Only a dramatic escalation in the Syrian conflict will convince the world that Assad must fall
On December 2nd, Syrian insurgents staged an attack on an Intelligence facility in northern Idlib province. Eight people were killed in the ensuing clashes, including several Air Force intelligence personnel. Like the high-profile attack on the Air Force intelligence headquarters in Damascus, the media rushed to portray this act along with recent calls for sanctions as the fall of another pillar signaling the imminent end of the Assad regime. The reality of the situation is that the Idlib attack symbolizes all that is plaguing Syrian opposition in its many forms.
The Idlib attack came hours after the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) insurgent group announced a decision to coordinate their resistance. Included in the agreement, was a pledge by the FSA to halt its offensive attacks, limiting its armed activity to protecting protest neighborhoods in flashpoint cities like Homs and Hama. The SNC, an umbrella body of various opposition groups in exile has been struggling to prove its legitimacy to the world, while the FSA has taken the spotlight with its high profile attacks, drawing concerns of the advent of a civil war in Syria. The nature of these groups and geographical and ideological divides between them continue to deter the international community from taking measures which would expedite Assad’s fall as they did Gaddafi.
Travel Security Analysis: Business travel to Lebanon: Is it safe?
By Max Security’s Intelligence Department
For decades, perceptions of Lebanon have been as conflicted as the country itself. The capital, Beirut has been dubbed by some as a focal point for terrorism and civil unrest, while others maintain that its vibrant culture and western lifestyle rival that of many European capitals. For the past decade, Lebanon has succeeded in restoring its pre-civil war glory, becoming one of the eastern-Mediterranean’s primary business and tourism hubs. Despite these advancements, the same sectarian and political divides which fueled years of armed conflict continue to cast a shadow over stability in Lebanon, threatening a complete collapse of stability at a moment’s notice. In July 2006, armed conflict between the Israeli military and the Hezbollah militia resulted in widespread damage the Beirut, as well as transportation and infrastructure throughout the country. In 2008, Hezbollah and other Shia factions staged an armed takeover of Beirut in a matter of hours after the government threatened to dismantle its telecommunications network at the city’s international airport.
Algeria is North Africa’s Last Line of Defense Against Islamic Extemism
By Daniel N.
Despite its repressive nature, Algeria’s Bouteflicka regime is the last remaining obstacle between Islamic extremists and the complete destabilization of North Africa.
While the world continues to focus on the implications of a destabilized Libya, Algeria has been working diligently to prevent a resurgent Al Qaeda from toppling its regime in its quest to install an Islamic Caliphate in the Maghreb region of North Africa. Since the Libyan conflict first broke out in February 2011, a wave of terror attacks has hit Algeria as the result of an increasingly porous border and the absence of Gaddafi, perhaps Bouteflicka’s most important ally in its war on terror.
For the past two decades, the secular regime of Abdelaziz Bouteflicka has been the target of local Islamic extremist groups that have recently extended their fight beyond Algeria, setting their sights on North Africa in its entirety. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) traces its roots back to a failed revolution attempt which began in 1992 when Algeria’s military government canceled the second round of parliamentary elections since it seemed evident that an Islamist coalition would take power. In the years that followed, Algeria descended into a bloody civil war as extremist groups led by the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) killed tens of thousands of civilians in their efforts to topple the government. Continue reading Algeria is North Africa’s Last Line of Defense Against Islamic Extemism→
Erdogan Means Business
By Daniel N.
Meddling in the internal affairs of other nations, sending warships on provocative patrol routes, and threatening regional neighbors with war were, just a short time ago, actions which characterized only the Iranian regime’s pursuit of regional domination.
Amidst the sweeping changes brought about by the Arab Spring, Turkey has found a window of opportunity to demonstrate its competency and capability for assuming a lead role in the Middle East, abandoning its previous “zero problems” foreign policy in the process.
The “zero problems” approach to foreign policy was spearheaded by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) party first came to power in 2002. The term refers to Turkey’s pledge to maintain peaceful relations with its neighbors, as long as they respect Turkey’s interests in return. For many years, Syria seemed to be the major benefactor of this policy even though the two nations almost went to war in the early 1990’s over President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged support of Kurdish separatists. Under the “zero problems” policy, Syria became one of Turkey’s primary trading partners, and at one point the two nations were conducting joint cabinet meetings. Continue reading Erdogan Means Business→
All Eyes on Hezbollah
By Daniel N.
If at any point it feels that its survival is at stake, Hezbollah will not hesitate to unleash chaos and ignite the Lebanese powder keg.
Following the 2006 Lebanon War, Hezbollah was widely regarded as one of the last eminent Arab forces to successfully confront the Israelis – and to seemingly defeat them on many fronts. The powerful images of destroyed Merkava tanks and Israeli funerals provided the predominately Sunni Muslim world with a new hero, despite the fact that Hezbollah is a Shi’ite organization and widely considered to be an Iranian puppet. Even though the war devastated Lebanon, Hezbollah utilized the political capital it gained from the prisoner swap with Israel to topple the pro-western government then led by Sa’ad Hariri, forcing his party into the opposition.
However, the events of the Arab Spring tarnished Hezbollah’s image in Lebanon and the Arab world. Hezbollah’s staunch, vocal support for Syrian President Bashar Assad throughout his brutal crackdown on pro-reform protesters suddenly placed the organization on the side of the oppressor. Of course, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah had no choice – Syria is one of his primary suppliers of weapons, finances and support. It has been disclosed by the Syrian opposition that Hezbollah fighters are actually assisting in suppressing demonstrations, quite possibly in collusion with members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. Continue reading All Eyes on Hezbollah→