The Intelligence Review | volume 1 | issue 2 |

This volume is the product of a collaboration between the European Intelligence Academy (EIA) and the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief (CIB), a student-run initiative supported by the Department of Politics at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, United States. Eleven CIB analysts tackle some of the most pressing and timely questions confronting intelligence observers today. 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. CIB analysts propose carefully crafted and informed forecasts that outline future developments in some of the world's most unpredictable hot spots.

This volume is the product of a collaboration between the European Intelligence Academy (EIA) and the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief (CIB), a student-run initiative supported by the Department of Politics at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, United States. Eleven CIB analysts tackle some of the most pressing and timely questions confronting intelligence observers today. 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. CIB analysts propose carefully crafted and informed forecasts that outline future developments in some of the world's most unpredictable hot spots.

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• 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?





• 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 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.

The European Intelligence Academy

11 Kalavryton Street,

Alimos, 17456, Athens, Greece

Tel/Fax: +30-210-991-1214 (Europe)

++1-423-742-1627 (United States)

Email: rieasinfo@gmail.com

ISBN-13: 978-1544788616

ISBN-10: 1544788614

Copyright © 2017 The European Intelligence Academy (EIA)

All rights reserved, Published in North Charleston, SC, United States, in March 2017.

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No parts of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without

the prior permission in writing of the European Intelligence Academy (EIA), or expressly permitted by law, by license, or under

terms agreed with the appropriate reproduction rights organization. You are not permitted to circulate this work in any other

form and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer of this volume.




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

Patrick Sullivan

Does Jemaah Islamiyah Continue to Pose a Security Danger Today? page 17

Casey Mallon

How Has Russia’s Involvement in the Syrian Civil War Affected Its Internal Security? page 21

Madison Nowlin

How Popular is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Central Asia? page 25

Michael Jones

Did the Stability of the North Korean Government Increase in 2016? page 29

Ryan Haag

Did Boko Haram Grow Stronger in 2016? page 33

Blake Gutberlet

Will the Prospect of an Independent Kurdish State Become Viable in 2017? page 37

Ethan Leyshon

Is France Winning the Ground War Against Islamic Militants in West Africa? page 41

Matthew Serenita

Did Islamist Non-State Actors Come Closer to Developing CBRNs in 2016? page 45

Victoria James

Will Nigeria Continue to be Africa’s Largest Oil Producer for the Foreseeable Future? page 49

Connor Kilgore

Will the Palestinian Groups Hamas and Fatah Reunite in 2017? page 55

Stephanie Nelson

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.

References Cited

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?

Patrick Sullivan

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.

Recent Developments

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



References Cited

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,

26 August.

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?

Casey Mallon

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.

Recent Developments

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.


References Cited

Anonymous (2016) “Indonesia Protest: Jakarta Anti-Governor Rally Turns Violent” BBC, 04 November

accessed on November 13 2016.

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How Has Russia’s Involvement in the Syrian

Civil War Affected Its Internal Security?

Madison Nowlin

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).

Recent Developments

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.

References Cited

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,

13 November

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

November 2016.

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?

Michael Jones

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

security ministry.

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).

Recent Developments

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.


References Cited

Annayev, D. (2016a) “Turkmenistan is Rated a Low Terrorism Risk”, Caravanserai, 23 November.

Annayev, D. (2016b) “Turkmenistan Suspends Visa-Free Travel with Uzbekistan”, Caravanserai,

10 November.

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,

31 August.

Anonymous (2016b) “Kazakhstan: Gunmen Attack Gun Shops and Army Unit in Aktobe”, BBC,

5 June.

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,

29 November.

Anonymous (2016f) “Tajikistan’s Khalimov and Son Appear in New Social Media Photo”, Caravanserai,

29 November.

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,

2 December.

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?

Ryan Haag

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).


Recent Developments

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.


References Cited

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,

5 March.


Did Boko Haram Grow Stronger in 2016?

Blake Gutberlet

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.

Recent Developments

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.

References Cited

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?

Ethan Leyshon

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.

Recent Developments

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.

References Cited

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,

Boulder, Colorado.

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?

Matthew Serenita

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).

Recent Developments

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

Malian government.

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

large territories.


References Cited

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,

31 August

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

Bois, November

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?

Victoria James

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).

Recent Developments

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

chemical weapons.


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.


References Cited

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,

19 November

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,

26 September,

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?

Connor Kilgore

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.


Recent Developments

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.


References Cited

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

December 2016.

Calcuttawala, Z. (2016b) “Nigeria Still Lags Behind Angola in Oil Production, September OPEC

Figures”, OilPrice, 13 October accessed on 5

December 2016.

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

November accessed

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,

67(4), pp.993-1011.

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

December 2016.

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

December 2016.


Will the Palestinian Groups Hamas and Fatah

Reunite in 2017?

Stephanie Nelson

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.

Recent Developments

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.


References Cited

Abrams, E. and Uri, S. (2016) “President Trump and the Art of the ‘Ultimate’ Israel-Palestine

Peace Deal”, Foreign Policy, 4 December

accessed on 30 December 2016.

Abu Amer, A. (2016) “Fight Over Palestinian Electoral Lists Gets Technical”, Al-Monitor, 16


accessed on 1 December 2016.

Anonymous (2016) “Hamas Official Blames US-Israel Veto for Hindering Palestinian

Reconciliation”, Middle East Monitor, 17 November accessed

on 1 December 2016.

Anonymous (2011) “Timeline: Hamas-Fatah Conflict”, Al Jazeera, 4 May accessed on 1 December 2016.

Anonymous (2009) “Profile: Fatah Palestinian Movement”, BBC News, 4 August accessed on 1 December 2016.

Anonymous (2017) “Fatah and Hamas to Form Unity Government”, Al Jazeera, 18 January

accessed on 25 January 2017.

Begley, S. (2016a) “Read Donald Trump’s Speech to AIPAC”, Time, 21 March accessed on 30 December 2016.

Begley, S. (2016b) “Read John Kerry’s Full Speech on Israeli Settlements and a Two-State

Solution”, Time, 29 December

accessed on 30 December 2016.

Duek, N. (2016) “Mahmoud Abbas ‘Optimistic’ Despite Settlements, ‘an Obstacle to Peace’”,

YNet, 30 December accessed

on 30 December 2016.

JNS (2016) “Hamas: We Won’t Hold Elections if Palestinians Can’t Vote in Jerusalem”, Breaking

News Israel, 11 February

accessed on 1 December 2016.

Khoury, J. (2016a) “Palestinians Freeze First Local Elections in Years Due to Hamas, Fatah Spat”,

Haaretz, September 8 accessed on 1 December


Khoury, J. (2016b) “Palestinian Government Postpones Elections until Beginning of 2017”, Haaretz,

4 October accessed in 1 December 2016.

Khoury, J. (2016) “Palestinian Court Rules to Exclude Gaza from Elections as Infighting Continues”,

Haaretz, 3 October accessed on 1 December


Melhem, A. (2016) “Can Palestinian Authority Cope with Decline of International Aid”, Al-Monitor,

18 September

accessed on 1 December 2016.

Weiner-Bronner, D. (2014) “A Brief History of the Fraught Relationship Between Fatah and

Hamas”, The Atlantic, 24 April

1 December 2016.



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

Assurance Officer.

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).






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