Archive for September, 2021

ISWAP Becomes Bolder as Boko Haram Falls Away.

The Islamic State’s affiliate group in Nigeria (IS- West Africa Province; ISWAP) has launched a number of low and medium-level attacks against the Nigerian Army, claiming attacks which have in total killed 16 and destroyed a number of vehicles. Most of these attacks were low-level, typically either IED or mortar attacks. However, ISWAP has also claimed responsibility for a deadly ambush in northeast Nigeria in which they claim 25 killed as well as the capture of vehicles and weapons. Though the number of dead is likely exaggerated, the attack is still significant.

This is not the only bad news for Nigeria last week. An airstrike reportedly made by the Nigerian Airforce killed 10 civilians in around the same area as one of the attacks I previously discussed. Initially, the Nigerian government did not admit to the airstrike, with the Defense ministry later admitting that there had been an airstrike targeting Boko Haram, but did not acknowledge the civilian deaths.

These two events show that even with the significant number of surrenders which have occurred over the past two weeks the war in Nigeria is long from over. It is important to note that while all this has been happening, Boko Haram appears to still be disintegrating. This could mean that their rivals in ISWAP see their weakening as an opportunity to strike out against both Boko Haram and the Nigerian government, which they appear to have done with mild success. Furthermore, the airstrike has the potential to make the Nigerian Army’s job in the Northeast harder as relations with the locals will likely tank in response. While it is not good to see any possibility in which Islamic insurgents gain from government screw-ups, the fact that 10 innocent civilians are dead should be a wake-up call to the Nigerian Army to take account of what happened so it can be avoided in the future, if for no other reason than to salvage the relationship with the local population caught in the middle of the conflict.




Arming Ukraine with Modern Technology to Help Fight Russia

Under President Biden, the US has continued President Trump’s policy to give Ukraine military aid. Since March 2021, the US has approved more than $275 million worth of military aid. Some members of Congress want to consider giving Ukraine the Iron Dome air defense systems developed in Israel. The Iron Dome was proven to be a very effective anti-missile technology against short-range missiles. This comes as the Ukrainian army is engaged with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine (Donbass). The idea of selling the Iron Dome missile defense system to Ukraine is likely to upset Russia, which claims that such technology could be used for offensive purposes. Having the Iron Dome would significantly improve the security situation in Ukraine allowing better protection against pro-Russian separatists in Donbass who use Russian military technology.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine poses a serious security threat to Ukraine. Most European countries have already acquired advanced military technology to defend themselves against Russia. Ukraine on other hand, is slowly modernizing its ill-equipped army which has never seen such major combat since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and receiving advanced missile defense systems is a major step to being able to defend itself independently.

There are a couple of challenges that go with acquiring the Iron Dome, including the US Army’s ability to deploy the missile defense system overseas, range and rate of fire of the Iron Dome compared to Russian multiple rocket launch systems, and budgetary problems within the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.

Despite these challenges, the Biden administration should continue to approve military aid to Ukraine to support Ukraine in its ongoing conflict in Donbass and prevent a possible future war with Russia. For Washington, adding the Iron Dome to the current $275 million package would not be a significant increase. The Biden Administration should also find ways to sell or transfer other relevant modern military equipment to Ukraine to be better prepared to combat Russia if the war starts.


Mark Volynski

Public Dispute Between Somalia’s President and Prime Minister Continues to Escalate

In Somalia, a public dispute between the president and the prime minister has escalated due to claims of foreign interference. This dispute, which I explained in more depth in my previous post, occured after Prime Minister Mohamed Roble sacked a security minister and installed a replacement, a move which President Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” claimed was unconstitutional. This dispute garnered international attention; as a result of this dispute, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni threatened to draw Ugandan peacekeeping troops out of Somalia. This Friday, the situation worsened after President Farmajo claimed that Djibouti engaged in political interference in Somalia. According to Farmajo, Djibouti detained Farmajo’s security minister and other Somali officials at an international airport in order to prevent them from travelling to Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. Djibouti’s foreign minister, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, denied the allegations, claiming that their airplane to Mogadishu had simply not taken off due to technical difficulties.

The continuing dispute between the prime minster and the president of Somalia has significant implications for reigonal security. The severity of the dispute between the two leaders has the potential to weaken the country, which already experiences severe conflict and instability. In addition, international involvement in the dispute threatens to weaken the already poor political situation. Somalia’s leaders need to resolve their dispute, or it will continue to threaten the security of the country.

Anna Bedal

U.S. Agrees to reduce combat units in Iraq

On Friday, September 17 the United States and Iraq announced that Thursday they had agreed that the US will begin to reduce all military units that have been assigned to combat duty at the end of September. Iraq and the US agreed to reduce all combat-ready units from the military base in the Anbar province in west Iraq, as well as remove all combat-ready units from the military base in the northern Kurdistan region of Iraq. The US agreed to the extraction of US troops that are combat ready from these two military bases to be completed by the end of September, the US has agreed to allow the remaining units to stay in Iraq to serve three purposes, support for the Iraqi government, protection of equipment and intelligence purposes.


CGTN, “Iraq, U.S. agree to reduce combat units in Iraq”. September 18, 2021


What does the CDC do for human security?

The CDC stands for “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” and is located in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States. The CDC works 24/7 and their mission is to “protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the United States,” (para 1). The CDC is essential in protecting the health of Americans and creating guidelines for any health crises that might arise. Not only is the CDC focused on Americans, they also have created a Global Border Health Program that helps partner countries make improvements to their border health security. This is important to human security because with the intervention in other countries there is less likely of a chance that others will bring diseases from their countries over to the United States. If everyone is protected there is less of a possibility of a global pandemic (COVID aside). The CDC also has sub national emergency operations and staff in other countries. An example of a benefit from the CDC creating these sub operations was in Libya when they mounted an emergency response in less than 24 hours then when it took 90 days to respond to Ebola Virus Disease. 


As you can see the CDC works for you and the health protection of  humankind. Without this organization we may have been in a worse place with our health prevention. Even during the pandemic, the CDC worked hard and is still continuing to work with extreme efforts to combat COVID-19. Their work is beneficial to human security in providing safeguards from diseases, national security and controlling diseases coming across the borders. 

-Olivia Lewis


Pouring Gas on the Fire: The Islamic State’s role in a recent Syrian gas pipeline attack

This past week there was an attack on a Syrian gas pipeline near Damascus, a major Syrian city. The attack specifically caused a pressure drop that affected plants all across the country. This was incredibly problematic seeing that this attack “targeted a pipeline that feeds nearly 50% of  Syria’s power plants…” The Islamic State has made claims to such attacks in Syria. While this may seem an insignificant attack, this specific natural gas pipeline is part of the larger transregional gasline that consists of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. The overall consequence of this incident could reveal future security threats to Syria which could cause negative ramifications for the United States’ overall influence in this region. Seeing that the United States currently faces a crisis with its withdrawal from Afghanistan, the continued conflict in Syria will only manifest itself into more potential turmoil for American-Middle Eastern international affairs. This overall conundrum is incredibly reminiscent of the France & England-Libya case study through its application of a state analyzing initial factors, efficacy, and cost to proceed in its overall relations with a given state.

Currently, the United States is in the midst of a new chapter of its Syrian international relations; America is once again facing the initial contentions of their right to protect Syria rebels, protect against threats to America’s national security and maintain prestige on this matter (Davidson). These three main initial factors, in my opinion, have been taken into consideration seeing that the United States has yet to withdraw troops from Syria. Thus, as Syria continues to face humanitarian crises and interventions from the Islamic State, the United States must and has continued its journey through the “integrated model of intervention decision” by analyzing potential costs and efficacy of its future actions in Syria (Davidson). Ultimately, as the political, diplomatic, and overall crisis persists in Syria, the intervention strategy for the United States, and other world actors, will undoubtedly alter in some capacity.

-Keegan H Fredrick

Jason W. Davidson, “France, Britain, and the Libya Intervention: An Integrated Analysis,” Cambridge 

Review of International Affairs 26, no. 2 (June 2013): 310-29.


People Fear Personal Security from Climate Change- but Does it Matter?

Fear of climate change effects causing personal suffering is rising, according to a far-reaching survey published Tuesday (9.14.21).  Even wealthy nations such as the U.S. and China can no longer avoid the worsening consequences of climate change.  Climate-fueled wildfires in the United States, heat waves in Greece, flooding in Germany, and more have left citizens worldwide concerned for their personal security as the climate crisis continues to worsen.  This fear will directly translate to threats in national/ international conflict and security.

While the survey indicates an overwhelming consensus that climate change is a threat worth combating, views are mixed on the international efforts to slow global warming, and whether policies would harm economies.  While people increasingly see climate change as a looming economic and security threat, there is a lack of consensus on the best was to solve it.  Broadly, people want to make changes, but when it comes down to the specifics and trade-offs, commitment to change slows.

Ideological divides run through gender, age, and party affiliation.  Women, young people, and liberals are far more likely to be willing to make the necessary personal sacrifices to combat climate change.  The key to successful climate policy and prevention of conflict resulting from climate change is the ability to close the divide between those who prioritize climate change policy, and those who do not.

-Maddy S.


Putin criticizes the foreign troop presence in Syria

On September 13 2021, Putin criticized the presence of foreign troops in Syria during a meeting with President Assad of Syria . Putin was mainly referring to  Turkish and US soldiers that are in Syria. Putin claimed that Turkey and America had no right to be in Syria due to the Syrian government and the UN not requesting their prescience. Putin said that the joint efforts of Syria and Russia have been able gain control of most of Syria.

I think that Putin is making this statement to make the American and Turkish military look morally worse in the eyes of the international community. Putin is likely also doing this so that Russia appears better in the eyes of Syrian government. This statement could lead to America and Turkey having worse relations with Russia. There is a small chance that this could also lead to America and Turkey developing closer relations to each other.


U.S. Pivot to Asia Upsetting NATO Allies

On Wednesday September 15, 2021, President Biden announced a new defense pact between the United States, Australia, and Great Britain. This defense pact is intended to combat aggressive moves by China in the South China Sea, and the region at large. Rather than lean on NATO for help countering China, the Biden administration is building on America’s ties to Australia and Britain by helping to enhance Australia’s naval strength. This is a more aggressive approach which has the potential to shift the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific. It also represents another step in America’s ‘pivot to Asia’ which may mean a divergence between American interests and NATO’s interests.

Despite its many admirable qualities, the new AUKUS defense pact has not been received well by one of our oldest allies, France. Previously, France was working on its own deal with Australia, worth 50 million Euros. Unsurprisingly, France feels that it has been overlooked as its ambitions in the region were unfairly dashed. France was also deeply displeased with the manner of America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and has since resumed calls for increased strategic autonomy for Europe. The Biden administration’s decision to lean away from NATO on this issue while simultaneously usurping France is not likely to calm their misgivings about America’s reliability. Because France has been the loudest voice calling for European strategic autonomy, it seems likely that they will attempt to turn their embarrassment into leverage for their larger goal. I personally don’t think they will be successful.

I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect the United States to hold off on the deal because of France’s objections. But that does not absolve the Biden administration of the responsibility to handle negotiations and announcements in a more tactful manner, particularly when it comes to issues which can further alienate an ally. In the international system, alliances are useful tools for advancing national interests. In this case, NATO has been a very important tool for the advancement of both European and American interests. In particular, NATO has been successful at countering Russia’s ambitions in Europe so it is important that those relationships are maintained. However, that does not mean that the U.S. should miss out on opportunities to strengthen relationships with other countries in other parts of the world for the benefit of one ally. Forging ahead with our own interests may have insulted one ally, but unfortunately that is sometimes the cost of doing business. In my opinion, this is another case of the Biden administration making the correct decision while bungling the execution.







Iran Nears an Atomic Milestone

A report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s atomic inspection group this week shows the International Community that Iran has the capabilities to produce the fuel needed to produce an atomic weapon within a month. While the process of actually producing a warhead would take significantly longer, this is still a rapid development and this capability has not been seen since the Obama administration. During the Obama administration, the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and the United States stated that 97 percent of their fuel would be shipped out of the country stating that it would take at least a year for Iran to develop enough fuel to produce a warhead. After President Trump pulled out of this treaty, the development has slowly come back to pre-treaty capabilities.

While this is an incredible development, I believe that the United States does not have too much to worry about. With the surveillance technology and the need for significant time to produce an actual warhead, it does not pose a large and detrimental threat to the US. While this is one of the first tests of the Biden administration and their reaction to such a development and with the report being released in the last few days, the Biden administration has not publicly responded. The UN General Assembly is set to begin later this month and will be pivotal in diplomacy and security decisions regarding Iran.



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