Feb 13 2012

GWOT bi-weekly round-up February 13

Comments Off on GWOT bi-weekly round-up February 13

Afghanistan

The Economist’s Clausewitz blog discusses Pakistan’s role in supporting the Afghan Taliban.

Democracy

Jay Ufelder looks at the survival chances of democracies in the Middle East.

Egypt

Barry Rubin looks at the evolving allegiances of Egypt’s army.

Iran

The Commentator advocates a strong line on Iran.

Syria

Daniel Korski looks at how we can stop Bashir Assad.
J.E.Dyer is not disappointed by Russia and China’s veto.
Juan Cole disagrees with intervention in Syria.
Daniel Drezner thinks the US should arm the Free Syrian Army.
Elliott Abrams agrees.
Michael Weiss thinks that Russia and China’s decision to intervene make a mockery of the arguments against US intervention.

Beginning February 13, GWOT weekly round-ups are now bi-weekly, published on Mondays and will now be authored by Clark Clifford. 

Print Friendly
Posted by: Posted on by Posted by AD Brown

Feb 1 2012

Hezbollah: enter the Arab Summer

1 Comment

This week Meor Alif examines Hezbollah and a Middle East changed by the Arab Spring. From its modest beginnings, Hezbollah has emerged as an eminent force in the region bolstered by Iran but this alliance faces a number of challenges. Hezbollah and Iran, argues Meor Alif, will have to adapt to a post-Arab Spring that has reshaped the political landscape in the region.

Very few fighting units in the course of modern history can boast to have such an impressive portfolio than that of Hezbollah in waging effective asymmetric warfare. It doesn’t take much to realize that given the right time of day and the right weapons in their hand, Hassan Nasrallah’s band of brothers can make a Thermopylaeic stand against any incoming hoard. There is no doubt that it has traditionally been able to hold its own despite all sorts of geopolitical changes that has occurred in the Middle East. In recent weeks however, as we have witnessed in the news, there have been interesting developments in the politics surrounding the Sparta they live in. Hezbollah might be facing their toughest challenge to date with the slow but certain demise of the Assad family in Syria. This regime change seems to be ebbing away against Hezbollah’s traditional power base and draws out a very intriguing point to consider; what is the future of Hezbollah in Levant? And will they be able to adapt to the changes to continue to be the force that they are in the axis of resistance?

Continue reading

Print Friendly
Posted by: Posted on by Posted by AD Brown Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

Jan 31 2012

GWOT weekly round-up January 30

Comments Off on GWOT weekly round-up January 30

Due to technical difficulties the GWOT blog has been unable to publish posts for the past few weeks. Apologies to all our readers for this downtime. To catch up on our weekly round-ups, we will be publishing a larger weekly round-up today with this post and the regular weekly round-up for this past week on Monday.

Afghanistan

Juan Cole looks at how problems in Pakistan will affect its neighbour.
Thomas Joscelyn believes that the Taliban are insincere about a negotiated peace.

Arab Spring

Melanie Phillips is pessimistic about the Arab Spring.
David Hearst argues that Anglo-Saudi relations undercut Cameron’s support for democracy in the Middle East and North Africa.

Democracy

Stephen Walt suggests that gradual democratisation may be more sustainable that a sudden change.
Jay Ulfelder analyzes the factors that determine the success of democratic transitions.

Egypt

The Arabist looks at the future of Civil-Military relations in Egypt.

Iran

Michael Rubin discusses Iran’s posturing in the straits of Hormuz.
Ray Walser looks at Iran-Cuba links.
Lawrence Haas discounts the value of regional expertise.
Spencer Ackerman looks at US troop deployments in the Persian Gulf.
The Arabist has a round-up of other Iran related material.
William Tobey argues that assassinations are a sign of Israeli desperation and no substitute for action.
Jeffrey Goldberg criticises Israel’s tactics against Iran’s nuclear programme.
Jennifer Dyer looks at the role that Russia and China can play in Iran.

Nigeria

Colin Freeman looks at the deteriorating situation in Nigeria.

Syria

John McCreary believes that recent events have left Assad’s regime on the brink of collapse.
Michael Weiss looks at the prospects for Western intervention in Syria.
Paul Bonicelli is optimistic that Assad’s regime will collapse.

North Korea

Scott Snyder sees some possibility that talks might restart.

Print Friendly
Posted by: Posted on by Posted by AD Brown

Jan 6 2012

GWOT blog weekly round-up January 6

Comments Off on GWOT blog weekly round-up January 6

Afghanistan

Nano Danovic analyses NATO’s strategy in Afghanistan.

Egypt

Shadi Hamid looks at the strategy of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Iran

Fareed Zakaria argues that Iran’s economy is collapsing.
Andrew Exum discusses Iran policy.
John Yoo argues for action against Iran.

Middle East

The Arabist discusses the EIU’s latest Democracy Index.

Syria

Harry’s Place looks at the Arab league’s latest partner.
PBS looks at the Syrian regime’s efforts to intimidate expatriate protestors.

U.S Defence Review

Spencer Ackerman looks at the Obama administration’s future plans for defence spending.
Thomas Makhen does so as well.

Print Friendly
Posted by: Posted on by Posted by AD Brown

Dec 30 2011

GWOT blog weekly round-up 30 December

Comments Off on GWOT blog weekly round-up 30 December

Counterinsurgency

Jim Lacey argues that counterinsurgency is one of only many functions of the US Army.

Iraq

James Fearon argues that current Iraq policies are a rational response to the vacuum created by the exit of US troops.

Jay Ufelder argues that Maliki’s turn toward authoritarianism in Iraq was inevitable.

Various experts argue that the decision to withdraw all US troops from Iraq will destabilise the country,

Middle East

Tony Blair argues that more needs to be done support liberal, secular democrats in the Middle East.

North Korea

The American Enterprise Institute looks at North Korea.

Syria

Ammar Abdulhamid continues to provide updates of events in Syria.

Foreign Policy profiles the war crimes of the Arab League’s Syria Monitor.

Norman Geras criticises Jonathan Steele’s defence of the Syrian government.

Yemen

The Wall Street Journal looks at how counterterrorism operations can be exploited by regimes.

Print Friendly
Posted by: Posted on by Posted by AD Brown

Dec 21 2011

Examining likelihoods in 2012: autocratic & democratic regime change

1 Comment

Events throughout 2011 have demonstrated that terrorism remains a high priority for nation-states through the world. Regime and nation-state stability have played an influential role, particularity in the Middle East and Africa in affecting global terrorism. In an attempt to map out what 2012 may bring, examining regime political stability is a useful starting point for a look at global terrorism in 2012. Here Jay Ulfelder provides an engaging and thought-provoking examination into the likelihood of transitions in 2012 of autocracies into democracies.

2011 was a year of remarkable democratic ferment, as citizens in an unusually large and diverse set of countries took to public spaces to demand more dignity in their lives and more accountability from their governments.

In nearly all cases, the democratization those protesters are demanding remains incomplete. While Occupy participants in the United States rightly decry the occasional act of police brutality against them, the gap yawns widest in countries ruled by authoritarian regimes, which still “occupy” more than two of every five countries, including some of the richest and most populous.

Which of those authoritarian regimes are “ripest” for transitions to democracy in 2012? To help answer that question, I used a statistical technique called Bayesian model averaging to identify and weight a number of risk factors and then applied those weights to the most recent data available. The result is a set of probabilistic forecasts of democratic transition for all countries worldwide currently under authoritarian rule.

For purposes of this forecasting exercise, political regimes are categorized in “either/or” fashion. A regime is considered to be a democracy when it meets all of the four conditions enumerated below. A regime that fails to satisfy any of these conditions is considered to be an autocracy.

  1. Elected officials rule. No unelected individuals (say, a king, like Abdullah II of Jordan or Mohammed VI of Morocco) or organization (say, a military junta, like Egypt’s SCAF) determine or direct policy outcomes.
  2. Elections are fair and competitive. Elections offer voters a meaningful choice between candidates and are free of widespread fraud and abuse.
  3. Politics is inclusive. All adult citizens–male and female, without regard to racial or communal identity–have equal rights to vote and participate in politics.
  4. Civil liberties are respected. The government generally recognizes and protects freedoms of speech, association, and assembly.

A transition to democracy occurs when a government chosen by fair, competitive, and inclusive elections takes office (assuming the other conditions enumerated above hold as well). The transition is dated to the installation of the new government, not the elections. This rule avoids treating aborted transitions, such as the one that occurred in Algeria in 1991, as equivalent to the establishment of democracy. Conceptually, the idea is that the authoritarian regime remains in place until a new government is actually installed, and as such, that authoritarian government may veto the transition at any moment until that handover of power.

Predicted probability chart - click image to enlarge

The chart adjacent plots the estimated likelihood of transition in 2012 for all autocracies worldwide, based on preliminary data from 2011. One thing that’s immediately noticeable about these scores is that they are all pretty low. If you check the scale on the bottom axis, you’ll see that most scores are under 10%, and many are approximately zero. To some extent, that’s an artifact of the rarity of these events. On average, only a few democratic transitions happen worldwide each year, so the easiest way to make a forecast that’s about 95% accurate is simply to say they won’t happen anywhere. The point of an exercise like this one is not to identify precisely which countries will transition when, a task that’s still well beyond the reach of current data and methods (and will probably remain so forever). Instead, it’s better to think of the list as an attempt to identify which of the world’s authoritarian regimes are most likely to experience the few transitions we might expect to see over the course of 2012.

I hope the forecasts stand on their own, but I’ll offer comments on some the results that I found most surprising or intriguing.

Continue reading

Print Friendly
Posted by: Posted on by Posted by AD Brown

Dec 16 2011

Global war on terror blog weekly round-up 16 December

Comments Off on Global war on terror blog weekly round-up 16 December

Afghanistan

Gary Schmitt and Richard Cleary believe that the NATO coalition in Afghanistan is starting to collapse.

Iran

Michael Rubin argues that unless the US takes a tougher stance, it will continue to pursue nuclear weapons.
Barry Rubin
(no relation) argues that Obama’s policies towards Iran have failed.

Iraq

John Bolton argues that the War in Iraq was justified and that Obama’s decision to withdrawal all remaining troops is a mistake.

Israel

Chris Leppek looks at how the Israeli Defence Force applies ethics during combat operations.

Middle East

Dov Zakheim argues that Islamists have coopted the Arab Spring.

Syria

The Washington Post call for Western intervention in Syria.
So does Max Boot.
Ammar Abdulhamid continues to provide coverage of the Syrian revolution.

Tunisia

Kate Doyle looks examines the question of what to do with the archives of the Tunisian Secret Police.

Print Friendly
Posted by: Posted on by Posted by AD Brown

Dec 9 2011

Global war on terror blog weekly round-up 9 December

Comments Off on Global war on terror blog weekly round-up 9 December

Afghanistan

Spencer Ackerman is worried by the proposed outsourcing of U.S security operations on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Counterinsurgency

Andrew Exum believes that counterinsurgency will continue to remain important.

Egypt

The Arabist looks at the dispute between SCAF and the Muslim Brotherhood over the constitution.

Iran

Jennifer E Dyer looks at the implications of a downed US drone in Iran.

Dan Hodges argues for direct action against Iran.

Iraq

Thomas Ricks looks at a new book on Saddam.

Russia

Jason Lyall predicts further protests in Russia.

Jay Ulfelder believes that short term political change is likely.

Sudan

Morgan Roach believes that the international community should be more concerned about ongoing events in Sudan.

Uzbekistan

William Joce argues that Uzbekistan’s strategic importance is often understated.

Print Friendly
Posted by: Posted on by Posted by AD Brown