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Middle East

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Monthly Archives: August 2019

U.S. Options on Iran

June 16, 2021 09:57 PM
This summer has been notably characterized by a heating up of tensions between the US and its allies, and Iran. President Trump’s hardline, “maximum pressure” approach against Tehran, which dates back to his withdrawal from the JCPOA in the spring of 2018, has been firm and constant. The US has imposed strict economic sanctions, sent 2,500 troops to the region, an aircraft carrier, and conducted cyber attacks, while Iran has shot down a US drone and allegedly attacked ships in the region.[1] Iran’s acts of aggression and recent breaches of sections of the JCPOA are primarily meant to coerce the US into lifting the series of economic sanctions it has enacted since its withdrawal from the accord.
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Monthly Archives: May 2019

The Organization and History of Pakistan's Military

May 23, 2021 04:40 PM
The Pakistan Armed Forces were created from the British Indian Army in 1947 (Heathcote 1995, 253). They are comprised of the Army, Navy, and Airforce and are led by Zubair Mahmood Hayat, who currently serves as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (Shaikh 2016; Blood 1996, 287-288). This committee includes the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, and Chief of Air Staff, and is the highest administrative body in Pakistan’s military (Blood 1996, 288). Also relevant is the Inter-Services Intelligence, the agency responsible for covert operations abroad (Blood 1996, 288). The minimum age for voluntary military service is sixteen, although eighteen is the minimum age for deployment (Central Intelligence Agency, 2019). Women can serve in all three branches (Central Intelligence Agency, 2019).
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Monthly Archives: November 2018

The Kaleidoscope of Lebanese Politics

April 29, 2021 04:09 PM
Lebanese politics are currently centered on forming a new government that can help Lebanon address its pressing economic issues (Perry 2018; Al-Jazeera 2018). However, the process is strongly hindered by spats on the role of Hezbollah and its affiliates in the new unity government (Macaron 2018; Anbar 2018; Dakroub 2018).
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Syrian Violence Spreads to Lebanon and Iraq

April 27, 2021 10:41 AM
The Syrian civil war has escalated significantly in recent days. As the Syrian regime forces have begun a campaign to take back the strategic city of Qusayr, Sunni jihadists, among them the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda in Iraq, have begun operations against Shi’ites in Lebanon and Iraq. These terrorist activities could spark protracted civil wars in both Lebanon and Iraq along sectarian lines.
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North African Militancy

April 27, 2021 09:39 AM
Introduction
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Cybersecurity: Closing the Back Door to America's Enemies

April 27, 2021 09:13 AM
On October 25, 2012, The New York Times published an eye-opening report on an extensive, billion-dollar business empire constructed by relatives of China’s prime minister, Wen Jiabao. Three months later, the Times revealed it had been undergoing intense cyber attacks even before the report was publicly released. Cooperating with AT&T, the FBI, and a leading cybersecurity firm, the Times pinned the digital break-ins on Chinese hackers, adding that the Chinese military was likely involved.
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Developments in the Syrian Crisis: The Rise of al-Qaeda and Retreat of the Regime

April 26, 2021 07:43 PM
The situation in Syria has been deteriorating rapidly in the past few weeks. New developments are of special concern for U.S. national security as we are getting a new view of Syria’s geopolitical reality. These developments include the rise in preeminence of al-Qaeda and its affiliates among the rebellion, concerns surrounding chemical weapons security, and recent regime activities that may indicate their short to mid-term goals.
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Hijacking a Rebellion: New Trends in al-Qaeda Tactics

April 26, 2021 06:50 PM
Events in the Middle East and North Africa in recent months indicate a major shift in strategy by al-Qaeda and its affiliates. While many officials mistake this shift as a sign of al-Qaeda’s looming defeat, it actually displays a rapidly growing danger to U.S. national security. Al-Qaeda’s new ability to capitalize on instability amid preexisting rebellions is quite disturbing, and is occurring in several locations. The place of most significance for al-Qaeda is Syria, but a look at their ongoing late-phase operation in Mali can offer some insights into future developments in Syria.
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The Dangers of an Anxious Iranian Government Perceiving a ‘Psychological War’

April 26, 2021 06:29 PM
On Tuesday, President Ahmadinejad accused the United States and “internal enemies” of waging a “psychological war” against Iran in an attempt to stop Iranians from ditching the weakening rial for U.S. dollars. This “war” refers to the significant problems Iran faces, including the U.S.-led economic sanctions, a threatened Israeli military strike, and now internal protests. While this perceived psychological war against Iran has yet to turn into a physical conflict, the United States and Israel must be aware that increasing pressure may cause the Iranian military and government to act erratically, which may lead to Iranian military action.
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Is Deterrence a Viable Option for a Nuclear Iran?

April 26, 2021 05:33 PM
Iran’s nuclear program has again entered the spotlight of U.S. foreign policy debates in a election cycle in which foreign policy has taken the backseat. The current debates often result in three scenarios: 1) Iran gives up its nuclear program, 2) Israel (with or without U.S. assistance) makes a preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, postponing Iran’s progress, or 3) The parties involved wait until Iran develops nuclear weapons and thus assure a nuclear exchange between Iran and Israel. Essentially, these scenarios ultimately result in either Iran ending its nuclear program or an unavoidable war between Israel (and therefore the U.S.) and Iran. These scenarios leave no room for the possibility of a nuclear Iran without war.
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A South Asian Power Play

April 23, 2021 11:59 AM
Pakistan has been gambling for a long time with its use of militants as a strategic edge over India. The Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) created and utilized different groups that we generally label as “Taliban” in order to counter Indian power in the region. This has been a several decade-long endeavor but is now showing signs of failure as India is increasing its influence in Afghanistan. In this context, Indian-Pakistani relations will likely prove to be an even more critical national security issue as we scale back military efforts in the region.
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A new glimpse into al-Qaeda

April 23, 2021 09:44 AM
To coincide with the anniversary of the raid that killed Osama bin laden, the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point released 17 de-classified documents obtained in bin Laden’s Abbattobad compound. These 17 documents are a small fraction of the thousands of documents recovered from the raid. Despite their small number, these documents add color to our understanding of al-Qaeda’s leadership; namely, the relationship that al-Qaeda leaders maintained with its affiliates was the subject of internal debate and scrutiny. The insights gained from these prior inner workings may offer a glimpse into understanding the current dynamics of al-Qaeda methodology
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Water Scarcity and Political Instability

April 22, 2021 07:42 PM
An intelligence report released last week discussed a security threat that presents a frightening picture of the world, one in which clean, usable water is increasingly scarce. Water scarcity is in large part a result of increasing demand due to world population growth. U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said in a speech given at the World Bank that “by 2025, we believe that it could be as much as two-thirds of the world’s population, including in more areas within developed countries where people will be living under water stress.” She continued to explain that “water security for us is a matter of economic security, human security, and national security, because we see potential for increasing unrest, conflicts, and instability over water.”
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Recent Trends in Radicalization

April 22, 2021 07:37 PM
The attack in France this past week at the hands of the terrorist Mohammed Merah is reawakening Europe to the realities of radicalization. This event should not be viewed as the beginning of a complex new terror campaign domestically but should be seen as an infrequent reality of war with terror groups. The majority of attempted domestic attacks have been unsuccessful for a number of reasons, and most people who are successfully recruited end up going to conflict areas in order to train and act out their new sense of ideology rather than stay in their country. A quick overview of some aspects of the radicalization process will reveal that there is no trend towards coordinated attacks or rampant radicalization in the West.
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Against Reductionism

April 22, 2021 06:58 PM
Recently there has been a deluge of calls for action to topple the Al-Assad regime in Syria in order to stop its bloody crackdown against the opposition movement. Many ideas have been thrown out into the open, the most prominent of which center around an air campaign, using a harsh set of sanctions against the regime, or arming the opposition with weapons capable of leveling the playing field. The loudest champions of these ideas by and large are generalizing the matter. Reducing the situation into black and white, election-friendly terms glosses over many of the grim realities in Syria. Looking at the main ideas listed above, we see that they are either unfeasible or the risks involved make them not only undesirable but also counterproductive.
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Israel's Next Step

April 22, 2021 06:50 PM
Next Monday the Prime Minister of Israel will arrive in Washington, D.C. for an important security meeting with the President of the United States, Barack Obama. The focus of the meeting will be the ever-rising threat of a nuclear Iran. According to Israeli newspapers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will request that the U.S. deliver an explicit military threat to Iran following the meeting. On the other hand, White House reports say that the President will likely want more time for the current sanctions and diplomatic actions to take effect.
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The Iran-Al Qaeda Connection

April 22, 2021 06:29 PM
This past week has seen Al-Qaeda rise after a period of weakening and transition. After losing a number of its leadership, most notably Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki, it was thought that the organization would be further crippled until it could no longer operate effectively. However its recent actions in Iraq, Somalia, and possibly even Syria demonstrate that Al-Qaeda is transitioning itself to regain a foothold in the Middle East. At the same time, Iran has been penalized by the U.S. Treasury for its support of Al-Qaeda. Furthermore, a district court in 2011 found Iran guilty of being linked to the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania by Al-Qaeda. Although it has long been known that Iran is the largest state-backer of terrorism, this link to Al-Qaeda is especially important to understand the Iranian regime’s attempt to gain dominance in the Middle East.
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Buying Time

April 22, 2021 03:57 PM
Recently the European Union has been building up to the implementation of “crippling” new sanctions against the government of Iran. These new sanctions were finally revealed on January 23 and their primary focus is on limiting Iran’s oil export capability. Despite the strong rhetoric, these sanctions will not truly be effective in the short-term as they bar only new oil contracts with Iran while honoring current contracts until 1 July. Why are we seeing this apparent weakening of the economic hammer against Iran? Why not simply crush Iran into submission and force them into immediate negotiations? The basic answer is that the West is not capable of dealing effectively with Iran right now and needs more time to prepare.
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