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

24 November 2017

Is Islamic State losing control of its 'virtual caliphate'?

By Charlie WinterKing's College London

For years, a utopian vision of life under so-called Islamic State (IS) was at the heart of the propaganda it pumped out online. As it loses vast swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, is it also losing control of its "virtual caliphate"? In Syria and Iraq, Islamic State is on the brink of collapse. Just days ago, it lost the city of Deir al-Zour, its last major stronghold in Syria: a defeat that followed those in Mosul, Tal Afar and Raqqa.

America Shouldn’t Take Sides in the 1,400-Year-Old Sunni-Shia Conflict


On November 1, CIA Director Mike Pompeo released thousands of files found by SEAL Team Six in Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Many documents detailed ties between al-Qaeda and Iran. Ned Price, former CIA analyst and de factoObama administration official, accused Pompeo of releasing the documents to torpedo the Iran deal and drum up support for regime change in Iran. In rushed The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes to claim the documents show how the Obama administration—Ned Price included—covered up the Iran and al-Qaeda ties for political purposes.

Social Media Field Manual: The Iraqi Ministry of Defense Learned to Take the War to Facebook

by Caroline Bechtel

Since the Islamic State (ISIS) swept through northern Iraq in the summer of 2014, many observers have examined efforts by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense (MoD) and Security Forces (ISF) to learn and adapt. Such conversations typically revolve around battlefield inputs and effects—the number of recruits, training programs, soldier skills, and territorial gains--and have generally concluded that while the ISF has improved in terms of combat lethality, the force must work still to professionalize. Few, however, have discussed the Iraqi government’s efforts to adapt in the digital domain. But the Iraqi MoD’s presence on social media--and Facebook in particular--has been a crucial element of its military learning process since 2014. This adaptation demonstrates that the MoD has co-opted one of its enemy’s most valuable weapons: social media.

23 November 2017

In Lebanon, Saudi Arabia Attempts the Impossible

In the regional competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Lebanon is the most recent proxy battleground. Iran's political and security connections in Lebanon mean Saudi Arabia will have a hard time countering its influence there. Saudi Arabia can wield some financial tools to try to pressure Lebanon, but Iran has the means to cushion some of the impact.

22 November 2017

ISIS, Radicalization and Humiliation

Nir Eisikovits

The Islamic State is in retreat and has been for a while. It has lost most of its holdings in Iraq and Syria and has just lost its capital, Raqqa. Its leaders and fighters are on the run. It is tempting to breathe a sigh of relief and tell ourselves that the nightmare of lightning conquests, mass executions and devastating attacks against European cities is finally over. But that would be a mistake. For one thing, the Islamic State still holds a small amount of territory, roughly the size of Lebanon, near the Iraqi-Syrian border. More importantly, the organization’s franchises in Africa and Asia are doing quite well. So are its training camps in Afghanistan. The group has probably implanted sleeper cells across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. And we should remember that the Islamic State managed a spectacular comeback last time it was nearly defeated—when it was decimated in Iraq by the American “Surge” and the so called “Sunni Awakening.”



LATE on the evening of Sept. 20, 2015, Basim Razzo sat in the study of his home on the eastern side of Mosul, his face lit up by a computer screen. His wife, Mayada, was already upstairs in bed, but Basim could lose hours clicking through car reviews on YouTube: the BMW Alpina B7, the Audi Q7. Almost every night went like this. Basim had long harbored a taste for fast rides, but around ISIS-occupied Mosul, the auto showrooms sat dark, and the family car in his garage — a 1991 BMW — had barely been used in a year. There simply was nowhere to go.

21 November 2017

How to Avoid an ISIS 2.0 in Iraq

Michael O'HanlonSara Allawi

With Mosul and other key cities now liberated from the horrible scourge of ISIS, Iraq stands at a crucial crossroads. Iraqis and Americans have squandered historic opportunities to build a new, stable and prosperous country together before. We must not let that happen again. The key danger, as before, is this: extremism combined with sectarianism build on each other in a vicious spiral. That dynamic, in the absence of a functional state, further polarizes populations within Iraq and produces and endless cycles of violence, which creates opportunities for foreign meddling and a deepening of the kinds of resentments and paranoias that led to the emergence of ISIS—and even Al Qaeda before that. We must secure military gains with a political victory. Otherwise, we risk the emergence of an ISIS 2.0 among embittered Sunni populations.

20 November 2017

Islamic State Distortion Of Hijrah: Emigrating For A Lost Cause – Analysis

By Muhammad Saiful Alam Shah Bin Sudiman

Since 2015 there have been at least a dozen Singaporeans investigated by the Singapore authorities for harbouring intention to travel or emigrate to the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS). This year four individuals were detained for the same reason. In September, IS issued a propaganda video featuring a Singaporean who is known to have gone to Syria to join IS. In the brief three-and-a-half minute video, Megat Shahdan Bin Abdul Samad calls on Muslims to relocate to IS-controlled territories or locations where the group’s influence is present.

Ali Shihabi explains what the media won’t about Saudi Arabia

Larry Kummer

Summary: This is the best analysis I have seen of the recent events in Saudi Arabia, which will shake the region and perhaps the world. It is by someone with deep knowledge of that nation. It is a perspective seldom seen in the US news media — but which matches the known facts and is consistent with history. However, remember when reading it that there are no neutrals among experts. The bottom line: change was necessary, since Saudi Arabia could not long continue as it was.

This past weekend, Saudi Arabia detained numerous members of the royal family, as well as current and former ministers and prominent businessmen, on charges of corruption. Many argued that the detentions constitute a thinly veiled attempt by the Kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to consolidate political power. However, this narrative misses the mark; the “purge” is not about removing political rivals who threatened MBS’s position as heir apparent but rather about sending a message to political and economic elites that their entitlement to extreme wealth and privilege, and their impunity, is coming to an end.

19 November 2017

German Help for Raqqa

Moritz Koch

Germany is contributing €10 million to clear mines in the ruined Syrian city of Raqqa, a former Islamic State group stronghold. But the US wants Berlin to do much more. The exodus from Raqqa began early on the morning of October 12. The northern Syrian city had been under the control of the extremist group known as the Islamic State for several years and now, faced with certain defeat, fighters belonging to the brutal group were leaving. Emerging from the ruins of what was once the Caliphate’s capital, camouflaged men boarded buses and trucks heading out of the city, bringing their families and weapons with them.

18 November 2017

Qatar Is at the Center of Today's Arab Tangle

David B. Rivkin JrNawaf Obaid

In early November, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s defense forces intercepted a Burkan-2 ballistic missile targeted at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport. Yemen’s Houthi-controlled defense ministry has taken the credit for the launch—but given the extent of the Iranian sway over the Houthi military, the real responsibility for the attack lies with Tehran. Since the airport is a civilian installation and, as such, under international humanitarian law, cannot be attacked, the Iranian missile strike is also a war crime.

Raytheon: Arab-operated Patriots intercepted over 100 tactical ballistic missiles since 2015

By: Barbara Opall-Rome 
Source Link

Correction: This story has been updated to accuratedly identify the owners of the 100 Patriots. DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Patriot batteries owned by Arab partners in the Middle East have intercepted more than 100 tactical ballistic missiles launched from Yemen since the Saudi-led war against Iranian-backed Houthis began in 2015, according to U.S. prime contractor Raytheon. That number, which appears on the Raytheon website, is much larger than publicly available data from think tanks, the Saudi government or the other eight Mideast and African nations fighting in the Saudi-led coalition against Iranian-backed militias loyal to former Yemeni President Al Abdullah Saleh.

Climate Change and Water Woes Drove ISIS Recruiting in Iraq

SAMARRA, IRAQIt was a few weeks after the rains failed in the winter of 2009 that residents of Shirqat first noticed the strange bearded men. Circling like vultures among the stalls of the town’s fertilizer market in Iraq’s northern Salahaddin governorate, they’d arrow in on the most shabbily dressed farmers, and tempt them with promises of easy riches. “Join us, and you’ll never have to worry about feeding your family,” Saleh Mohammed Al-Jabouri, a local tribal sheikh, remembers one recruiter saying.

From Proxy Wars to Direct War Between Iran and Saudi Arabia: America’s Options

by Masoud Kazemzadeh and Penny Watson

The Middle East appears on the precipice of a great war. The fundamentalist rulers of Iran are confident that their goal of establishing a coalition of Shia countries and regions under their control is nearing fruition. Saddam’s invasion of Iran in 1980 was a response to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s policy of overthrowing the ruling regimes in Iraq and much of the Middle East. By 1988, that war ended not by victory of one side over the other, but by the exhaustion of Khomeini’s regime and the recognition that no end was in sight. The 1988 ceasefire has been but a respite in the warmongering policy of the fundamentalists, whereby despite military adventurism, many members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) still express bitterness over the acceptance of the ceasefire.

17 November 2017

A Coup Could be in the Works Against Zimbabwe's Mugabe

by John Campbell

The era of coups in Africa is supposed to be over. Nevertheless, one may be underway in Zimbabwe against the regime of nonagenarian Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace. Army Chief General Constantino Chiwenga, along with ninety senior military officers, gave a news conference on Monday in which he said that the army will step in unless the “purging” of the country’s ruling ZANU-PF stops. Though the general did not mention Mugabe by name, the intervention was clearly a response to the president’s firing of his deputy, Emerson Mnangagwa. The move is widely seen as an effort to ensure that Mugabe’s successor will be his wife Grace. On Tuesday, armored vehicles were seen moving toward Harare, the capital, from the military barracks at Inkomo. At the same time, a statement from the ZANU-PF accused General Chiwenga of “treasonable conduct.” 

Saudi Arabia's Strategic Miscalculation in Yemen

by Hilal Khashan

Saudi Arabia seems to have bitten off more than it can chew in Yemen. On March 26, 2015, the kingdom launched Operation Decisive Storm, a broad Arab-Islamic initiative ostensibly aimed at reinstating the government of Yemeni President Abd Rabboh Mansour Hadi, whom insurgents had forced from the capital, Sanaa, a month earlier. More than two and a half years on, Saudi Arabia is no closer to its goal, embroiled in a war that it can't win.

16 November 2017

Saudi Crown Prince clears a path to the throne

Just two weeks ago, the Future Investment Initiative summit in Riyadh took place to international acclaim. Now, investor interest has turned to intense uncertainty, as power shifts unfold in the Gulf. But despite the short-term risks, Alex Damianou argues that the long term impact should be positive.

The 4th of November was an historic day in Saudi Arabia. King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), demonstrated their continued, almost Machiavellian determination to execute social and economic reforms under Vision 2030. Their goals – to usher in a new area of transformation, consolidate power, and re-assert themselves on the regional battleground towards Iran.

15 November 2017

The Middle East Is Nearing an Explosion


BEIRUT—Lebanon has long been a mirror for the broader Middle East. The region’s more powerful actors use it, variously, as a venue for their proxy wars, an arena in which to play out the Arab-Israeli conflict, and a testing ground for periodic bouts of Saudi-Iranian coexistence. It’s where the region wages its wars and brokers its temporary truces. This past week, like in so many others, the Middle East has not been kind to Lebanon.

14 November 2017

What the End of ISIS Means


Unless you’re someone who thinks beheading people is an appropriate way to advance a repressive political cause, the imminent demise of the Islamic State is welcome news. But we should be wary of a premature “Mission Accomplished” moment and be judicious in drawing lessons from an outcome that otherwise merits celebration.

Toward that end, here is a preliminary assessment of what the defeat of the Islamic State means, in the form of five questions and some provisional answers.

Was the Islamic State a genuine “revolutionary state”?

Profiling Lebanon: The Western Front of a Proxy War

By Kamran Bokhari

If the Middle East is at least in part a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, then Lebanon may be called its western front. For nearly two generations, Riyadh and Tehran have vied for influence there, as the country has been, with a few interruptions of stability, at once a hostage to and the object of their competition. The competition resumed this week, and it appears that Saudi Arabia is losing.