Archive for September, 2016

European Leaders Call for UN Interference in Syria

On September 23rd, several leaders including the Prime Ministers of Belgium and Luxembourg and the Foreign Ministers of Hungary and Sweden addressed the UN General Assembly on the topic of the crisis in Syria. These leaders all emphasized the importance of resolving the Syrian crisis, because it is a threat to the securtiy of Europe and it is a tragedy for those involved. The support of these leaders for a broad coalition to combat terrorism and violence not only in Syria but also around the world is, in my opinion, a step in the correct direction for counter terrorism policy. I do not think that any one country will be able to eradicate Syrian or worldwide terrorism on its own, and so approaching the UN to create a more effective counterterrorism policy makes perfect sense. If Europe is worried about the safety of its borders, and the rest of the world is also worried about terrorism, then there is no reason why the countries of the UN shouldn’t be able to come together to create effective policy. The issue of terrorism is one that is so widespread, that it should be at the forefront of every nation’s security policy agenda. If this is the case, these countries should be able to come together at the UN and develop a coalition strategy.


Trump and Clinton Meet with Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu met with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on Sunday to discuss US-Israeli relations post-Obama. According to the Trump campaign, they discussed Israeli security and agreed that for there to be peace between Israel and Palestine the Palestinians must reject “hatred and violence and accept Israel as a Jewish state.”  This statement could present problems for stability in the region should Trump be elected president. The Palestinians view Israel as the occupying force of a land that is rightfully theirs. If they believe that Trump will not support the internationally-agreed two state solution the violence could escalate because they would have no alternate methods to advance their cause. According to a statement from Netanyahu, he and Secretary Clinton discussed “economic growth through technological innovation.” This is a sly move on Secretary Clinton’s part because she is not as passionate about a two-state solution as President Obama and by not explicitly stating her view one way or the other she allows herself some freedom of negotiation should she become president.



EU Removes FARC from List of Terrorist Organizations

“Removing the guerrilla group from its designation as a terrorist organization would free up millions of euros in foreign aid for Colombia to use during the post-conflict transition.”

A great benefit for both FARC and the official Columbian government is the potential for millions of euros to be given to the nation in the form of foreign aid. John Kerry is considering whether or not FARC belongs on the U.S.’ list of terrorist groups but either way the U.S. has already pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to help Columbia’s “post-conflict” efforts. This all appears to be a very positive movement but there’s something awfully suspicious for a conflict that has been going on for more than 50 years to successfully come to such a fortuitous end for both sides. With the mounting evidence that FARC has simply infiltrated the Columbian government, I suspect that most of all the foreign aid will simply go into the pockets of corrupt individuals. I sure hope that the U.S. and the EU plan to supervise how their investments are going to be spent.

-Zainab Imbabi

Russia’s accusations involving flight MH17

MH17 crash site

Russia has know accused Ukraine of complicity in the missile attack that took out the Malaysian flight. According to the head of Russia’s Air and Space Forces, the missile that took down the flight did not come from the eastern, rebel controlled side. Russia is also accusing Ukraine of withholding their radar data of the event. The legitimacy of the Russian evidence must be brought into question, however so does the lack of evidence on the Ukraine side. On Wednesday the task force in charge of investigating the attack will be releasing their preliminary findings. With the findings soon to be revealed, both sides need to be prepared for the consequences on the findings. If the task force determines that Ukraine was the one who took down the flight, this could have large implications on international support for the Ukrainian government’s side. If Russia or the Russian backed rebels are found to be at fault, the statements previously made by Russia will not shed good light on them. The results could even ignite more fighting or at least rounds of violence.


The US Intelligence Community and Climate Change

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report on climate change and it’s possible affects on US National Security in the coming decades. These affects would come from changes in the international political landscape including heightened threats to countries’ stability due to climate related events, health risks, increased international disputes over usable water and land, food shortages, disputes over responses to climate change, and increased migration of peoples.

These stresses on countries can could cause them to alter their motives or tactics and have the potential to vastly change the number, health, and security of people living in the United States. It is a good sign that the Intelligence Community is not only acknowledging the validity of climate change, but also taking steps to identify and hopefully prepare for changes in the international playing field. By identifying potential problems, the United States should be better prepared to track and combat threats.


West Virginia v. EPA

During his second term in office, President Obama pivoted his administration’s focus toward climate change as an immediate threat to our nation’s securtiy and interests. The Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan aims to limit carbon emissions by 2030. Through this effort to push the country toward more innovative energy sources, the administration has placed cuts on energy plants for their contribution to carbon emissions. Those challenging the clean energy plan await the decision of the US Court of Appeals to rule on the reach of the federal government over each state’s pollution standards. West Virignia v. Environmental Projection Agency has been fast tracked by federal courts due to the near-end of Obama’s term in office. While energy pollution is a global issue, this case could have far reaching effects on the way in the which the federal government tackles future domestic energy plans.



Deadly Boko Haram attacks in northeastern Nigeria

Earlier today (9/26/2016) a Nigerian military convoy was attacked by Boko Haram insurgents in Bama, Nigeria.  This attack came along the road outside Bama and resulted in the deaths of three soldiers and an officer.  Before this attack insurgents attacked a military outpost in Logomani killing four or five Nigerian soldiers and the Nigerian military has claimed to have killed over two dozen Boko Haram insurgents.  Both of these attacks directly followed a video released revealing Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, had not been killed as had been previously claimed by the Nigerian military.

This recent attack has multiple facets: the first of which in Logomani shows a boldness in which insurgents directly attacked the Nigerian military, the second of which in Bama is more like the usual attacks Boko Haram is known for, and lastly these attacks have come directly following the discovery that Boko Haram’s leader is, in fact, not deceased.  First directing attention to the attack in Bama, the attack shows that Boko Haram is still attempting to control the roads in order to dampen the Nigerian military’s ability to bring not only soldiers into the area but also supplies and weaponry into the territories controlled by Boko Haram.  Then, redirecting towards the recent video showing that Shekau is alive, this is especially damning for the Nigerian military and President Buhari’s administration that has just claimed Shekau is dead for the sixth time.  This both creates a public distrust in the military and the administration particularly for those residing in the territories currently controlled by Boko Haram, as well as demoralizes the Nigerian military that has just missed killing Abubakar Shekau for the sixth time.  Lastly is the attack on Logomani that is especially unusual for Boko Haram and does not fit the modus operandi for a Boko Haram attack.  This attack specifically attacked a military outpost as opposed to a village or a convoy, which shows a newfound boldness in Boko Haram’s patterns.  Therefore, the group has a renewed daring approach in combatting the Nigerian military which the Nigerians should combat with stronger assaults on known Boko Haram headquarters and outposts.

-JC Sevart

NATO in New York

On Wednesday the 21st  of September Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, discussed two major security threats with world leaders. First of which was the continuing support for the Iraqi government and military for their support in the region.The continuing endorsement of NATO friendly countries in the Middle-East including Iraq is so key for NATO and its allies because of the escalating tension between  Russia and NATO over sides taken in the conflict. Iraq is a key factor for NATO so that it can keep the pressure up on ISIL and Assad, without Iraq NATO would be relying heavily on Turkey which is still currently unstable after the alleged coup or Israel which is despised by its neighbors. Iraq is key in the Middle-East currently.  The Second major issue was focused around Ukraine and NATO’s political and practical support. Ukraine will persist to be a hot-spot in the world until a proper peace agreement with Russia and so called “rebels” in the region can properly be orchestrated. NATO must keep close ties with all Eastern European Nations to strengthen its security against Russia. These two topics are dominating the news today, apart from the crazy politics going on in the US.Bilateral meeting between NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko


Uncertainty in Iraq as Iranian influence expands

While the Iraqi offensive against ISIL has been successful lately a new problem is emerging in Baghdad. Iranian influence has expanded beyond levels previously scene, and is continuing. In order to meet the defense demands during ISILs initial push into Iraq in 2014, Shi’ite militias referred to as Hashd have become institutionalized in Iraq. The Hashd have been a successful fighting force against ISIL, but initially there command was by Iranian military officers or Iranian loyal Iraqis. Now that these are becoming accepted as part of the ISF, Iran has more influence. Iraqs role as a buffer state between Saudi Arabia and Iran increased as the U.S. withdrew soldiers starting in 2009, but now Iraq seems to be turning towards an Iranian proxy.

This is an issue for American foreign policy because Iranian influence in Iraq threatens the regions balance of power and will potentially increase sectarianism and factionalism in the Iraqi parliament (Council of Representatives). The success of the Iraqi military operations against ISIL have been surprisingly successful, but already future issues in Iraq are beginning to form.


It’s not lit, but it could be

Cayten and Bazilian uncover power supply disparity among Sub-Saharan Africa and find that captive power generation could enhance the economic landscape. Captive power generation refers to the installation of small power-generating units, or “assets,” often by businesses, in order to provide electricity for their own service or manufacturing needs. Powering an enterprise with a diesel generator, for instance, is a well-known example of captive power generation. Rather than relying on a large-grid infrastructure, a captive power delivery model allows assets to be strategically located in high-demand areas. In sub-Saharan Africa, poor infrastructure, a difficult operating environment, and a lack of local expertise have made grid maintenance difficult and led to high operating costs and wasted resources—three to five times more power is lost in transmission and distribution than would be normal in a well-run grid. Giving growing companies access to reliable power, moreover, allows them to expand their business, stimulating broader economic growth.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s power needs are vast, and to provide the necessary billions in investment, the region will have to attract private capital. A well-executed captive power strategy, which offers investors returns even as it delivers major developmental benefits for the region, offers a promising solution. Success will not come easily, but the upside is great: a more modern, prosperous, and dynamic sub-Saharan Africa.



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