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AssessmentsJan 8, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
This Dec. 26, 2019, photo shows a damaged vehicle in the wake of an airstrike in Zawiya, 45 kilometers west of Tripoli.
Turkey's Help Won't Win Its Allies the Libyan War
Squeezed by an army on the advance, Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) has reached for a lifeline across the Mediterranean in Ankara, which is planning to send special forces, drones and other assistance to Tripoli. But while Turkey's military support will help keep the GNA afloat in Tripoli with an eye to ensuring it remains part of any future Libyan political system, it's unlikely to move the needle enough to halt the opposing Libyan National Army's (LNA) offensive on the city entirely. More to the point, LNA leader Khalifa Hifter's foreign backers are likely to respond to Turkey's move by increasing support for the field marshal -- meaning that, in the long run, Ankara's involvement in Libya runs a high risk of encountering mission creep.
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On SecurityApr 30, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
Candles in the shape of Sri Lanka on April 29 in Ahmedabad, India.
What the Easter Attacks in Sri Lanka Tell Us About the Islamic State
The April 21 attacks against three churches and four hotels in Sri Lanka rocked the island nation and have reverberated around the globe. While the location of this attack -- Sri Lanka -- was a surprise, that an attack happened was not. We had warned our Threat Lens clients that we anticipated attacks against houses of worship over the Passover and Easter holidays -- although we certainly were not specifically expecting one in Sri Lanka. Due to the high death toll in these attacks, they have generated much press coverage, some of which has presented these attacks as something unprecedented, or as an accurate gauge of the status of the Islamic State. But these attacks were neither.
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GuidanceApr 8, 2019 | 21:19 GMT
Militia members from Misrata, who support Libya's Government of National Accord, arrive in a Tripoli suburb on April 6, 2019, ready to defend the capital from an assault by the Libyan National Army, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter.
What a Fight for Tripoli Could Mean for Libya's Future
The conflict in Libya has entered a new phase. Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter has sent his Libyan National Army on the offensive in Tripoli, sparking open warfare with the competing Government of National Accord (GNA) for the first time in about four years. After Hifter announced his offensive on Tripoli on April 4, the LNA quickly seized control of Garyan, a city about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the capital, and Tripoli International Airport. Its advance, however, quickly bogged down, and in subsequent fighting, it lost control of the airport to GNA-aligned militias.
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On SecurityMar 12, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
Algerian protesters demonstrate in the capital Algiers against ailing President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term on March 8, 2019.
The Jihadist Peril Lurking in Algeria's Protests
No stranger to civil conflict, Algeria is once again experiencing significant political unrest. Protests in the country are gathering steam, indicating deep and widespread discontent with the power structure that has helped Algerian President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika remain in power even though the octogenarian suffered a debilitating stroke in 2013. The trigger for the most recent protests that erupted on Feb. 22 was the announcement that Bouteflika -- who is wheelchair-bound and unable to speak -- would stand for a fifth term in presidential elections on April 18. On March 11, however, he announced that he was withdrawing from the election, which authorities will delay until a national conference sets a date for a new election. In climbing down, Bouteflika is clearly hoping to defuse the current protests. But until the particulars are known, it is difficult to determine if he will succeed. The protests are not only focused on
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On SecurityJul 24, 2018 | 08:00 GMT
Police officers present suspected ISWAP militants, as well as a cache of weapons, in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, on July 18.
Defining Militant Groups: Why the Names Matter
On July 14, reports from Nigeria's Yobe state emerged regarding an attack on a military base. Media outlets around the world were quick to identify the main culprit, noting how "Boko Haram" – the name that has become synonymous with militancy in the country – had raided a base. Truth be told, while there was certainly an attack, it wasn't conducted by Boko Haram, but the al-Barnawi faction of Wilayat al Sudan al Gharbi, or Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). The attack touched off a conversation between some colleagues and myself last week that centered on one curious question: Why do many media outlets continue to refer to the group as Boko Haram, even though it declared allegiance to the Islamic State and formally changed its name in March 2015?
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Contributor PerspectivesJun 20, 2018 | 08:00 GMT
Syrians gather in Zardana (Idlib province) after airstrikes, believed to have been launched by Russia, killed about 40 civilians in early June.
Trump's Road to Damascus and a Chance for Conversion
President Donald Trump's administration inherited the Syria mess when it entered the White House on Jan. 20, 2017. Its policy was anyone's guess, reminding me of an old joke about an Irish farmer telling a tourist who asked for directions to Dublin, "Well, I wouldn't be going there from here." It is unclear how far Trump and his new foreign policy team, national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, will commit the country's money, armed forces and intelligence services to Syria. They could, if they dared, learn from the mistakes of Obama's policies to avoid prolonging the war and deepening the United States' involvement in it.
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AssessmentsApr 14, 2018 | 14:11 GMT
Fighters with the self-styled Libyan National Army, commanded by Khalifa Hifter, patrol the roads leading into Benghazi on Feb. 7, 2018.
Libya Contemplates a Future Without Khalifa Hifter
It's been a momentous week in Libyan politics. Media in the country have been reporting that Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, the 75-year-old commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army, has suffered either a stroke or a heart attack and is now receiving treatment in France. Unsurprisingly, the Libyan National Army has been quick to shoot down the rumors amid conflicting reports that Hifter instead fell ill on an international trip and sought treatment in Paris. Enjoying the support of powerful international actors, Hifter is perhaps the single most powerful military commander -- if not the most powerful person -- in the Libyan conflict, yet his staunch anti-Islamist position and stubbornness to accept civilian rule has made him a divisive figure. If Hifter has indeed slipped into a coma or is suffering from major health complications, the news will reverberate throughout the Libyan conflict. But even if rumors of Hifter's imminent demise
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Contributor PerspectivesApr 11, 2018 | 08:00 GMT
Druze men rally in support of the Syrian government in February 2012 in Majdal Shams, a Druze town on the Israeli-controlled side of the Golan Heights.
Syria's Druze Maintain a Difficult Neutrality
The most rebellious community in Syria's modern history is a people called the Druze, most of whom live in a region called the Druze Mountain, Jabal al-Druze, about 70 miles south of Damascus. Members of this syncretic, semi-Shiite Muslim sect battled the country's successive overlords, notably the Ottoman Turks in World War I and the French mandate authorities in the 1920s and '30s. Syrian independence in 1946 did not dampen their enthusiasm for revolt, as they rose against nationalist regimes that they felt threatened their traditional ways of living. Yet when the biggest rebellion in the country's history broke out in March 2011, the Druze stayed out.
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AssessmentsNov 28, 2017 | 18:40 GMT
A map of the Middle East
The UAE's Ulterior Motives in Yemen
Since wading into Yemen's civil war more than two years ago, Saudi Arabia and its allies have struggled to restore beleaguered President Abd Rabboh Mansour Hadi to power. Not only have Yemen's Houthi rebels proved to be determined adversaries, but the United Arab Emirates -- Saudi Arabia's most active partner in the military coalition -- has also steadily revealed strategic priorities in Yemen that often differ from Riyadh's own. Chief among them is Abu Dhabi's deepening crackdown on al-Islah, the Yemeni branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. And as the United Arab Emirates steps up its effort to take down the organization, it risks undermining any peace settlement its coalition allies support while empowering militant groups in the war-torn country.
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AssessmentsNov 24, 2017 | 15:43 GMT
A map of Saudi Arabia and Israel
In the Middle East, Strange Times Make for Strange Bedfellows
There was a time when Saudi Arabia considered its enmity for Israel to be a mainstay of its power. But the shifting tides of geopolitics are steadily undercutting the value of conflict between the two. Perhaps nowhere is this change clearer than in an appearance last week by Israeli defense chief Gadi Eisenkot on a Saudi-owned TV station. During the Nov. 16 interview, Eisenkot declared Israel's readiness to share intelligence with Saudi Arabia on Iran. Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz later reinforced his colleague's comment, confirming that Israel's ties with the kingdom were getting stronger. Despite their natural hostility, the two countries have a long history of working together behind the scenes. In fact, their quiet cooperation is one of the worst-kept secrets in the Middle East. Nearly 70 years after the Jewish state was founded, however, the Gulf kingdom's new strategic needs -- and a diminished appetite for continued acrimony
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SnapshotsNov 14, 2017 | 23:03 GMT
Yemen: Islamic State Claims Another Large Attack
Within hours of a Nov. 14 bombing in Yemen, the country's Islamic State affiliate took credit, marking the second major attack it has claimed there in as many weeks and demonstrating an increasing military capability in the war-torn country. In the latest attack, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated at the headquarters of the Security Belt in Aden's al-Mansoura district, killing at least six people and injuring dozens more. The Islamic State claimed the attack through the Amaq news agency, its propaganda wing, which released an image of the bomber. On Nov. 5, the Islamic State claimed a combined suicide bombing and armed assault that targeted the same security force.
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AssessmentsSep 21, 2017 | 23:07 GMT
Ghassan Salame, U.N. special envoy to Libya
The U.N. Hits Reset in Libya
It is not for a lack of trying, but the United Nations has struggled to resolve the Libyan conflict. In 2015, the U.N. brokered a unity agreement -- the Libyan Political Agreement -- between the country's two rival governments, the General National Congress in Tripoli and the House of Representatives, which had fled the capital of Tripoli a year earlier and set up shop in the eastern city of Tobruk. Instead of unifying the country's governments and bridging its largely east-west divide, however, the U.N. peace process created a third government, the Government of National Accord in Tripoli, which the House of Representatives never joined. Negotiations have continued since -- albeit intermittently -- and many of the underlying disputes among the country's various factions remain unresolved. On Sept. 20 at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, newly appointed U.N. special envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, announced a plan that would
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Quarterly ForecastsJun 26, 2017 | 13:54 GMT
The United States will maintain its security alliances abroad, but it will also generate enough uncertainty to drive its partners toward unilateral action in managing their own neighborhoods.
2017 Third-Quarter Forecast
Federal investigations and budget battles with Congress will make for another distracting quarter for U.S. President Donald Trump. But these disruptions won't mitigate the White House's rhetoric, or broader speculation that the United States is retreating from the global stage. And though mixed messages from the U.S. administration won’t result in Washington abandoning its traditional allies, they will spur more unilateral action by U.S. partners in the Middle East, Europe and Asia.
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AssessmentsMay 1, 2017 | 09:15 GMT
Yahya Sinwar
Hamas Takes a Softer Tone and a Firm Stance
Hamas is changing its approach, if only slightly. When the Palestinian party unveils its new charter May 1 in a meeting from its political base in Doha, Qatar, the document will largely replicate the content of its current platform, adopted in 1988. The new charter, for example, promises to continue Hamas' Islamist ideology and opposition to Israel, whose sovereignty the group refuses to recognize. Still, the anticipated changes, though small, are significant. The document is expected to strike a softer tone overall, calling for moderation and unity in the global Islamic community while modifying previous language about Israel in an attempt to broaden the party's appeal and appease its foreign benefactors. And if the final version recognizes the Palestinian borders established in 1967, it will signal a powerful concession for the party, which has steadfastly insisted on the long-since obsolete boundaries that existed before 1948. The adjustments, coupled with the personnel
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Partner PerspectivesApr 13, 2017 | 14:46 GMT
A Sequential Framework for Iran-GCC Detente
The budding efforts between the Gulf Arab states and Iran to develop a process of détente and ease tensions are, in equal measure, important, welcome, and fragile. Their rivalry, which has waxed and waned over recent decades, has served the interests of neither side well. The international community also has a clear stake in the development of a more stable and secure regional order in the Gulf. In addition to recognizing the rare moment of opportunity that seems to be developing, and trying to build on it, the immediate task is to conceptualize a roadmap for what Iranian-Gulf Cooperation Council reconciliation would require and might look like.
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Quarterly ForecastsApr 10, 2017 | 11:42 GMT
Trade will be at the forefront of many leaders' minds this quarter.
2017 Second-Quarter Forecast
Trade will be at the forefront of many leaders' minds this quarter as a new U.S. administration settles into the White House. Uncertainty surrounding the White House's intentions will linger, prompting the United States' biggest trade partners to look for new economic relationships elsewhere. Some will leverage security cooperation and promises of investment to get on Washington's good side -- or, at the very least, to try to fend off its punitive action.
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AssessmentsFeb 23, 2017 | 09:39 GMT
Hamas and Fatah: In Transition but No Less Divided
Hamas and Fatah: In Transition but No Less Divided
The rivalry between Fatah and Hamas, the Palestinian Authority's two main political parties, is a fierce one. But despite their intractable differences, the two organizations have a lot of similarities. Fatah and Hamas face common pressures, for instance, not only from their support bases in the West Bank and Gaza Strip but also from regional powers such as Turkey and Egypt. Over the past few months, they have both undertaken leadership transitions to prepare for hard days ahead, restructuring their chains of command by installing younger leaders in prominent positions. And now that Israel has the unequivocal support of the new U.S. administration, the parties have more incentive than ever to band together to advance the Palestinian cause. Nonetheless, their common concerns will not bring Hamas and Fatah any closer together, nor will they bring the region any closer to peace.
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