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

21 March 2018

A Cyberattack in Saudi Arabia Had a Deadly Goal. Experts Fear Another Try.


In August, a petrochemical company with a plant in Saudi Arabia was hit by a new kind of cyberassault. The attack was not designed to simply destroy data or shut down the plant, investigators believe. It was meant to sabotage the firm’s operations and trigger an explosion. The attack was a dangerous escalation in international hacking, as faceless enemies demonstrated both the drive and the ability to inflict serious physical damage. And United States government officials, their allies and cybersecurity researchers worry that the culprits could replicate it in other countries, since thousands of industrial plants all over the world rely on the same American-engineered computer systems that were compromised.

16 March 2018

How Iran Secured a Supply Route Through Iraq

Iran’s activities in Syria get a lot of press, but less attention is paid to what Iran has done in Iraq to make those activities manageable. Iran operates a Shiite foreign legion that over the years has trained 200,000 fighters in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. One part of that foreign legion is the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq. The militias of the PMF all but control northern Iraq, which Iran has transformed into a land bridge to supply its other proxy groups in Syria and Lebanon.

Is Turkey Going It Alone in the Middle East?

Jacob L. Shapiro

Turkey and the United States are no strangers to disagreement. In recent years, Ankara has accused the U.S. of tacitly supporting an attempted military coup in Turkey and of openly supporting a Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the YPG, that is hostile to Turkey’s interests. The U.S., for its part, has complained that Turkey has not done enough to combat the real terrorist threat – the Islamic State – and it has criticized Turkish policies that increase the power of the president and curtail freedom of expression. Things got so bad at the end of last year that the two sides briefly suspended visa services after a U.S. Consulate employee was arrested on suspicion of espionage.

Through it all, one topic has always been mo

Military Spending: The Other Side of Saudi Security

By Anthony Cordesman 

The shifts in Saudi Arabia's power structure that have taken place since King Salman came to power in January 2015 have created a new set of Saudi priorities for shaping Saudi Arabia's future. These new priorities have led to major changes in Saudi Arabia’s national security structure and leadership, and to calls for major social and economic reform. They have changed the leadership of the Saudi Ministry of Interior, National Guard, and Foreign Ministry. These new priorities have led to participation in a major war in Yemen, efforts to isolate Qatar that have broken up an already weak and divided Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and deeper tensions with Iran over its military build-up and efforts to expand its regional influence. 

14 March 2018

Russia in the Middle East: Energy Forever?

By: Rauf Mammadov


The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is an obvious target region for Russian energy diplomacy. Unlike Western European states, Russia has never had an imperial presence in the region. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union pursued the policy of supporting Arab socialist movements under the flag of Communist ideology and served as a counter-balance to the United States’ influence in the region. Hence, bereft of the burden of an imperialist state and by untangling political concerns from its commercial interests, Russia has embarked on a pivot to the energy industry of the MENA region. Russia’s goals can be summarized as: 

Find new markets for its oil and gas. 

13 March 2018

Baathism Caused the Chaos in Iraq and Syria

The United States intervened militarily in Iraq in 2003, 15 years ago this month, and the result was war and chaos. But the United States did not intervene in Syria in 2011 when the regime there was challenged, and the result was still war and chaos. Though the media has interpreted the past decade and a half of armed conflict in the Levant exclusively through the failure of U.S. policy, the fact that the policy in Syria was 180-degrees different from the one in Iraq and yet the result was the same indicates that there has to be a deeper, more fundamental force at work in both countries that journalists and historians must acknowledge.

Al-Qaeda’s Resurrection

by Bruce Hoffman

While the self-proclaimed Islamic State has dominated the headlines and preoccupied national security officials for the past four years, al-Qaeda has been quietly rebuilding. Its announcement last summer of another affiliate—this one dedicated to the liberation of Kashmir—coupled with the resurrection of its presence in Afghanistan and the solidification of its influence in Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, underscores the resiliency and continued vitality of the United States’ preeminent terrorist enemy.

Pakistan’s Tight Rope Walk Between Iran And Saudi Arabia

By Nisar Ahmed Khan*

Pakistan’s recent decision of sending a contingent of slightly above 1000 troops to Saudi Arabia apparently in violation of its own parliamentary resolution of 2015 on Yemen reflects the country’s tight rope walk between two main regional rivals i.e. Saudi Arabia and Iran and highlights the need to make arrangements for keeping the policy of neutrality intact when it comes to disputes involving Muslim states in the Middle East.  From Pakistan’s perspective, the significance of keeping neutrality can be gauged from the fact that Article 40 of the constitution of Pakistan obliges it to strengthen fraternal relations among Muslim countries. Thus, dividing the Muslim world or taking side in intra-Muslim disputes is tantamount to breach of Pakistan’s constitution.

12 March 2018

Turkish military seizes control of Jinderes town in Syria's Afrin region: Anadolu

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies seized control of the town of Jinderes on Thursday, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported, giving them control of one of the largest settlements in Syria’s northwest Afrin region. A Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighter gestures after Free Syrian Army forces took control of Kafr Jana village, north of Afrin, Syria. The Turkish army and its allies from Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions pushed fighters from the Syrian Kurdish YPG out of the town center on Thursday following intense clashes, it said, adding that operations to secure the area were continuing.

Crafting a US Response to Turkish Intransigence

by Gregg Roman

In a rare public policy speech in mid-December, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster singled out Turkey as one of the two leading state sponsors (alongside Qatar) of "radical Islamist ideology." The Turkish government protested the statement as "astonishing, baseless and unacceptable," which means it was a pretty good start. McMaster's speech highlighted an emerging recognition among Trump administration officials that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Turkey poses a pernicious threat to US interests in the Near East. Since McMaster's speech, Erdoğan has invaded Afrin, Syria (a city then controlled by America's Kurdish allies), massacring women, children and the elderly; promoted the use of child soldiers in his fight against the Kurds; and undermined U.S. sanctions against Iran. A Manhattan Federal District Court's guilty verdict against a Turkish banker accused of helping Iran evade sanctions speaks volumes about the growing threat posed by Erdoğan's Turkey. Although Erdoğan was not charged in the case, "testimony suggested he had approved the [defendant's] sanctions-busting scheme" to launder billions of dollars for Iran beginning in 2012, according to the New York Times.

11 March 2018

The Rise of Islamist Groups in Malaysia and Indonesia

by Joshua Kurlantzick

Malaysia and Indonesia, important U.S. partners and leaders in Southeast Asia, have been touted over the past two decades as model countries where Islam coexists with civil law. Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, founded the Global Movement of Moderates in 2010, an organization that seeks to unite countries to combat extremism and proffers Muslim-majority Malaysia as a tolerant nation. Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, has been held up as a leading global example of democratization. (I echoed this view in a 2013 CFR book, Pathways to Freedom: Political and Economic Lessons from Democratic Transitions.)

Made in America, But Lost in Iraq


The U.S. company that repairs Iraq’s American-made M1A1 Abrams tanks has pulled many of its people from Iraq after at least nine of the armored vehicles ended up in the hands of pro-Iran militias. Now, many of Iraq’s tanks are immobilized for want of maintenance, potentially jeopardizing the country’s ongoing campaign against Islamic State militants. While the Islamic State has retreated from large swaths of Iraq it once controlled, mobile groups of militants continue to stage attacks on Iraqi troops and their allies. An Islamic State attack near the city of Hawija in mid-February reportedly killed 27 militiamen fighting for Baghdad.

Why is the world at war?

We live in a world of trouble. Conflicts today may be much less lethal than those that scarred the last century, but this brings little comfort. We remain deeply anxious. We can blame terrorism and the fear it inspires despite the statistically unimportant number of casualties it inflicts, or the contemporary media and the breathless cycle of “breaking news”, but the truth remains that the wars that seem to inspire the fanatics or have produced so many headlines in recent years prompt deep anxiety. One reason is that these wars appear to have no end in sight.

10 March 2018

Preparing for the Urban Future of Counterinsurgency

Source Link

Bottom Line: Conflict follows humanity wherever it goes, and the world’s population is increasingly living in cities. Waning are the days of the Maoist blueprint of rural insurgents pillaging small peripheral villages and seeking refuge in the hard terrain of mountainous caverns, dense forests or expansive deserts. Soon terrorist and insurgent groups will mount operations from crowded slums and ritzy skyscrapers – not just in a dense urban landscape, but in coastal megacities that pose a unique challenge for which the U.S. military largely remains unprepared.

Has al-Qaeda Learned from Its Mistakes?

by Thomas R. McCabe

The destruction of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is undoubtedly a significant success, but it will not be the end of worldwide Islamist insurgencies. The Islamic State may be eradicated, and ISIS as an organization may be eclipsed, but the forces and mentality it represents within Islam and jihadism—virulent intolerance and murderous hyper-violence targeting the entire world, including any jihadists who disagree with it—will continue to wreak havoc throughout the Middle East, Muslim-majority countries, and the world at large. And while it remains to be seen whether ISIS will be able to recuperate from its defeat, it is not the only jihadist group the world faces. In particular, al-Qaeda, including its nominally independent major affiliate in Syria, Hay'at Tahrir ash-Sham,may turn out to be the greater long-term threat, having survived a massive worldwide campaign to destroy it and having modified its strategy to reflect lessons learned from past mistakes.

The Dangers of Failing Middle East States

by Kobi Michael and Yoel Guzansky

In an address to a prominent British think tank, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently argued that before establishing a Palestinian state, it would be necessary to internalize what had happened in the broader Middle East during the past few years—a reference to the collapsing regional order and the attendant proliferation of failed states. "It's time," he said, "we reassessed whether the modern model we have of sovereignty, and unfettered sovereignty, is applicable everywhere in the world."[1]

What’s behind the sudden ouster of top Saudi military commanders

Bruce Riedel

The wars in Yemen will enter their fourth year this month with no end in sight, and the combatants have little interest in meaningful negotiations. The humanitarian catastrophe has been eased only slightly by outside pressure. The regional conflict has become more polarized, with Washington and Moscow now on opposite sides backing Riyadh and Tehran. Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Muhammad bin Salman (known as MBS) fired the joint chiefs of staff of the Saudi military this week. The chairman of the joint chiefs, the army commander, air defense chief, and Royal Saudi Air Force boss were replaced with no explanation. MBS said he wanted “believers” in the top military jobs in his ministry, apparently meaning believers in MBS.

Why the U.S. Military Should Stay Out Of Iran


It’s not that often that a major in the US military — albeit now a reservist — points the finger at the Defense Secretary and says, sir, you’re wrong, and does it in writing and in public. Here you have it. Army Maj. Danny Sjursen, expressing his own unofficial opinions, says Iran is Jim Mattis’ blind spot and that his boss is wrong in his assessments of the country. Why? Read on, Dear Reader! The Editor. Last week, after Israel reportedly shot down an Iranian drone and Prime Minister Netanyahu proudly displayed a hunk of twisted metal as a war trophy, Americans were treated to fresh calls for regime change from some prominent neoconservatives.

9 March 2018

Youth Unemployment: The Middle East's Ticking Time Bomb

With labor markets in the Middle East and North Africa swamped due to a baby boom, countries in the region will continue to face the acute challenge of massive youth unemployment. Though each state struggles with its own circumstances, most countries will face daunting hurdles as they try to build strong private sectors. Even if these states do foster more robust private sectors, they may not be able to mitigate the economic hardship when it hits their citizens, due to the uncontrollable nature of the free market. 

8 March 2018

Turkey Is Turning Into the Next Pakistan

Eli Lake 

There isn't much that Turkey's president can do these days to further debase his reputation in the West. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has crushed peaceful protests at home and abroad, closed newspapers, threatened American soldiers, and collectively scapegoated Kurds. But over the weekend, Erdogan managed to go even lower. At a rally at Kahramanmaras, the Turkish leader brought a trembling 6-year-old girl on stage dressed in military garb and told her she would be honored if she died as a martyr. He sounded like a terrorist. We expect this kind of child abuse from the fanatics in Hamas or Hezbollah. Erdogan though is the leader of an important NATO ally.