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Europe Security

The Afghanistan Withdrawal’s Impact on the EU’s Strategic Autonomy

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan throws the NATO alliance’s sustainability into a state of flux.  European policymakers may pursue a more deliberate course toward strategic autonomy if they determine that America is no longer a credible partner.  Some quarters consider  independent European security to be an impractical overcorrection given Europe’s capability deficiencies.  The withdrawal from Afghanistan provides the opportunity for transatlantic policymakers to reassess NATO’s strategic priorities. 

Security South Africa

Mozambique: Cabo Delgado deployments pits SADC solidarity against Rwandan unilateral interests

Throughout July, both Rwanda and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) deployed troops to Mozambique to combat the long-running Islamist insurgency. While the Rwandan troops were first to deploy, their secretive arrival has been dogged by controversy surrounding Rwanda’s intentions. Meanwhile, the SADC force has been troubled by more tangible concerns, such as funding. Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi’s role in both cases has been contentious; pivotal in allowing the Rwandan mission whilst delaying the SADC deployment. 

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.

Security Southeast Asia

Hollow Diplomacy: Backlash at ASEAN’s Response to the Myanmar Crisis

As violence between anti-coup protesters and the Tatmadaw regime in Myanmar worsens, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member, remains uniquely situated to navigate towards a return to democracy. Their policy of ‘non-interference’, however, restricts the extent to which they can engage the crisis directly. The international attention and responsibility that ASEAN has accrued, with backing from international organisations and countries like the US, poses a risk to their credibility. If they cannot overcome their diplomatic limitations, ASEAN risks appearing ill-equipped to maintain regional peace and security.

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).

Europe Security

The political implications of Switzerland’s F-35 acquisition

Switzerland has finally selected Lockheed Martin’s F-35A for its Air Force 2030 program. The deal, with 36 aircraft, is expected to be worth $6.5 billion. Critics have argued that the F-35, with its sophisticated stealth and networking capabilities, is too much for a small country like Switzerland that requires only an air-policing aircraft. The decision to select the F-35 exemplifies how much politics are involved in purchasing military hardware worth billions of dollars.

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.

Africa Security

Can the US’s New Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa Set a New Policy Direction?

The US’s Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, returned from his first visit to the region last week. The newly created post which brought Feltman, a veteran of the UN and the State Department, out of semi-retirement, shows the strategic importance of the region to Biden’s foreign policy priorities and his desire to mark a clear break with the Trump era. What is less clear is whether Biden represents a policy shift from longer term American approaches to conflict and security in Africa.