, religious or ideological objectives. This definition underlines the fact that the term carries many additional connotations. (The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies has established a database of legislation that defines terrorism.) With Daesh adjusting to a huge loss of territory and al-Qaeda resurrecting itself, we need to recognise the existence of several factors involved in terrorism if we are to respond to it effectively. There are two additional elements. One is that terrorist groups will seek to justify their actions by presenting them as a response to state oppression (the state is always the stronger party).

Remaining and Expanding: Why Local Violent Extremist Organizations Reflag to ISIS

Nicholas A. Glavin

Introduction

As the U.S.-led coalition nears the military defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the collapse of its physical caliphate in the Levant, its various affiliates pose complex threats to host nation governments and Western interests from West Africa to Southeast Asia. Understanding how, when, and why local violent extremist organizations (VEOs) affiliate can inform policymakers and general officers in applying instruments of natiaonal power. This report analyzes Islamic State – West Africa Province and Islamic State – Sinai Province to examine the question, “What explains the appeal for local VEOs to reflag under the ISIS brand?”

ISIS Branches Grow as ‘Caliphate’ Fades in Syria, Iraq

by Yaroslav Trofimov 

In its former heartland of Syria and Iraq, the once mighty Islamic State has turned, at least for now, into little more than a nuisance. But that’s not the case for the self-declared caliphate’s far-flung “provinces,” from West Africa to Afghanistan to Southeast Asia. There, local insurgencies that adopted Islamic State’s brand and ideology in its heyday in 2014-2015 keep up the fight, gaining new ground and perpetrating new massacres. Some are also attracting a new influx of foreign fighters. “For now, it is really in the peripheries that everything happens,” said Prof. Mathieu Guidere, an expert on Islamic extremism at the University of Paris VIII. “The peripheral branches of Islamic State have become much more important and much more active than its original central organization.” Last year, U.S.-backed campaigns by the Iraqi government and by predominantly Kurdish fighters managed to seize Islamic State’s two main cities of Mosul and Raqqa, liberating a territory that once spanned a landmass the size of Great Britain.

19 May 2018

A Primer on Countering Terrorism

By Isaac Kfir

This article was published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) on 2 May 2018.

Terrorism’ is usually defined as the real or threatened use of violence by a non-state actor against non-combatants or civilians to achieve political, religious or ideological objectives. This definition underlines the fact that the term carries many additional connotations. (The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies has established a database of legislation that defines terrorism.) With Daesh adjusting to a huge loss of territory and al-Qaeda resurrecting itself, we need to recognise the existence of several factors involved in terrorism if we are to respond to it effectively. There are two additional elements. One is that terrorist groups will seek to justify their actions by presenting them as a response to state oppression (the state is always the stronger party).

Fighting terrorism and storing intel in the age of big data

By: Jen Judson  
Source Link

AMMAN, Jordan — Several companies in attendance at the Special Operations Forces Exposition last week didn’t bring missiles, rockets, helicopters or drones, but rather laptops or other devices with software designed to make sense of the huge amount of data and intelligence flowing in for counterterror operations in the Middle EastThe fight against terrorism has become more complicated in a data-rich and data-dependent, international stage. Terrorists have adeptly used avenues through social media to spread philosophy and recruit members while engaging in campaigns of misinformation to influence communities.

18 May 2018

Ramadan in 2018, a Threat Lens Perspective


Stratfor Threat Lens anticipates an increase in the tempo and intensity of attacks during Ramadan this year, similar to that seen in 2016 and 2017. A confluence of events — including but not limited to Ramadan — will exacerbate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The United States opened its new embassy in Jerusalem May 14, coinciding with the day Palestinians commemorate their 1948 displacement from Israel. Editor's Note: This security-focused assessment is one of many such analyses found at Stratfor Threat Lens, a unique protective intelligence product designed with corporate security leaders in mind. Threat Lens enables industry professionals and organizations to anticipate, identify, measure and mitigate emerging threats to people, assets, andintellectual property the world over. Threat Lens is the only unified solution that analyzes and forecasts security risk from a holistic perspective, bringing all the most relevant global insights into a single, interactive threat dashboard. 

Counter terrorism Spending: Protecting America while Promoting Efficiencies and Accountability


The United States currently lacks an accurate accounting of how much it has spent on the fight against terrorism. Without accurate data, policymakers will have difficulty evaluating whether the nation spends too much or too little on the counterterrorism (CT) mission, and whether current spending is doing its job effectively or efficiently.

Views on Islam in Times of Terrorism

By Darius Farman and Enzo Nussio 

How have recent jihadist terrorist attacks in Western Europe and the attendant debate over countermeasures affected Swiss attitudes towards Islam? Darius Farman and Enzo Nussio highlight that despite some fluctuations, there has been no significant increase in anti-Muslim sentiment in Switzerland since the 1990s. However, they also point out that public debate on Islam has shifted, particularly in terms of its prevalence and Islam’s portrayal as a potential threat. Further, discrimination against Muslims has risen, possibly because of the erosion of inhibitions against such behavior due to the hardening of negative attitudes.for Center for Security Studies (CSS)

Threat Report 2018: Al-Qaida Patiently Rebuilding


As the United States relocated its embassy in Israel to the city of Jerusalem, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri used the occasion to call for jihad, claiming the international system is hostile toward Muslims. Al-Qaida has rebounded in recent years, rebranding its message and building local branches across the Middle East and Africa. The following brief is from The Cipher Brief’s 2018 Annual Threat Report. For more information on how to get the whole report, please click hereBottom Line: While the Islamic State (ISIS) grabbed the spotlight of international terrorism, al-Qaida has meticulously rooted itself in several conflicts across Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, where it has seized upon local grievances to appeal to disenfranchised communities and build its brand as a champion of victimized Sunnis. Consequently, al-Qaida’s strategy, combined with its long-term vision, renders the movement the most dangerous and entrenched terrorist network devoted to carrying out spectacular attacks against the West, and the United States in particular.

Trump’s New, Confrontational Foreign Policy and the End of the Iran Deal

By Robin Wright

On January 20, 1981, John Limbert and fifty-one other American diplomats were taken to Tehran’s international airport on a bus, after being held in captivity by young revolutionaries for four hundred and forty-four days. The diplomats were all blindfolded. “Listening to the motors of the plane warming up—that was the sweetest sound I’ve ever heard,” Limbert recalled last week. The Air Algérie crew waited to uncork the champagne until the flight had left Iranian airspace. The next day, however, the Timescautioned, “When the celebrations have ended, the hard problems unresolved with Iran will remain to be faced.” That’s still true, nearly four decades later. Since Iran’s 1979 revolution, six U.S. Presidents have traded arms, built back channels, and dispatched secret envoys in an effort to heal the rupture. “It’s a bad divorce, like ‘The War of the Roses,’ ” Vali Nasr, the Iranian-born dean of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, said. “Neither side has ever gotten over it.” Finally, in 2015, Barack Obama led six major world powers into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the most significant nonproliferation pact in more than a quarter century. The deal limited but did not eliminate Iran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for relief from some but not all punitive U.S. economic sanctions.

17 May 2018

Iran Deal: The EU Has The Most To Lose

by Niall McCarthy

European companies have enjoyed success developing and strengthening commercial ties with Iran since the deal was inked in 2015. In exchange for sanction relief, Tehran agreed to limit uranium enrichment activities and eliminate its stockpiles. That saw European companies flock to do business in Iran, resulting in a mini-investment boom. Back in 2015, the value of trade in both directions was $9.2 billion and that increased sharply to $16.4 billion in 2016 after the deal was signed. Last year, the impressive pace of growth continued, reaching $25 billion. European companies enjoying success in Iran include French company Total which is involved in the development of a gas field in the southern part of the country, along with Royal Dutch Shell who have invested in the Iranian energy industry. Airbus is another well-known European company involved in replacing Iran's outdated and dangerous fleet of airliners. Renault also signed a lucrative deal last year worth $780 million which will include a production plant capable of producing 150,000 vehicles every year.

Claiming Responsibility in Cyberspace: ISIL and a Strategic Redefinition of Terrorism

Jonathan Lancelot

This paper is designed to examine how ISIL has used the Internet to communicate their agenda, and how they can use cyberspace to commit acts of cyberterrorism. We will be looking at the strategic advantage of terrorist organizations claiming responsibility for attacks, and how the Western legal system’s definition of terrorism solidifies this advantage in cyberspace. In the anonymous environment of the Internet, what incentive does a terrorist organization have to give up the advantage of stealth and claim responsibility for a cyber-attack? If western governments are seeking to find a motivation in an attack to label the act as terrorism, and the public is in fear, it is the contention of the paper to show that claiming responsibility is a problematic strategy for cyber terrorists and waiting for confirmation from a terrorist organization to define an act of terrorism has been a questionable strategy for Western governments. In cyberspace, Western governments are prevented from enacting a legal deterrence strategy against cybercrimes and cyberterrorism because the burden of proof resides within proving the intent of cyberterrorism, and not the intent of cybercrime.

Thus, what is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy’s strategy.

14 May 2018

Inside the Cutthroat World of Billion-Dollar Military Supply Contracts

BY ADAM ZAGORIN

Lines of vehicles ready for a combat logistics patrol alongside American forces and Afghan National Army on Operation Herrick 11, which carried essential supplies from Camp Bastion to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in a 100-vehicle convoy. The U.S. Government Accountability Office is expected to rule soon on a disputed contract worth more than a billion dollars to supply food to American forces in the Middle East. The big-dollar decision will mark the most recent twist in a battle over giant U.S. military logistics deals dating back nearly a decade, and includes allegations of sanctions busting, corruption, and fraud. The ruling could also prove troublesome for the Defense Department, which for years has faced criticism over its contracts with Gulf-owned logistics companies the military has used to feed deployed troops.

Can International Organizations Help Prevent Civil Wars?

By Johannes Karreth and Jaroslav Tir

At the recent Kuwait International Conference on Reconstruction of Iraq, countries and international organizations pledged US$30 billion to reconstruct Iraq after years of war, falling well short of the US$80 billion estimated necessary by the Iraqi government. As this case aptly demonstrates, civil wars create lasting damage that can take decades to overcome. Despite such huge costs, the international community struggles to find effective ways to prevent conflict escalation, relegating their involvement to the post-conflict reconstruction phase. But might there be ways to address conflicts before they erupt into all out war?