ISIS Expanding

Just this week, ISIS has taken responsibility for a terror attack in Afghanistan. This is yet again, another sign that the group has far exceeded the confines of its prior holdings in the Levant. More than likely teaming up with other terrorist organizations, such as the Taliban, that share in their disdain for the US and International community.

Everyday that the international community fights the terrorist organization, I sense that the only true way to destroy them will be to take down their online infrastructure. They will continue to spread throughout the world so long as the communication channels offered through cyberspace are open. This poses a much larger question in the world though, “will we eliminate anonymity on the internet?”. Is the elimination of anonymity on the internet not the only way to verify the users and their true locations?

Calling it Quits

Upon Israel agreeing to a ceasefire with Hamas along the Gaza Strip Tuesday, November 13, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced he is resigning from his position. He explained this is because he feels the ceasefire agreement will essentially allow for Hamas to carry out terrorist activity against Israel. He also was very outspoken against the $15 billion deal being allowed between Qatar and Hamas last week (see last blog post). Lieberman’s resignation will not go into effect until 48 hours upon announcement; following this, Netanyahu will become interim Defense Minister.

Egypt helped to broker the ceasefire; even with Netanyahu acting as interim Defense Minister this could potentially lead to a security crisis as no one with full expertise will be in charge of expected future defense issues in the near future. This ceasefire could also be a blow to Israeli security as the soon-to-be former Defense Minister pointed out as it could lead to Hamas taking advantage of the agreement and catch the Israelis off guard in an unforeseen attack (according to the Israeli perspective).


Why so Syria(ous)?

Prisoners in Syria are going on a hunger strike to protest the abridgement of detainee rights. Assad is notorious for detaining peaceful protestors. The strikers are have announced that they will continue until all arbitrarily held prisoners are released. This raises some questions like: How will they know if all arbitrarily held prisoners are released? Why would a hunger strike in prison affect President Assad’s policy on the legality of detaining his opposition?

What is unique about this situation is that these peaceful protests are coming from within the unjust legal system of Syria. This is a security matter because it is usually the government’s job to ensure the personal security of its citizens. With this hunger strike, the prisoners are demonstrating their distrust in the legality of these detentions and a clear lack of personal security and rights. The Assad regime has violated the rights of the Syrians in many ways but especially in regard to legal processes and fair trials. Though the US desires to maintain its image as a global promoter of human rights and justice, it is difficult for the US to be involved in this specific issue. This challenge is in part because of the internal nature of the protest. The Assad regime has the most prominent position to respond-either he can acquiesce to the demands of the activists or he can bear down and repress this protests even more harshly. it seem unlikely that Assad will be persuaded by a prisoners’ hunger strike to reform the legal system in Syria. External political pressure in addition to internal protests are more likely to be effective in changing regime policy. The US and international community must call on Assad to reform the legal processes.

-Anna K.


Iran’s Economy Cannot Catch a Break

For the foreseeable future Iran will have to learn how to get along without major foreign cooperations. Cooperations such as Honeywell, General Electric, Ecolab, among others were given 90-180 days to conclude current business ventures with Iran in order to be in compliance with the reinstated Untied States sanctions. The sanctions were reinstated on November 5th, when the United States withdrew its participation and support for the JCPOA. This is more bad news for a fragile Iranian economy that has already seen elevated levels of inflation. To put Iran’s inflation in perspective, it takes around 144,000 rails to buy one U.S. dollar.

The newly reinstated sanctions are a real threat to the economic security of Iran. With high levels of unemployment, widespread domestic discontent, and high levels of inflation, Iran is under increased pressure to find a solution to U.S. sanctions. With Iranian business partners, including Multinational Corporations and other States drastically scaling down or ending ventures with Iran, Iranian economic security looks to remain unstable.


Airstrikes Proving Ineffective

The United States has performed an unprecedented number of airstrikes in Somalia targeting Al-Shabaab. Last year there were 27 airstrikes performed against the militant organization. Thus far this year, 29 strikes have been performed. The strikes are effective tactically, killing large numbers of militants such as a recent strike at a training ground that killed at least 60 militant trainees. Despite these attacks, Al-Shabaab has showed no signs of weakening and continues training and arming fighters in other locations throughout Somalia.

The United States needs to withdraw its resources from the country and utilize them in other theaters. One of the issues of this is that it may show American weakness. The fact of the matter, however, is that international troops have been in Somalia since 2007 with no major successes since the retaking of Somalian cities in the initial intervention. At this point Somalia is largely a sunk cost for the United States that is not worth the cost of involvement.

Tim M.

Airspace Jam

Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila has stated that the GPS signal in Finland’s northern airspace was disrupted during recent NATO war games in Scandinavia. Finland is not a member of NATO but joined the war games last month. Mr. Sipila said he believed the signal had been jammed deliberately and that it was possible that Russia was to blame because it had the means to do so. Norway also reported GPS problems during the exercises near Russia’s north-western borders. It is also suspected that Russia also jammed the GPS signal in Norway’s border area last year when it held its own war games. This signal jamming presents dangers not only to militaries, but to civilian aircrafts as well. While civilian aircrafts do have other means to navigate the skies, loss of any one of them presents danger. Tensions have not improved between NATO countries and Russia since 2014, and do not appear to be easing any time soon. It is likely that even more of this passive aggressive behaviour will continue.







Heating up in California

I know someone wrote about California Wildfires already because this is a topic very relative to environment and conflict I thought I would expand on their comments based on this article I found.

The extent of damage from California’s most recent wildfire is extensive and growing. As of this morning, the death toll has reached 31, and the fire now equals the deadliest on record in California. An estimated 250,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes and have fled to wherever they can find shelter elsewhere.

Fires are not new to California. ‘Wildfire season’ usually starts in the summer in California, and ends in early autumn. However, many scientists have cited that as a direct result of climate change leading to lesser rainfall, dryer grounds, low humidity, and stronger winds the threat of wildfires has grown to be present year-round and accounts for a reason the current fires are so bad.

In terms of wildfire and security, we can see some direct correlations. For starters, this fire has forced huge migration of people fleeing their homes with many having no place to go. Furthermore, Californians must eventually return to their burnt homes and infrastructures and face the economic burden of rebuilding. Additionally, the health impact once the fire has been extinguished could last for years, with smoke consuming the air.

As we have learned in class, the effects of climate change leading to mass migrations can cause conflicts in terms of scarcity of resources and possible increased competition with Californians moving to other areas or states. Furthermore, the effects of the first place increased political pressure on the Trump administration to provide relief to California.

As fires keep burning in California, it is unclear what the final extent of damage will look like. Whatever it may be, these fires appear to not only be an example of increased effects of climate change but also possibly how wildfires lead to security concerns.

-Christiana Meyers

Stabbing in Melbourne, Australia linked to terrorism

On Friday, November 9th, a man stabbed three people, killing one, in Australia’s second largest city that police linked to terrorism. The attack during afternoon rush hour brought central Melbourne to a standstill. Hundreds of people were watching from afar as police attempted to apprehend the attacker. According to police reports, the man got out of a pickup truck, which then caught fire, and attacked three bystanders with a knife. He also attempted to attack police who arrived on the scene before he was shot in the chest by an officer. “From what we know of that individual, we are treating this as a terrorism incident,” Victoria State Police Commissioner Graham Ashton said. The attack occurred on the eve of a very busy weekend in Melbourne, with a major race horse scheduled for Saturday and a national soccer match the following day. This may have impacted the United States if American citizens were harmed by the attack. We can also learn from the attack from how the police in Australia handled the situation, and how similar attacks can happen like this in large American cities.



So Much for Peace

Despite recent talks of Hamas and Israel coming to the negotiating table, violent conflict has emerged from the Gaza Strip today. Just last week Israel allowed Qatar to give Hamas $15 million in return for Hamas scaling back demonstrations on the border. Talks of possible peace negotiations between the two rivals mediated by Egypt and the UN have been hot topics in recent weeks. That all ended today when Hamas fired 300 rockets into Israel in response to a botched Israeli operation intended to “strengthen Israeli security.” Israeli missile defense systems intercepted some missiles. However, there is now a fiery exchange between the two actors. This is the largest exchange since 2014.

In security terms, this is a crisis for Palestinians and Israelis as they are threatened by rocket fire. The Israeli fire also took out the Hamas broadcast station saying it broadcasted violent propaganda; now the station is unable to relay information to its viewers although there are probably other stations in the area. It also appears that the hopeful peace negotiations will have to be put on the back burner for now. Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip will endure the blockade longer. This demonstrates the frailty of the situation; a few things look great until one side quite literally blows up at the other.


Poland and U.S.A. Joint Energy Security

On November 8th, US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and Polish Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchórzewski signed a joint declaration of energy security. The declaration lists eight aims related to facilitating and improving nuclear energy facilities. The US Department of Energy released a statement saying that Poland is an extremely important member of the Partnership for Transatlantic Energy Cooperation (P-TEC) that Rick Perry announced in September.

P-TEC and this new declaration align with the Trump administrations aim to improve and increase energy relations between the United States and the countries of Europe. This policy and this declaration could strain US and Russia relations given that Russia has a similar agenda for energy in Europe.

Read More:,-USA-sign-Joint-Declaration-of-Energy-Secur

–John Reinboldt, 11/12/2018

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