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

24 January 2018

SPECIAL REPORT: In Shattered Raqqa, Top US General Calls for the World’s Help

BY KEVIN BARON
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Votel assures SDF fighters the U.S. will remain committed to them, but bringing this Syrian city back to life will take more than the troops who liberated it can give. The calm. When Gen. Joseph Votel emerged from the dank tunnels where ISIS tortured its victims before executing them in the soccer stadium above, he walked somberly back to his convoy of grimy pickup trucks. The leader of U.S. Central Command was struck, he said, by the calm and industriousness of people who have come back to Raqqa to rebuild “some semblance of a normal life.”

The Islamic Republic’s Power Centers

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Who calls the shots in Iran on economic policy, security, and responding to domestic calls for reform? A look at the government's organization chart indicates how complicated the answer is. At the start of 2018, Iran experienced the largest nationwide protests since the 2009 Green Revolution, provoked initially by anger over economic stagnation and the government’s failure to act. Their calls for improved welfare are a test for the Islamic Republic, which was founded in 1979 on the principle of delivering social justice but has been dogged by charges of abusing civil and human rights and abetting corruption.

Turkey, the Arab World Is Just Not That into You

by Burak Bekdil

He runs around in a fake fire extinguisher's outfit, holding a silly hose in his hands and knocking on neighbors' doors to put out the fire in their homes. "Go away," his neighbors keep telling him. "There is no fire here!" I am the person to put out that fire, he insists, as doors keep shutting on his face. That was more or less how Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's neo-Ottoman, pro-ummah (Islamic community), "Big Brother" game has looked in the Middle East.

22 January 2018

Trump’s Iran Reset

WILLIAM J. BURNS, JAKE SULLIVAN
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Recent protests across Iran offer a new opportunity for American policy — just not the one to which President Trump is instinctively drawn. Over the next few days, the president has to decide whether to continue the nuclear deal with Iran. Trump and his team may be tempted to argue that abiding by the deal while the Iranian government cracks down on protesters is a fool’s errand. But that would amount to a strategic own goal. It would make the issue about us, not the vulnerability and wounded legitimacy of a regime out of touch with its people. It would also miss the real policy opportunity before us — to renew international pressure against the Iranian leadership’s threats to the region and its people, while still constraining its nuclear ambitions. The Trump administration could reset its Iran policy in a way that puts Washington back in the lead and Tehran on the diplomatic defensive.

20 January 2018

HOW TERRORISTS AND PROVOCATEURS ARE USING SOCIAL MEDIA AGAINST WESTERN DEMOCRACIES

By Peter Pomerantsev

The other week, I was looking at a photograph of a penis-shaped vegetable, wondering about its significance for geopolitics. The picture, and thousands like it, had been posted by a pro-Kremlin Twitter account popular in Germany. But between images of bum-like pumpkins, the handle retweeted horrific photographs of children wounded or killed as a result of the war in East Ukraine, their fates blamed on Kiev and the West. The amusing vegetables were there to pull in followers; the other images to promote a political cause. Later the Twitter feed transformed, instead retweeting Kremlin state media and far-right parties.

I Heard Their Screams, and Then They Were Gone'

By Fiona Ehlers
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Seven Muslim refugees from Africa were recently convicted in Italy of throwing Christians from a dinghy on the journey across the Mediterranean. Prosecutors say it was a crime of faith. But was it? Eight men from Africa step in front of the prison gate. It is a dark night and they look around expectantly. It is their first step into freedom, a moment for which they have been waiting for quite some time - the end of a journey during which they have faced more than human beings can bear: crossing the desert,the war in Libya, fleeing across the sea, people drowning, and then two years locked away in this high-security prison near Palermo, Sicily.

19 January 2018

Terrorists Stalk Dark Web for Deadlier Weaponry

LEVI MAXEY
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Bottom line: Terrorists are turning to the dark web’s crypto-bazaars, social media channels and e-commerce sites to buy more coveted military equipment than the usual rocket launchers and AK-47s in the traditional black market. These digital black markets are also allowing terrorist organizations from Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, as well as self-radicalized individuals in the West, to access a larger assortment of arms, explosives material and expertise from the comfort and anonymity of their home computers. 

Turkish president vows to ‘drown’ US-backed Syrian Kurdish force

Turkey’s president on Monday denounced U.S. plans to form a 30,000-strong Kurdish-led border security force in Syria, vowing to “drown this army of terror before it is born,” as Russia and Syria also rejected the idea President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also warned U.S. troops against coming between Turkish troops and Kurdish forces, which Ankara views as an extension of Turkey’s own Kurdish insurgency. Turkey has been threatening to launch a new military operation against the main Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the People’s Defense Units, or YPG, in the Kurdish-held Afrin enclave in northern Syria. The YPG is the backbone of a Syrian force that drove the Islamic State group from much of northern and eastern Syria with the help of U.S.-led airstrikes. Russia has also warned that the nascent U.S. force threatens to fuel tensions around Afrin.

18 January 2018

The fall of ISIS and its implications for South Asia

KABIR TANEJA
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With the territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, analysts are pondering the kind of organisational form the group would take next. The influence of the so-called Islamic State in South Asia may be minimal, but India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, have all had the shadow of ISIS’ global footprint land on their doorstep. This brief sheds light on how the influence of ISIS spread across South Asia, specifically after 2014, when pro-ISIS social-media platforms circulated the ‘ISIS Khorasan’ maps that showed the region as part of the caliphate’s global ambitions of conquest.

Introduction

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.