Unchecked, Tehran and its ally will emerge more aggressive than ever.
For those who have hoped that the Syrian quagmire might swallow up Iran’s influence in the region, it’s time to wake up: Tehran and its ally Hezbollah are set to emerge from the Syrian conflict more aggressive than ever.
Iran is also likely to continue leveraging the Assad regime to transport weapons to Hezbollah’s coffers, despite threats of additional Israeli airstrikes. …Sponsored Ads
Rather than confront the looming threat of Hezbollah, Western strategists are still grappling with concerns over which rebel group to arm, or what regime might replace Assad’s. They fail to realize that if Hezbollah’s involvement continues unchecked, these questions will become irrelevant. The time has come for the West to stop obsessing about the risks of stopping the Assad regime, Hezbollah and Iran, and start considering the consequences of not stopping them.
Mr. Nisman is the Middle East and North Africa intelligence director at Max Security Solutions, a geopolitical and security risk consulting firm.
Given the long history of Muslim Brotherhood activity in this country, its declared objective to “destroy the Western civilization from within,” and the extensive evidence of successful influence operations at the highest levels of the U.S. government, it is urgent that we recognize this clear and present danger that threatens not only our Republic but the values of Western civilization.
“Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest aspiration.”
— Motto of the Muslim Brotherhood
The upheavals of 2011-2012 across the Middle East and North Africa swept aside secular rulers and the established political order with startling speed, and continue to focus world attention on the revolutionary forces driving these far-reaching events. Poverty, oppression, inequality, and lack of individual freedom are all hallmarks of the societal stagnation that has gripped the Islamic world for the better part of fourteen centuries, but the driving force of the so-called “Arab Spring” is a resurgent Islam, dominated by the forces of al-Qa’eda and the Muslim Brotherhood. Energized as Islam may be at this time, however, without the active involvement of the United States to help arm, fund, support, and train the region’s Islamic rebels, it is questionable whether they could have gotten this far, this fast.
This report describes how the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrated and suborned the U.S. government to actively assist, whether knowingly or not, the mission of its grand jihad. …
The balance of power in the world is changing, with many new power players emerging — in some cases re-emerging — with growing militaries that challenges U.S. interests in the world and highlight the increasing security challenges of the 21st century.
While the U.S. ponders cutting its military spending, her competitors and allies are ramping up their military strength to advance their interests in their part of the world and beyond. This trend may undermine U.S. interests in the long term, if the president and Congress cannot get our fiscal affairs in order.
In Asia, China, Japan, and India stand as the leaders in military spending with an emphasis in quantity for the purpose of improving their standing and to uphold their national pride.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and Iraq represent the two fastest growing militaries in the Middle East, while the traditional powerhouses in the region — Egypt and Iran — are dealing with their current internal problems.
Algeria, while not a great power, has spent considerable resources to improve its military capabilities to shape its role in North Africa.
Finally, there is the continued growth of Russia’s armed forces under Vladimir Putin, which has been growing in size and sophistication to levels not seen since the Cold War.
Contrary to their statements, Iran and Syria do not have the ability to respond to Israel’s efforts to curb weapons smuggling to Hezbollah. Apart from dispatching their operatives to bomb a synagogue in Eastern Europe or target an Israeli diplomat in West Africa, there is little Hezbollah, the Assad regime, or Iran can do to retaliate against Israel for its very public power play.
Daniel Nisman is the Middle East and North Africa section intelligence manager at Max Security Solutions, a geopolitical risk consulting firm based in Tel Aviv. You can follow him on Twitter @dannynis.
“A decade of war is now ending,” U.S. President Barack Obama declared Monday. Maybe that’s true in America, but it isn’t true anywhere else. Extremists are still plotting acts of terror. Authoritarian and autocratic regimes are still using violence to preserve their power. The United States can step back from international conflicts, but that won’t make them disappear.
Fortunately, there is another power that shares America’s economic and political values, that possesses sophisticated military technology and is also very interested in stopping the progress of fanatical movements, especially in North Africa and the Middle East. That power is Europe.
Five unlikely but extremely destabilizing global crises that Obama must prepare for now.
U.S. President Barack Obama begins his second term at a critical moment in world affairs — al Qaeda raising its head in North Africa, President Bashar al-Assad possibly preparing to use chemical weapons in Syria, Iran moving toward the nuclear weapons threshold, and tensions rising in Asia. An unstable world promises to present the president with many challenges in the next four years, and his advisors are already grappling with how to confront them.
Some looming challenges — like the America’s debt or China’s rise — have been the focus of a good deal of attention. However, low-probability but high-impact “black-swan” events could also define Obama’s second term, diverting the president from his intended foreign-policy agenda. These events would be so catastrophic that he needs to take steps now to minimize the risk that they might occur.
Intelligence held back from senior officials and the public includes numerous classified reports revealing clear Iranian support for jihadists throughout the tumultuous North Africa and Middle East region, as well as notably widespread al Qaeda penetration into Egypt and Libya in the months before the deadly Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
“The Iranian strategy is two-fold: upping the ante for the Obama administration’s economic sanctions against Iran and perceived cyber operations against Iran’s nuclear weapons program by conducting terror attacks on soft U.S. targets and cyber attacks against U.S. financial interests,” said one official, speaking confidentially.
The Iranian effort also seeks to take the international community’s spotlight off Iran’s support for its Syrian ally.
Enigmatic Egyptian-American fraudster fingered as main producer behind anti-Islam video is currently on probation.
After a film insulting the Prophet Muhammad triggered mass protests in Muslim-majority countries across North Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has been transformed from a shadowy ex-convict into an international man of mystery.
The survey by Pew Research notes that in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, “half or more Muslims believe they will live to see the return of the Mahdi. This expectation is most widespread in Afghanistan (83 percent), Iraq (72 percent), Tunisia (67 percent) and Malaysia (62 percent).
The survey said that belief drops to about four-in-10 across Central Asia, except for Turkey, where 68 percent expect to witness his return. It drops slightly further across southern and eastern Europe.
Read more articles about the Mahdi here.
In a provocative and well executed article in the July/August issue of the National Interest, “The Fading Arab Oil Empire,” Paul D. Miller, assistant professor of international-security studies at the National Defense University, argues that
The geostrategic importance of the Middle East is vastly overblown. The region matters to the United States chiefly because of its influence in the world oil market, but that influence has been in terminal decline for a generation, a fact almost wholly unnoticed by outside observers.
Paul D. Miller, assistant professor of international-security studies at the National Defense University.
He proceeds to make a sensible argument about oil becoming less important and the Middle East losing its comparative advantage at producing oil, concluding from this that
In two decades or so, the global oil market and the Middle East’s geopolitical influence will be dramatically different from what they are today. … The importance of this development cannot be overstated. It is a tectonic shift in the geopolitical balance of power, a strategically pivotal development only slightly less momentous than the fall of the Soviet Union. It is the slow-motion collapse of the Middle Eastern oil empire.
This implies for Miller that Washington
can and should begin to adapt its foreign policy to reflect these realities. It can look with more complacency on the rise and fall of particular regimes across the Middle East and North Africa. … The changing realities of the world energy market do not mean the United States can or should ignore the Middle East. Certainly, Israel’s security and Iran’s behavior will keep the region a focus for policy makers’ attention. But, placed in a global perspective, the United States has more or deeper interests at stake in other regions of the world—especially Europe and Asia—than in the Middle East.
This argument is belied by several facts. First, the very cover of the July/August issue of the National Interest, with a tattered flag and a lead essay titled “Requiem for the Two-State Promise: Israel Tightens Its Grip on the Occupied Lands,” negates Miller’s point. Passions about the Arab-Israeli conflict have only remotely to do with oil. The anti-Zionist forces that rallied in Durban in 2001 and the pro-Israel forces that rally each spring at the AIPAC policy conference devote roughly zero percent of their thoughts to oil, gas, or any other hydrocarbons.
Second, Islamism, as the only dynamic utopian and totalitarian ideology extant in the world today, and which largely originates in the Middle East, presents a civilizational danger only somewhat connected to oil (the appeal of Islamism will probably decline along with revenues).
Third, the region, located at the center of the inhabited world, bristles with dangers, including tyranny, violence, WMD, and war. These affect everything from sea lane security to refugee immigrants to domestic security arrangements (take a walk around the White House for a vivid demonstration of the latter). Only in the Middle East are whole countries in danger of extinction. Several countries have descended into anarchy, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia, and Libya.
For these reasons, I doubt that Miller’s advice that U.S. policymakers “look with more complacency on the rise and fall of particular regimes across the Middle East and North Africa” will be listened to anytime soon. (July 1, 2012)