• Will gun control legislation be introduced in
the United States in 2017?
• Does Jemaah Islamiyah continue to pose a
security threat today?
• How has Russia’s entry in the Syrian Civil
War affected its internal security?
• How popular is the Islamic State of Iraq
and Syria in Central Asia?
• Did the North Korean government become
more stable in 2016?
• Did Boko Haram grow stronger in the Lake
Chad region in 2016?
• Will the prospect of an independent Kurdish
state become viable in 2017?
• Is France winning the ground war against
Islamic militants in West Africa?
• Have Islamist non-state groups come closer to
developing weapons of mass destruction?
• Will Nigeria continue to be Africa’s largest
oil producer for the foreseeable future?
• Will the Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah
reunite in 2017?
FOREWORD BY JOHN NOMIKOS
EDITED BY JOSEPH FITSANAKIS
• Will gun control legislation be introduced
in the United States in 2017?
• Does Jemaah Islamiyah continue to pose
a security threat today?
• How has Russia’s entry in the Syrian Civil
War affected its internal security?
• How popular is the Islamic State of Iraq
and Syria in Central Asia?
• Did the North Korean government become
more stable in 2016?
• Did Boko Haram grow stronger in the
Lake Chad region in 2016?
• Will the prospect of an independent
Kurdish state become viable in 2017?
PUBLISHED BY THE
EUROPEAN INTELLIGENCE ACADEMY
IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE
CHANTICLEER INTELLIGENCE BRIEF
COASTAL CAROLINA UNIVERSITY
• Is France winning the ground war against
Islamic militants in West Africa?
• Have Islamist non-state actors come closer to
developing weapons of mass destruction?
• Will Nigeria continue to be Africa’s largest
oil producer for the foreseeable future?
• Will the Palestinian groups Hamas and
Fatah reunite in 2017?
European Intelligence Academy www.euintelligenceacademy.eu
The European Intelligence Academy (EIA) was established in 2013 as an international network of
intelligence studies scholars, specialists and students, who are dedicated to promoting research and
scholarship across the European Union (EU), as well as between the EU and other parts of the
world. One of the primary aims of the EIA network is to highlight the work of emerging graduate
and undergraduate scholars in the intelligence studies field, while encouraging cooperation in
research and scholarship between students of intelligence. The EIA is an initiative of the Research
Institute for European and American Studies (RIEAS).
Chanticleer Intelligence Brief www.cibrief.org
The Chanticleer Intelligence Brief (CIB) was established in 2015 as a student-run initiative
supported by the Department of Politics at Coastal Carolina University (CCU) in Conway, South
Carolina, United States. It operates as an ancillary practicum for students in the National Security
and Intelligence Studies program who wish to cultivate and refine their ability to gather, present,
and analyze information in accordance with techniques used in the analytical profession. The goal
of the CIB is to train aspiring intelligence professionals in the art of producing well-researched,
impartial and factual analytical products.
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Copyright © 2017 The European Intelligence Academy (EIA)
All rights reserved, Published in North Charleston, SC, United States, in March 2017.
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Table of Contents
Foreword page 07
Dr. John Nomikos
Introduction page 09
Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis
Will Gun Control Legislation be Introduced in the United States in 2017? page 13
Does Jemaah Islamiyah Continue to Pose a Security Danger Today? page 17
How Has Russia’s Involvement in the Syrian Civil War Affected Its Internal Security? page 21
How Popular is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Central Asia? page 25
Did the Stability of the North Korean Government Increase in 2016? page 29
Did Boko Haram Grow Stronger in 2016? page 33
Will the Prospect of an Independent Kurdish State Become Viable in 2017? page 37
Is France Winning the Ground War Against Islamic Militants in West Africa? page 41
Did Islamist Non-State Actors Come Closer to Developing CBRNs in 2016? page 45
Will Nigeria Continue to be Africa’s Largest Oil Producer for the Foreseeable Future? page 49
Will the Palestinian Groups Hamas and Fatah Reunite in 2017? page 55
Biographical notes on contributors page 61
The Research Institute for European and American Studies (RIEAS) was founded in 2006
with the aim of promoting the understanding of international affairs. Special attention is
devoted to transatlantic relations, intelligence studies and terrorism, European integration,
international security, Balkan and Mediterranean studies, Russian foreign policy, as well as
policy-making on national and international markets. In 2013, RIEAS initiated the European
Intelligence Academy (EIA) project, in order to promote the field of intelligence studies in
European academic institutions.
The EIA aims to advance the intelligence profession by setting standards, building resources,
sharing knowledge within the intelligence field, and promoting a strong intelligence culture
in European Union (EU) member-states. It also promotes international research and
scholarship cooperation between intelligence scholars in the EU and scholars in other parts
of the world. Furthermore, the EIA highlights the work of emerging postgraduate and
undergraduate scholars in the intelligence studies field, and provides a forum for them to
exchange ideas and pursue relevant research. The Intelligence Review, which was launched by
the EIA in the summer of 2016, reflects our organization’s ultimate goal, which is to promote
synergy between young undergraduate and graduate students of intelligence in Europe, the
United States, and the rest of the world.
The Intelligence Review is a collaborative effort between the EIA and the Chanticleer Intelligence
Brief (CIB), an innovative new program that highlights the work of young student analysts
in the Intelligence and National Security Studies program at Coastal Carolina University in
the United States. This second issue of The Intelligence Review (Vol.1, No.2, March 2017) follows
the success of the journal’s first issue (Vol.1, No.1), which was published in July of 2016.
The extremely positive response we received from intelligence academics and practitioners
alike, ensured the continuation of this transatlantic collaborative project. The EIA is proud
to be part of this effort, and to work in partnership with the outstanding young analysts of
the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief (CIB) and their mentor, Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis.
Much of the work that Dr. Fitsanakis and I do seeks to highlight the work of young scholars
in the intelligence studies field. In that spirit, we are very happy to announce our co-edited
book, entitled Intelligence Beyond the Anglosphere: Mediterranean and Balkan Regions, which was
recently published by RIEAS. Much like The Intelligence Review journal, the book Intelligence
Beyond the Anglosphere aims to highlight the contributions of emerging scholars in our field,
who work on regions of the world that are under-represented in the specialist literature, or
little-understood by experts. The book, therefore, addresses a critical gap in the intelligence
literature and presents an exposition and analysis of pressing issues, such as intelligence
reform, the relationship between media and the intelligence community, the importance of
financial intelligence, the democratization of intelligence agencies, the relationship between the
intelligence services and the executive branch, intelligence cooperation within the European
Union, as well as the broad historical and cultural factors that shape intelligence practice. This
well-written and comprehensive collection of essays provides hard-to-find information and
knowledge into a number of rarely discussed case-studies from Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia
and Herzegovina, Serbia, Albania, Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, and many more countries.
It is indeed through collaborative projects, such as Intelligence Beyond the Anglosphere, and the
present journal, The Intelligence Review, that knowledge in our field of study is constantly
reexamined, refined, and reshaped to address the challenges of the 21 st century. I offer my
congratulations to the young scholars who worked with Dr. Fitsanakis to produce this
excellent compendium. You have set the bar very high for all of us, and I am certain that
your future accomplishments in the field will be as exceptional as your work in this volume.
Dr. John Nomikos
Director, European Intelligence Academy
Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis
Assistant Professor, Intelligence and National Security Studies, Coastal Carolina University
Deputy Director, European Intelligence Academy
Until very recently, academic preoccupation with intelligence was limited, and undertaken
almost exclusively in the graduate domain. A few dozen courses were offered in undergraduate
programs, usually by liberal arts institutions. These tended to be highly interdisciplinary
and led primarily by political scientists and historians. Some historical research into intelligence
institutions, or intelligence practitioners and their operations, was undertaken by academics
in Europe, the United States and elsewhere. Such research focused largely on case studies
from the periods of World War II and the Cold War.
In the United States, the first calls to create a systematic intelligence studies curriculum in
the undergraduate domain were issued by intelligence practitioners in the 1950s and 1960s
(Coulthart and Crosston 2015). By the early 1990s, a few dozen undergraduate courses in
intelligence were being offered on a regular basis in Western universities. The first concrete
step toward establishing a coherent and comprehensive undergraduate program in intelligence
studies was taken in 1992, when Mercyhurst College (today Mercyhurst University) launched
the world’s first standalone undergraduate intelligence studies program. The program was
designed to produce what its creators called “analytical generalists”, namely graduates who
were trained to apply the principles of intelligence analysis to any subject, regardless of
topical or regional expertise (Landon-Murray 2013).
As can be expected, Mercyhurst’s program shaped decisively the curricular mission of the
intelligence studies field as a whole. Founded in 2011, the Intelligence and National Security
Studies (INSS) program at Coastal Carolina University follows on the footsteps of that tradition.
Its graduates are analytically trained, which means that they are able to utilize their analytical
skillset to understand and explore a multitude of complex subjects. The latter range from
the current state of the West African diamond trade, to the projected growth of China’s
renewable energy industry, and from the impact of the Colombian peace process on the
price of cocaine on America’s streets, to the effect of water scarcity on political stability in
the Arabian Peninsula. In addition to acquiring analytical skills, Coastal’s INSS graduates
are also trained to be polymaths, whose liberal-arts education is reflected in their ability to
deliberate with demonstrable fluency on a variety of topics.
The present compendium, issue #2 of The Intelligence Review, is designed to showcase the
marriage of these two critical skills in our students —namely the application of analytical
abilities to specific questions, or topics. That is precisely the goal of the Chanticleer Intelligence
Brief, a student-led effort, supported by the Department of Politics at Coastal Carolina
University, which operates as an ancillary practicum for students in Coastal’s INSS program.
Upon joining the CIB, student analysts join ‘Divisions’ —groups of analysts who specialize
in a common geographical region. They work collaboratively to issue measurable periodic
forecasts on current topics that relate to their region. Additionally, each analyst is given the
task of answering a specific question about an ongoing development that relates to his or
her area of expertise. In some cases, analysts are asked to produce what is known as ‘current
intelligence’, namely research that focuses on immediate problems and threats of an ongoing
nature. In other cases, they are asked to engage in ‘estimative intelligence’ —that is, to attempt
to predict and anticipate future developments. The latter is arguably the most challenging
task of an intelligence analyst, and one that leaves their analytical products most open to dispute.
Analysts occupy themselves with their question for an entire semester. Throughout that
time, they are expected to brief the entire CIB analytical team on a weekly basis, sometimes
in the presence of inquisitive experts from the United States Intelligence Community. The
product of this effort is a brief but dense report, which contains the results of the application
of the author’s analytical skills on his or her subject matter. Eleven of these reports form the
content of this compendium, whose publication is the outcome of a fruitful transatlantic
collaboration between the CIB and the European Intelligence Academy. Topics include
the gun control debate in the United States, Russia’s involvement in the Syrian Civil War,
the future of Kurdish nationalism, and the internal Palestinian dispute between Hamas and
Fatah. Papers in this volume also examine the current state of Islamist extremism, and
extrapolate on its future prospects in the Middle East, West Africa, the Lake Chad region,
as well as in Southeast and Central Asia.
This compendium represents a small sample of the CIB’s extensive output. It is presented
in the hope that the reader will benefit from the precision, astuteness and analytical clarity
of these very timely reports produced by a very talented team of young analysts.
Coulthart, S., and Crosston, M. (2015) “Terra Incognita: Mapping American Intelligence Education
Curriculum”, Journal of Strategic Security, 8(3), pp44-68.
Landon-Murray, M. (2013) “Moving US Academic Intelligence Education Forward: A Literature
Inventory and Agenda”, International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, 26(4), pp744-776.
Will Gun Control Legislation be Introduced in
the United States in 2017?
Gun-control legislation in the United States has been the topic of extensive political
discourse for decades, and has proven to be an exceedingly volatile subject. Recent activeshooter
incidents and the presidential elections have produced substantial policy implications,
thus marking 2016 a pivotal year for the future of gun-control legislation in the US.
Following the 2016 presidential elections, advocates and opponents of gun control have
experienced their own victories at the state and federal levels respectively. Given that three
states have introduced their own variation of gun-control legislation as a result of the
elections (Anon. 2016a), it can be stated with moderate confidence that there is about an
even chance we will continue to see similar state legislation introduced in the foreseeable
future. Moreover, with Donald Trump having won the presidency, coupled with the Republicans
successfully maintaining a majority in both chambers of Congress, it can be stated with
high confidence that the introduction of federal gun-control legislation in 2017 is unlikely.
Gun-control legislation is a broad term that generally encompasses policy initiatives aimed
at restricting and regulating the possession and acquisition of firearms. An introduction of
this type of legislation simply means that it has been enacted. Gun-control laws can be
introduced at the state or federal level and come in many forms. Examples include
requiring background checks, a ban on assault weapons, or prohibitions of high-capacity
magazines, to name a few. Liberals and Democrats typically champion gun-control
legislation, whereas conservatives and Republicans generally oppose it. For the most part,
Democrats argue that firearms should be regulated to a certain degree to reduce gun
violence. Republicans, on the other hand, generally believe it is more important to protect
citizens’ gun rights than it is to control gun ownership, on grounds that state and local
governments must not infringe upon the Constitutional right to bear arms (Anon. 2016b).
It is thus important to understand that, in practice, gun control is primarily favorable to
conventional Democratic beliefs.
Active-shooter incidents are arguably the main policy drivers of gun-control initiatives.
The phrase “active shooter” is generally defined by the US government as “an individual
actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area”
(FBI 2013:5). Proponents of gun control suggest that stricter gun laws across the nation
could prevent certain individuals from obtaining firearms, which would ultimately thwart
active-shooter incidents altogether. Conversely, those opposed to gun control contend that
the mere presence of an armed citizen would ward off prospective assailants, thus lessening
the likelihood and severity of an active-shooter incident.
In 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released an insightful study on activeshooter
incidents that have occurred in the US since 2000. In the first half of the period
studied, there was an average of 6.4 incidents annually, and in the second half of the period
studied there was an average of 16.4 incidents annually (FBI 2013:8). Therefore, the FBI
has found an unmistakable increase in the frequency of active-shooter incidents.
The active-shooter incidents in Newtown, Charleston, San Bernardino, and Orlando are
just a few recent occurrences that have produced new policy initiatives. However, guncontrol
legislation has since only been introduced at the state level. In fact, even after the
most recent shooting in Orlando that left 50 people dead, marking it as the deadliest massshooting
incident in the US to date (Anon. 2016c), Congress did not pass a single piece of
federal gun-control legislation. Two Republican and two Democrat gun control initiatives
were brought to the table in response to the atrocity. However, on June 20, just eight days
after Omar Mateen opened fire inside Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, all four proposals were
voted down (Phillips 2016). Though each of these pieces of legislation may have seemed
fairly straightforward to laypeople, this was not the case. Complex policies are commonly
simplified and reduced to descriptions that fail to address their many facets. Herein lies the
problem: a voting member of Congress is liable to turn down a proposal if he or she
disagrees with just one component of it. While representatives from both political parties
clearly exhibited an interest in introducing new federal policies attendant to gun control,
Congress has not enacted a single one of the over 100 policies proposed by lawmakers in
the past five years (Shabad 2016).
In the wake of a Congress frozen in policy gridlock, Republicans won over the presidency
with Donald Trump and managed to maintain a Congressional majority. In the first
presidential Debate, Trump voiced support for gun-control policies that prohibit those on
no-fly lists or terrorist watch-lists from acquiring firearms (Bendery 2016). However the
President has generally proclaimed opposition to all other gun-control initiatives. In the
third and final presidential debate, Trump pledged to appoint conservative Supreme Court
Justices that would fight to protect American citizens’ Second-Amendment rights. The
President upheld that pledge by nominating Neil Gorsuch —a pro-gun judge, who is backed
by the and National Rifle Association (NRA)— to the Supreme Court. If Judge Gorsuch’s
nomination is confirmed, ensuing Supreme Court rulings regarding firearms will stand as
major obstacles on the road to introductions of gun-control legislation. Moreover, in the
unlikely scenario that a federal gun-control bill does see bicameral success, President
Trump —based on his current stance on guns— would almost certainly exercise his presidential
right to veto any legislation he deems flawed. From here, it becomes quite clear that the
likelihood of gun-control legislation being introduced at the federal level will probably dwindle.
On top of the aforementioned federal developments, there has been a host of state-level
developments surrounding gun control, among other policy categories. Multiple states and
communities throughout the US have approved proposals that address marijuana
legalization, transportation projects, and minimum wage (Anon. 2016a). This may indicate
that citizens across the country are dissatisfied with Congress’ general inactivity and have
subsequently made their own strides to introduce an assortment of laws in their states. The
campaign to introduce legislation that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana is
comparable to the battle over gun control. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the
first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana and after last year’s elections they
were joined by California, Maine, Nevada, and Massachusetts (Ingraham 2016). Today,
there are 29 states that permit the use of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes
(Higdon 2016), despite there being a federal prohibition. The landmark implementation of
these laws demonstrates how motivated citizens were able to utilize the American
legislative system to push their agendas, despite failure at the federal level. Similarly,
California, Nevada, and Washington have each introduced their own variation of guncontrol
legislation following the 2016 presidential elections. Therefore, in an era of
increased active-shooter incidents exacerbated by an immobilized Congress, it is likely that
we will see continued enactments of state-level gun control legislation, following a timeline
similar to recent campaigns to legalize marijuana.
Last year was quite tumultuous for American politics in general, and the recent elections
have produced sweeping policy implications for the future of gun-control legislation in the
US. On November 8, the Republicans won the presidency and maintained a majority in
both chambers of Congress. The newly elected president and his fellow Republicans in
Congress regularly combat initiatives to strengthen gun-control legislation by holding fast
to their belief that gun rights are more important to uphold. Thus, it can be stated with
high confidence that it is unlikely that federal gun control legislation will be introduced in
the near future. Additionally, the recent rise in frequency and severity of active-shooter
incidents, paired with the fact that states have been enacting their own regulatory firearm
policies, likely indicates a surge in policy innovation at the state level. Therefore, it may be
stated with moderate confidence that similar legislation will be introduced in the foreseeable
Anonymous (2016a) “State Voters with Minds of Their Own”, The New York Times, 9 November,
accessed on 5 December 2016.
Anonymous (2016b) “Opinions on Gun Policy and the 2016 Campaign”, Pew Research Center,
Anonymous (2016c) “Deadliest US Mass Shootings, 1984-2016”, The Los Angeles Times, 12 June,
accessed on 5 December 2016.
Bendery, J. (2016) “Donald Trump Endorsed Gun Control and Everyone Is Confused”, The
Huffington Post, 27 September, accessed on 5 December.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (2013) A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between
2000 and 2013, United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC, United States.
Higdon, J. (2016) “Jeff Sessions’ Coming War on Legal Marijuana”, Politico, 5 December, accessed on 05 December.
Ingraham, C. (2016) “Marijuana Wins Big on Election Night”, The Washington Post, 8 November,
accessed on 5 November.
Phillips, A. (2016) “The Senate Voted on 4 Popular Gun Proposals Monday. Here’s Why None
of Them Passed”, The Washington Post, 20 June,
accessed on 5 December 2016.
Shabad, R. (2016) “Why More Than 100 Gun Control Proposals in Congress Since 2011 Have
Failed”, CBS News, 20 June,
accessed on 5 December.
Does Jemaah Islamiyah Continue to Pose a
Security Threat Today?
I am highly confident that Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) no longer poses a security danger today.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has risen to prominence in Southeast Asia and
has taken JI’s place. Before diving into further analysis, it must be stressed that, considering
the current political context, it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which armed Islamist
fundamentalism will dissipate in Southeast Asia. Certain groups may rise and fall, but
terrorism itself will thrive, and possibly evolve into a new breed. JI is an illustrative example
of this ‘evolution’ of radicalism in Southeast Asia.
JI is a jihadist organization primarily active in southern Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore,
Indonesia, Brunei, and the southern Philippines (National Counterterrorism Center 2013).
The radical group peaked in the early-to-mid-2000s, with its most infamous attacks being
the 2002, 2005, and 2009 Bali bombings. Since the first Bali bombing in 2002, several
Southeast Asian governments have cracked down on militant groups, resulting in the arrest
of over 300 suspected leaders and members of JI. In fact, many of JI’s key leaders have
since been killed, including Noordin Top, Abdullah Sungkar, and Zulkifli Abdhir (a.k.a.
Marwan), or arrested like Mohamed Iqbal Abdurrahman (a.k.a Abu Jibril) and Riduan
Isamuddin (a.k.a. Hambali).
After the 2002 Bali Bombings, internal disputes arose in JI “regarding the use of violence
and specified targets” (Oak 2010:990), which has been exacerbated by today’s internal
dispute over JI’s allegiance to ISIS. Abu Bakar Bashir co-founded JI with Abdullah Sungkar
in 1993; he led the faction of JI that advocated using violent attacks, rather than pursuing
more political or peaceful means to achieve the group’s goals. Bashir went on to found
Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), a more violent splinter cell of JI, but continued to be
involved with JI-proper. In July 2014, Bashir pledged his allegiance to ISIS from his prison
cell; his two sons, however, did not agree with him and opted to form their own splinter
cell, Jemaah Ansharusy Syariah, thus further-dividing JI (Witular 2014). In essence, JI is
now a “decentralized organization with no clear leader” (Oak 2010:990).
Operationally, JI has not committed a major terrorist attack since the 2009 Bali bombings
and has been “overshadowed by the activities of its splinter groups and other Indonesiabased
terrorists” (National Counterterrorism Center 2013). In fact, the 2009 Bali bombings
were attributed to a splinter organization, Tandzim al-Qaeda of Indonesia, whose
“connection with JI is still uncertain”, despite many databases continuing to “associate the
attack with JI” (Oak 2010:997). If the 2009 attack is to be attributed to JI, then the
bombings were the JI’s first attack in almost four years, but that was still seven years ago.
If the attack is not to be attributed to JI, but rather to the splinter cell, then JI has not
committed a large-scale anti-Western terrorist attack in nearly 11 years. JI, therefore, has
been relatively dormant during the last decade.
ISIS, meanwhile, has begun to extend its reach into Southeast Asia through Bahrun Naim,
an Indonesian fighting in Syria for ISIS. On January 14, 2016, multiple explosions occurred
in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, killing four civilians and injuring 24 others (D’Souza
2016). Naim has been considered the ‘mastermind’ of the attack, and has since been
funding various terrorist attacks and attempted attacks across his home country.
Indonesia has a relatively weak central government, “considerable social and political
instability, [and has an] overwhelmingly Muslim population,” making it an attractive target
for Islamist terrorist groups (Vaughn et al. 2009:13). Radical groups like ISIS have grown
in influence and popularity by “taking advantage of [Indonesia’s] internal problems” such
as the ethnic-religious clashes between the Muslim Indonesian majority and the Chinese
Christian minority (ibid.).
One such example occurred on August 5, 2016, when Detachment 88, Indonesia’s counterterrorism
squad, foiled an attack by six militants who attempted to fire a rocket at an
upscale commercial district in Singapore. The plan was to fire a rocket from the small
Indonesian island of Batam at Singapore’s Marina Bay, a popular tourist destination. Taufik
Andrie, an expert at the Institute for International Peace Building, has stated that Batam
has become a “hub” for Islamists in Indonesia who want to fight alongside ISIS in Syria
(Arshad 2016). KGR, the cell responsible for the rocket plot, is one of several ISIS cells in
Indonesia and has received financial and logistical support from Bahrun Naim (NG 2016).
On November 4, 2016, there was a large-scale protest against the Governor of Jakarta,
Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, otherwise known as Ahok. Governor Ahok is a Chinese Christian,
who issued a controversial statement claiming that Islamic groups were using a verse of the
Qur’an to “urge people not to support him [and] were deceiving voters” (Anon. 2016). An
estimated 100,000 people attended the protest, advocating the immediate imprisonment of
Governor Ahok. Although the protest began as a peaceful demonstration, it turned into a
violent clash between a radical minority and the police after dark. Syamsuddin Uba, a
former leader of JAT, was seen at this protest holding an ISIS flag, reaffirming his fidelity
to ISIS after he pledged his allegiance to the group in February 2014. Uba has been actively
involved in radicalizing and recruiting ISIS militants in Indonesia since 2014 (Soeriaatmadja
and Arshad 2016). This is another example of a prominent leader of JI switching his loyalty
to ISIS. There was no major attack at this rally, but the controversy over Governor Ahok
has set the stage for radicals to take advantage of the tensions and plan a major attack.
On November 25, 2016, there was another large-scale political demonstration held in
Jakarta, this time to protest the mistreatment of Muslim minorities in Myanmar. Two days
before the protests, Detachment 88 uncovered a plot to bomb the Myanmar embassy in
Jakarta, as well as various other government buildings and television stations (Da Costa,
Suroyo, and Cameron-Moore 2016). All three arrested suspects belonged to Jemaah
Ansharut Daulah, a splinter cell of JI that supports ISIS; similar to the Marina Bay plot,
these militants were operating under the direction of Naim. As they received direction and
funding from ISIS, the group could be classified as an ISIS cell rather than a JI splinter
cell. This is a continuation of the trend that those who would normally act on behalf of JI
are now opting to commit acts on behalf of ISIS.
Religious extremism is on the rise as is clearly demonstrated by the increasing frequency
of religiously-charged demonstrations in Indonesia. Many open-source intelligence
databases claim that JI has been amassing new recruits, but such sources fail to distinguish
between recruits who join JI and its splinter cells because they want to join JI, and those
who join because it is the closest group to ISIS that exists in Indonesia. The latter
individuals have little sense of loyalty to JI, and focus on performing acts according to ISIS’
agenda, not to JI’s goals. This leads me to assert that such individuals should be classified
as new recruits for ISIS rather than JI, and that JI has failed to amass new support in this
new wave of Islamist radicalism.
Radicals who would have committed acts on behalf of JI a decade ago are now opting to
perform them in the name of ISIS. Further, JI leadership has become increasingly
fragmented with several of the group’s most influential voices switching their allegiance to
ISIS. Considering these factors, I am highly confident that JI does not pose a security threat
today. Instead, ISIS has risen to prominence in Southeast Asia and has taken over JI’s
traditional membership base and even a few JI officials. As one terrorist organization falls,
another will rise from its ashes, such goes the evolution of terrorism as we know it.
Anonymous (2016) “Indonesia Protest: Jakarta Anti-Governor Rally Turns Violent” BBC, 04 November
accessed on November 13 2016.
Arshad, A. (2016) “Marina Bay Rocket Attack Plot from Batam ‘Not To Be Taken Lightly’”, The
Straits Times, 06 August accessed on 25 September, 2016.
Berger, J.M. (2014) “The Islamic State vs. al Qaeda: Who’s Winning the War to Become the Jihadi
Superpower?”, Foreign Policy, 02 September
accessed on 29 November 2016.
Chan, F., and Soeriaatmadja, W. (2016) “More Than 200,000 Stage Peaceful Protest Against
Jakarta Governor Ahok Over Blasphemy”, The Straits Times, 02 December
accessed on 02 December 2016.
Da Costa, A.B., Suroyo, G., and Cameron-Moore, S. (2016) “Indonesia Police Make More
Arrests in Foiled Jakarta Bomb Plot”, Reuters, 27 November
accessed on 27 November 2016.
D’Souza, K. (2016) “Jakarta Terror Attack 14/1/2016 - What Do We Know?”, International Institute
for Counter-Terrorism, 24 January
accessed on 04 December 2016.
National Counterterrorism Center (2013) “Jemaah Islamiyah (JI)” National Counterterrorism
Center, Washington, DC, United States accessed
on 21 September, 2016.
NG, E. (2016) “Baram Plot Suspect Planned to Work in Marina Bay to Collect Intelligence” Today
Online, 05 September
accessed on 26 September 2016.
Oak, G.S. (2010) “Jemaah Islamiyah’s Fifth Phase: The Many Faces of a Terrorist Group”, Studies
in Conflict and Terrorism, 33(11), pp989-1018.
Soeriaatmadja, W. and Arshad, A. (2016) “Jakarta Rally Descends Into Chaos; Jokowi Urges
Protesters to Go Home” The Straits Times, 04 November
accessed on 13 November 2016.
Vaughn, B., Chanlett-Avery, E., Dolven, B., Manyin, M.E., Martin, M.F., and Niksch, L.A.
(2009) Terrorism in Southeast Asia, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, Washington,
DC, United States.
Witular, R.A. (2014) “Abu Bakar Ba’asyir Calls on Followers to Support ISIL”, The Jakarta Post,
accessed on 02 December 2016.
How Has Russia’s Involvement in the Syrian
Civil War Affected Its Internal Security?
Since 2011, the Syrian Civil War has raged between numerous factions. These include the
Syrian government and its supporters, Sunni Arab rebel groups, like the Free Syrian Army,
and Salafi jihadist groups, like Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as the al-Nusra
Front) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The conflict has attracted international
attention as well as the intervention of several outside parties, including Russia. Russia
supports the Syrian government’s military by providing funding and carrying out its own
military operations. Russia’s actions in Syria, however, have put the state on the ‘hit lists’
of various militant groups. The purpose of this analysis is to determine how Russia’s
internal security has been affected by its involvement in Syria. Such effects can be perceived
by monitoring the number and extent of terrorist attacks on Russian soil or terrorist attacks
against Russians abroad, and by observing the numbers of radicalized Russians in Syria and
in Russia itself. Based upon recent evidence, it can be stated with high confidence that
Russia’s involvement in the Syrian Civil War has had a negative impact on its internal security.
The Russian-Syrian alliance —or, more accurately, Russia’s alliance with the government
of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad— dates back to the 1960s. During the Arab-Israeli
wars (1948, 1967 and 1971), the Soviet Union provided Syria with over $2 million in
military aid. Syria returned the favor by allowing the Soviets to set up a military base in the
Port of Tartus, along the Syrian coast. In 1977, Syrian President Hafez al-Assad visited
Moscow to meet with Soviet leaders, and in October of 1980, Syria and the USSR signed
a 20-year Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. When Hafez al-Assad died in 2000, his
son, Bashar al-Assad, came to power and continued the close relationship between
Damascus and Moscow. Between 2009 and 2013, Russia assisted Syria with close to $20
million in aid, given through weapons, military training, and other supplies that supported
the government in the Syrian Civil War. On September 30, 2015, Russia became officially
involved in the Syrian conflict on the side of President Assad (Dugulin 2016). Russia
conducted airstrikes primarily on sites occupied by opposition forces. This military
campaign, Operation Vozmezdie (Retribution), claimed to target areas held by ISIS, but
did not distinguish between it and other Sunni rebel groups, such as the al-Nusra Front.
By fusing all opposition against President Assad with ISIS, Russia broadened the target on
its back (Williams and Souza 2016:24). Hardly a month after Operation Vozmezdie began,
the first threats were issued against Russia. A group of 41 different Syrian rebel groups,
including powerful opposition forces like the Levant Front and Islam Army, issued a
caustic statement against Russia, saying that “any occupation force to our beloved country
is a legitimate target” (Williams and Souza 2016:26). This joint threat was made by a
sizeable number of Islamist groups in tandem, with several others coming directly from
the individual groups themselves. On October 12, 2015, Abu Muhammed al-Julani,
spokesman for al-Nusra Front, released an audio recording online calling for retaliatory
attacks against “eastern crusaders” —Russia— and “a mujahideen [force] in the Caucasus
to distract” Russia away from Syria by shifting the state’s focus inward (Williams and Souza
2016:26). The very next day, October 13, 2015, the now-deceased spokesman for ISIS,
Abu Muhammed al-Adnani, called for “Islamic youth everywhere [to] ignite Jihad against
the Russians and Americans” (Williams and Souza 2016:26). A subsequent threat from
ISIS, issued on July 30, 2016 read: “Listen, O Putin, we will come to you in Russia, we will
kill you all in your homes, Allah willing” (Williams and Souza 2016:26-27).
These threats held considerable leverage. On October 31, 2015, two weeks after al-
Adnani’s call to action, a Russian plane heading from Egypt to the Russian city of St.
Petersburg was downed over the Egyptian desert near Hasana, in the Sinai Peninsula. All
224 people on board were Russian and all were killed in the crash. This crash is now the
deadliest disaster in Russian aviation history. ISIS took responsibility for the attack and
claimed that it was in response to Russian airstrikes in Syria (Williams and Souza 2016:26).
Calls to action on Russian soil had not fallen on deaf ears either. On December 29, 2015,
a gunman opened fire at a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) world heritage site in Derbent, Dagestan. That day happened to
be the site’s 2,000th anniversary, attracting the largest crowds of the year, with most of the
visitors being local residents. One person was killed and 11 others were injured. ISIS, the
group responsible, publicly boasted its ability to reach far into Russian territory. This is
one of several small-scale attacks that have occurred since September 2015. Most ended
with the same results; a small number of fatalities with a larger amount of injuries (Anon.
2015). Perhaps the most gruesome of these terrorist attacks in Russia happened on March
2, 2016. A nanny from Uzbekistan decapitated the 4 year-old Russian girl she was taking
care of, and proceeded to set the family’s flat on fire (Anon. 2016d). It was reported that
the woman shouted, “Allah told me to do it” in the street while the fire raged on (Williams
and Souza 2016:27-28). When taken into custody, the woman claimed she was inspired by
a video released by ISIS of a militant decapitating a suspected Russian Federal Security
Service (FSB) officer operating in Syria (Williams and Souza 2016:28).
More recently, on November 13, 2016, 10 Uzbek, Kyrgyz, and Tajik nationals were
arrested in Russia for planning attacks in Moscow and St. Petersburg, which were to be
carried out on November 14. The attacks were going to be simultaneous, like the attacks
in Paris exactly one year earlier (Anon. 2015c). The suspected militants planned the masscasualty
attacks to “prove their loyalty” to ISIS (Offord 2016). They also confessed to
having communicated with militant organizations in the Middle East, but did not specify
with which groups (Hammett 2016). If this attack had not been foiled with the help of
Kyrgyz and Tajik officials, it would have been the first large-scale terrorist attack on
Russian soil since 2010.This development also alludes to the increase in communications
between radicals in Central Asia and the Middle East (Williams and Souza 2016:28).
Towards the end of 2016, as opposition in Syria was forced out of Aleppo by Russia’s and
Assad’s armies, the frequency of attacks increased. On December 15, 2016, the Russian
FSB foiled a string of militant attacks in Russia directed from an ISIS branch located in
Turkey. The militants, three from Tajikistan and one from Moldova, were detained with
several firearms and IEDs in their possession, which they had planned on using in
Moscow. The mastermind of the attack was reported as missing, and remains on the
Turkish “Most Wanted” list (Anon. 2016a). Only five days later, the Russian ambassador
to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, was shot dead while speaking at an art gallery in the Turkish
capital Ankara. The assailant, an off-duty Turkish policeman, yelled, “Don’t forget Aleppo,
don’t forget Syria”, after shooting the ambassador in the back several times (Anon. 2016b).
All of these attacks came in the wake of threats made by Islamic militant organizations.
Russia’s North Caucasus region, located in the southwestern section of the country, is
known for its instability and radical Islamists. Muslims in this area are prone to being
recruited by militant organizations, primarily by al-Qaeda and ISIS. In September 2015,
the Soufan Group, headed by former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent Ali
Soufan, estimated that there were approximately 2,500 foreign fighters from Russia’s
North Caucasus fighting in Syria on behalf of ISIS (Dugulin 2016). No more than a year
after Russia began airstrikes in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced at the
Commonwealth of Independent States Summit in Kazakhstan that there were between
5,000 and 7,000 Russians fighting for ISIS. Most of these fighters originate from Dagestan
or Chechnya, the most unstable North Caucasus provinces, and the fighters are reportedly
known for their ferocity (Williams and Souza 2016:27).
President Putin is one of many Russian officials that have articulated their concern for
fighters returning home with lethal intent, as one in nine foreign fighters are estimated to
engage in terrorist activities upon returning home (Williams and Souza 2016:27). With ISIS
losing ground in Syria, many of these radical Russians will return home with hatred for
their country and, more importantly, the training and capabilities to incite violence in their
hometowns. Blowback is already expected in the form of lone-wolf attacks answering the
call to jihad and re-radicalization in the most unstable areas of the North Caucasus region
(Williams and Souza 2016:27).
By indiscriminately bombing all opposition to President Assad, President Putin has attracted
the odium of the radical Islamist community —the exact opposite of his reported intentions
in Syria. The correlation between threats against Russia and terrorist attacks within Russia
is impossible to ignore. Not two weeks after the first threats were made, attacks on
Russians began happening at an alarming rate. Now, with the opposition quickly losing
ground in Syria, more attacks are expected from foreign fighters returning home and from
lone-wolf actors. Therefore, it can be stated with a high level of confidence that Russia’s
involvement in the Syrian Civil War has negatively affected its internal security.
Anonymous (2015a) “Dagestan Gunmen Kill One at South Russia Fortress”, BBC, 30 December
accessed on 4 November 2016.
Anonymous (2016a) “ISIS Terrorist Attacks Thwarted in Moscow, 4 Arrested —FSB”, Russia
Today, 15 December accessed
on 2 January 2017.
Anonymous (2016b) “Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov Shot Dead in Ankara”, Al Jazeera, 20
accessed on 2 January 2017.
Anonymous (2016c) “Russian Authorities Arrest Suspected Islamic State Terrorists”, Europe Online,
accessed on 13 November 2016.
Anonymous (2016d) “Woman Held for Moscow Child ‘Beheading’”, BBC, 29 February accessed on 13 November 2016.
Dugulin, R. (2016) “The Emerging Islamic State Threat in the North Caucasus.” International Policy
Digest, 04 April
accessed on 22 October 2016.
Hammett, Y. (2016) “Islamic State-linked Terror Suspects Arrested in Russia for Planning
Explosions”, United Press International, 13 November
accessed on 13 November 2016.
Offord, J. (2016) “Russia Arrests 10 People Thought to be Plotting Islamic State-linked Terror
Attacks”, International Business Times, 12 November accessed on 13
Williams, B.G. and Souza, R. (2016) “The Consequences of Russia’s ‘Counterterrorism’ Campaign
in Syria,” Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, 9(11), pp23-28.
How Popular is ISIS in Central Asia?
Compared to other regions considered vulnerable to radical Islamic extremism, like the
Middle East, North Africa, or even Europe, Central Asia has been largely unaffected by
the spread of organizations such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) (Ataeva 2016).
However, ISIS’ attempts to spread into the region, create cells of operatives, and carry out
terrorist attacks, have not been failures. As attacks in Kazakhstan in June and July 2016
demonstrate, radical extremists do indeed have a presence in the region. Within the five
Central Asian states —Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and
Tajikistan— the region’s governments utilize a combination of outreach and reform
programs, mass arrests, and the suppression of traditionalist religious activity, to discourage
affiliation with radical groups. As a result, the popularity of organizations such as ISIS is
relatively low. However, the growth of ISIS’s popularity is highly likely, given its attempts
at broader outreach to Central Asians in the face of territorial losses in the Middle East.
Moreover, the tactics used by local governments have an even chance of causing retaliation
among the majority Muslim population.
All five Central Asian states were parts of the Soviet Union, and gained independence
within a year of its collapse, in 1991. Apart from the case of Tajikistan, which experienced a
five-year civil war following its contested first presidential election, the transitions themselves
were peaceful, but have resulted in authoritarian governments dominating the region. In
Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, the same rulers have been in power since independence. That
was also the case in Uzbekistan until the president’s death in September 2016. Turkmenistan’s
current president, who took power in 2006, was a member of the same political party as
his predecessor, who held power since independence. Kyrgyzstan is politically more fluid,
having experienced frequent elections and two revolutions, in 2005 and 2010. Each
country is named for its majority ethnic group, but their predominant ethnicities cohabitate
with significant minorities from the neighboring states, as well as with hundreds of
thousands of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians. There are notable ethnic tensions in the
Fergana Valley between Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. The majority religion is
Sunni Islam, but government rule is largely secular, with states suppressing traditional
religious practices associated with the influence of Wahhabism in Central Asian politics,
such as the separation of men and women, or abstaining from alcohol (Corley 2016). This
suppression plays a significant role in the counter-terrorist programs of each state’s interior
In the past, ISIS actively encouraged its foreign recruits to travel to the Middle East and
fight for its territorial gains. Therefore, since its inception, ISIS has attracted thousands of
radicals from Central Asia to act as foreign fighters, with conservative estimates at 4,000
in early 2016 (Morris 2016). However, with recent losses, ISIS has shifted its propaganda
focus to instead suggest that those sympathetic to its cause should remain in cells in their
native countries (Nazarov 2016). With the threat of these Central Asian individuals, or
newly radicalized Islamists, executing terrorist attacks throughout the region, Central Asian
security forces have been encouraged to apply preventative measures. Other Islamic
extremist organizations associated with Central Asia, like the Islamic Movement of
Uzbekistan (IMU), have been largely removed from the region by the efforts of local
militaries in the last decade. The IMU, a branch of which swore allegiance to ISIS in 2015,
operates primarily outside of Central Asia proper, albeit with stated aims of re-entering the
territory (Roggio and Weiss 2016).
Kazakh authorities reported the arrests of several groups of terrorists in major cities in
both August and October of 2016 (Anon. 2016a; Anon. 2016c). These arrests followed
terrorist attacks in major cities in the country earlier this year, developments that are
indicative of an increase in ISIS’s popularity in Kazakhstan and the wider Central Asian
region. On June 5, 2016, several suspected Salafi militants launched an attack on civilian
and military targets in the city of Aktobe, a main population center in northwestern
Kazakhstan, resulting in seven deaths and 37 injuries (Anon. 2016b). The shootings, likely
perpetrated by returning ISIS fighters native to Kazakhstan, were the most significant
incidents in Aktobe since a 2011 suicide bombing —the first suicide bombing in
Kazakhstan’s history. A month later, on July 18, a lone actor with Salafist ties killed four
police officers and a bystander, and injured nine others (Toleukhanova 2016). The attack
was perceived to be motivated by Islamic extremism (Anon. 2016d).
In Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, suppression of religious traditionalism and conservatism
is used to preempt radicalization. However, upon the discovery of ISIS extremists in
border provinces in Uzbekistan in 2015, Turkmenistan opted to close its border with the
country as a defensive measure (Annayev 2016b). In Kyrgyzstan, remittances from
expatriate workers are a major source of economic revenue, but there have been several
recent instances of remittance transfers funding suspected terrorist cells connected to ISIS
(Kamalov 2016). As of November 2016, the Kyrgyz government had charged 1,700 people,
most of them younger than 35, with connections to radical terrorist organizations (Nazarov
2016). In Tajikistan, 29 individuals are wanted for connections to ISIS (Anon. 2016e). In
addition, ex-colonel Gulmurod Khalimov of the Tajik Army, once the commander of
Tajikistan’s elite counter-terrorist riot police, the Special Purpose Mobility Unit, or OMON,
has been identified as a defector to ISIS in the group’s social media propaganda (Anon.
2016f). Khalimov, who was trained by the United States on American soil three times in
the last decade, was recently appointed as a top commanding general for ISIS ground
forces in the Middle East (Anon. 2015).
In its efforts to track and arrest terrorist suspects, Tajikistan’s legislature recently removed
restrictions on police that mandated the use of warrants for anti-terrorist search and seizure
(Bahrom 2016). In Turkmenistan, anti-extremist tactics include direct infiltration of
religious communities with informant networks, preemptive arrests of suspected
extremists, and further separation of radical prisoners from others who are incarcerated
(Annayev 2016c). There are no laws regulating the surveillance of citizens or foreigners in
Turkmenistan, and religious minority communities suffer persecution by the secular
government in Ashgabat (US Department of State 2011:8). Those apprehended are often
sent to prison labor camps in the Karakum Desert, the most infamous being Ovadan-
Depe, which held upwards of 120 accused Wahhabis as of September 2016 (Corley 2016).
Implications and Analysis
Given expert reports from sources such as the Global Terrorism Index for 2016, it is highly
unlikely that a terrorist attack will occur in Uzbekistan in 2017 (Yeniseyev 2016b). There
have been no attacks since 2004, likely as a direct result of the authoritarian government’s
efforts to combat extremism. Regular arrests of extremist recruiters in Uzbekistan also
contribute to the current state of affairs, with 549 arrests of extremists in the first half of
2016 alone (Yeniseyev 2016a). Turkmenistan, which is also dictatorial, has a low risk for
terrorist incidents for similar reasons (Annayev 2016a). Military counter-terrorist exercises
in Central Asia imply a level of readiness that would quickly disrupt or contain potential terrorist
attacks. Kazakhstan held a major exercise in November, which mobilized approximately
5,000 troops, 500 vehicles, and 20 aircraft, with smaller exercises occurring almost weekly
(Bogatik 2016). In the case of Kazakhstan, where terrorist incidents have occurred recently,
it can be estimated that future attacks have an even chance of occurring, given the elevated
level of preparation by the Kazakh military and police seen in recent months.
It can be stated with high confidence that ISIS enjoys a limited degree of popularity in Central
Asia. That support is concentrated in small cells that do not have enough material or popular
support to implement significant attacks. There is an even chance that suppression tactics in
the region will incite further support for ISIS, as they will continue to create discontent
among religious traditionalists and potentially radicalize youth. Likely targets among Central
Asians for recruitment into ISIS are expats who left the region for economic reasons. If
radicalized, these individuals may then return to their home countries and attempt to form
or join terrorist cells there. However, considering the concentrated counterterrorism efforts
of the Central Asian states, it is unlikely that a major attack will successfully occur in Central
Asia in the next year.
Annayev, D. (2016a) “Turkmenistan is Rated a Low Terrorism Risk”, Caravanserai, 23 November.
Annayev, D. (2016b) “Turkmenistan Suspends Visa-Free Travel with Uzbekistan”, Caravanserai,
Annayev, D. (2016c) “Turkmen Government Keeps Sharp Eye on Extremists”, Caravanserai, 09
Anonymous (2015) “U.S. Confirms Training Tajik Ex-Police Commander Who Joined IS”, Radio
Free Europe/RadioLiberty, 30 May.
Anonymous (2016a) “21 Radical Group Members Detained in Western Kazakhstan”, Kazinform,
Anonymous (2016b) “Kazakhstan: Gunmen Attack Gun Shops and Army Unit in Aktobe”, BBC,
Anonymous (2016c) “Kazakhstan NSC: Activities of 7 Radical Groups are Stopped in Kazakhstan”,
BNews, 5 October.
Anonymous (2016d) “Kazakhstan: Suspect in Almaty Shootings Speaks”, EurasiaNet, 28 July.
Anonymous (2016e) “Tajik Interior Ministry Puts 29 ISIL Suspects on Wanted List”, Caravanserai,
Anonymous (2016f) “Tajikistan’s Khalimov and Son Appear in New Social Media Photo”, Caravanserai,
Ataeva, G. (2016) “IS in Central Asia: A Myth?”, Central Eurasian Scholars & Media Initiative, 18
Bahrom, N. (2016) “Tajikistan Tightens Laws Against Terrorism”, Caravanserai, 15 November.
Bogatik, A. (2016) “Kazakhstani Army Holds Counter-Terrorism Exercises”, Caravanserai, 24 November.
Corley, F. (2016) “Turkmenistan: Imprisoned Muslim leader – Alive or Dead?”, Forum 18, 26
Kamalov, E. (2016) “Kyrgyzstan Monitoring Accounts Tied to Extremist Organisations”, Caravanserai,
Morris, D. (2016) “ISIS in Central Asia: Threat or Illusion?”, Foreign Brief, 21 March.
Nazarov, U. (2016) “Kyrgyz Youth Launch Anti-Extremism Movement”, Caravanserai, 30 November.
Roggio, B. and Weiss, C. (2016) “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan Faction Emerges After Group’s
Collapse”, The Long War Journal, 14 June.
Toleukhanova, A. (2016) “Kazakhstan’s Latest Shooting: Terror or Crime?”, EurasiaNet, 18 July.
US Department of State (2011) “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011:
Turkmenistan”, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, United States Department of
State, Washington DC, United States.
Yeniseyev, M. (2016a) “Possible Uzbekistani Child Becomes ISIL Executioner”, Caravanserai, 23
Yeniseyev, M. (2016b) “Terror Threat in Uzbekistan Remains Low: Report”, Caravanserai, 30
Did the Stability of the North Korean Government
Increase in 2016?
The stability of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) can be defined as Kim
Jong-un maintaining a power base from which to exert control, and thus limiting any internal
attempts to challenge the regime. The stability of the DPRK will be assessed by analyzing
the status of the government prior to 2016, evaluating current methods of control by
Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, and assessing the contemporary status of the country’s
emerging market economy and subsequent nuclear testing. It can be stated with moderate
confidence that the stability of the DPRK government has marginally increased in 2016.
Kim Jong-un had little time to prepare for the position of Supreme Leader, which he
assumed in 2011. When his father and predecessor, Kim Jong-il, came to power in 1994,
he was already well known by ordinary citizens and the governing elite. Conversely, Kim
Jong-un had minimal time to amalgamate his power and establish authority (Park 2014:8-
9). Consequently, since attaining power, Kim Jong-un has attempted to ensure that he has
sole authority over the country. This became quite clear in 2013, when he executed his
uncle, Jang Song-thaek, who was considered the second most powerful man in the country
during Kim Jong-il’s regime (Cha and Ellen 2014:37). Although executions of high-level
officials are nothing new, the execution of Jang Song-thaek created a tumultuous environment
by instilling fear and uncertainty within the government. This did not necessarily create
instability, nor prove conducive to stability. Rather, an environment of persistent scrutiny
fermented that can be detrimental to Kim Jong-un’s strategic legitimacy. Kim Jong-un has
also reportedly attempted to establish tighter border controls with the People’s Republic
of China (PRC) over the last few years (Shim 2015).
Over time, executions under Kim Jong-un have become the status quo. The National
Intelligence Service, the intelligence agency of the Republic of Korea (ROK), reported in
late October of 2016 that 64 public executions took place that year, a twofold increase
from 2015 (Cho 2016). The simple prevalence of public executions, rather than the exact
quantitative value, is of paramount importance because it signifies methods to mitigate
unlawful behavior (authentic or fabricated). This is a possible catalyst for defections, if fear
and uncertainty are strong enough. Nevertheless, stability is still maintained within the
regime, because nobody is directly challenging Kim Jong-un, although symbolic damage to
the regime is possible if a defector is a high-level official.
It is important to note, however, that defections are not a reliable source of instability.
They do indicate discontent on the individual level, but each defector has their own reasons
and opportunity for defecting. A prominent example was the defection of the DPRK’s
deputy ambassador to the United Kingdom, Thae Yong-ho, in August 2016 (Blair 2016).
His main motives were his disagreement with the policies of Kim Jong-un’s regime and his
desire for a better life for his family (Harding and Nagapetyants 2016). The questions, then,
become: at what point are defections indicative of regime degradation? And, does the
number of people who defected to the ROK from January to October 2016, estimated at
1,154 (Anon. 2016) signify, or forewarn of, instability? So far there are no indications that
defections result from, or instigate, instability in the country. On the other hand, there are
some defectors who choose to go back to the DPRK (Williamson 2014). Re-defections
challenge the notion that all those who defect are completely committed to their actions
and are a source of instability.
It can be argued that the developing market economy is the most influential facilitator of
DPRK stability. Historically, the DPRK has been a centrally planned economy. In other
words, DPRK citizens used to rely on the government for ration cards to acquire food via
the Public Distribution System (PDS). All that changed in the 1990s, when the former
Soviet Union collapsed and the DPRK lost its largest economic benefactor. Coupled with
flooding and substantial damage to agricultural yields, the end result was the collapse of
the PDS and widespread famine (Noland 2004:5; Haggard et al. 2007:51). DPRK citizens
quickly realized that they could not rely on the government for basic necessities. This was
when the market economy slowly started to develop and citizens resorted to selling items
in order to make a living. Kim Jong-il displayed intermittent tolerance of market-style
activities. Kim Jong-un is currently allowing them to flourish under his regime, even
though it remains illegal to sell private products. Despite the illegality of this practice,
DPRK citizens and the government are both making a profit. Individuals selling shoes, for
example, can make more money than a State Security Department official working for the
regime and overseeing such activity. The regime enforces a tax on market vendors that
allows them to operate, adding another source of revenue that is not directly targeted by
sanctions. It is also not uncommon for the government to take a percentage of profits
from private businesses (Lankov 2016:8). Allowing market activity to continue decreases
discontent and temporarily provides a favorable image of Kim Jong-un.
But tolerance of the market economy does not come without associated risks, which can
threaten the legitimacy and stability of the regime. Some items sold come from outside the
country. If the items originate from the PRC, for example, they allow the potential for
external information to permeate through North Korean society —a significant threat to
the intrinsic ideologies of the DPRK. However, tolerance of market activity superseded
the risks, and increased stability in the country throughout 2016.
Even more significant are the recent sanctions imposed by the United Nations (UN) on
the DPRK following the DPRK’s fifth nuclear test on September 9, 2016. Unlike previous
sanctions that allowed the DPRK to export coal (its main national export) if it was for
livelihood purposes, current sanctions cap coal trade entirely at 7.5 million metric tons, or
roughly $400 million dollars annually (Nichols 2016). To put this into perspective, just in
the first 10 months of 2016, the DPRK exported over 18 million metric tons of coal to the
PRC (Nichols 2016). If implemented consistently, and not intermittingly, these sanctions
can severely impact the DPRK’s stability by reducing government revenue, especially in
regions where DPRK citizens rely on state-run factories, and not market-style activities,
for work and income. At the same time, it could also push the DPRK to seek more illicit
revenue to ease any potentially negative impact.
Sanctions also bring to light the current role of the PRC in maintaining the stability of the
DPRK. As indicated by coal trade between the two countries in 2016, it was apparent that
the PRC continued to economically support Kim Jong-un’s regime. The PRC also supported
UN sanctions as a possible symbolic message of impatience toward the DPRK, but lacks
tangible behavior to facilitate it. The PRC is trying to balance repercussions toward the
DPRK against initiating a collapse of the regime, which can cause significant instability in
the PRC’s backyard. This could be one reason why the PRC has been lackluster in fully
implementing sanctions. Even with new sanctions being implemented in 2017, it can be
expected that the PRC will continue to directly support the DPRK while applying delicate
Additionally, the DPRK’s nuclear development and testing is a source of a stability and
instability. On one hand, the ambiguous capabilities of their nuclear weapons help deter
major conflict, mitigating external instability. Nuclear weapons are also used as insurance
in case military aggression (actual or perceived) occurs by the ROK or the United States.
On the other hand, the response of the international community to nuclear development
is sanctions. These, as mentioned before, can diminish stability if enough financial pressure
is applied on the DPRK.
The early years of Kim Jong-un’s reign displayed uncertainty as he established authority
through executions and tighter border control. However, after five years of such activities,
executions and defections are not unusual, with the latter indicating unwillingness or
inability to challenge Kim Jong-un’s authority. The presence of a market economy in the
country has its vulnerabilities, but the revenue generated for the regime and citizens alike
outweighs those vulnerabilities. Sanctions by the UN have the potential to decrease stability,
depending upon PRC implementation, but not in the foreseeable future. Nuclear weapons
offer external stability and mitigation of conflict. Therefore, it can be established with
moderate confidence that the DPRK’s stability marginally increased in 2016.
Anonymous (2016) “N. Korean Defectors That Arrived [to] S. Korea to Hit 30,000 Mark This
Month: Gov’t”, Yonhap News, 6 November.
Blair, D. (2016) “North Korea’s ‘Tough’ and ‘Sophisticated’ Deputy Ambassador to London
Defects to the South”, The Daily Telegraph, 17 August.
Cha, V., and Ellen, K. (2014) “US-Korea Relations: The Demise of [Jang Song-thaek]”,
Comparative Connections, 15(1), pp37-45.
Cho, Y.J. (2016) “Kim Jong-un Ordered 64 Public Executions This Year”, The Chosunilbo, 20
Haggard, S., Noland, M., and Sen, A. (2007) Famine in North Korea: Markets, Aid, and Reform,
Columbia University Press, New York, NY, United States.
Harding, L., and Nagapetyants, D. (2016) “North Korean Defector Thae Yong-ho Was ‘Sick
and Tired of Regime’”, The Guardian, 17 August.
Lankov, A. (2016) The Resurgence of a Market Economy in North Korea, Carnegie Moscow Center, 3
Nichols, M. (2016) “U.N. Slaps New Sanctions on North Korea to Slash Cash from Exports”,
Reuters, 1 December.
Noland, M. (2004) “Famine and Reform in North Korea”, Asian Economic Papers, 3(2), pp1-40.
Park, Y.S. (2014) “Policies and Ideologies of the Kim Jong-un Regime in North Korea: Theoretical
Implications”, Asian Studies Review, 38(1), 1-14.
Shim, E. (2015) “Human Rights Watch: Border Control, Surveillance Increased Under Kim Jongun”,
UPI, 2 September.
Williamson, L. (2014) “The North Korean Defectors Who Want to Return Home”, BBC News,
Did Boko Haram Grow Stronger in 2016?
I believe, with high confidence, that Boko Haram did not grow stronger in 2016. Before
vindicating this conclusion, it is imperative to understand what Boko Haram wants to
achieve in the Lake Chad region, as well as briefly discuss the organization’s history and
analyze the major developments that took place in 2016 involving Boko Haram and the
regional war being waged against it.
In order to effectively understand Boko Haram’s primary goal in the Lake Chad region, it
is essential to first analyze the conflict currently taking place within Nigeria, Chad, Niger
and Cameroon. Due to the guerilla warfare tactics deployed by Boko Haram following its
transition from a peaceful protest group to an armed militia, the conflict can be classified
as an irregular war. Irregular warfare is defined by the Unites States Department of Defense
as a violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over the
relevant population (Larson et al. 2008:xi). This definition, then, supports the notion that
Boko Haram is an insurgency group. An insurgency is a methodical, prolonged politicomilitary
struggle intended to undermine the control and legitimacy of an established
government, while ultimately increasing the insurgents’ control. These two definitions
fundamentally entail Boko Haram’s primary goal: to establish an Islamic State within the
Lake Chad region, ruled by sharia (Quranic law). Therefore, when analyzing whether Boko
Haram has grown stronger, aspects such as the availability of constant resources and
physical territory controlled by the group will be considered, but the amount of gained or
lost political support by the Nigerian people will be principal.
Boko Haram was officially founded in 2002 by Mohammad Yusuf in Maiduguri, the capital
of Borno State in northeastern Nigeria. Soon after the group’s founding, Yusuf saw the
opportunity to gain support by exploiting public outrage towards government corruption
in Nigeria, and linking it to Western influences. The reason for the acceptance of Yusuf’s
anti-Western and anti-education ideology is the belief among many Muslims in northern
Nigeria that their region is losing its Muslim identity to Western influence and Christianity,
as well as the perceived failure of the country’s secular government to provide services to
the people of northern Nigeria (Anon 2015:2). This latter issue makes many in the north
see the central government as being unworthy of their allegiance.
The successful exploitation of the Nigerian people’s discontent with the government, and
the mostly peaceful orientation of the group for the first seven years of its existence,
produced immense support for Boko Haram. However, with growing pressures from local
security forces, the organization began withdrawing into the Sambisa Forest in
northeastern Nigeria. It was in the Sambisa Forest on July 26, 2009, that the group’s
partially (though not completely) peaceful agenda was officially terminated, after security
forces arrested nine Boko Haram members and confiscated weapons and bomb-making
materials. These arrests led to widespread rioting and revenge attacks on government
buildings throughout northeastern Nigeria. Then, on July 30, 2009, a joint military
operation was launched by the Nigerian government to bring a cessation to the wave of
violence. This operation resulted in the death of 700 Boko Haram members and the arrest
of Mohammad Yusuf. While in captivity Yusuf was shot and killed, and even though there
is some controversy surrounding the events that took place leading up to his death, many
researchers believe he was not shot while trying to escape. Yusuf was taken into police
custody and extra-judicially executed. The moment of Yusuf’s killing by Nigerian security
agents is widely seen as the critical turning point in the evolution of Boko Haram (Pate
2015:13). Once Mohammad’s death was confirmed, he was officially succeeded by
Abubakar Shekau, who remains the current Spiritual Leader of Boko Haram.
From 2010 to 2014, Boko Haram carried out thousands of attacks on government and
religious targets throughout Nigeria, but none of the attacks truly gave the group global
recognition. That changed on April 14, 2014, when Boko Haram kidnapped 276 female
students from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State.
The kidnapping resulted in a massive response from both the domestic and the
international community, through social media and official statements from world leaders
(Barna 2014:5). The consistent attacks and kidnappings carried out by Boko Haram
eventually led to a military campaign launched against the insurgency in January of 2015,
by a coalition of forces from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger. The Nigerian government
and its military forces believed that the campaign was effective because it allowed the
Nigerian military to regain control of much of the territory previously held by Boko Haram.
Two months later, on March 7, 2015, Shekau pledged Boko Haram’s allegiance to the
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which was acknowledged by ISIS’ senior leadership
on March 12.
The first major development to occur in 2016, was the appointing by ISIS of Abu Musab al-
Barnawi as the new spiritual leader of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in
August. ISWAP was created with the aim of establishing its own caliphate in the Lake Chad
region. Its members, who, like Barnawi, belonged to Boko Haram, felt that Shekau had
“abandoned the true faith” by attacking Muslims indiscriminately, which led to a significant
loss of support within the Muslim community. This development ultimately led to the
separation of Boko Haram into two camps, those who support Shekau and those who
support Barnawi. Clashes between the two camps have been reported but remain minimal
largely due to the fact that both groups are currently fighting for their survival against
regional military forces. As sustained counterinsurgency operations by regional military
forces result in loses in fighters and resources for both factions, their leaders could be
compelled to limit or even end their rivalry to avoid eventual annihilation (Onuoha 2016:6).
Throughout most of 2016, Boko Haram has effectively fought and defended itself from
many attempts by government coalition forces to penetrate its last true enclave, the
Sambisa Forest. This pressure on Boko Haram is being felt from all sides and likely
prompted the developments that took place on September 24, 2016. On that date, Boko
Haram released a video on YouTube, in which Shekau offered to resume negotiations with
the Nigerian government for a prisoner swap. Boko Haram was willing to negotiate the
release of 21 of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls in return for an undisclosed amount of
captured Boko Haram commanders. The negotiations did take place, and on October 13,
2016, reports confirmed that 21 Chibok girls were released to the Nigerian government.
In return, Boko Haram received two captured Boko Haram commanders and an
undisclosed amount of money. Following the exchange, Shekau released another statement
in which he called for negotiations to continue, this time for the release of 83 Chibok girls
for more captured Boko Haram commanders. Similar negotiations have taken place in the
past and failed. The main reason why the latest negotiations were successful is that Boko
Haram now sees the abducted girls as less significant than the possibility of regaining
devoted and experienced fighters. It can be concluded from these developments that
Shekau’s agenda has altered from trying to expand Boko Haram’s operations in the region
to focusing on sustaining the organization amid growing military pressures against it.
At the beginning of 2016, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari vowed to fulfill his
promise of protecting Nigerians and securing the country’s territory by defeating Boko
Haram. However, throughout most of 2016, the Nigerian military failed to gain any
significant advantage over the insurgency group, which essentially barricaded itself deep
inside the Sambisa Forest. Then, on December 24, President Buhari announced that the
Nigerian military had sacked Boko Haram’s “Camp Zero” and that the insurgents were
fleeing desperately into the surrounding areas. The report was then confirmed by
government forces at the sacked camp and by aerial footage of the attack, showing Boko
Haram fighters fleeing the camp. Though the attack was successful, it does not signify the
end of the seven-year conflict between the two parties. On December 29, Shekau appeared
in a new video in which he challenged the claim that Boko Haram had been routed from
its last stronghold in the Sambisa Forest. The location of where the video was taken is
unclear, but many analysts, including myself, believe that many of the Boko Haram
insurgents have crossed into Chad or Niger, due to the fact that none of the remaining
Chibok girls were found at the camp. This important detail points to the strong possibility
that the girls were evacuated from the camp prior to the attack and in all likelihood were
escorted across international borders in order to ensure that the Nigerian military would
not recover them. It is also possible that many of the group’s members have blended into
the surrounding civilian population. In either case, the loss of Boko Haram’s stronghold
within the Sambisa Forest will not significantly impede the group’s ability or willingness to
carry out attacks in the Lake Chad region.
When analyzing the complete history of Boko Haram, we can identify two predominant
patterns of activity. The first pattern is the rise of an insurgency, which took place from
2002 to 2015. During this 13-year span, Boko Haram gained vast amounts of political
support throughout northeastern Nigeria by effectively winning the hearts and minds of
the people who were dissatisfied with the official government of their country. During that
phase, the amount of political support gained by Boko Haram was in the sizeable amount
of territory controlled by the group. However, this ultimately led to the initiation of a
military campaign against Boko Haram, which introduces the second pattern: that of a
weakening organization. Once Boko Haram began to lose control of its expanded territory
they became dependent on guerilla warfare tactics, such as suicide bombings and the use
of improvised explosive devices, and increased their attacks on Muslim targets. As a
consequence, Boko Haram began to lose some of its political support in the Lake Chad
region, which in turn drove ISIS’ senior leadership to appoint a new spiritual leader. The
power-struggle that quickly ensued, forced Shekau into a situation that many analysts
believe is the weakest moment of the group’s history: namely the decision to release 21 of
the abducted Chibok girls, in the hope of recovering veteran fighters and stalling the
government’s military campaign. However, this strategy ultimately failed due to the
Nigerian military’s sudden advancement deep into the Sambisa Forest in the closing days
of 2016, which in turn led to the possible relocation of Boko Haram elsewhere in the
region. Therefore, when analyzing solely the events that took place throughout 2016, it is
now clear that the Nigerian government and the coalition forces have momentum in the
conflict against the insurgency group in the Lake Chad region. That is why I believe, with
high confidence, that Boko Haram has not grown stronger in 2016.
Anonymous (2015) Boko Haram, The American Foreign Policy Council, Washington, DC, 6
European Parliament (2014) In-Depth Analysis Insecurity in Context: The Rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria,
Policy Department, Directorate-General for External Policies, European Union, Brussels,
Onuoha, F.C. (2016) “Split in ISIS-Aligned Boko Haram Group”, Al Jazeera Center for Studies,
17 October accessed on 6 December, 2016.
Pate, A. (2015) Boko Haram: An Assessment of Strengths, Vulnerabilities, and Policy Options, National
Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, The University of Maryland,
RAND Corporation (2008) Assessing Irregular Warfare, United States Department of Defense,
Washington, DC, United States.
Will the Prospect of an Independent Kurdish
State Become Viable in 2017?
As Kurdish militias are effectively combating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and
filling the void of territorial control ISIS has left behind in both Iraq and Syria, the question
of Kurdish independence seems more relevant now than it has been in nearly a century.
Among the states where a significant Kurdish minority is present, it can be stated with high
confidence that only the Kurdish populations of Iraq and Syria have a viable chance of
coming closer to independence in 2017.
Despite some similarities, the situation on the ground in Syria and Iraq could not be more
different. In Syria, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) has effectively established an
autonomous region in the vacuum created by the Syrian Civil War. However, while the
PYD are nominally backed by both the Russian and American governments in their fight
against ISIS, the Turkish government is heavily invested in preventing an independent
Kurdish nation in Syria. In Iraq, having practiced autonomy for nearly a quarter century,
the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) seems to be well positioned to push for
independence. While working with the Iraqi government to expel ISIS from northern Iraq,
the Kurdish leaders have also garnered support from the Turkish government, who are
assisting the Kurds without permission from Baghdad. These differing stances on the
Kurds of Iraq and Syria by the Turkish government, along with the current position that
the KRG has established inside of Iraq, lead to the primary conclusion as it relates to my
question: the Iraqi Kurds have the best chance to come closer to independence in 2017,
however unlikely that chance may be.
The Iraqi Kurds have expressed aspirations for an independent state since at least 1923,
when the Treaty of Lausanne gave international recognition to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s
Turkey. The post-World War I Treaty of Sevres was signed by the defeated Ottoman
government in 1920. Article 64 of the Treaty, which was later nullified, created a provision
for a sovereign Kurdish state. In Iraq, the revered Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani led several
Kurdish uprisings. Under his leadership, there were many periods of relative autonomy
from various central governments in Baghdad (Anon. 2015:1-4). But it was not until after
the end of the 1991 Gulf War, when Coalition forces created a no-fly zone over northern
Iraq, that a lasting autonomous region was created in Iraqi Kurdistan. The decade following
the creation of the KRG was marked by internal turmoil between the two rival parties of
the KRG, the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
(PUK). That lasted until the United States-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, which overthrew
Saddam Hussein. The invasion solidified Kurdish autonomy when a new constitution was
established (Anon. 2015:5-9).
The constitution gave the Kurds a significant voice in the Iraqi government. They incorporated
it into their new governmental system, while keeping their own autonomous regional power
structure in place. Although this made a unified Iraq seem possible, three points of contention
quickly arose between Baghdad and Erbil: the borders of the KRGs territory, the allocation
of oil revenue, and the KRG’s relations with neighboring states. The main contention in
regards to the KRG’s borders revolved around the disputed territories, namely the city of
Kirkuk, where the KRG sought to reverse the Arabization policies that were imposed on
the city under the reign of Saddam Hussein (Cleveland and Bunton 2013:514). As per the
new constitution, a referendum was set to be held to include Kirkuk as part of the KRG
in late 2007. However, the new Shia-led government was intent on maintaining control of
the oil revenues derived from the Kirkuk fields, so they refused to enact that portion of
the constitution (Anon. 2015:9). This example shows how important oil resources are in
Iraq, including in KRG-controlled territory. The KRG claims that, by provision of the 2005
constitution, they should control the resources within Iraqi Kurdistan (Cleveland and
Bunton 2013: 514). But the Iraqi government in Baghdad disagrees. These points of
contention are still unresolved and critical to understanding the current situation.
Early in 2013, ISIS capitalized on domestic tensions between the Shia majority and the
Sunni minority, quickly building inroads with Sunni leaders to become a unifying force
against the Shia-dominated central government in Baghdad. With these increased tensions,
ISIS launched a successful military campaign that further-endangered the unity of the
country by 2014 (Anon. 2016a:2). The group’s rapid sweep into northern Iraq in the
summer of 2014, prompted a frenzied retreat by the Iraqi security forces, which threatened
the territory of the Kurdish autonomous region. The Peshmerga, the military arm of the
KRG, has since been embroiled in a prolonged battle to capture valuable territory from
ISIS. This fighting has led to significant gains by the Peshmerga, as they have expanded
Kurdish-controlled territory by approximately 50 percent; importantly, the latter includes
the oil-rich city of Kirkuk (Rohan and Szlanko 2016:1). The KRG has systematically
protected its newly established borders, by constructing sand berms and trenches. These
fortifications, which mark the KRGs new borders, now expand across northern Iraq toward
Syria. Considering the words of Peshmerga commander Sirwan Barzani, nephew of the
current KRG President, is integral to comprehending the importance of these new
boarders to the Peshmerga. He is quoted as saying, “it was our front line, now it is our
border, and we will stay forever” (Rohan and Szlanko 2016:1).
Adding to the significant territorial gains made by the KRG, there has been a consistent flow
of statements by KRGs leaders, regarding their desire to push for independence. These calls
began in July of 2014, when KRG President Massoud Barzani signaled that the Kurdish
government would hold an independence referendum later that year. The call was motivated
by President Barzani’s belief that Iraq had been “effectively partitioned” by ISIS (Anon.
2016a:2). The plan fell flat, never gaining traction during the KRG’s military struggle against
ISIS. But it did not stop President Barzani from making a similar claim in February of 2016,
again calling for an independence referendum to be held at the end of 2016. He declared:
“the same way that Scotland, Catalonia, and Quebec [...] have the right to express their
opinions about their destiny, Kurdistan too has the right, and it is non-negotiable” (Al-
Marashi 2016:7). This call for an independence referendum also failed to materialize. This is
possibly a result of joint planning between Baghdad and Erbil to launch an operation to
retake Mosul from ISIS, which began in mid-October of last year. Shortly after that operation
was launched, the KRG Prime Minister, Nechervan Barzani, signaled that another push for
independence would be initiated after the conclusion of the operation (Anon. 2016b:2).
Some of the rhetoric coming from the KRG leadership could be attributed to the political
crisis that is taking place within the Kurdish government. The second term of President
Massoud Barzani was originally supposed to end in 2013. As a result of the 2013 election,
the Gorran party, which translates to “Movement for Change” and was founded to
challenge the two-party rule of the region, overtook the PUK as the main opposition to
the ruling KDP. This resulted in a KDP-PUK coalition in the KRG parliament, which was
designed to last for two years, until 2015. Since the end of the coalition government,
Barzani has been ruling Iraqi Kurdistan by decree. On top of that, the KDP has blocked
the opposition from entering parliament, leading to the body not convening for over a year
(Bar’el 2016:3). Further complicating the situation, protests have increased over the last
several weeks in the Sulaymaniyah province, which is politically dominated by the Gorran
Party. These protests are driven primarily by teachers and government workers who are
disgruntled because they have not been paid for several months (Bar’el 2016:3). The
internal unrest inside Iraqi Kurdistan decreases the possibility of their independence,
though it does not change the KRG’s desire to push for sovereignty at some point.
The Peshmerga have entrenched themselves along territorial boundaries that they have
long desired, and are willing to fight for those borders if necessary. The Barzani family,
who currently dominate the KRG’s leadership, are now three generations deep into the
Kurdish push for independence in Iraq. Recent statements made by President Barzani,
calling for independence after the expulsion of ISIS from Iraq, suggest that the Iraqi Kurds
intend to push for a referendum, or otherwise negotiate independence with Baghdad at the
earliest opportunity. Whether the increasing political unrest in Iraqi Kurdistan will stifle
the KRG’s push remains to be seen. It is likely that the KRG will push for sovereignty
shortly after the effective removal of ISIS from Iraq, though this may not be achieved
efore the end of 2017. Even if the KRG begins the push for independence in 2017, the
Iraqi government is unlikely to surrender to the demands of the KRG. Baghdad has a
considerable interest in maintaining the integrity of Iraq’s borders, along with controlling
its undivided oil revenues. Any potential conflict would likely bring both regional and
world powers into the fray, possibly leading to a prolonged war. Considering these factors
holistically, it can be stated with high confidence that it is unlikely that Iraqi Kurdistan will
achieve independence in 2017.
Al-Marashi, I. (2016) “The Kurdish Referendum and Barzani’s Political Survival”, Al Jazeera, 4
accessed on 5 December 2016.
Anonymous (2015) “Iraqi Kurdistan Profile - Timeline”, BBC, 1 August accessed on 5 December 2016.
Anonymous (2016a) “Iraqi Kurdistan Profile”, BBC, 5 February < http://www.bbc.com/news/
world-middle-east-28147263> accessed on 5 December 2016.
Anonymous (2016b) “Iraqi Kurds Will Push for Independence After Mosul is Freed-PM”, Russia
Today, 29 October accessed
on 5 December 2016.
Bar’el, Z. (2016) “Instead of Uniting, Kurds Are Busy Fighting Each Other”, Haaretz, 5 December
accessed on 5 December
Cleveland, W.L., and Bunton, M. (2013) A History of the Modern Middle East, Westview Press,
Rohan, B., and Szlanko, B. (2016) “As Iraq’s Kurds Eye Statehood, a Border Takes Shape”, The
Washington Post, 5 December accessed on 5 December 2016.
Is France Winning the Ground War Against
Islamic Militants in West Africa?
It can be stated with moderate confidence that France is not winning the ground war against
Islamic militants in West Africa. Although France continues to combat Islamic militants, it has
not been successful in this region, which has become a hotbed for militant organizations.
The al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) presence in northern Mali has expanded over
the past year. Tensions between the country’s north and south contribute to the regional
instability, and the vast, inhospitable landscape makes tracking and surveillance difficult.
For many years, the French have intervened in conflicts throughout Africa. France has had
a territorial presence in Africa since the first trading post was established in Senegal in the
late 15th century. But much of that ended in the 1960s, when African states gained their
independence. Since then, interventions in African countries by France have been ostensibly
intended to defend the sitting regime, maintain order and stability, or to ensure the protection
of French citizens (Powell 2014). The current French anti-terrorism campaign is Operation
Barkhane which is taking place in the Sahel region. This region encompasses most of Western
Africa and includes the vast Sahara Desert that engulfs the northern portion of the continent.
Operation Barkhane commenced on August 1, 2014 and is largely a reorganization of two
earlier operations in the region, Operations Serval and Épervier. These were combined so
that the French could operate within the G5 Sahel countries —Mali, Mauritania, Burkina
Faso, Chad and Niger— to fight militant networks and prevent the establishment of
terrorist safe havens in the region (Ministère 2016). Operation Serval was established to
stop Islamic militants from pushing into central and southern Mali from the north, while
Operation Épervier was initiated to restore peace and maintain territorial integrity within
Chad (Ministère 2014). Through Barkhane, the French have deployed 3,500 troops, 200
logistics vehicles, 200 armored vehicles, about 20 helicopters, a dozen transport planes, 6
aircrafts, and 6 drones (Ministère 2016). Permanent bases have been set up in Gao, located
in northern Mali, Niamey in southwestern Niger, and in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad.
Temporary bases are situated throughout the G5 Sahel countries (Ministère 2016).
With militant attacks continuing to occur, the French need to have the ability to transport
troops and supplies from France to Africa. The A400m aircraft was designed for its tactical
operability, and on August 31, 2016, sand tests conducted in the United Kingdom confirmed
that the airplane can land on austere surfaces, including gravel and grass (Carrey 2016).
The ability to land on sand should provide additional support to troops in northern Mali.
However, problems in the gearbox and cracks in the fuselage are just some of the issues
that have been associated with this aircraft. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves le Drian
stated on November 2, 2016: “Today, the A400ms delivered are not operational” (Tran
2016). With these planes not fully functional, operations to combat militants in desert regions
have been impeded. Currently, the French have been using Lockheed C-160 Transall and
C-130 transport planes for deploying and resupplying troops. However, compared to the
A400m, these aircraft have less carrying capacity and flying distance (Sénat n.d.).
Mali has been the main focus for the French, as it is the most politically unstable of the
G5 Sahel countries. The northern nomadic tribes, the Tuareg, Moors, and Fula, move
freely between national borders. They also have distrust for the south and the people who
control the government, which enables AQIM to have a strong presence there. AQIM’s
origins begin in the 1990s during Algeria’s civil war, when they were operating as a guerrilla
movement known as the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). The group aligned with al-Qaeda
in 2007 (Anon. 2015). In 2012, it gained significant influence over the nomadic tribes
during the Northern Mali conflict. At that time, an uprising in the north, led by the Tuareg
National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), plunged the country into a
civil war. The Tuareg, a northern nomadic tribe, have rebelled against what they see as
French colonialism, the government’s unfair land reforms, the unequal distribution of
resources, and their expressed desire for autonomy (Laszlo n.d.). Since 1960, there have
been four uprisings by the Tuareg (Damme 2015). Recognizing the success of the uprising
in 2012, Islamic militants seized the opportunity to aid the rebels and to create a network
of militant organizations. With the Malian government weakened and militants pressing
on toward the capital Bamako, the French intervened to return territorial control to the
Tensions between Mali’s northern and southern parts have impacted regional stability.
These tensions extend back to the thirteenth century and are not solely attributable to the
end of the colonial era. The south has a negative perception of northern nomadic tribes,
because of their association with the Sub-Saharan slave trade. The south also views the
Tuareg as a raiding nomadic group targeting sedentary communities (Chauzal and van
Damme 2015). The Tuareg, along with other nomadic tribes in the north, do not feel as if
they are part of Mali. As much of the power has been held in the south, resources and
programs have not improved life for the people in the north (ibid.). The division between
the north and south is one of many reasons why it is difficult for France to successfully
eliminate militants from the region.
Ansar Dine is one of five active Islamic militant groups operating in the north and is
comprised primarily of the Tuareg. During the 2012-2015 Northern Mali conflict, Ansar
Dine captured major cities in northeastern Mali, including an army base in Ageulhok, about
60 miles south of the Malian-Algerian border. At that time, the militant group established
strict sharia law. This Islamic militant group has been behind strings of attacks that have
focused on civilians, French troops, UN peacekeeping troops, and the Malian government.
The flow of weapons used by these militants takes place through the vast Sahara Desert.
A report by Conflict Armament Research, a London based group that tracks the movement of
illicit weapons and ammunition, details how Islamic militants exploited the fall of Libyan
leader Muamar Qaddafi. When Libya erupted into civil war in 2011, the borders of Libya
were open for smugglers and militias to pilfer weapons. Polish assault rifles, which date
back to the 1970s, were found by authorities in northern Mali in 2013, following a suicide
attack in Tessalit. These weapons have also been found in the Central African Republic,
Ivory Coast, and Libya. The report also discusses how Chinese Type 56-1 assault rifles
were found in this region, bearing similar sequential serial numbers and manufacturing
years to the weapons found in the hands of ISIS militants in Syria. One theory as to the
source of these weapons points to the existence of a common supply network with ISIS
members; another is that militants have carried their own weapons through the desert
(Anon. 2016). As the flow of weapons from Libya has been decreasing due to domestic
demand for such arsenals, militants have been forced to search elsewhere for rearmament
(ibid.). It follows that, if weapons from Syria and Iraq can enter Western Africa undetected,
there is ambiguity as to the actual strength of militants in this area.
The French cannot win in Western Africa if they cannot mitigate the division between the
north and south of Mali and halt the flow of weapons to this region. As this is not
happening, it can be stated with moderate confidence that France is not winning the
ground war against Islamic militants. Militants are focusing their efforts on Mali and are
able to broaden the scope of their attacks to neighboring countries. Militant groups have
aided local rebel movements in the north to appeal to nomadic tribes and to furtherinstigate
armed opposition to the Malian government. Furthermore, without the full
operational use of the A400m aircraft, operations in northern Mali that could greatly utilize
this airplane are delayed, thus enabling Islamic militants to continue to exert control over
Anonymous (2015) “Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)”, Council on Foreign Relations,
accessed on 4 December 2016.
Anonymous (2016) “Investigating Cross-Border Weapon Transfers In The Sahel”, Conflict
Armament Research, accessed on 4 December 2016.
Carey, B. (2016) “A400m Demonstrates Capability for Sand Runway in UK Tests”, AIN online,
accessed on 4 December 2016.
Chauzal, G., and van Damme, T. (2015) “The roots of Mali’s conflict”, Clingendael, Netherlands
Institute of International Relations, March accessed on 4 December 2016.
Laszlo, D. (n.d.) “The Nomadic Inhabitants of North Africa”, Bradshaw Foundation, accessed on 4 December 2016.
Ministère de la Défense (2014) “The French Elements in Chad”, Ministère de la Défense, Paris,
France 24 April accessed on 5 December
Ministère de la Défense (2016) “Opération Barkhane”, Ministère de la Défense, Paris, France 10
accessed on 4 December 2016.
Powell, N. (2014) “Lessons from French Military Interventions in Africa”, Foundation Pierre du
accessed on 18 December 2016.
Sénat (n.d.) “L’airbus militaire A400m sur le «chemin critique» de l’Europe de la défense”, Sénat,
Paris, France accessed on 4 December 2016.
Tran, P. (2016) “French Defense Chief, Airbus Spar Over ‘Tactical’ A400m Deliveries”, Defense
News, 10 November
accessed on 4 December 2016.
Did Islamist Non-State Actors Come Closer to
Developing CBRNs in 2016?
Islamist non-state actors, or Islamist militants, have been conducting violent acts on civilians
since the late 1960s (Moore 2016b). However, it was not until the attacks of September 11,
2001, that the majority of the Western world realized their capacity for large-scale destruction
(Ross 2011). Today, less than twenty years later, the capabilities of Islamist non-state actors
are no longer underestimated. A new security concern is focused around the possibility of
Islamist militant networks, such as al-Qaeda, obtaining access to chemical, biological,
radiological, or nuclear weapons (CBRNs). The question remains: are these credible concerns?
Or are they simply over-reactions to experiencing loss? While radical Islamist groups are
actively seeking CBRNs, they did not get closer to developing them in 2016, as illustrated by
the experience of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Iraqi city of Mosul.
Substantial changes have taken place since the 9/11 attacks by al-Qaeda. Most notably, the
group responsible for the attack is now largely unorganized. Much of their activities now
take place solely online and —at least for the time being— the threat they pose to the West
appears to be dormant, following the death of the group’s co-founder, Osama bin Laden
(Jenkins 2012). Al-Qaeda and others have expressed ambitions to acquire or create their
own CBRNs. However, due to lack of funding, expertise, and facilities available, they are
unlikely to produce them in the foreseeable future (Mayer 2012). Today, the most active
and unified Islamist non-state actor is ISIS. The group has ample supporters around the
world and is well funded in its Iraq and Syria strongholds, where it has held control of large
amounts of territory since 2014 (Anon. 2014). In its short history, ISIS has also proven
more than willing and capable to inflict pain and suffering on a large scale. This is illustrated
by numerous attacks on the West and many public beheadings (Walsh 2016). For this
eason, ISIS is the Islamist organization that is the most likely to develop the ability to
produce successful CBRNs (Anon. 2015).
Of all the categories of weapons included in CBRNs, chemical weapons are the easiest to
produce, but also the least deadly. With that said, militant groups do strive, through tactical
innovation, for new and more superior weapons than their own. For this reason, groups
such as these show interest in the type of weapon with the lowest lethality (Rasmussen and
Hafez 2010). Successfully mastering chemical weapons could lead them to strive for even
more deadly CBRNs. It follows that the threat of ISIS developing successful chemical
weapons over the other CBRNs is the most pressing.
Chemical weapons are categorized as either choking, blistering, blood, or nerve agents
(Schneider 2016). Most of these weapons are intended to incapacitate, not kill. ISIS has
expressed interest in both obtaining and creating its own chemical weapons since its
inception, believing that these weapons would result in rapid, overwhelming victories
against its enemies (Anon. 2015). The group’s chemical weapons program is headed by
engineers previously employed by the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, as well as from
outside the Middle East (Shachtman, Youssef and Harris 2015). However, ISIS still has
very limited success with producing even the easiest to construct and least harmful
chemical weapons (Anon. 2015).
While ISIS claims to have experts working towards creating chemical weapons, the group’s
progress toward that goal has been less than impressive. This is largely due to the United
States’ active pursuit of these individuals. In January of 2015, the former Ba’athist regime
and al-Qaeda weapons engineer Abu Malik, was killed in a US airstrike (Shachtman,
Youssef and Harris 2015). His death was a major setback for ISIS’ chemical weapons
capabilities. Similarly, in March of the following year, a senior ISIS chemical weapons
developer, Sleiman Daoud al-Afari, was captured in a raid in northern Iraq (Abdula-Zahra
and George 2016). The loss of these and other scientists greatly hinders the ability of ISIS
to produce chemical weapons.
ISIS’ steady loss of territory also threatens its chemical weapons production. The most
recent example of this is in the ongoing battle for the city of Mosul. Located in northern
Iraq, Mosul is the second largest city in the country and the group’s largest stronghold
there. It has been confirmed that Mosul housed a facility dedicated to developing mustard
agent (Powell 2016). In late October of 2016, US-backed Iraqi Army, Kurdish Peshmerga
and Shiite militia forces began the assault on the city in an attempt to push the militant
group out of the city and out of Iraq as a whole (Sisk 2016). Reports have claimed that, as
a result of the offensive, ISIS had its chemical weapons program transported back to Syria
along with some senior leadership, before the fighting began.
While chemical weapons are the easiest of the CBRNs to create, they do require specialized
facilities in order to successfully produce them. Relocating an entire facility, as in the case
with Mosul, could cause serious setbacks in production. This is evidenced by the decrease
in chemical attack incidents and testing prior to the first battles for the city (Moore 2016a).
The loss of significant amounts of territory, and consequent loss of access to appropriate
facilities, hinders ISIS’ ability to successfully produce chemical weapons.
If the threat of having to transport an entire program at a moment’s notice is not disruptive
enough, the US is also targeting these specialized facilities. In September of 2016, US drone
strikes destroyed a pharmaceutical plant in northern Iraq, which had been used to
manufacture chemical weapons (Woody 2016). By targeting ISIS’ chemical weapons
program directly, the US has been slowly dismantling it one expert and facility at a time.
Each of these setbacks makes it increasingly difficult for ISIS to develop successful
ISIS is the Islamist non-state actor most likely to produce its own CBRNs, as it is the most
unified and best-financed militant group aspiring to do so. As a result, it is the largest threat
to the West, and thus deserves more focused study. Although ISIS has chemical experts
researching and working towards producing weapons for the group, systematic targeting
of these scientists has crippled its chemical weapons program. This, and the unyielding
attacks to its physical chemical development infrastructure by the US, has decreased its
ability to manufacture these weapons successfully. The disruption caused by the ongoing
battle for the city Mosul, and the subsequent transfer of the chemical program from the
city, has also resulted in major setbacks for the militant group. There is no question that
Islamist non-state actors like ISIS do have ambitions to create CBRNs. Therefore,
international concern over this threat is rooted in fact. However, for the reasons explained
here, it can be stated with moderate confidence that it is unlikely that ISIS came closer to
developing successful CBRNs in 2016.
Abdul-Zahra, Q. and George, S. (2016) “US Special Forces Captured ISIS Top Chemical Weapons
Chief”, The Associated Press, 9 March,
accessed on 1 December 2016.
Anonymous (2015) “ISIS Pursuing Production of Chemical Weapons, Officials Say”, CBS News,
accessed on 2 December 2016.
Anonymous (2014) “How ISIS Works”, The New York Times, 16 September, accessed 4 December
Jenkins, B.M. (2012) Al Qaeda in its Third Decade: Irreversible Decline or Imminent Victory?, Rand
Corporation, Santa Monica, CA, United States accessed on 20 December 2016.
Mayer, A. (2012) “Al Qaeda ‘Irrelevant’ Since Bin Laden’s Death”, CBC News, 30 April, accessed on
3 December 2016.
Moore, J. (2016a) “ISIS Used Chemical Weapons At Least 52 Times in Iraq And Syria, Analysis
Shows”, Newsweek, 22 November,
accessed on 4 December 2016.
Moore, J. (2016b) “The Evolution of Islamic Terrorism: An Overview”, Frontline, accessed on 1 December 2016.
Powell, B. (2016) “The New ISIS Crisis”, Newsweek, 21 October.
Rasmussen, M.J., and Hafez, M.M. (2010) Terrorist Innovations in Weapons of Mass Effect, The
Defense Threat Reduction Agency, United States Department of Defense, Arlington, VA,
United States, October.
Ross, B. (2011) “While America Slept: The True Story Of 9/11”, ABC News, September, accessed on
2 December 2016.
Schneider, B.R. (2016) “Chemical Weapon”, Encyclopedia Britannica, 15 April, accessed on 1 December 2016.
Shachtman, N., Youssef, N., and Harris, S. (2015) “ISIS Chemical Weapon Specialist Was
‘Gathering Equipment’ Before He Was Killed”, The Daily Beast, 30 January
accessed on 1 December 2016.
Sisk, R. (2016) “Pentagon Now Expects ISIS to Use Mustard Gas in Mosul Fight”, Military.com,
accessed on 3 December 2016.
Walsh, N.P. (2016) “Afghanistan: Former Taliban Fighters Flee ISIS Brutality”, CNN, 12 April,
accessed on 6 December 2016.
Woody, C. (2016) “This Represents Another Example of Da’esh’s Blatant Disregard for International
Law”, Business Insider, 15 September,
accessed 2 December 2016.
Will Nigeria Continue to be Africa’s Largest Oil
Producer for the Foreseeable Future?
According to the November 2016 Issue of The Monthly Oil Market Report, produced by
the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), secondary sources, such as the
International Energy Agency (IEA), placed Nigeria at the of top of the list of African oil
producers as of October 2016. However, direct communication with national oil sector
representatives suggests that Angola held the title of leading oil producer in 2016 (Various
2016:57-58). As a result of conflicting reports, there is no clear answer to the question of
which country produces the most oil in Africa. However, considering Nigeria’s historic
dominance of the African oil market, Angola’s recent competition with Nigeria highlights
the severe underperformance of the Nigerian oil sector, which stems from numerous issues.
In recent years, Nigeria and Angola have competed for the status of top African oil
producer, a distinction that has symbolic meaning for African oil production. While both
countries are actively working to alleviate corruption and streamline their oil sector, Nigeria
also faces destruction of its oil infrastructure from militant groups. With various factors
leading to instability in the oil sectors of both countries, it is uncertain who will temporarily
lead the continent in oil production. Putting aside the challenges that Nigeria faces in
successfully extracting and transporting oil, it must be noted that the Nigerian crude oil
reserves greatly outnumber those of Angola. In 2015, OPEC estimated that Angola had
9.524 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves (Various 2015a), far lower than Nigeria’s
37.062 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves (Various 2015b). While these estimates
are subject to revisions over time, a drastic change would need to occur in order to
challenge Nigeria’s long-term advantage. Furthermore, Angola’s temporary rise in the
comparative production tables is due less to the country’s increase of oil output, which is
relatively small, and more to Nigeria’s inability to protect its oil infrastructure. Therefore,
it can be said with high confidence that Nigeria will ultimately retain or regain the symbolic
position of top African oil producing country in the foreseeable future.
Aside from Nigeria and Angola, the African continent is home to three other OPEC
members, namely Algeria, Gabon and Libya. According to secondary sources, in October
2016 Algeria produced 1,088,000 barrels of oil per day, while Gabon and Libya produced
a combined total of close to 700,000 barrels of oil per day. In that same month, Nigeria
produced 1,628,000 and Angola 1,586,000 barrels a day (Various 2016:57). Direct
communication from national oil representatives provided similar data —or in some cases
no data— on the lower-tier OPEC members; however, it displayed considerable variation
for Nigeria (1,476,000) and Angola (1,507,000) (Various 2016:58). These figures fluctuated
during the last year, at times placing Angola higher than Nigeria, or vice versa. Regardless,
they still show the two countries’ respective averages, placing Angola and Nigeria in close
contention to lead African oil production.
The Nigerian oil sector is controlled by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation
(NNPC). The NNPC is a national oil enterprise, managed by the Nigerian government,
which operates primarily in the Niger Delta. This region, located in the southern portion
of Nigeria, sits on the Gulf of Guinea and contains close to 90 percent of all Nigerian oil
reserves (Taylor 2008:77). Nigeria has a long history of widespread corruption in its public
and private oil sectors. Malpractice has been especially common in the Nigerian oil sector
history: thus, “between 1960 and 2000, oil reserves were exploited resulting in revenues of
more than $350 billion to the Nigerian government (in 1995 prices), while real per capita
income fell over the same period” (Marwan 2014:995).
In Nigeria, oil accounts for “80 percent of government revenue, 95 percent of foreign
exchange earnings, and 40 percent of gross domestic product” (Onuoha 2016). However, due
to decades of negligence by successive Nigerian governments, the country’s infrastructure
is underdeveloped and the low morale of its citizens leaves the nation susceptible to domestic
influence from militant organizations. Groups like Boko Haram and the Niger Delta Avengers
(NDA) thrive on public unrest. While these groups do not share a similar goal, they both
act with destructive intent and use government neglect as a tool to promote their respective
causes. Attacks by domestic militant groups have incapacitated oil infrastructure. Since these
factions prosper as a result of government corruption, transparency is necessary for Nigerian
prosperity and public support. In an effort to combat the appeal of militant groups,
Muhammadu Buhari, who was elected president in 2015, has focused his campaign on
transparency and dedicated a large portion of his election campaign to the alleviation of
government corruption (Nwabughiogu 2016), an issue that has plagued the national oil sector.
In Angola, the Sonangol Group is a state-owned enterprise that controls the country’s oil
sector. It shares similarities with the NNPC in terms of management and responsibility.
The current CEO of Sonangol, Isabel dos Santos, is the daughter of President Jose Eduardo
dos Santos. Angola, considered by observers as heavily corrupt, has been under the control
of dos Santos since 1979 (Anon. 2016a). In June of 2016, dos Santos fired the entire Sonangol
board and appointed a new board, with his daughter as chairwoman. He argued that the
Sonangol restructuring was intended to increase efficiency (Burgess 2016). Some experts,
however, believe that the restructuring was a strategic move by the president, aimed at
putting family in control of important economic sectors ahead of the 2018 election, before
which he plans to step down (Cropley 2016). Oil makes up “more than 90 percent of
Angola’s foreign exchange earnings, making Sonangol the biggest source of state funding”
(Anon. 2016a). With that in mind, it can be argued that the actions of the dos Santos family
display signs of nepotism and illustrate the persistence of corruption in Angola.
Angola’s recent attempt to restructure Sonangol has relied on Isabel dos Santos. With the
country ranking high in government corruption, her appointment is viewed by many as
nepotism. The Angolan government claims this move to be an effort to revitalize Sonangol,
since recent low crude oil prices have decreased company income (Anon. 2016a). However,
since Isabel dos Santos’ appointment, foreign oil investors have not received payment for
their services (George 2016). The debts owed to these entities range from hundreds of
thousands to hundreds of millions of dollars. Due to the rising amount of debt, Sonangol
requested a moratorium on repayment until the beginning of 2017. The company argues
that it is tackling the lack of transparency and low crude oil prices, which result in decreasing
revenue (George 2016). In January of 2017, Angolan banks requested that the government
work with them to create a bailout package in an attempt to protect account holders suffering
from low crude-oil prices (Mendes and McClelland 2017). Despite dos Santos’ apparent
underperformance thus far, Angola has sustained relatively consistent oil production levels.
November of 2015 saw Nigeria’s highly profitable oil sector, which has historically led
African oil exports, fall behind Angola in production (Asu 2016). The effects of militant
activities in the Niger Delta have partially crippled Nigeria’s oil production capabilities,
causing its levels to fluctuate and allowing Angola to surge ahead in oil production. The
NDA, which is considered a militant group (Owolabi 2016), carried out numerous attacks
on Nigerian oil infrastructure throughout 2016. The NDA fight the Nigerian government
and international oil companies (IOCs), in the belief that they represent the citizens of the
Niger Delta. They argue that, despite the region accounting for 90 percent of national oil
and 75 percent of export earnings, its citizens receive almost no share of the wealth and
are subject to abuse from the military (Taylor 2008). The NDA’s primary objectives are to
increase the amount of oil revenue being allocated to the region (Anon. 2016c) and to
alleviate human-rights issues. They pursue their goals by attacking oil infrastructure —
primarily, oil pipelines that transport crude oil to refineries. NDA attacks caused Nigeria a
loss of close to 700,000 barrels of oil per day, in the spring of 2016 (Calcuttawala 2016b).
This led the Nigerian government to negotiate a ceasefire with the NDA in early September.
Soon afterwards, however, the Nigerian government began to increase the presence of
military personnel in the region, which in turn prompted more attacks by the NDA. As a
result, the ceasefire collapsed in early November. Previously, in May of 2016, President Buhari
had sent military personnel to attack the NDA. But many civilians claimed that the government
troops had raped citizens and looted the properties of people who were unaffiliated with
the NDA (Anon. 2016d). More recently, continued deterioration of some pipelines, as a
result of NDA attacks, has caused President Buhari, to consider importing crude oil from
its bordering neighbor, Niger. His stated intention is to use Niger’s oil to supply the
Kaduna refinery, as all other refineries are located in the Niger Delta (Anon. 2016b).
In November of 2016, OPEC reached an agreement, for the first time in eight years, to
cut oil production (Chappell 2016). This agreement, which was implemented in January of
2017, exempts Libya and Nigeria from participation. Nigeria obtained exemption from the
production cut due to the damage in oil infrastructure and the effects caused on oilproduction
capabilities by “attacks on its oil facilities by armed militant groups in the Niger
Delta region” (Udo 2016). The agreement does not, however, exempt Angola, which must
cut crude oil production by 80,000 barrels a day (Plumer 2016).
Nigeria’s recent losses in oil production are directly attributed to the actions of the NDA.
During the ceasefire, the NNPC reported a boost in production (Calcuttawalla 2016a). If
the NDA’s attacks were subdued, it is highly unlikely that Angolan oil production would
continue to compete with Nigeria’s. It has yet to be seen if Isabel dos Santos has made
substantial progress to increase the efficiency of Sonangol. Considering the sizeable debt
owed to IOCs that Sonangol currently faces, the Angolan oil sector may lose revenue and
credibility. Angola may also lose current and future investment opportunities if it is
incapable of repaying its debts.
The discrepancy of source information in OPEC’s Monthly Oil Market Report from November
of 2016 illustrates a lack of clarity. OPEC is providing information by secondary sources,
like the IEA, which claim that Nigerian oil output led that of Angola by 42,000 barrels per
day. At the same time, it reports that Angolan output led Nigerian output by 31,000 barrels
per day, according to direct communication from national oil representatives. Such
disparate data cause uncertainty (Various 2016:57-58). Regardless, an 80,000 barrel a day
cut in Angolan production may directly affect which of the two countries secures the top
position in African oil production.
Nigeria’s substantial proven crude-oil reserves provide the nation with the potential for longterm
success. It can be said with high confidence that, due to Nigeria’s economic reliance on
oil, the government’s continuing neglect of the Niger Delta region and its inhabitants will
continue to have detrimental effects on the Nigerian oil sector and on national economic
prosperity. OPEC’s recent deal to cut oil production, which provided Nigeria with a reprieve
and required Angola to cut oil production by 80,000 barrels a day, may create a divide
between Angolan and Nigerian oil production levels. It can be stated with high confidence
that, if Nigeria currently holds the position as top oil producer, it will retain it; and if Angola
presently controls that position, Nigeria will supplant it for the foreseeable future.
Anonymous (2016a) “Angolan President Appoints Daughter as Head of State Oil Firm”, Reuters,
2 June accessed
on 5 December 2016.
Anonymous (2016b) “Nigeria Considers Importing Crude Oil from Niger Due to Militant
Attacks” Reuters, 26 November
accessed on 6 December 2016.
Anonymous (2016c) “Nigeria Militants ‘Bomb’ Oil Pipelines in Niger Delta” BBC, 16 November
accessed on 6 December 2016.
Anonymous (2016d) “Nigerian Army Presence Prompts Niger Delta Attacks” Aljazeera, 13
accessed on 6 December 2016.
Asu, F. (2016) “Angola Overtakes Nigeria as Africa’s Top Oil Producer” Punch, 14 April accessed on 6 December
Burgess, J. (2016) “After Massive Shake Up, President’s Daughter to Head Angola’s Oil Giant”
OilPrice, 3 June accessed on 29 December 2016.
Calcuttawala, Z. (2016a) “Nigeria Sees Three Weeks of Output Growth After Ceasefire in Niger
Delta”, OilPrice, 21 September < http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Nigeria-
Sees-Three-Weeks-Of-Output-Growth-After-Ceasefire-In-Niger-Delta.html> accessed on 5
Calcuttawala, Z. (2016b) “Nigeria Still Lags Behind Angola in Oil Production, September OPEC
Figures”, OilPrice, 13 October accessed on 5
Chappell, B. (2016) “OPEC Agrees to First Cut in Oil Production Since 2008” NPR, 30
accessed on 6 December 2016.
Cropley, E. (2016) “Exclusive: Isabel dos Santos Pledges Transparency, Efficiency at Angolan State
Oil Giant” Reuters, 9 June
accessed on 28 December 2016.
George, L. (2016) “Exclusive: Sonangol Delays Payments as It Battles to Reform”, Reuters, 23
on 6 December 2016.
Marwan, H. (2014) “What Explains Slow Sub-Saharan African Growth? Revisiting Oil Boom-Era
Investment and Productivity in Nigeria’s National Accounts, 1976–85”, Economic History Review,
Mendes, C. and McClelland, C. (2017) “Angola Banks Appeal for Bailout as Oil Slump Cuts
Liquidity” Bloomberg, 22 January accessed on 28 January 2017.
Nwabughiogu, L. (2016) “Buhari Believes That Good Governance, Transparency Are Integral
for Nigeria’s Progress – Presidency”, The Vanguard, 19 July accessed on 6
Onuoha, F. (2016) “The Resurgence of Militancy in Nigeria’s Oil-Rich Niger Delta and the
Dangers of Militarisation”, Al Jazeera, 8 June
accessed on 6 December 2016.
Owolabi, T. (2016) “Niger Delta Avengers Say Attacked Nigeria’s Chevron Escravos Pipeline”,
Reuters, 25 October
accessed on 28 December 2016.
Plumer, B. (2016) “OPEC Hashes Out a Major Deal to Cut Oil Production —and Prices Surge
Worldwide”, Vox, 1 December
accessed on 1 January 2017.
Taylor, I. (2008) “Sino-African Relations And The Problem Of Human Rights”, African Affairs,
107(426), pp. 77.
Various (2015a) “Member Countries: Angola”, OPEC, accessed on 6 December 2016.
Various (2015b) “Member Countries: Nigeria”, OPEC, accessed on 6 December 2016.
Various (2016) “Monthly Oil Market Report”, OPEC, 11 November.
Udo, B. (2016) “Nigeria, Two Others Get Special Concessions as OPEC Agrees to Cut Oil
Output”, Premium Times, 6 December accessed on 6
Will the Palestinian Groups Hamas and Fatah
Reunite in 2017?
Hamas and Fatah are two leading factions in the Palestinian territories, occupied by Israel.
They dominate the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, respectively. The two groups have been
at odds with each other since Hamas’ creation in 1987, and have been fighting for the
support of the Palestinian people and, later, their territories. To reunite would mean to
come together under a unified government and collectively seek ways to better the
Palestinians’ lives without any incapacitating internal disputes. By reuniting, they could
focus on outside issues, such as their confrontation with Israel, instead of trying to
undermine each other. Currently, they face internal conflicts, which are exacerbated by
their inability to hold elections and to form a power-sharing government. They must also
address external factors in their dispute, such as influence by Israel and the United States,
which classify Hamas, but not Fatah, as a terrorist organization. As a result, it can be stated
with moderate confidence that Hamas and Fatah will not reunite in 2017.
The state of Israel was created in 1947 as a result of the United Nations Partition Plan.
Thereafter, the Palestinian territory decreased significantly due to successive wars between
Israel and surrounding Arab states. Fatah was created in 1965 to fight for the Palestinians’
right to settle without persecution in designated territories occupied by Israel, and to
prevent further loss of land to Israel (Anon. 2009). In the early 1990s, the Fatah-led
Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel signed the Oslo Accords. This
agreement gave the Palestinian Authority (PA), headed by Fatah, the authority to rule over
the Palestinian-majority areas of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In return, the
Palestinians agreed to recognize Israel’s right to a peaceful existence. Hamas, created in
1987, has the same intent as Fatah, which is to push for the creation of a Palestinian state.
However, Hamas takes a religious stance, believing that they are engaged in jihad, also
known as a holy war or Islamic resistance. Hamas rejects all agreements made between
Israel and the PA, and seeks the destruction of Israel as their ultimate mission. Tensions
between Hamas and Fatah further-increased after Hamas won the majority of seats in the
Palestinian Legislative Council of 2006. Then, in 2007, Hamas took control over the
territory in the Gaza Strip that they believe is legitimately theirs to rule over, while Fatah
remains dominant in the West Bank (Anon. 2011). Today, Hamas and Fatah are still
fighting each other, seeking to become the dominant power-holders over the Palestinian
people and their territory.
On October 8, 2016 municipal elections were to be held in the Gaza Strip and West Bank,
in which both Hamas and Fatah agreed to participate. These would have been the first
elections in which both sides took part in over a decade (JNS 2016). In the weeks leading
up to the scheduled elections, each organization attempted to undermine the other.
Reports stated that Hamas and their courts in the Gaza Strip disqualified several Fatah
candidates from the election, claiming that they were illegitimate (Abu Amar 2016). In the
West Bank, several Hamas-affiliated officials were arrested. Due to these irregularities, the
High Courts in Ramallah, the PA’s Supreme Court, ruled to postpone the elections at least
until December (Khoury 2016a). Another ruling was made on October 3, stating that local
elections will occur only in the West Bank and not in the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip
(Khoury and Reuters 2016). On the following day, the PA again postponed the elections
until 2017, and did not specify whether the Gaza Strip will be included (Khoury 2016b).
The mere fact that Hamas and Fatah could not hold peaceful municipal elections illustrates
their continuing inability to work together. They are more focused on trying to undermine
each other than trying to form a government capable of promoting Palestinian interests in
the region. Both factions thrive on the idea of power, and disregard any proposal that
involves them relinquishing or sharing power.
As a result of the Oslo Accords, the United States, European Union, various Arab states,
and other organizations and countries agreed to give between 1.2 to 1.5 billion dollars a
year in financial support to the Palestinians. By the end of 2012, international support had
decreased substantially, and continues to do so today. News agencies have been noting this
decline in aid (Melhem 2016), with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah stating in
an interview that financial aid had dropped by 70 percent between 2012 and 2016 (Melhem,
2016). There are two explanations given for this financial aid decline. First, that they were
a result of the stalled Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation process. Second, that they resulted
from the fear that aid money is being funneled to militant groups, and subsequently used
to mount terrorist attacks against Israel (Melhem 2016). The threat of losing more financial
aid could lead to Fatah showing renewed willingness to compromise with Israel and
eliminate violence. Thus, any chance of reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah would be
hindered or rejected altogether.
In November 2016, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. Trump
expressed his desire to help negotiate the “ultimate deal” (the two-state solution) between
Palestine and Israel (Abrams and Sadot 2016). In March 2016, Trump had stated at the
conference of the pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee that he would
dismantle the Iran nuclear deal (known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of
Action) and move the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thus
recognizing Israel as Jerusalem’s capital (Begley 2016a). It seems highly likely, therefore,
that Trump will take a more pro-Israel stance during his presidency. Consequently, the
Palestinians fear that Israel will take precedence over them in US foreign relations. This
has the potential to further-stifle relations between Israel and the PA, which in turn could
help bring Hamas and Fatah closer together in their fight against Israel. However,
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, openly stated that “[Fatah] can have
peace with Israel or a pact with Hamas, [but it] can’t have both” (Weiner-Bronner 2014).
That statement alone forces Fatah to consider the consequences of any deal with Hamas
and how a deal would affect future attempts to establish a lasting peace with Israel. Both
Trump and the leadership of Israel would likely use their influence and make it a priority
to ensure that the two factions do not reunite. Hamas has expressed its view that
reconciliation cannot be achieved with Fatah due to the resistance by such a possibility by
the US and Israel. The two countries label Hamas a terrorist organization and thus strongly
discourage any participation by Hamas in the official Palestinian government (Anon. 2016).
On December 23, 2016, the United Nations voted on Resolution 2334, which states that
the continued Israeli settlements are illegal and calls on the state of Israel back to retreat
to the boundaries of the 1967 agreement, with the exceptions that are agreed upon by both
the Palestinian leadership and Israel. The resolution passed with a 14-0 vote by the UN
Security Council, while the US abstained from voting, thus electing not to veto it. (Begley
2016b). This resolution, and the US stance, is significant. The Fatah leader, Mahmoud
Abbas, has stated that “if the settlements would stop, [Fatah] would be ready to start talking
without preconditions” (Duek 2016). The resolution, and Abbas’ statement, do not
guarantee that talks will be held between Israel and Palestine, but they illustrate that Abbas
and Fatah are willing to participate. In relation to the Hamas conflict, as mentioned before,
any agreements made between Fatah and Israel will not be recognized by Hamas, which
minimizes the possibility of Hamas and Fatah reuniting.
On January 15, 2017 Hamas and Fatah officials met in Moscow. After three days of
negotiations, the two factions agreed to form a unity government (Anon. 2017). The
negotiations have come at a time when the Palestinians are concerned about the possibility
of strengthening ties between the US and Israel. However, a former adviser on peace
negotiations stated that it is still uncertain what makes this agreement different from the
previous failed attempts at peace between the two Palestinian factions. It was reported
that, while the Palestinian factions agreed to form a unity government, Abbas had not
made any definitive decisions or steps towards reconciliation (Anon. 2017). A Palestinian
leader close to the Hamas leadership was also reported saying that “things are far from
clear or final yet” (Anon. 2017). Therefore, while the possibility of an agreement may seem
imminent, demonstrable actions have yet to take place. If a formal, documented agreement
were to be made between the two factions, it is unlikely that they would both abide with
all of the conditions. Additionally, it is unlikely they would be able to form a lasting unity
government due to the multitude of standing internal and external issues, which have also
caused several attempts at peace between Hamas and Fatah to fail over the past decade.
Hamas and Fatah have made several attempts at reconciliation over the years, only to fall
short and remain divided. Both internal and external factors played a role in their inability
to come to an agreement and form a shared government. The fact that they were unable
to hold municipal elections in 2016 illustrates how they are not ready abide by any kind of
formal agreement. Furthermore, they must carry out municipal elections before
considering presidential and parliamentary elections. Both the US and Israel maintain that
Fatah can make a deal with Hamas or Israel, but not with both. Hamas and Fatah are both
working toward becoming the ruling power over the Palestinian people. Their fight for
majority power and their inability to find a middle ground is preventing them from creating
a united front. Fatah is also forced to consider its current and future relations with Israel
and the US, in the knowledge that any agreement with Hamas could cause a serious harm
to those relations. Based on these factors, as well as taking into account the recent meetings
between the two factions in Moscow, it can be stated with moderate confidence that
Hamas and Fatah will not reunite in 2017. Tensions are too complex to resolve in a year’s
time and outside factors —specifically America’s and Israel’s role— will be key as to
whether a reconciliation will ever be possible among Hamas and Fatah. If Israel and the
US continue to form a stronger relationship, then it may further increase the possibility of
negotiations between Hamas and Fatah as an attempt to fight back. However, if the
agreements do move forward between the two factions as a result of the Moscow meeting,
it is unlikely that successful elections and a lasting relationship will be able to take place in
the near future, due to all of the aforementioned internal and external factors.
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accessed on 30 December 2016.
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on 1 December 2016.
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accessed on 25 January 2017.
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accessed on 30 December 2016.
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on 30 December 2016.
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News Israel, 11 February
accessed on 1 December 2016.
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Biographical Notes on Contributors
RYAN HAAG, from Frederick, Maryland, is a recent graduate of Coastal Carolina University,
where he majored in Intelligence and National Security Studies and minored in Geographic
Information Systems. His interests include geospatial intelligence, human intelligence, and
psychological operations. Ryan served as the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief’s Quality Assurance
Officer and headed the organization’s Asia and Africa Division in the spring of 2016.
BLAKE GUTBERLET is a senior from Hickory, NC, majoring in Intelligence and National Security
Studies and minoring in Psychology at Coastal Carolina University. He focuses on interrogation
techniques, military weapons capabilities, and counterinsurgency with a regional focus on Africa.
Blake served as the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief’s Executive Director from 2016 to 2017 and
as head of the organization’s Europe Division in the spring of 2016.
VICTORIA JAMES, from Biloxi, Mississippi, is a senior at Coastal Carolina University. She studies
Islamist militant groups, focusing on their weapons of mass destruction capabilities. Victoria
served as the Communications officer of the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief Executive Team from
2016 to of 2017. In the fall of 2016, she headed the organization’s Middle East Division. Victoria
was also the Treasurer for the National Security Club in the fall of 2016, and President of
Women in Intelligence and National Security in the spring of 2017.
MICHAEL JONES, from North Charleston, South Carolina, is a senior at Coastal Carolina University
majoring in History with a minor in Military Science and a minor in Intelligence and National
Security Studies. His research focuses on international terrorism organizations with an emphasis
on Central Asia and the Middle East. In the fall of 2016, he served as an Officer Without Portfolio
in the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief, while also serving as head of the organization’s Asia/Eurasia
Division. In the spring of 2017, Michael served as the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief’s Quality
CONNOR KILGORE, from Reading, Pennsylvania, is in his junior year at Coastal Carolina
University, where he is majoring in Intelligence and National Security Studies with a minor in
Global Studies. He specializes in energy security and international relations. He has served the
Chanticleer Intelligence Brief as the organization’s Recruitment Officer, and as head of the
Africa Division (fall 2016) and Asia Division (spring 2017). In February of 2017, Connor participated
in the International Student Festival in Trondheim, Norway. He will be studying in the Republic
of Georgia in the summer of 2017.
ETHAN LEYSHON from Morganton, North Carolina, is a senior at Coastal Carolina University,
majoring in Intelligence and National Security Studies and minoring in Middle Eastern Studies.
His interest on Kurdish nationalism and the societies of greater Mesopotamia was inspired by
his deployment in the region as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, from 2007 to 2009. During
his deployment, he served as the Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of his Troop's intelligence
support team, working closely with the ethnically diverse population of Northern Iraq to
combat the ongoing insurgency. Since joining Coastal Carolina University, he has been actively
involved in numerous student organizations, including the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief, the
National Security Club, and Women in Intelligence and National Security.
CASEY MALLON, from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is double-majoring in Intelligence and
National Security Studies and Political Science, and minoring in Statistics, Religious Studies,
and Geographic Information Systems at Coastal Carolina University. Her research primarily
focuses on the change and evolution of terrorist groups. In May 2016, she was appointed to
serve as Chief Financial Officer in the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief’s Executive Team, and has
since served as the head of the Cybersecurity Desk (fall 2016) and the Alternative Topics Desk
(spring 2017). She is also the Communications Officer for the National Security Club and an
officer in Women in Intelligence and National Security, of which she is a founding member.
STEPHANIE NELSON is a senior from Berryville, Virginia, majoring in Intelligence and National
Security with a minor in Criminology at Coastal Carolina University. Her interests include terrorism
and espionage. She served as an Analyst in the Middle East Division of the Chanticleer
Intelligence Brief, where she focused on the conflict within the Palestinian territories of Israel.
MADISON NOWLIN is a sophomore from Concord, North Carolina majoring in Intelligence and
National Security Studies and minoring in Biology at Coastal Carolina University. She is a
member of the Executive Team of the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief, where she focuses on
Russian security issues. She is also Vice President of the National Security Club and a founding
member and officer in Women in Intelligence and National Security at Coastal Carolina University.
In the fall of 2016 Madison received the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief Best Intelligence Essay Award
by the Intelligence and National Security Studies program at Coastal Carolina University.
MATTHEW SERENITA is a senior from Clarksburg, New Jersey, majoring in Intelligence and
National Security Studies and minoring in French at Coastal Carolina University. He is also
studying toward a certificate in Geospatial Information Systems. During his academic studies at
Coastal, he has focused on Europe and Africa, paying particular attention on France’s security
policies, both domestically and abroad.
PATRICK SULLIVAN is from Middletown, Connecticut, and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of
Arts in Intelligence and National Security Studies with a minor in Political Science. In the fall of
2016 he received the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief Best Intelligence Essay Award by the Intelligence
and National Security Studies program at Coastal Carolina University. He has a strong interest
in homeland security and domestic terrorism, and has recently studied active-shooters and
lone actor terrorism.
JOSEPH FITSANAKIS, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Politics in the Intelligence and National
Security Studies program at Coastal Carolina University. Before joining Coastal, Dr. Fitsanakis
founded the Security and Intelligence Studies program at King University, where he also directed
the King Institute for Security and Intelligence Studies. He has written extensively on subjects
such as international espionage, intelligence tradecraft, counterintelligence, wiretapping, cyberespionage,
transnational crime and intelligence reform. He is a frequent media commentator
and senior editor at intelNews.org, an ACI-indexed scholarly blog that is cataloged through the
United States Library of Congress.
JOHN NOMIKOS, PhD, is Director at the Research Institute for European and American Studies
(RIEAS), Chairman of the Mediterranean Council for Intelligence Studies (MCIS), Chairman of the
Greek Intelligence Studies Association (GISA), Chairman of the European Intelligence Academy (EIA),
and Founding Editor of the Journal of Mediterranean and Balkan Intelligence (JMBI). He is Assistant
Professor at Webster University (Athens Campus), and Visiting Scholar at the John Naisbitt
University in Serbia and the University of Rome (Tre) in Italy. He was previously Adjunct Professor
at the Department of International Relations at the University of Indianapolis (Athens Campus).