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

17 June 2018

Kuwait and Oman Are Stuck in Arab No Man’s Land


Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (C), Bahrain's King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa (R) and Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah attend a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) informal summit in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah on May 31, 2016. Just over a year ago, four of America’s Arab allies — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt — severed relations with Qatar, another key U.S. ally. They enacted a land, sea, and air blockade to punish the tiny emirate for what they claimed was Doha’s “embrace of various terrorist” entities. Observers widely thought the diplomatic spat would be patched up within a few months. After all, this was hardly the first time Qatar and its Gulf neighbors had squabbled.

In the face of Hodeidah assault, Yemen is on the brink

Bruce Riedel

The war in Yemen is approaching a catastrophic battle for control of the crucial port of Hodeidah. Washington is tepidly counseling the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition to refrain from trying to capture the strategic port, but it is far from clear that they will listen. The administration has sent mixed signals to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. Hodeidah is the major port of northern Yemen. Approximately 70 to 80 percent of the nation’s vital imports of food and medicine arrive via Hodeidah. The Zaydi Shia Houthis have controlled the strategic port city of a half million people since 2014. It is a major source of revenue for the rebels and a historic smuggling entrepôt. The city is primarily comprised of Sunnis. It is a very humid and hot place, average daily high temperatures in the summer are over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Broader Implications of What’s Happening in Yemen


Pro-government forces backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have launched an assault on rebels holding Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah. Potential humanitarian casualties are high, since the port serves as one of the only avenues for foreign aid to move into the country, where Yemenis are already facing dire conditions with as many as eight million people at risk of starvation. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. is ‘monitoring the situation’, but stopped short of saying that the U.S. is leveraging its influence in the region to stop the assault. Besides the humanitarian crisis, there is a national security component to the overall lack of stability in Yemen. In analysis that The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel produced in late February, the risk of terrorist groups exploiting uncertainty in Yemen is high.

Op-Ed: An Assessment of the Islamic State in 2018

Joseph V. Micallef is a best-selling military history and world affairs author, and keynote speaker. Follow him on Twitter @JosephVMicallef. By all accounts, the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is virtually over -- save for a few mopping-up operations. In December 2017, the Iraqi government declared that, after almost four years of fighting, ISIS had been defeated and no longer controlled any Iraqi towns. Russian President Vladimir Putin has made the same declaration and announced that some Russian troops will soon be withdrawn from Syria, although it does not appear that any withdrawal has yet occurred.

16 June 2018

Counter-terrorism strategy (CONTEST) 2018

This updated and strengthened CONTEST strategy reflects the findings of a fundamental review of all aspects of counter-terrorism, to ensure we have the best response to the heightened threat in coming years from all forms of terrorism. Our counter-terrorism strategy will continue to be organised within the tried and tested strategic framework of four ‘P’ work strands, each comprising a number of key objectives:

Jordan’s $2.5b Security Lifeline to the Future


While the media is dominated by events in North Korea, it would be wise to devote some space to the decision this week by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait to provide Jordan with more than 2 billion dollars in aid over five years to sustain Amman during a time of unprecedented economic pressure. With an estimated 200,000 Jordanian protestors on the streets venting anger over falling living standards, Jordan is the third Middle East country to endure widespread unrest this year. Dissatisfaction has been rising for months, and protests have echoed the unrest that shook Tunisia and Iran earlier this year. In all three countries, protestors represented a spectrum of lower and middle class groups in demonstrations larger than anything seen in the early days of the Arab Spring. Likewise, protests were essentially leaderless, rudderless, and fueled by social media. The leaders of the affected countries responded by backing away from necessary reforms to restore order.

15 June 2018

Can The GCC Survive The Qatar Crisis?

by Derek Davison 

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the diplomatic crisis surrounding Qatar and the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It was on June 5, 2017, that four nations—Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt—cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar and declared an air, sea, and land blockade against the Gulf state. The internationally recognized government of Yemen as well as the Maldives also joined in the blockade, and since then Comoros and Mauritania have joined as well, while a small number of other nations have downgraded their diplomatic ties with Qatar without severing them entirely. The rationale behind the blockade is murky. The Saudis and Emiratis made several demands of Qatar over its alleged support for terrorists, its Al Jazeera news network, and its friendly relations with Iran. However, subsequent events suggest strongly that the Saudis aimed to engineer the ouster of Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Fears of New Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen After Attack on Port

By Margaret Coker

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The world’s worst humanitarian disastercould be about to get even worse. The main port, which millions of Yemenis rely on for food and other supplies, was invaded early Wednesday by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates The attack, following several days of failed diplomacy, seemed aimed at tipping the balance in Yemen’s long-running civil war against the Houthi rebels, who control the port, Hudaydah, and armed forces loyal to the Saudis and Emiratis. But any sustained fighting could deepen what is already a catastrophic humanitarian situation.

How Do You Measure Success Against Jihadists?

By Scott Stewart

Measuring success against a militant organization requires understanding the group's objectives and how far it has progressed toward achieving them, as well as the types of warfare it is capable of waging. Instead of gauging a group's strength through the number of terrorist attacks, it is necessary to examine the quality of the assaults and determine how they fit into the group's other operations. Defeating a group requires more than victory on the physical battlefield; it also needs progress in the much more difficult ideological realm.

14 June 2018

Report describes Dubai real estate as money-laundering haven

Report describes Dubai real estate as money-laundering haven

War profiteers, terror financiers and drug traffickers sanctioned by the U.S. in recent years have used Dubai’s real-estate market as a haven for their assets, a new report released Tuesday alleges. The report by the Washington-based Center for Advanced Defense Studies, relying on leaked property data from the city-state, offers evidence to support the long-whispered rumors about Dubai’s real-estate boom. It identifies some $100 million in suspicious purchases of apartments and villas across the city of skyscrapers in the United Arab Emirates, where foreign ownership fuels construction that now outpaces local demand.

The government-run Dubai Media Office said it could not comment on the report.

Iran envisions currency arrangements with China

By Daniel J. Graeber  

June 11 (UPI) -- Facing U.S. pressures on its banking channels, Iran's economic minister said agreements were made with China to use their national currencies for trade. Iran's banking channels could be impacted by the sanctions pressures that would leave the country "battling to keep its economy alive," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said. In an effort to facilitate economic openness, the Central Bank of Iran in Aprilopened a line of credit with Turkey that could give Iran a way to continue trading. And in late May, after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the multilateral nuclear deal, the European Union introduced a blocking statute to protect companies from U.S. sanctions and opened the door to working directly with Iran's Central Bank.

13 June 2018

How Qatar Weathered the Gulf Crisis

By Kristian Coates Ulrichsen

In June 2017, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and instituted an economic and trade embargo that closed Qatar’s only land border and heavily restricted the sea and airspace open to Qatar-bound traffic. This was not the first time that frustration over Qatar’s distinctive foreign policy had led to a crisis. In 2014, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE withdrew their ambassadors from Doha, angered by the country’s post–Arab Spring policies such as its perceived support for the Islamist movements. Although this disagreement was settled nine months later, the Qatari leadership learned a lesson: it could happen again.

The Strategic Fallout of U.S. Withdrawal from the Iran Deal

U.S. President Trump just before signing a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement May 8, 2018 This week, President Trump got the United States out of the Iran nuclear agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). He did this despite a lack of evidence that Iran is violating the agreement. To the contrary, the International Atomic Energy Agency has verified Iran's compliance numerous times. Whatever truth there is to Iranian misbehavior in the past—and there is very real truth to it—it is now the United States that is in violation of an agreement that the international community believes is working.

12 June 2018

Developing a Containment Strategy in Syria

Some U.S. policymakers have argued that the United States should withdraw its military forces from Syria. But the United States has several interests in Syria:  Balancing against Iran, including deterring Iranian forces and militias from pushing close to the Israeli border, disrupting Iranian lines of communication through Syria, preventing substantial military escalation between Israel and Iran, and weakening Shia proxy forces.  Balancing against Russia, including deterring further Russian expansion in the Middle East from Syrian territory and raising the costs—including political costs—of Russian operations in Syria. Preventing a terrorist resurgence, including targeting Salafi-jihadist groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda that threaten the United States and its allies. 

Whither ISIS? Insights from Insurgent Responses to Decline

by Paul Staniland 

How will ISIS respond to recent setbacks? By examining fifteen other major insurgent organizations that faced decline, this study suggests that ISIS will likely survive even devastating territorial losses, and identifies three potential trajectories for the organization, and the conditions likely to lead to each.

9 June 2018

Prison: A Training Ground for Terrorists

By Scott Stewart

Hundreds of convicted jihadists are scheduled to be released from prison in the next few years, and their numbers will be bolstered by those prisoners who have embraced extremism while behind bars. Prisons can serve as universities of crime for grassroots jihadists who lack terrorist tradecraft, and career criminals who convert will already possess skills useful in attacks. The released extremists will add to the caseload for overburdened government forces working to counter the jihadist threat.

8 June 2018

Army to Pursue ‘With Urgency’ Autonomous Systems Strategy

By Connie Lee

The service last year released the “Robotics and Autonomous Systems Strategy,” a document that stated its intention to pursue these capabilities “with urgency.” The strategy outlines the Army’s five capability objectives, which include: increasing situational awareness; lightening soldiers’ physical and cognitive workloads; sustaining the force with increased distribution, throughput and efficiency; facilitating movement and maneuver; and protecting the force. Maj. Mike Dvorak, robotics branch chief at the Army Capabilities Integration Center, said the service is now working on an execution strategy that will “lay [out] the specific details of how we’re going to get the capabilities.” The document is being produced by the Maneuver Center of Excellence and ARCIC, he said at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Ground Robotics Capabilities Conference in Springfield, Virginia.

Qatar Won the Saudi Blockade


A year ago Tuesday, a coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia imposed a historic land, maritime, and air blockade on Qatar. The measures were designed to strong-arm Doha to comply with a list of demands that involved alleged support for Islamic extremists throughout the Middle East, including within the four countries — Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia — that later became known as the anti-Qatar quartet. The quartet received added momentum one day after the start of the blockade from U.S. President Donald Trump, who tweeted: “So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding … extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”

7 June 2018

Moscow updates playbook on making Israel, Iran happy Read more:

Maxim A. Suchkov 

Israeli soldiers walk near mobile artillery units in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, May 9, 2018. Tensions on Israel's northern border with Syria have heated up as Israel objects to the presence of Iranian forces in southern Syria. Russian and Israeli officials met this week in Moscow to discuss Israel’s concerns over the extent of Iran’s current and future presence in Syria. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and other top Israeli officials met May 31 withRussian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. The primary focus of the visit was the situation in Syria and specifically, in Liberman’s words, “the entrenchment of Iran and its proxies” there.

Washington’s Dangerous Fixation on Iran

Doug Bandow

United States President Donald Trump appears to worry a lot about Iran, a concern that is shared by his secretary of state and national security adviser. They were so worried about a nuclear Iran that they revoked the international agreement known as the Iran deal, which was supposed to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons. Instead, Trump now demands Iran’s de facto surrender. However, the administration is so far is backed only by Israel and Saudi Arabia, which want America to do their dirty work. Why is the Trump administration so fearful of Tehran? Iran is a struggling regional power. It lags well behind its competitors in economic and military clout. Even its greatest enemy, Saudi Arabia, dismisses the Islamic Republic as being no match.