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Signal: High Turnout for the Iraqi Kurds Referendum

Impact on Issues ➙➚ ➁/➄ Iraq Kurds Referendum The Iraqi Kurds would need allies if they want to survive. However correct and right their right to self-determination, being landlocked, surrounded by countries opposing this right is hardly conducive to state-building. The question surrounding the Kurdish referendum is all the more crucial considering that the Islamic State remains a threat and thus that Iraq is still at war. Turnout high as Iraqi Kurds defy threats to hold independence vote ERBIL/SULAIMANIYA, Iraq (Reuters) – Kurds voted in large numbers in an independence referendum in northern Iraq on Monday, ignoring pressure from Baghdad, threats from Turkey and Iran, and international warnings that the vote may ignite yet more regional conflict. The vote organized […]

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Towards Renewed War in Syria? The Kurds and Turkey

“The entire world should know that we will never allow the establishment of a terror state across our borders in northern Syria. … We will continue to crush the head of the serpents in their nests. Here is my message to those who want to block the steps we will take for the survival of our […]

The Middle East Powder Keg and the Great Battle for Raqqa

As events accelerate both within Syria on the battlefield and in the region, this article monitors and analyse these developments. It seeks to answer the question: do the unfolding states of affairs increase, or on the contrary decrease, the likelihood to see an intensification of Turkish escalation against the Syrian Kurds and, de facto, Northern Syria? We shall look first at the race that is taking place on the Syrian battlefield around the Battle of Raqqa and towards Deir es-Zor, there addressing furthermore the entrance of a new level of Iranian influence. We shall then turn to the evolving crisis around Qatar, pointing out notably impacts on Turkey and how  that crisis and the Battle of Raqqa feed into each other to heighten the risk to […]

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The Kurds in Syria – State-Building, New Model and War

This article focuses on state-building in Syria’s Kurdish area, i.e. the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria, also locally called Rojava, and potential impacts. Indeed, we saw previously that the Kurds’ capacity to build a viable polity in Northern Syria was one crucial element for evaluating not only the outcome of the battle of Raqqa against the Islamic State, but also the way Turkey could become further and more intensely embroiled in the conflict (see Helene Lavoix, “The Battle of Raqqa, the Kurds and Turkey“,  The Red (Team) Analysis Society, 2 May 2017). Extreme cases scenarios ☔  Scenario War with Turkey escalates ⛵ Directly Impacted Actors: All Eurasian + Middle East states, U.S. (military, diplo); NGOs (for Syria/Iraq/Turkey); Businesses in Turkey, Trade & exchanges with Turkey; Airlines; Maritime activities; Religious institutions… ⛅ Scenario Kurdish […]

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The Battle of Raqqa, the Kurds and Turkey

This article focuses on the evolution of the balance of forces on the battlefield, notably for the Kurds, mainly in Syria but also in Iraq, one of the multiple layers of interactions that must be considered around the battle of Raqqa against the Islamic State. It is part of a series aiming at deciphering the […]

At War against the Islamic State – From Syria to the Region

Between 29 September and 21 October 2015, the U.S. led coalition conducted 95 airstrikes on Syrian territory against the Islamic State (U.S. Central Command, Operation Inherent Resolve, briefing 22 Oct 2015). On 27 October, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the U.S. would step up its campaign against the Islamic State with the “‘three R’s’ – Raqqa, Ramadi, and Raids”, involving notably ramping up U.S. and coalition air strikes as well as “direct action on the ground” – the “Raids”  (“Secretary of Defense Ash Carter opening statement on counter-ISIL Senate Armed Services Committee”, October 27, 2015), anticipating the announcement of  the deployment of a very small special force on the ground in Northern Syria (Reuters, 31 Oct 2015).  As a […]

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Russia at War with the Islamic State in Syria – Perceptions of Strikes

On 30 September 2015, the Russian Federation overtly entered militarily the Syrian war by starting an air campaign. It supports the government of Bashar al-Assad, from the Russian point of view the legitimate ruler of Syria, while attacking extremist jihadis threats and notably the Islamic State (see below for references). The entry of this new powerful actor is a game changer, not only in Syria, but, more broadly, regionally and globally, as noted by most observers. Although it is very early to assess fully the consequences of Russia’s involvement, we shall identify and outline hypotheses regarding the impact it may have, notably as far as the Islamic State is concerned. To be able to evaluate this impact, we would need first to have a clear vision of what […]

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The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly 199 – Of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Petrodollars

Each week our scan collects weak – and less weak – signals… Read the 16 April scan →  World – Two major developments should more particularly be underlined this week, the first related to world order and further threat to the U.S. Dollar supremacy and the second to the potential forthcoming anti-Bashar al-Assad Saudi-Turkish attacks in Syria. First, there is the impact of the lower oil prices on petrodollars, with potential second order effects on the supremacy of the U.S. dollars as international currency, and then again potential consequences on American power and world order. As underlined in Bloomberg’s article (see “Oil-Rich Nations Are Selling Off Their Petrodollar Assets at Record Pace” in the Weekly), currently analysts are divided in two schools of […]

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Monitoring the War against the Islamic State or against a Terrorist Group?

The war in Syria has now become fully internationalized, after its expected regionalization, notably favoured by the failure to stabilize Iraq after its state was destroyed by the 2003 US-led Iraq war. The two, initially unrelated wars have morphed into a war against one of the fighting actors on the Syrian battlefield, the Islamic State, originally born from the Iraqi […]

The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly 157 – Information Wars

Editorial – Information Wars – Information or more broadly belief-based wars seem to multiply right now, relayed by many official declarations, articles and analyses, although fortunately not all.  This is a worrying phenomenon because it leads to direct polarization (enhancing feelings of threat, fear, “all because of an evil other that must be fought”) and to inaccurate analyses, which in turn also fuel polarization. Information wars: propaganda, biases and conspiracy theories We can see this phenomenon at work regarding Ukraine, Iraq, or, in a lesser way because the spotlight is not right now directed at this issue, China and the various disputes in the East and South China Seas. In Iraq, the way the al-Maliki government accuses Saudi Arabia to support ISIS, when actually a more […]

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