Understanding the Islamic State’s System – The Calif and Legitimacy

In this section of our series on the Islamic State, we seek to assess the Islamic State’s ability to create a real and sustainable polity. The capture of Ramadi (Iraq, Anbar, e.g. Mitchell Prothero, McClatchy DC, 17 May 2015) on 17 May and Palmyra (Tadmur, Syria, Homs) three days later on 20 May 2015 (e.g. Oryx blog, 21 May 2015) by the Islamic State – showing among others the ability to win against two different governmental armies, one supported by the US-led coalition of 60 plus states (U.S. Gov) plus Shi’a militia and probably Iran, the other by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, two strategic cities on two fronts separated by 620km – the sudden acknowledgement by U.S. officials, that no, the war against the Islamic State […]

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The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly 186 – The Attack on Charlie Hebdo and Denial of War

Each week our scan collects weak – and less weak – signals… We present below some of the most interesting or relevant features for each section. Update 9 January 2015: As the dual hostage crisis (the perpetrators of the 7 and 8 January attacks had fled and taken hostages) unfolded, in France, progressively, commentators and experts interviewed started stressing that we were in a case of war. General Tauzin, Special Forces, stated: “this looks like a campaign against France, it is only a beginning” (14:57 i Télé – interview). World (all matters related to war, international and national security) – The focus this week is on the deadly attack against Charlie Hebdo in Paris, as another attack took place the next day (8 January 2015) in the metro. […]

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War in Libya and its Futures: State of Play – Islamist & Misrata forces (1)

With this post of our series on the war in Libya, and the next, we shall examine the pro-Islamist Libyan actors, including Islamist groups, militias from Misrata, the General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli, and their regional supporters – Qatar and Turkey, after having focused previously on the Nationalist forces and the internationally recognized Council of Representatives in Tobruk (see Nationalist Forces I & Nationalist Forces II). The complexity and lethality of Libya’s civil war is steadily increasing for a host of reasons. As underlined previously (Mitchell, “Features of a War”), the Libyan conflict is not easily categorized. As far as ideological affiliation is concerned, for example, several Islamist militias in Libya hold to a Salafi-jihadist ideology. However, Seth G. Jones […]

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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 171– Al-Qaeda in India

Each week our scan collects weak – and less weak – signals… Read the 25 September scan → The Weekly is the scan of The Red (Team) Analysis Society and it focuses on national and international security issues. It was started as an experiment with Paper.li as a way to collect ideas, notably through Twitter. Its success and […]

The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly 159 – An Accelerating U.S. Decline?

Editorial – Horizon scanning for national and international security – What appears as most amazing this week is a perception of an accelerating American decline on the world stage. A few months ago, we warned that changes related to the dollar supremacy were in the making, even if they would, most probably, need a relatively long time before […]

The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly 156 – The Caliphate, War in Syria and Beyond

Editorial – The Caliphate, War in Syria and Beyond – The victorious offensive of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Iraq should not come as a surprise. It has been in the making for quite a while, the “while” changing according to the perspective, starting with the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the U.S. led coalition and their destruction of the Iraqi state apparatus (see notably Paul Mutter, “Maliki’s most solemn hour“, The Arabist). Nevertheless, the impacts of the capture of Mosul are multiple and crucial. ISIS has not only expanded its territorial basis, but it has also won moral and “face”, resources, including large amount of money, becoming the wealthiest Islamist competing state actor (and not “non-state actor”, or “terrorist […]

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Strategic Intelligence for Syria (8) – Scenario 3. A Nationalist Islamic Syria or a Muslim Brotherhood’s Syria?

This post continues exploring various scenarios around the theme of “a real victory in Syria” by one or the other groups fighting on the ground, starting first with a Nationalist Islamic Syria, and then moving to a Syria under the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood. For each scenario, current estimates of likelihood will be outlined and some indicators influencing probability will be suggested.

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Strategic Intelligence Assessment for Syria (7) – Scenario 3.1: A Real Victory – an Islamic Al-Sham?

Considering the current state of play, scenario 3: A Real Victory in Syria, and its sub-scenarios are rather unlikely in the short-term. However, they are worth outlining because they bring analytical insight into dynamics and potential strategies to favour or counter one or the other possibility, according to interests, and because they could be relevant for the medium term. The chaos and beginning of “warlordism” that characterizes the Syrian situation, as emphasised by analysts, (e.g. Joshua Landis, 1 May 2013, Syria Comment; Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, 14 May 2013, Jihadology; see also first post of the series on Syria) lead to the relatively small probability to see any of those scenarios (or rather variations on them) happening. Nonetheless, as for scenario 1: Peace in […]

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