Tag Archives: stability

Strategic Analysis: Israel eyes the Islamic Republic

Tensions are soaring in the Middle East. But as the world awaits and debates the possibility of a highly speculated unilateral Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear program, the reality is that the Iranian threat to Israel goes far beyond a nuclear device.

Protesters burn American and Israeli flags at an anti-Israel demonstration.

Decades of proxy wars with Iran, attacks, genocidal rhetoric and Tehran’s dangerous obsession with the “Zionist entity”, highlight that the primary perceived threat to Israel stems not from a nuclear device, but from the Islamic regime and the revolutionary ideology behind it. Therefore, as long as the Iranian state remains committed to Israel’s destruction, Israelis will feel continually threatened and the conflict between Iran and Israel will persist – with or without a nuclear bomb.

State-sanctioned anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish ideology has been a staple of the Islamic regime since its founding in 1979. Thus, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s most recent calls for Israel’s destruction and more importantly Ayatollah Khameini’s prediction of it are not new developments. But for Israelis, such threats are not easy to dismiss, despite Iran’s ability or inability to make good on them. Israel’s critics often respond to its concerns over Iran with allegations of warmongering, citing lack of clear intelligence.  But for better or for worse, the collective history of Israel’s Jewish population and their peculiar situation in the volatile Middle East, underline why Israel  takes Iran’s threats seriously and even considers acting against it in the first place.

In line with the “Begin Doctrine”, Israel has proven throughout its history that it is willing to undertake daring operations far beyond its borders, even against opposition from its closest ally – the US. In 1981, Israel attacked Iraq’s nuclear reactor in Osirak, while destroying Syria’s reactor in 2007. Both times, Washington was either not involved or adamantly against any unilateral Israeli attack.  At present, Israelis are highly divided on how to act against Iran, but they do not disagree that Iran is a dangerous and determined enemy and one that must be curtailed. Israel does have options. It is just a question of what should be done, when, or how.
Continue reading Strategic Analysis: Israel eyes the Islamic Republic

Strategic Analysis: Don’t Hold Your Breath For Iran Sanctions

On July 25, in a rare public acknowledgement, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei shed light on the detrimental impact of international sanctions on Iranian society. During a meeting with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his political rival, Speaker Ali Larijani, Khamenei called for an end to infighting over Iran’s deteriorating economy, stressing the need for national unity.” The reality is that there are problems, however you must not blame them on this or that party,” Khamenei was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency.  “Instead you must solve those problems with unity.”

Iran has continued its nuclear progress despite sanctions.

Pundits and politicians in the West should be in no rush to laud this admittance as a sign that the Iranian regime’s resilience in pursuit of nuclear capability has begun to waver.  For those in Jerusalem grappling with a historic decision, sanctions have failed to achieve their baseline goal- suspension of the Iranian nuclear program. Continue reading Strategic Analysis: Don’t Hold Your Breath For Iran Sanctions

Intelligence Analysis: Jordan’s Covert War Against an Islamist Spillover

A protester holds a sword during a demonstration against arrests of Salafists in the town of Zarqa, east of Amman (AP)

The Jordanian regime has been growing increasingly concerned about the possible spillover effects of violence in Syria, especially since Jordan’s Jihadist-Salafist Sheikh Abu Muhammad Tahawi recently released a fatwa calling for jihad in Syria. In his fatwa, Tahawi stressed that Alawites and Shiites are currently the biggest threat to Sunnis, even more than the Israelis.

Fatwas of this sort, usually play on the sentiments harbored deep within historical sectarian feuds between the Sunni and the Shiite faiths. They also serve the purpose of mobilizing Sunni extremists in a bloody ‘Jihad’ against the other factions of Islam, which radical Salafists classify as “outsiders”.

According to media reports, Jordanian Jihadist-Salafists seem to have responded to Sheikh Tahawi’s call as a group of over 30 Jihadists tried to enter Syria a few weeks ago. All but seven, including Abu Anas Sahabi, an explosives specialist, were caught by Jordanian intelligence services. On April 15 a Jihadi-Salafi demonstration resulted in violent clashes with police, leaving dozens of wounded officers and numerous civilian casualties. In response, authorities cracked down on Salafists during a raid in al-Zarqa and other towns located near the Syrian border. Approximately 147 individuals were arrested by Jordanian authorities and charged with terrorist activities.

Continue reading Intelligence Analysis: Jordan’s Covert War Against an Islamist Spillover

The Tuareg Factor

One tribe’s cooperation with various militant groups will continue to challenge stability in some of Africa’s most vital nations

By Jay R.

Since the downfall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya early last year, weapons proliferation throughout the Middle East and North Africa is on the rise and of primary concern. It is now widely known that masses of Libyan weaponry have made their way into the hands of such militant groups as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Nigeria’s Boko Haram, and Somalia’s al-Shabaab. Libyan weaponry has traveled as far as the Gaza Strip and appeared in hand of militant groups there.

Tuareg militants en route to Libya from Mali (Sahara Times)

With the recent unrest in Somalia and Nigeria, the above-mentioned groups have been deeply reported on. However, one tribe, heavily active in Africa’s Sahel desert region is operating under the radar in comparison. The Tuareg tribe, composed of 1.2 million people, is historically nomadic. They have long roamed northwest Africa, primarily through the nations of Algeria, Libya, Mali, and Niger. Today, the group has become sedentary, the result of which has seen the Tuaregs actively engage such countries, particularly the Malian government, for stakes in power sharing and wealth benefits from the country’s natural resources.

The ongoing battle for the Tuareg’s perceived rights most recently manifested in the two-year Tuareg Rebellion in Mali and Niger from 2007-2009. This rebellion was ended through a series of peace talks and amnesty allowances; however, the conflict persists to this day as the Malian government regularly takes on the Tuareg militants along the Nigerian border.

Continue reading The Tuareg Factor

The Kremlin’s Syrian Gambit

By Yagil B. and Danny B.

Russia’s continued support for Syria is no more than a coldly calculated move meant to bolster its position as global super power.

Russia sent a strong message to the West earlier this month when its aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kutznetsov, docked in the Syrian port of Tartus amidst much bravado. Since that time, the Kremlin has unabatedly remained steadfast in its diplomatic support for the embattled regime by threatening to block any punishing UN Security Council resolutions, drawing the ire of the Sunni Arab world. on January 27, Moscow said a UN draft that condemned Bashar al-Assad and called for his ouster, failed to address Russia’s interests. Like Iran, Russia continues to demonstrate its loyalty to the embattled Alawite-led Assad regime, even as it becomes ever more isolated within the Arab League and the international community.
Continue reading The Kremlin’s Syrian Gambit

In Libya, The Militias Have The Upper Hand

By Daniel N.

In the absence of collective nationalism, the transitional government must buy the loyalty of renegade militias with resources it may not have.

Libya’s new flag.

Libya is currently undergoing a critical phase of its transition process, as the recognized government (NTC) attempts to assert its power over the country. The focal point of these efforts lies at the reformation of the Libyan national military. In post Gaddafi-Libya, this feat requires garnering the trust of powerful tribal militias, many of whom are reluctant to relinquish their hard-fought positions acquired during the civil war.

Efforts to establish a national military reached a crucial phase in January, when the NTC named Yussef Al-Mangush as chief of staff.  The appointment has since been rejected by two powerful coalitions of tribal militias; the Thwars coalition, which includes the Misrata and Zintan factions; and the Cyrenaica Military Council (CMC), composed of militias in eastern Libya. Continue reading In Libya, The Militias Have The Upper Hand

Yemen’s Greatest Challenge

By Gabi A.

Getting the oil flowing again is a basic requirement for the success of any future government.

An oil pipeline in Northern Yemen.

Even as fears of continued factional conflict continue to attract media attention, the question of economic stability and sustainability in Yemen has barely received the consideration needed to avoid a spiral into the status of a failed state. The interim government in the country faces difficult political challenges in the weeks ahead as it prepares for what many observers are hoping will be the country’s first free election. The head of the interim government, Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, is already facing calls to resign as protests continue to rage in the streets of the capital city of Sanaa with demonstrators facing off against forces loyal to now supposedly deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The destruction brought on by the nearly-ten-month uprising against the regime of Saleh has wreaked havoc not only on the delicate political system but also on the nation’s oil production infrastructure that provides the lifeblood for the economy. Oil exports are responsible for somewhere between 60-70% of government revenues and 90% of overall national exports.      Continue reading Yemen’s Greatest Challenge

Syrian Opposition Takes a Hit From Damascus Bombings

By Daniel N.

Regardless of who was responsible, the recent suicide attacks bolster the position of the Assad Dictatorship.

Since the uprising began in March 2011, President Bashar Al Assad has attempted to brand the Syrian opposition as “terrorists” in order to justify his brutal crackdown. The carnage and mass casualties of Friday’s twin suicide bombing attacks may have done just that, throwing the spotlight on the possibility of extremist infiltration into the Syrian opposition.

Mourners attend a funeral for those killed in Friday’s bombings. (SANA)

Friday’s carnage unfolded when at least two explosive-laden vehicles were detonated near security facilities in the heart of the capital. Plumes of smoke could be seen from throughout the capital, while gunfire reportedly rang out amidst the bedlam that followed. Indeed, the perpetrators had managed to smash the relative calm enjoyed by citizens of the Syrian capital, fomenting the kind of chaos more commonly seen in Kabul or Baghdad. Immediately after the explosions, the state media rushed to attribute to the attacks to Al Qaeda-affiliated jihadists, pointing to a recent report that operatives had penetrated its territory through Lebanon.  Continue reading Syrian Opposition Takes a Hit From Damascus Bombings

A Slow Death for Morocco’s Reformers

By Daniel N

The exit of an influential Islamist movement coupled with general acceptance of recent elections expedites what has been a slow and painful death for the February 20 reform movement.

On December 19, the Justice and Spirituality Movement (JSM), Morocco’s most influential (outlawed) Islamist group announced it was recinding its support from the February 20 reform movement. Named after the date in which mass protests erupted in Morocco, February 20 has suffered blow after blow to its momentum, limiting its efforts to pressure North Africa’s oldest Monarchy from real reforms.

February 20 activists demonstrate. (Maghrebia) The government has waged a campaign to isolate and de-legitimize the opposition.

In its outset, Morocco’s protest movement succeeded in drawing large numbers of citizens to the streets in cities across the country in what was perceived at the time to be an unstoppable wave of revolution across North Africa. Unlike the dictators in Tunisia and Egypt however, Morocco’s monarchy is a highly respected institution, meaning pressure for reforms was to be limited to a change within the system, not its overthrow.  In response to the protests, the King announced a series of reforms to be decided by referendum, while simultaneously embarking on a campaign to isolate and delegitimize the reform movement.  Using the state-run media, the government sought to portray the February 20 movement as a radical group of communists who had been infiltrated by Islamic extremists who aimed to destabilize the kingdom. Continue reading A Slow Death for Morocco’s Reformers