Insider Secrets

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Geopolitics / Middle East

  • Israeli Minister Stirs Pot With Call For Independent Kurdish Nation

    In an unexpected geopolitical twist to a new phase of Turkish-Israeli relations, Israel has called for an independent Kurdish nation, which can only be based on crude oil discoveries and production bypassing Baghdad. But it’s a bad time for anyone to make an independence bid on oil that’s sliding, and the question of which Kurds would be included risks major chaos. Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has called for an independent Kurdish state, renewing the debate on the consequences of the birth of a new Kurdish nation and the feasibility of independence funded by oil at rock-bottom prices. Which Kurds,…

  • How Terrorist Groups Benefit from Low Oil Prices

    Terrorists have struck in the heart of Indonesia; the uber violent Boko Haram is rampaging across Nigeria; and ISIS is … everywhere. While the knee-jerk reaction is to ask how geopolitical chaos affects oil prices, we might ask how low oil prices cause instability that feeds terrorism. ISIS may be earning less revenue than it could because oil prices are so low, but overall, the slump is good for terrorism the world over, because it creates economic and political instability. Last week, a terrorist attack in the center of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, killed eight people—four of which were attackers…

  • Does The U.S. Have A Middle East Strategy Going Forward?

    Senior-level sources in numerous Middle Eastern governments have privately expressed bewilderment at recent and current U.S. government strategies and policies toward the region. But a closer examination of U.S. policies, now almost entirely dictated by the Obama White House, shows no cohesive national goals or policies exist, but rather an ad hoc set of actions and reactions, which are largely dictated either by ideological positions, ignorance, whim, or perceived expedience. This is unique in U.S. history. In short, the consistent pattern of policies developed over the past century has now been broken up, apart from some of the physical consistencies…

  • Saudi Arabia Throws Down The Gauntlet, But To Whom?

    Saudi Arabia’s Sudeiri-line leadership of the House of Sa’ud began 2016 with a major push to save its position and control of the Kingdom. It was also a bid to solidify regional power as the Kingdom moved well beyond the shadow of the major power relationships which had dominated its existence since the creation of the State in 1932. Saudi Arabia’s execution of Shi’a cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, 56, on January 2, 2016, along with 46 other political dissidents also sparked a divide between Iran on the one hand and Saudi Arabia and several of its allies on the…

  • Why Is The U.S. Reluctant To Bomb ISIS Oil Fields?

    There has been some revealing new information coming out recently regarding the strategy against ISIS. One aspect many find troubling is the apparent failure of U.S. and coalition forces to sufficiently target and destroy oil infrastructure located in ISIS territory, which accounts for a significant portion of the terror group’s annual income. The argument goes, if we want to impact their operations, we should target their primary sources of income, and choke off their operational funds. So, why does ISIS oil infrastructure still stand? Is this the result of an intelligence failure? Negligence? Or, is there a more purposeful reason?…

  • Egypt’s Return To Strategic And Economic Centrality

    Egypt is in the process of rebuilding its capabilities and its prestige. On October 18 and 19, 2015, it held the first round of its legislative elections, a process to be concluded on November 22-23, 2015, leading to the re-establishment of a new Parliament which will be co-equal with the Presidency — a Presidency with fixed terms of office — as a branch of government. The Cold War was over when, in 1995, my book, the Defense & Foreign Affairs Handbook on Egypt, was published, noting in its introduction: Egypt has always given the world insights into the lessons of…

  • Qatar And Saudi Arabia Threatening To Escalate Syrian Conflict

    Earlier this week, Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir had the following message for Tehran: "We wish that Iran would change its policies and stop meddling in the affairs of other countries in the region, in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. We will make sure that we confront Iran's actions and shall use all our political, economic and military powers to defend our territory and people.” In short, Riyadh and its allies in Doha and the UAE are uneasy about the fact that the P5+1 nuclear deal is set to effectively remove Iran from the pariah state list just as Tehran…

  • The Beginning Of A Dynamic Century In The Middle East

    Historical trends are combining once again to make the Mediterranean-Red Sea-Indian Ocean linkage the nexus in a dynamic phase of the evolving global strategic architecture. The relationships of states within the region, and the relationships of the regional states to the rest of the world is changing, and will evolve significantly over the coming few years.This Mediterranean-Red Sea-Indian Ocean region is an indissolubly-linked set of subzones, a reality which has often been inadequately understood from a strategic perspective.The great societies and the historical and modern states at the linkage between Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, are rarely considered…

  • Russia Is Still Limited In What It Can Achieve In Syria

    The Russian air bombing campaign in Syria began on September 30, with about 20 sorties a day. The bombing drastically increased on October 8, to over 60 sorties and reached 88 on October 13. The Russian mixed air task force deployed last month at a newly established airbase near Latakia has, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD), over 50 jets and helicopters, but most of them are relatively short range, designed primarily for battlefield close air support. The Russian jets in Syria went into action in earnest only when the forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad began an…

  • Can Russia Really Afford Its Military Campaign In Syria?

     Rough estimates suggest that Moscow has spent at least $87 million for air and cruise-missile strikes in the first two weeks of its bombing campaign in Syria that began September 30. With that relatively modest investment, the Kremlin has made itself a player that cannot be ignored in the Syrian conflict as it backs ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's bid to remain in power. The strikes also have enabled Syrian government forces to make significant gains against the rebels, with advances reported on October 11 in the northwestern province of Idlib and the neighboring province of Hama.But perhaps just as…

Martin tiller