Evaluating Scenarios and Indicators for the Syrian War

Every year, The Economist, in its “The World in…” series, assesses it successes and failures regarding its past yearly forecasts (e.g. for 2012). This is an exemplary behaviour that should be adopted by all practitioners: if we are to deliver good and actionable strategic foresight and warning, and to improve our process, methodology and thus our final products, then we should always evaluate our work. Having now completed our last series of updates on the state of play for the Syrian war, we can now start assessing how our own scenarios and indicators fared so far, if they need to be updated and the potential methodological improvements that we should endeavour. Evaluating the scenarios As the Geneva conference took place (see previous […]

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The Kurds and Rojava, State-Building in the Syrian War

During the Autumn 2013 and Winter 2014, we witnessed a major reconfiguration of forces in Syria, as seen previously, including with the rise of Salafi-Nationalists. This article looks at the evolution that took place in Western Kurdistan, notably the birth of novel political institutions, Rojava, and how and why the Kurds relate to the Geneva conference that took place in early 2014. Creating Rojava We recall that on 10 July 2013, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) declared starting making plans to move towards some degree of autonomy for Rojava or the Syrian part of Kurdistan (see for detail 4 Nov 2013 update, 2.1.). News about Rojava and its “project” can be followed on its own website, created in August 2013. The PYD moved forward on 11 November 2013 […]

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Facing the Fog of War in Syria: the Rise of the Salafi-Nationalists?

Since October 2013, much has been going on in Syria. We shall first review major changes in the state of play for the Syrian actors, starting with the Salafi-Nationalist groups, before to re-evaluate our scenarios and their indicators in the light of recent events, notably Geneva 2. As was already underway during September, the various groups opposing the regime of Bashar al-Assad have pursued their reconfiguration, while the relationships and interactions among them have evolved. A logical evolution: the Islamic Front If the “Islamic framework” (see update 21 Oct), created on 24 September 2013, was short-lived, as expected by many experts, it was nevertheless an important indication of the changes taking place on the ground, while its very composition foretold the […]

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The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly – 23 January 2014 – The power of biases

Editorial – The power of biases: This week strikingly underlines the power of biases and how much beliefs and wishful thinking may overtake our understanding and lead human actions, constraining among other the timeliness of ideas and policies.  First, we have the sudden realization by Davos participants that yes, war between China and Japan is […]

Facing the Fog of War in Syria: The Syrian Islamists Play the Regional “Game of Thrones”

This second update covers the evolution in Syria from July to October 2013. It focuses first on dynamics of change involving the interplay between the Syrian Islamist factions on the ground and international players – especially the declaration of an “Islamic framework” and then the creation of the Islam Army, with impact on the overall situation, and provides an updated mapping for Syrian Islamist groups. It then looks at evolutions related to the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces. Syrian Sunni factions intending to install an Islamist state in Syria (For background and past state of play, see here) It is within those groups that we have been witnessing throughout September-October 2013 the most potent changes. As always, and as Lund […]

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Facing the Fog of War in Syria: Updates

As underlined when we started the series on Syria, one of the analytical challenges we face, in terms of strategic foresight and warning, is the fog of war. The, at time, rapid evolution of the situation, fits badly with any static mean to deliver analysis. We need, of course, to monitor what is happening, but also to regularly integrate this surveillance in our strategic analysis and finally to make it known to concerned audience (readers, decision-makers, policy-makers). After having outlined the methodological difficulties and presented the solution chosen, we shall focus on the updates themselves. Methodology: challenges and imperfect solutions First, in terms of periodicity and content of publication (delivery in SF&W jargon), a right balance must be found between […]

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