Showing posts with label Counter Insurgency. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Counter Insurgency. Show all posts

25 June 2017

Too Little, Too Late? White House-Pentagon Review of the War in Afghanistan Pushes Cracking Down on Pakistan For Its Support of Taliban and ISIS

President Donald Trump’s administration appears ready to harden its approach toward Pakistan to crack down on Pakistan-based militants launching attacks in neighbouring Afghanistan, U.S. officials tell Reuters.

Potential Trump administration responses being discussed include expanding U.S. drone strikes, redirecting or withholding some aid to Pakistan and perhaps eventually downgrading Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Some U.S. officials, however, are sceptical of the prospects for success, arguing that years of previous U.S. efforts to curb Pakistan’s support for militant groups have failed, and that already strengthening U.S. ties to India, Pakistan’s arch-enemy, undermine chances of a breakthrough with Islamabad.

U.S. officials say they seek greater cooperation with Pakistan, not a rupture in ties, once the administration finishes a regional review of the strategy guiding the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan.

Precise actions have yet to be decided.

The White House and Pentagon declined to comment on the review before its completion. Pakistan’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Why has Italy been spared mass terror attacks in recent years?

Each time Youssef Zaghba landed in Bologna, there was someone waiting for him as he got off the plane. It was no secret in Italy that the 22-year-old Moroccan-born Italian, identified as one of three terrorists behind the London Bridge attack, was under close surveillance.

“They would talk to him at the airport. Then, during his stay, police officers would come a couple of times a day to check on him,” his mother, Valeria Collina, said in an interview with the Guardian. “They were friendly to Youssef. They would say: ‘Hey son, tell me what you have been doing. What are you doing? How are you?’”

In the weeks since the attack, Zaghba’s role has shone a light on the differences between how terror suspects are handled in Italy and the UK. Upon his arrival in London, Zaghba’s mother said, he was never once stopped at the airport or interrogated, even though Italian officials had warned British counterparts that he was a threat.

Franco Gabrielli, Italy’s chief of police, has said of Italy’s efforts to alert the UK: “Our conscience is clear.” Scotland Yard, in turn, has said Zaghba “was not a police or MI5 subject of interest”.

Italy has suffered from its share of political violence in recent decades, including the murder of two prominent anti-mafia judges in the 1990s. But unlike almost all of its big European neighbours, it has not witnessed a major terrorist attack since the 1980s.

Is Italy just lucky? Have the country’s counter-terrorism policies – born out of years of anti-mafia policing and intelligence work and a decade of bloody political violence in the 1970s – given Italian officials an edge in the age of Isis? Or are there other factors at play?

“The main difference is Italy doesn’t have a big population of second-generation immigrants that have been radicalised or could potentially be radicalised,” said Francesca Galli, an assistant professor at Maastricht University and an expert in counter-terrorism policies.

Hard Questions: How We Counter Terrorism

By Monika Bickert,

In the wake of recent terror attacks, people have questioned the role of tech companies in fighting terrorism online. We want to answer those questions head on. We agree with those who say that social media should not be a place where terrorists have a voice. We want to be very clear how seriously we take this — keeping our community safe on Facebook is critical to our mission.

In this post, we’ll walk through some of our behind-the-scenes work, including how we use artificial intelligence to keep terrorist content off Facebook, something we have not talked about publicly before. We will also discuss the people who work on counterterrorism, some of whom have spent their entire careers combating terrorism, and the ways we collaborate with partners outside our company.

Our stance is simple: There’s no place on Facebook for terrorism. We remove terrorists and posts that support terrorism whenever we become aware of them. When we receive reports of potential terrorism posts, we review those reports urgently and with scrutiny. And in the rare cases when we uncover evidence of imminent harm, we promptly inform authorities. Although academic research finds that the radicalization of members of groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda primarily occurs offline, we know that the internet does play a role — and we don’t want Facebook to be used for any terrorist activity whatsoever.

We believe technology, and Facebook, can be part of the solution.

We’ve been cautious, in part because we don’t want to suggest there is any easy technical fix. It is an enormous challenge to keep people safe on a platform used by nearly 2 billion every month, posting and commenting in more than 80 languages in every corner of the globe. And there is much more for us to do. But we do want to share what we are working on and hear your feedback so we can do better.

24 June 2017


On what was to be her wedding day, Stephanie Villarosa ate chocolate-flavored rice porridge out of a styrofoam cup. Under normal circumstances—rings exchanged, fidelity promised, bride kissed—she and her family would have been feasting on lechón, roasted suckling pig, a delicacy in her fiancé’s hometown of Iligan City on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. Instead, Villarosa was huddled on an institutional plastic chair 38 km south of Iligan, inside Marawi City’s provincial government building. Outside, sniper fire crackled over the mosque-dotted hills to the east and military FA50 fighter jets thundered overhead. Wedding or no, the porridge was nourishing, and Villarosa was happy: “God is good. Today we survived.”

Survival has become a daily battle in Marawi, the capital of Mindanao’s Lanao del Sur province and whose mostly Muslim 200,000 population make the city the biggest Islamic community in what is otherwise an overwhelmingly Catholic country. Villarosa, a teacher in Marawi, was handing out wedding invitations when black-clad fighters of what the locals call Grupo ISIS swarmed the streets. She ran, hid, and took shelter in a nearby house with 38 other people. Outside, she heard, her workplace Dansalan College was burning, and Christians were being killed. “We rescued ourselves—no military,” says Villarosa. “We had to run, walk, crawl.” Seven of her colleagues, including the school’s principal, were unaccounted for, but, low on food and water, and with news that the military was set to bomb the area, Villarosa decided to get to the sanctuary of city hall. “It looked like a movie outside, it looked like The Walking Dead,” she says, referring to the post-apocalypse U.S. TV series.

Trump, Who Said He Was Smarter Than All America’s Generals, Has Outsourced the War in Afghanistan

Mark Landler and Michael R. Gordon

WASHINGTON — When President Trump made his first major decision on the war in Afghanistan, he did not announce it in a nationally televised address from the White House or a speech at West Point.

Instead, the Pentagon issued a news release late one afternoon last week confirming that the president had given the defense secretary, Jim Mattis, the authority to send several thousand additional troops to a war that, in its 16th year, engages about 8,800 American troops.

Mr. Trump, who writes avidly on Twitter about war and peace in other parts of the world, said nothing about the announcement. But its effect was unmistakable: He had outsourced the decision on how to proceed militarily in Afghanistan to the Pentagon, a startling break with how former President Barack Obama and many of his predecessors handled the anguished task of sending Americans into foreign conflicts.

The White House played down the Pentagon’s vaguely worded statement, which referred only to setting “troop levels” as a stopgap measure — a tacit admission of the administration’s internal conflicts over what to do about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.

With a president who ran for office almost never having talked about the war, a coterie of political advisers who bitterly oppose deeper American engagement in it, and a national security team dominated by generals worried about the consequences if the United States does not act quickly, the decision could succeed in buying time for Mr. Trump and his advisers to fully deliberate over what to do in Afghanistan.

New playground for non-state actors

M. K. Narayanan

‘Internet-enabled’ terrorism has introduced greater complexity in an already difficult scenario

Hidden terror was, till now, believed to be confined mainly to the less developed regions of the world — the 9/11 attack in the U.S. was seen as an aberration, or exception, rather than the rule in this respect. Since 2015, however, with the attack in January of that year on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, followed by a series of major terrorist incidents in Brussels, Paris, Nice, Berlin and Istanbul during the past two years, it is evident that the developed world is no longer immune from terror strikes.

The Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the vast majority of these attacks, though this may not be true in all cases. What is not disputed any longer is that the West now has a sizeable number of radicalised Islamist elements who are willing to perpetrate acts of terror — either on their own, or under instructions from elsewhere.

Timeline of the new phase

23 June 2017

Dealing with Jihadist Returnees: A Tough Challenge

By Fabien Merz

With the military setbacks ISIS is now experiencing, the number of jihadist foreign fighters returning to Europe will rise. Like its neighbors, Switzerland must prepare to deal with these individuals. According to Fabien Merz, there is much the Swiss can learn from the experiences of Denmark and France, including 1) there is no panacea for dealing with foreign fighters, and 2) pursuing a ‘balanced’, anti-repression approach is the most sensible way to address this problem.

With the ongoing military setbacks the “Islamic State” (IS) suffered, the number of jihadist foreign fighters returning to Europe might further increase. Switzerland, too, must be prepared to deal with these individuals. Some clues may be gained from experiences made in France and Denmark, two states particularly affected by this phenomenon.

Since the start of the civil war in Syria and the resurgence of the conflict in Iraq, around 30,000 “foreign fighters” have joined jihadist militias fighting in these conflicts. Around 5,000 of them are from European countries. Many have joined IS, which has, amongst others, the stated goal of carrying out attacks in the West. This phenomenon is also of relevance to Switzerland (cf. CSS Analysis No. 199). As of May 2017, the Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) had registered 88 jihadist-inspired journeys. Of these, 74 were destined for Syria or Iraq.

IS has recently come under severe military pressure in Syria and Iraq. This has also led to a worsening of conditions for foreign jihadist fighters on the ground. Experts warn that further territorial losses by IS could lead to an increase of returnees. Thus, today more than ever, the question arises of how to deal with a potential increase of jihadist returnees and the concomitant security and societal challenges. The present analysis will only consider the post-return phase.

22 June 2017

Fighting, While Funding, Extremists

Even sophisticated observers admit to confusion and consternation about the Middle East, where rivalries and jealousies among nations have reached new levels of complication. Saudi Arabia and some of its neighbors decide to punish Qatar and some of its citizens, ostensibly for fostering and financing Islamist terrorism. But Saudi Arabia itself has been accused of underwriting extremists. No matter: President Trump, captivated by Saudi royalty, sides with the Saudis — even though the United States has two important bases in Qatar.

Baffling, right? But here is one clear bottom line: The biggest loser in all this may turn out to be the fight against the Islamic State. Nobody likes ISIS. Yet the idea of a united front among Gulf states against the terrorist group has all but evaporated, and hypocrisies and contradictions abound. Here’s a primer on some of the main players.

QATAR This tiny but exceedingly wealthy country definitely has a mixed record. But is it a colossal threat? Last week, the United States agreed to sell it $12 billion worth of F-15 jets and two Navy vessels arrived there for joint military exercises. If Qatar were seen as a serious terrorism threat, that wouldn’t be happening.

While Pentagon Slowly Ponders Its Next Move, the Afghan Security Forces Still Have Not Proven They Can Contain or Defeat the Taliban and ISIS

ISLAMABAD — As American military officials complete plans that are likely to send several thousand additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, a flurry of setbacks in the war have underscored both the imperative of action and the pitfalls of various approaches.

Further complicating the picture are questions about how to deal with neighboring Pakistan and balance separate fights against Afghan and foreign-based insurgents.

In the latest attack Sunday morning, Taliban fighters stormed a police base in southeastern Paktia province after detonating a suicide car bomb outside. At least five members of security forces and several civilians were killed, officials said. The attack came one day after an Afghan army commando shot and wounded seven U.S. troops inside an army base in northern Balkh province.

Almost every week seems to bring alarming and embarrassing developments that cast doubt on the ability of Afghan security forces to protect the public and make headway against the domestic Taliban insurgency and the more ruthless Islamic State.

From the powerful truck bomb that decimated a high-security district of Kabul on May 31, killing more than 150 people and sparking days of protests, to the Saturday shooting at the same base in Balkh where Taliban infiltrators killed more than 140 Afghan soldiers April 21, a spate of attacks from various sources is inflicting blow after blow on the nation’s battered psyche.

The Saturday shooting was one of several recent insider attacks that are raising new concerns about poor vetting and conflicting loyalties, even among the elite Afghan special operations forces that the U.S. military sees as crucial to boosting the war effort. Experts said such attacks would be likely to increase if more U.S. troops arrive.

U.S., West Must Do More to Deny Terrorists Access to Online Social Media

The terrorist attacks that have swept the United Kingdom mark yet another chapter in the long war by violent Islamist extremists against the free world. Terrorism in Europe is not a new phenomenon. The fact that three attacks have struck Britain in the last three months alone exposes that despite safeguards and a vast understanding of the terrorist threat, much more must be done to defeat these radical killers.

In March, 52-year-old Briton Khalid Masood who converted to a radical brand of Islam in prison and was investigated by British intelligence drove his car into pedestrians near the Palace of Westminster and then fatally stabbed an unarmed police officer. Masood injured more than 50 innocent people and killed five in his terrorist rampage in London.

A few weeks ago, another British national, Salman Abedi, bombed a concert in Manchester full of young children, killing 22 people and injuring over 119. Abedi previously attended a mosque led by an Imam who had condemned ISIS’ ideology and whose members had reported Abedi’s radicalism to British authorities on several occasions. His radicalization appears to have started with his father, Ramadan, who is known to have supported Islamists with ties to al-Qaeda. He took his three teenage boys to Libya in 2011 to participate in the civil war against Muammar Qaddafi.

Tragically, our ally across the Atlantic was struck again by terrorists on June 3rd. The tactics of the perpetrators of that attack appear to echo the methods of the Westminster attack from March. There terrorists used simple vehicles and knives to kill as many people as possible. Just hours before the attacks in London, ISIS reportedly encouraged its followers to kill Western civilians with guns, knives, and trucks over the encrypted messaging app Telegram.

According to the British Home Secretary, the UK security services are investigating 500 different plots with 3,000 high priority suspects and 20,000 lower tier suspects. With this extraordinary volume of potential threats combined with terrorists’ ability to adapt to changing security measures and innovate new methods of attack, it is an enormous challenge to stop every plot. As Irish IRA terrorists reminded British authorities just three decades ago, “we have only to be lucky once, you will have to be lucky always.” This may cause many to conclude that there is no way to stop this growing threat to our countries. But that defeatist attitude is unacceptable.

British authorities have revealed that at least two of the three London attackers on Saturday were known to British intelligence services. One of them, a British citizen born in Pakistan, apparently eluded police despite being on a watch list and appearing in a 2016 British television documentary highlighting the United Kingdom’s home-grown extremism problem. The other, a Moroccan-Italian man who lived in east London, was allowed to enter to the UK in January, despite being listed on the Schengen Information System, an EU-wide database of potential suspects. 

Frankly, our Western allies across the pond have, for too long, coexisted with radicalism festering in their borders. British Prime Minister Theresa May said it best after last week’s attack, suggesting that there is “far too much tolerance” of Islamist extremism in Britain today. Now our European partners must take a more serious look at this threat. They must have “some difficult and often embarrassing conversations,” as Prime Minister May said. Western values are the bedrock of our free civilization, but they can lead to its ultimate destruction if they are used to tolerate and coddle the criminal extremism that seeks to attack it.

Our allies in Europe must not resign to a defeatist attitude that accepts these attacks as the norm. The free world must not treat these attacks as separate incidents. It’s time that we come to terms with the fact that the terrorists themselves see the attacks as part of a single war against the West. Countries must allocate more resources to local and federal authorities investigating these ongoing threats so that they can keep up with the growing number of individuals suspected of extremism. Our allies in Europe face a greater risk than we do, as more of their citizens who fought with ISIS and other terrorists return home. Borders must be protected, and perhaps individuals who are on watch lists should not be allowed entry until their cases are thoroughly investigated. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

Protection should extend beyond physical borders, as well. Terrorism is increasingly transcending borders instantly over the internet where terrorists radicalize, recruit, fundraise, and plan their treachery. That is exactly why I have led the charge in Congress to remove extremists from social media. Last year, the House of Representatives passed my bill, the Combat Terrorist Use of Social Media Act. It was eventually included in the Department of State Authorities Act and passed into law late last year. As Twitter and Facebook make progress to deny terrorists online presence, terrorists have migrated to other platforms, like Telegram. More must be done to take these thugs offline.

President Trump’s May 21 speech in Saudi Arabia set the right tone: communities, particularly all those in the Middle East, must drive out the radicals who spread the jihadist hate and murder. And we, in the West, must do the same. We must no longer tolerate those that seek to destroy our way of life. We can no longer coexist with terrorists that exploit and misuse our rights and freedoms in order to eventually kill and maim innocents. We must drive the violent extremists out of our cities and cyberspace. We must never tolerate and allow this spate of terrorist attacks to become the norm. Defeatism is not an option. And that’s just the way it is. 

21 June 2017

The Age of Blowback Terror


World powers have often been known to intervene, overtly and covertly, to overthrow other countries’ governments, install pliant regimes, and then prop up those regimes, even with military action. But, more often than not, what seems like a good idea in the short term often brings about disastrous unintended consequences, with intervention causing countries to dissolve into conflict, and intervening powers emerging as targets of violence. That sequence is starkly apparent today, as countries that have meddled in the Middle East face a surge in terrorist attacks

Last month, Salman Ramadan Abedi – a 22-year-old British-born son of Libyan immigrants – carried out a suicide bombing at the concert of the American pop star Ariana Grande in Manchester, England. The bombing – the worst terrorist attack in the United Kingdom in more than a decade – can be described only as blowback from the activities of the UK and its allies in Libya, where external intervention has given rise to a battle-worn terrorist haven.

The UK has not just actively aided jihadists in Libya; it encouraged foreign fighters, including British Libyans, to get involved in the NATO-led operation that toppled Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi’s regime in 2011. Among those fighters was Abedi’s father, a longtime member of the al-Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, whose functionaries were imprisoned or forced into exile during Qaddafi’s rule. The elder Abedi returned to Libya six years ago to fight alongside a new Western-backed Islamist militia known as the Tripoli Brigade. His son had recently returned from a visit to Libya when he carried out the Manchester Arena attack.

20 June 2017

** After Raqqa, How the US Must Adapt to ISIS


What to do when ISIS goes underground, and other things to worry about after the caliphate falls. 

The last bastions of the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria – Mosul and Raqqa –could be liberated within months. But they will remain perilous places, and in some respects, the fall of Raqqa will complicate the conflicts that swirl through the region.

How might the U.S. have to adapt to ISIS after Raqqa?

ISIS GOING UNDERGROUND: Military analysts have already warned that the elimination of the Islamic State as a territory governed by ISIS will not end the group’s armed struggle. Its leaders spent years underground and can revert to a covert terrorist campaign. Even while pummeled and pushed back by Iraqi, Kurdish, and other ground forces backed by coalition air power, ISIS demonstrated its capability to simultaneously carry out terrorist operations in Baghdad and Damascus as well as in neighboring countries. That will continue and may escalate.

How Russia Targets the U.S. Military

Source Link

In the fall of 2013, Veterans Today, a fringe American news site that also offers former service members help finding jobs and paying medical bills, struck up a new partnership. It began posting content from New Eastern Outlook, a geopolitical journal published by the government-chartered Russian Academy of Sciences, and running headlines like “Ukraine’s Ku Klux Klan — NATO’s New Ally.” As the United States confronted Russian ally Bashar Assad for using chemical weapons against Syrian children this spring, the site trumpeted, “Proof: Turkey Did 2013 Sarin Attack and Did This One Too” and “Exclusive: Trump Apologized to Russia for Syria Attack.”

In recent years, intelligence experts say, Russia has dramatically increased its “active measures” — a form of political warfare that includes disinformation, propaganda and compromising leaders with bribes and blackmail — against the United States. Thus far, congressional committees, law enforcement investigations and press scrutiny have focused on Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin’s successful efforts to disrupt the American political process. But a review of the available evidence and the accounts of Kremlin watchers make clear that the Russian government is using the same playbook against other pillars of American society, foremost among them the military. Experts warn that effort, which has received far less attention, has the potential to hobble the ability of the armed forces to clearly assess Putin’s intentions and effectively counter future Russian aggression.

Philippine City is a Battleground in Global Fight Against Extremism


Last week, General Eduardo Ano, the Philippines Chief of Staff, said he hoped that the city of Marawi would be liberated from Islamist militants before June 12, the country’s Independence Day.

The deadline has come and gone, but the fighting continues. Islamist militants still hold about a fifth of the city of Marawi. Fighters from an ISIS-affiliated coalition formed from the Abu-Sayyaf and Maute groups, who seized portions of the city May 23, have dug in and are now repelling sustained air and ground assaults by Philippine forces. A military spokesman in Manila said that 58 soldiers and police officers and 26 civilians have died and that 206 militants have been killed. The spokesmen added that 100 more fighters may remain in Marawi, and though most of the city was evacuated weeks ago, 300 to 600 civilians may remain trapped within the city.

The Philippines has struggled with insurgencies for decades. Historically, its island geography complicated Manila’s centralized authority, particularly over the southern province of Mindanao where Marawi is located. Tensions between the Catholic majority and Muslim minority have generated religious strife. These conditions have produced several insurgent groups who ascribe to Maoist or militant Islamist ideologies. The latter have grown increasingly bold in recent years.

19 June 2017

It’s Getting Harder to Draw Lessons from Today’s Wars


The researchers compiling the U.S. Army’s accounts of Iraq and Afghanistan have an overwhelming yet spotty volume of material to work through. 

When Major Spencer Williams was ordered to “shut down shop and move out” of Afghanistan in 2005, he closed his final message from the field as he always did—quoting a long-dead historian. “Plant yourself not in Europe but in Iraq; it will become evident that half of the roads of the Old World lead to Aleppo, and half to Bagram.” 

Williams made up one-third of the U.S. Army’s historical field staff in Afghanistan—a team directed to cover the breadth of the country, vacuuming up media, documents, and oral histories so that some future soldier or academic could better understand the course of the war and how one might respond to circumstances should they arise again. The war offered more than enough material to keep Williams and the others busy, but they weren’t able to communicate the importance of that work to those leading the mission in the country. Following a command from the highest-ranking officer in Afghanistan, the historians were on their way out of Kabul.

18 June 2017

Military Omnipresence: A Unifying Concept for America’s 21st-Century Fighting Edge


The Pentagon should converge its technological and doctrinal efforts towards a perpetual, networked presence that enables operations and awareness anywhere in the world. 

When the Royal Navy’s new steam-powered ships emerged victorious from the First Opium War in 1842, one British newspaper could barely contain itself: “Steam, even now, almost realizes the idea of military omnipotence and military omnipresence; it is everywhere, and there is no withstanding it.” 

One hundred years later, Wernher von Braun, a German engineer who’d been secretly whisked away to the United States, suggested a different approach: an armed space station into low earth orbit. As he put it, “Our space station could be utilized as a very effective bomb carrier, and the nation who owns such a bomb-dropping space station…will have military omnipresence.”

Don't Follow the Money

By Peter R. Neumann

In the first days of the “war on terror,” before the United States had launched air strikes against the Taliban or Special Forces raids on Osama bin Laden’s compounds, President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13224. The presidential decree, which dates from September 23, 2001, targeted al Qaeda’s money by “prohibiting transactions” with suspected terrorists. “Money is the lifeblood of terrorist operations,” Bush said at the time. “We’re asking the world to stop payment.” Five days later, the UN Security Council followed suit, calling on states to “prevent and suppress the financing” of terrorism in its first substantive resolution since the 9/11 attacks.

More than 15 years later, the war on terrorist financing has failed. Today, there are more terrorist organizations, with more money, than ever before. In 2015, for example, the self-proclaimed Islamic State (also known as ISIS) had a budget of up to $1.7 billion, according to a study by King’s College London and the accounting company Ernst & Young, making it the world’s richest terrorist group. That same year, the total amount of all frozen terrorist assets amounted to less than $60 million. Only three countries—Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States—had seized more than $1 million.


This project documents and identifies activity linked to and inspired by the Islamic State outside of the territory it claims as part of its physical Caliphate. In doing so, the project seeks to provide insights into how the influence, operational reach, and capabilities of the Islamic State are changing in certain locales over time.

To provide a nuanced analysis of the group’s operational activity, the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) has created a database that categorizes different indicators of such activity (see methodology overview here for details). The temporal starting point for the data collection is June 2014, when the group’s Caliphate was officially created. Since that point in time, CTC researchers have collected open-source data regarding the Islamic State’s operational activity in select locations outside of the physical territory claimed by the group.

As collection and analysis continues, the CTC plans to release a number of short country and regional reports that leverage the data CTC has collected. All releases will be available on this page.

17 June 2017

Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses (CTTA) – Volume 9, Issue 06

Muhammad Haziq Bin JaniRohan Gunaratna

Volume 9, Issue 06 (June 2017): ‘Countering Violent Extremism (CVE)‘ In 2013, the US announced the end of its Global War on Terror (GWoT) after defeating Al-Qaeda. Two years later, in 2015, at a White House-hosted summit, the Obama administration propounded the concept of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) to confront, contain and eventually eliminate the latent threat of radicalism and extremism. Though CVE is not an entirely new concept, the purpose of the summit was to add more urgency and impetus to the various on-going non-kinetic efforts to counter extremism and its underlying causes.

Recently, some media reports have indicated that the Trump administration is toying with the idea of scrapping the CVE project. Others maintain that the US is considering renaming CVE as countering radical Islamic extremism and shifting the focus back to kinetic-efforts. Regardless of the decision, it is clear that components of CVE will have to be retained if the present threat of religious extremism and terrorism is to be checked. These involve community engagement to build social resilience and counter extremism, and rehabilitation and re-integration of radical elements.

16 June 2017


By Imran Shamsunahar

The first part of this two-part series on the Strait of Hormuz analyzed the strategic importance of the Strait for global energy shipping and political stability in the Arabian Gulf, and provided an overview of Iran’s overall strategy of using its asymmetric doctrine to disrupt commercial shipping within the vital waterways to both deter enemies and fight a protracted war if necessary. This second part will focus on Iran’s actual maritime capabilities and discusses whether their threats to close down oil shipment in the Strait of Hormuz are credible or not.

Asymmetric Weapons and Tactics

Although Tehran has frequently made clear their intentions to close the Strait of Hormuz in times of war or heightened tensions, do they actually have the military capability to do so? Both the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN) and the Revolutionary Guards’ Navy (IRGCN) have invested in a multitude of asymmetrical weaponry which would be used to harass and disrupt shipping coming through the Strait.