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Middle East/North Africa Security

The Future of Afghanistan: Social Media Companies and the Taliban

Many political figures and analysts have made statements regarding their skeptical eye towards the progressive sentiments being shared on social media platforms by the Taliban. Yet, the terrorist group is still able to post freely facing barely any difficulties. The mass amounts of Taliban propaganda being spread online may increase the group’s political popularity, expand their member-base as well as international support, and ultimately, solidify their control in Afghanistan. The Taliban’s utilization of media platforms could potentially ignite a revitalized global Islamist militant movement and must be taken more seriously by social media companies.

Economics Middle East/North Africa

Stable but stagnant: Transforming Jordan’s economy

After attempts by Prince Hamzah bin al-Hussein and other government officials to destabilize the country, King Abdullah of Jordan is eager to bolster his already strong ties with the US. While foreign policy may be high on the agenda, Jordanian policymakers should pay more attention to the pressing economic issues weighing on the country.

Middle East/North Africa Politics

China in a post-US Afghanistan: A paradigm shift in foreign policy?

China’s long-standing policy of non-interference is challenged by the cruel geopolitical realities and developments in the country with which it shares its smallest border. The U.S. military withdrawal, coupled with Afghanistan’s seizure by the Taliban, have marked a major turning point, presenting China with both opportunities and challenges. It seems Beijing can no longer afford to stay away from the region.

Middle East/North Africa Security

Khorasan as the Next Syria?

As NATO forces prepare to finally depart Afghanistan, a resurgent Taliban, al-Qaeda and Islamic State threaten to reverse two decades of progress. Given the toxic combination of poor governance, political exclusion, dysfunctional economies, security vacuums and repressive regimes along Afghanistan’s porous borders, the potential resurgence of al-Qaeda and emergence of new challenges such as Islamic State-Khorasan Province threatens to transform the country into the epicentre of a new regional conflict complex across South and Central Asia. Despite assumptions that NATO’s withdrawal represents a conclusive end to the ‘War on Terror’, current indicators suggest this merely represents a dangerous new chapter in the struggle against global jihadism.

Middle East/North Africa Security

Rising tension due to Gulf maritime security: Possible threat to the global economy?

There was recently an attack on the Mercer Street vessel belonging to an Israeli billionaire, with Iran being blamed for the incident. These kinds of attacks have been happening since the beginning of the year, and it appears highly likely that they will continue. There is a possibility of maritime security breaches in the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz. Such developments could lead to a rise in political, economic and security issues, especially if they were to coincide with an Israel-Iran confrontation.

Middle East/North Africa Security

Symbioses of power in Iraq and the Popular Mobilisation Units

In my first article I discussed the risk of perpetual violence in Iraq and Syria fuelled by both numerous non-state actors there and the increasingly cronyistic authoritarian system in which they operate. This was followed by a more detailed look into the illicit economic activities of militias across Iraq and Syria. Leading on from this, today’s commentary will shift from an economic to a more political focus, exploring the symbioses of power in Iraq and the role of the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU).

Middle East/North Africa Security

Chaos in Lebanon: How much longer can the military maintain law and order?

Last month, June 2021, I recorded a total of 97 Security Incidents happening across Lebanon. The vast majority of these were roadblocks set up by angry protesters over the rapidly deteriorating socio-economic conditions. There were, however, 15 occasions of violence, in security operations, militancy, crime and personal disputes. Towards the end of the month, this figure was quickly rising and has continued to increase into July. This begs the question: For how long can the un-paid and deeply suffering Lebanese military remain deployed to maintain law and order?

Middle East/North Africa Security

Iraq and Syria: The Local and Regional Impact of Illicit Economies

In my previous article, I discussed the risk of Iraq and Syria entering a state of perpetual violence brought about by militias, to sustain their presence and maintain their profits. High rates of unemployment and increasing militarisation of governance and the economy, have meant that forming, joining and sustaining militias has become one of the few profitable rent-seeking methods. This article examines their illicit economic activities in greater detail showing the impact on a local to regional scale and the wider reverberating consequences.

Middle East/North Africa Security

Syria’s Decade of War and Russia’s Encouragement of the Ongoing Conflict

As of March 2021, Syria has now been embroiled in civil war for ten years, as both the Syrian interim government and various other rebel factions continue to fight back against Bashar al-Assad and the human rights abuses that have occurred under his presidency. Yet, after an entire decade of war, there still does not appear to be any clear indication of peace in sight. This raises the question as to what has caused the conflict in Syria to last so long, and which state actors or nations might be responsible. 

Middle East/North Africa Security

Religious Riots in Jerusalem: Reignited Tensions in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Months of quiet intermission in the rivalry between Israel and Palestine ends as new tensions emerge between the feuding states, ranging from riots in Jerusalem caused by religious extremists to exchanges of missiles over the Gaza Strip. These latest clashes in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict represent the frailty in their relationship, serving as a reminder that even when tensions appear to be low for a time, hostilities can be triggered and reignited at any time. Further underlined by the particularly long period of time that these states have been rivals, it is left unanswered when, and even if, the conflict will ever be firmly resolved.