The Intelligence Review | volume 3 | issue 5 |

This volume is the product of a collaboration between the European Intelligence Academy (EIA) and the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief (CIB), a pre-professional body supported by the Department of Politics at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, United States. Six CIB analysts tackle some of the most pressing and timely questions confronting intelligence observers today. Topics in this issue include the current and projected strength of the al-Shabaab militant group in East Africa, the future of the Iran nuclear agreement, and the current state of Mexico’s drug cartels. The issue also contains an analysis of the rising tension between the European Union and the government of Poland, as well as of the complex relationship between the United States and Cuba. The compendium concludes with an eye-opening report on the state of Middle Eastern linguistics in the United States Intelligence Community in the post-9/11 era.

This volume is the product of a collaboration between the European Intelligence Academy (EIA) and the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief (CIB), a pre-professional body supported by the Department of Politics at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, United States. Six CIB analysts tackle some of the most pressing and timely questions confronting intelligence observers today. Topics in this issue include the current and projected strength of the al-Shabaab militant group in East Africa, the future of the Iran nuclear agreement, and the current state of Mexico’s drug cartels. The issue also contains an analysis of the rising tension between the European Union and the government of Poland, as well as of the complex relationship between the United States and Cuba. The compendium concludes with an eye-opening report on the state of Middle Eastern linguistics in the United States Intelligence Community in the post-9/11 era.


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The current state of Al-Shabaab in East Africa

The future of the Iran Nuclear Agreement

The rising tension between Poland and the EU

Which is the most powerful drug cartel in Mexico?

Will US-Cuba relations improve in 2019?

Special Report: Middle Eastern linguistics in the

US Intelligence Community after 9/11/2001



The current state of Al-Shabaab in East Africa

The future of the Iran Nuclear Agreement

The rising tension between Poland and the EU

Which is the most powerful drug cartel in Mexico?

Will US-Cuba relations improve in 2019?

Special Report: Middle Eastern linguistics in the

US Intelligence Community after 9/11/2001







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 studentled

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

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Copyright © 2018 The European Intelligence Academy (EIA)

All rights reserved, Published in Lexington, KY, United States, in November 2018.

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Table of Contents

Foreword page 7

Dr. John Nomikos

Introduction page 11

Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis

The Current State of Al-Shabaab page 15

Blake Gutberlet

Will Support Continue for the Iran Nuclear Agreement? page 21

Nathan Lake

Will Rising Tension Persist in Relations Between Poland and the EU? page 29

Ian Russick

Which is the Most Powerful Drug Cartel in Mexico? page 35

Rachel Panichella

Will US-Cuba Relations Improve in 2019? page 43

Joseph Cain

Middle Eastern Linguistics in the US Intelligence Community After 9/11 page 51

Shannon Brophy

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


Earlier this year, RIEAS founded The Journal of European and American

Intelligence Studies (JEAIS), an international academic-led scholarly publication

that focuses on the field of intelligence and related areas of study and

practice —such as terrorism and counterterrorism, homeland and

international security, geopolitics, and international relations. The

JEAIS is an all-inclusive academic platform that allows junior and

senior scholars and practitioners from both the public and private

sectors, to share their knowledge, ideas and approach to intelligence


In 2013, RIEAS launched the European Intelligence Academy (EIA)

project in order to promote the field of intelligence studies in European

academic institutions, in cooperation with the United States. 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 member states. It

also promotes cross-border research and scholarship cooperation


etween 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. Ultimately, one of the main goals of the EIA is to

connect young scholars who focus their undergraduate and postgraduate

studies on intelligence in Europe, the United States, and the

rest of the world.

With that in mind, I salute the fifth issue of The Intelligence Review, Vol.3,

No.5, November 2018, edited by Professor Joseph Fitsanakis of Coastal

Carolina University’s Intelligence and National Security Studies program,

and published by the EIA in association with the Chanticleer

Intelligence Brief. My heartfelt congratulations go to all the young

scholars whose work has been included in this seminal publication.

Dr. John Nomikos

Director, European Intelligence Academy





Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis

Associate Professor, Intelligence and National Security Studies program,

Coastal Carolina University

Deputy Director, European Intelligence Academy

The Chanticleer Intelligence Brief (CIB) began in early 2015 as a

student-led effort supported by the Department of Politics at Coastal

Carolina University (CCU). Its original purpose, which remains largely

unchanged to this day, was to provide a specialized outlet for

analytically-oriented students in CCU’s Intelligence and National Security

Studies program. Students who join the CIB are swiftly removed

from the relative predictability of the instructional environment and

thrown into the whirlwind of real-life uncertainty. They typically find

this sudden displacement startling and stimulating in equal measure.

Gradually, as they deepen their mastery of the particular topic that

has been assigned to them, they become noticeably skilled in discerning

meaningful patterns in seemingly disparate national and international

developments. Before long, they begin to build the foundations of

analytical confidence. Some even display early hints of intuitive

perceptivity —that elusive quality that experienced intelligence analysts

refer to when describing their instinctual response to challenges.


Upon joining the CIB, student analysts join ‘Sections’ —that is, groups

of other analysts who specialize in a common geographical region.

They work collaboratively to issue measurable periodic estimates on

current topics that relate to their region. Additionally, each analyst is

given the task of answering a specific question concerning an ongoing

development that relates to his or her area of expertise. The following

is an example of a question posed to a student analyst: “will Greece’s

international credit rating be upgraded by December of this year?”.

Or, “how likely is an intifada-scale uprising in the Gaza Strip in 2019?”.

Analysts occupy themselves with their question —or a series of different,

yet interrelated, questions— for up to eight semesters. Throughout

that time, they are expected to brief the entire CIB analytical team on

a weekly basis, sometimes in the presence of inquisitive current or

former members of the National Security Agency, the Central

Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other

intelligence and security agencies. In the process, student analysts are

asked questions and are evaluated on their written and oral presentation

skills. 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

anticipate future developments. The latter is arguably the most challenging

task of an intelligence analyst, and the one that leaves their analytical

products most open to dispute.

At the end of every semester, each analyst produces a brief —though

dense— analytical estimate that aims to provide an informed and accurate

answer to their analytical question. The present compendium, issue

#5 of The Intelligence Review, showcases some of the best intelligence

products written by CIB analysts in the spring 2018 academic semester.

It covers timely topics, such as the current and projected strength of

the al-Shabaab militant group in East Africa, the future of the Iran

nuclear agreement, and the current state of Mexico’s drug cartels. It

also contains an analysis of the rising tension between the European

Union and the government of Poland, as well as of the complex

relationship between the United States and Cuba. The compendium

concludes with an eye-opening report on the state of Middle Eastern

linguistics in the United States Intelligence Community in the post-

9/11 era. These reports represent a small sample of the CIB’s extensive

output. It is presented in the hope that readers will benefit from the


precision, astuteness and analytical clarity of these very timely reports

produced by a talented team of young analysts.

Since its founding, the CIB has progressed from a student-led club

to a pre-professional body that operates as an ancillary practicum for

students in Coastal’s Intelligence and National Security Studies

program. It has launched a website (www.cibrief.org), a television and

radio program, and the present publication, which is the result of a

transatlantic cooperation between the CIB and the European Intelligence

Academy. During this time, CIB alumni have joined the analytical

divisions of numerous intelligence, security and law enforcement

agencies in the United States, while many others are exercising their

skills in the private sector. An increasing number of CIB analysts have

combined their regional expertise with rigorous academic research

and studies abroad, in Africa, Central America, the Middle East, Russia

and Central Asia, the Far East, and Europe. These experiences have

only helped to improve the quality of the analytical output that is

exhibited in these pages, as have the constructive critiques of current

and former members of the United States Intelligence Community.

It is with their support, as well as with the support of Coastal Carolina

University and the European Intelligence Academy, that we hope to

continue our work in the future.



The Current State of Al-Shabaab

Blake Gutberlet

Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, the al-Qaeda-aligned terrorist

organization in Somalia, has recently carried out a string of successful

operations, which ultimately point to a resurgence of the group in the

region. Until recently, al-Shabaab was seen as being on its last legs. It

faced a seemingly overwhelming military force in the form of the

African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). This Western-backed

coalition of East African militaries is tasked with fighting al-Shabaab

and supporting the Somali National Army (SNA).

While AMISOM has succeeded in removing al-Shabaab from

strategically important urban areas of Southern Somalia, including the

capital Mogadishu and the port city of Kismayo, it has begun to falter

in its overall mission. AMISOM’s resources appear to be overstretched

and lack direction, while al-Shabaab is pursuing a new dual

strategy of traditional insurgency and terrorism. Therefore, we believe

with high confidence that, with the decline of international aid in the

Horn of Africa, and al-Shabaab’s growing control of Southern

Somalia, al-Shabaab is in a current state of resurgence.



Al-Shabaab is an internationally designated terrorist organization. It

originally emerged out of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) movement

in Somalia in the mid-2000s. The ICU began as a loose grouping of

Sharia Courts, but eventually grew into a powerful Islamic militia. By

2006, the ICU controlled most of Southern Somalia. At that time, Al-

Shabaab (translated as ‘the youth’ or ‘the youngsters’) was the radical,

hardline youth-led faction within the ICU. The ICU reached the peak

of its influence following the 2006 Battle of Mogadishu, where it

defeated the US-backed Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and

Reconciliation (ARPCT) and gained sole control over Somalia’s wartorn

capital (Hansen 2016). This victory was significant enough to be

a serious concern to the government of neighboring Ethiopia, which

backed Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Ethiopian

troops, backed by American air support, invaded Somalia to attack

the ICU and attempt to establish authority for the TFG. The remnants

of the ICU, including al-Shabaab, were driven from Mogadishu and

suffered heavy losses throughout Somalia. More moderate elements

within the ICU reconciled with the TFG and entered into an alliance

with the Somali government. But the surviving al-Shabaab fighters

went into hiding or dispersed into Kenya.

Recent Developments

While it is tempting to analyze the recent developments that have

taken place in Southern Somalia as an al-Shabaab resurgence, doing

so is somewhat misleading. Instead, we are beginning to witness what

many close observers of the Somali conflict have seen coming for

quite some time, namely the resurgence of a completely different al-

Shabaab organization (Beri 2017). This new al-Shabaab is well-organized,

disciplined, ideologically committed, and deeply embedded in certain

key parts of the country. It is now sensing a moment of weakness in

its enemies and is seizing its opportunity. While Western security and

military agencies have dedicated most of their efforts and resources

to the fight against the Islamic State (IS), they have neglected

AMISOM. While the military alliance continues to require significant

support, it is experiencing the exact opposite (Anon. 2018a). In

February 2018, for example, the European Union (EU), which funds

AMISOM’s activities as part of a financing agreement called the

African Peace Facility, announced a 20 percent reduction in its

financial support of the mission. This development comes a year after


AMISOM announced its exit strategy from Somalia at the beginning

of 2017. In May 2017, AMISOM officially announced its plans to

withdraw 1,000 troops from Somalia by the end of 2017. It also

announced that it would withdraw the remaining 1,000 troops by the

end of 2018, leaving roughly 200 troops in country with an indefinite

timeline in place. AMISOM believes that its new exit strategy will ultimately

reduce the threat from al-Shabaab, secure the country’s political process

and successfully transfer security responsibilities to Somali government

forces (Williams 2017). However, political feuds between the national

government and Somalia’s regional administrations, pervasive corruption,

and recent setbacks against al-Shabaab, threaten to derail AMISOM’s

exit strategy.

High-profile attacks on government officials and armed raids on

AMISOM bases throughout southern Somalia have become an almost

weekly occurrence in 2018. March was a particularly busy month, and

one which began with one of al-Shabaab’s most high-profile attacks,

when its fighters tried to assassinate government and military officials

throughout Mogadishu for three consecutive days (Anon. 2018c).

These incidents received relatively scant media attention in the West,

likely due to the attacks failing to actually kill any of the government

officials targeted. However, the significance of these attacks should

not be overlooked. They were well-planned and had specific targets

and objectives, which suggests that careful surveillance was carried

out on the targeted officials prior to the attacks. The attacks also

revealed how well-equipped al-Shabaab was, due to the amount of

resources that were used to carry them out. Notably, these attacks

were carried out just days after al-Shabaab reportedly lost 32 of its

fighters in a lengthy firefight with the SNA (Anon. 2018b). The group

suffered those losses in a central Somalian village, where a group of

Somali citizens refused to pay its taxes to the organization’s members.

It was reported that once the al-Shabaab militants began killing

anyone who refused to pay them, some of the villagers took up arms

against al-Shabaab until SNA forces arrived and began engaging the

militants as well. The engagement lasted 6 hours, and the SNA forces

reported killing 32 al-Shabaab members.

Outside of the urban centers in southern Somalia, al-Shabaab’s prowess

as a traditional insurgent force has also been on display in 2018. In

April, the group successfully attacked multiple Ugandan People’s

Defense Force (UPDF) bases near the Southern Somalian town of

Bulo Marer, roughly 80 miles southwest of Mogadishu (Anon. 2018d).


The simultaneous attacks, led to the death of at least 59 Ugandan

troops, inflicting one of the worst losses of life in Uganda’s military

history. Days before the attacks, the Ugandan troops had tracked

down and killed multiple al-Shabaab members in areas around Bulo

Marer. It is reported that these patrols ultimately led to the attacks on

the four UPDF bases in the area, one of which was reportedly

overrun by al-Shabaab militants. These and many other such raids

have not only been strategic successes and propaganda coups for al-

Shabaab, but have also allowed the organization to seize large amounts

of military hardware from AMISOM and SNA troops, including

military vehicles, weapons and ammunitions.

Analysis and Conclusion

While AMISOM and SNA forces have succeeded in ensuring that al-

Shabaab no longer control the major urban centers in southern

Somalia, they have struggled to capitalize on short-term successes in

rural towns and regions, and show little interest in pursuing any sort

of coherent political or military strategy (Hitchens 2017). AMISOM’s

mission has failed to remove al-Shabaab from any of its rural

hideouts, while AMISOM soldiers rarely patrol outside of their bases.

This enables al-Shabaab to operate with ease among the local population

and to present itself as a viable alternative to the TFG. However, the

recent struggles faced by AMISOM are not only a matter of a lack of

resources and an absence of clear strategy. The political climate in

Somalia is also deeply fractured and dysfunctional, leading to an

increased lack of trust between the TFG and the Somali population.

The Somali government has little control outside of its base in

Mogadishu and the SNA is viewed with distrust among many who

see it as a tool for various competing clans to gain influence (Hitchens

2017). This political paralysis has, among other things, led to a lack of

security cooperation and coordination between the center and periphery,

and has greatly benefitted al-Shabaab, allowing it to regroup.

The short answer is that al-Shabaab was never defeated. Any claims to

the contrary were overly-optimistic and ignored both how embedded

al-Shabaab remains in southern Somalia, and the limitations of those

opposing it. Many assessments also mistakenly measure the

organization’s capabilities solely by how much territory it controls,

ignoring its size and cadres of experienced and hardened fighters. The

most conservative estimates of al-Shabaab’s membership stand at

around 6,000, while other more reliable sources suggest that the


group’s armed force is more than double that. While it is difficult to

confirm these figures, if that number stands anywhere near the higher

estimates, AMISOM’s force of 2,200 is simply insufficient to achieve

anything resembling a victory and may in fact be the central reason

why it is now withdrawing its forces. That is why we believe, with

high confidence, that with the decline of international aid in the Horn

of Africa and al-Shabaab’s growing control of southern Somalia, al-

Shabaab is currently in a state of resurgence.


References Cited

Anonymous (2018a) “Somalia: Extremism and Counter-Extremism”, Counter

Extremism Project, n.d. < https://www.counterextremism.com/countries/

somalia> accessed on 21 April 2018.

Anonymous (2018b) “Somali Forces kill 32 Al-Shabaab Fighters in Central

Somalia”, African News, 17 March < http://www.xinhuanet.com/english

/2018-03/17/c_137046273.htm> accessed on 21 April 2018.

Anonymous (2018c) “Suicide Car Bomb Kills Three Near Somali Parliament”,

Reuters, 25 March

accessed on 21 April 2018.

Anonymous (2018d) “Al-Shabaab Attacks an African Union Base in Somalia”,

Reuters, 01 April

accessed on 21 April 2018.

Beri, R. (2017) “Rise of Terrorism in Africa”, Institute for Defence Studies

and Analysis, 13 April < https://idsa.in/idsacomments/rise-of-terrorismin-africa_rberi_130417>

accessed on 21 April 2018.

Hansen, S.J. (2016) Al-Shabaab in Somalia: The History of a Militant Islamist

Group, Oxford University Press, New York, New York.

Hitchens, A.M. (2017) “The Return of al-Shabaab”, The Daily Beast, 15

April accessed

on 21 April 2018.

Williams. P.D. (2017) “Somalia’s African Union Mission Has a New Exit

Strategy. But Can Troops Actually Leave?”, The Washington Post, 30 November

accessed on 21 April 2018.


Will the P5+1 Continue to Support the

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action?

Nathan Lake

Editor’s Note: The present analysis refers to an event of global significance that has

already taken place. Its projection value is therefore diminished. However, it is

included in this publication in order to illustrate the power of intellectual precision

and the ability of an intelligence analyst to achieve 100 percent accuracy —as this

analyst did— by methodically considering and evaluating the analytical parameters

of his question.

Continued collective support of the P5+1 for the Joint Comprehensive

Plan of Action (JCPOA) is far from certain. As the May 12, 2018,

deadline approaches for United States (US) President Donald Trump

to sign waivers that would maintain Washington’s commitment to the

JCPOA, concerns about specific aspects of the JCPOA have been

raised by several members of this multilateral agreement. The threat

issued by president Trump to entirely withdraw from the deal if changes

are not made to address perceived flaws, is what makes continued

support of the P5+1 for the JCPOA most questionable. Given that

no amendments to address these areas of concern have been agreed

upon, we assert with high confidence that the US will withdraw from

the JCPOA and thus the P5+1 will not continue to support the JCPOA.



The Iranian nuclear program was launched in the 1950s with help from

the US through a program known as Atoms for Peace (NTI 2017).

This came after the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad

Mosaddegh, which was orchestrated by the US Central Intelligence

Agency. Following the coup, the US-backed Reza Shah Pahlavi returned

to power in Iran (BBC 2014). The US then supplied Iran with uranium

to enrich, and helped it build its first nuclear reactor, the so-called

Tehran Research Reactor, in 1967 (Davenport 2018). Throughout the

next decade, Iran drastically increased its nuclear capabilities by

signing nuclear technology contracts with foreign entities, sending

nuclear scientists to be trained abroad and securing fissile materials

for enrichment (NTI 2017). In 1974, Shah Pahlavi announced an

ambitious plan to construct several nuclear power plants and ramp

up the country’s nuclear energy production exponentially (Davenport

2018). However, the Islamic Revolution of 1979 ousted Shah Pahlavi

and brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power in Iran (BBC News 2014).

The Iranian Revolution and subsequent seizure of the US embassy in

the capital Tehran greatly damaged relations between Western nations

and Iran, and was particularly detrimental for US-Iranian relations.

US assistance with Iran’s nuclear program was abruptly terminated

(Davenport 2018). The new leader, Khomeini, was initially opposed to

nuclear energy because he saw it as being haram (forbidden) in Islam,

and consequently issued a fatwa or religious ruling that outlawed it.

Consequently, Iran’s nuclear program experienced a period of significant

dismantlement (NTI 2017). In 1984, Khomeini seemingly softened his

position on nuclear power and began seeking help from abroad to

complete a number of unfinished nuclear energy projects (NTI 2017).

By the late 1980s, US intelligence agencies had developed firm suspicions

that Iran was using its peaceful nuclear program as a front for a clandestine

nuclear weapons program (NTI 2017). During that period, the US used

its geopolitical weight to pressure other countries not to assist Iran in

developing its nuclear program (NTI 2017). However, the US was unable

to prevent Russia from enhancing Iran’s nuclear capabilities, as Moscow

and Tehran entered a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement in 1992.

In 1995 this deal was supplemented by a follow-up agreement that was

more robust in terms of physical and technological nuclear assistance

(NTI 2017).


In 2002, an Iranian separatist group revealed to the international

community that Iran was operating undeclared nuclear facilities near

the city of Natanz in central Iran (Davenport 2018). This triggered the

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to adopt a resolution in

2003, which called on Iran to suspend all enrichment activities

(Davenport 2018). The Iranian government agreed to comply with

IAEA demands, but in 2005 the IAEA declared that Iran was still not

in compliance. On June 6, 2006, the P5+1 offered Iran the initial

framework of an agreement that provided incentives for the Islamic

Republic to curtail —and eventually eliminate— its nuclear activity

(Davenport 2018). The P5+1 are the five permanent members of the

United Nations Security Council, namely the US, the United Kingdom,

Russia, China, and France, plus Germany. In August of 2006, Iran

rejected the P5+1 offer and proceeded to continue to expand both

its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, despite harsh economic

sanctions levied upon it by the international community (Davenport

2018). In 2010, Iranian nuclear capabilities suffered a major setback

following a cyberattack in the form of a computer virus known as

Stuxnet, which targeted its nuclear facilities at Natanz (Davenport

2018). Despite this, Iranian efforts to advance the country’s nuclear

program continued. This resulted in more economic pressure being

applied by the international community: for example, the EU passed

legislation that banned its 28 member countries from importing

Iranian oil after July, 1, 2012 (Davenport 2018). On April 14, 2012,

having ostensibly succumbed to economic pressure, the Iranian

government met with officials representing the P5+1 in Turkey to

negotiate a deal (Davenport 2018). These negotiations resulted in the

signing of the JCPOA on July 15, 2015 (Davenport 2018). This

agreement between the P5+1, the European Union, and Iran,

imposed restrictions and regulations on Iran’s nuclear program in

exchange for economic relief measures (NTI 2017).

Recent Developments

Throughout his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump criticized

the JCPOA and articulated his intentions to pull the US out of the deal.

During a campaign speech at a pro-Israel conference in Washington,

candidate Trump stated: “My number-one priority is to dismantle the

disastrous deal with Iran” (Begley 2016). Nearly a year following his

election, President Trump delivered another a speech in which he

announced his decision to decertify the JCPOA and threatened to


withdraw from the deal entirely if certain aspects of it were not

amended (NPR 2017). In the speech, Trump demanded restrictions

on Iran’s ballistic missile program, the termination of the JCPOA’s

sunset clauses, and a provision for more robust inspections in order

for the US to continue to honor the agreement (NPR 2017). Sunset

clauses are limits on Iran’s nuclear program that expire after a set

amount of time, and most of the agreement’s nuclear restrictions are

set up this way. Trump said he saw this as unacceptable, because it

meant that the JCPOA was giving billions of dollars to Iran while

only merely delaying its path to acquiring nuclear weapons (NPR

2017). During the same speech, President Trump also blamed Iran for

numerous terrorist atrocities, and accused it of violating the agreement

on multiple occasions, by intimidating inspectors from carrying out

full nuclear facility inspections and by exceeding its heavy-water limit

(NPR 2017). The decertification of the agreement took place on

October 17, 2017. It did not officially withdraw the US from the deal,

but it gave Congress the power to re-impose sanctions on Iran and

created a situation where the President has to sign a waiver roughly

every 120 days to maintain US commitment. If Trump does not sign

the waiver on 12 May, 2018, the US will automatically withdraw from

the international accord.

European signatories to the P5+1 have also expressed concern about

certain aspects of the JCPOA, but are determined to preserve it. On

March 5, 2018, French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian traveled to

the Iranian capital Tehran to warn the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani

of new economic sanctions if Iran refused to make concessions regarding

its ballistic missile program (Hafezi and Irish 2018). Rouhani did not

agree to concessions and stated that his country’s ballistic missile

program was strictly for national defense. Just two weeks later,

France, Britain and Germany proposed new EU sanctions on Iran for

its ballistic missile program in an effort to keep Trump from withdrawing

from the JCPOA (Emmott 2018). American and European diplomats

held meetings to find common ground that would address the deal’s

deficiencies and keep the US from backing out of the deal. Some

progress has been reportedly made during these talks as there is a shared

desire to see the agreement’s sunset clauses modified or eliminated

(Rozen 2018). Despite these efforts to address the issues President

Trump cited in his 2017 speech, there has been no legislation passed

by the P5+1 or Iran that would alter the JCPOA.


In March of 2018, President Trump made changes to the composition

of his administration that have serious implications for the future of

the JCPOA. National Security advisor H.R. McMaster and Secretary of

State Rex Tillerson were replaced by John Bolton and Mike Pompeo

respectively (Tobin 2018). This is important because Tillerson and

McMaster generally advocated for the US to remain in the JCPOA,

while their replacements have done the opposite (Tobin 2018). Bolton

has been a particularly fierce critic of the JCPOA, as well as American

involvement in the deal. Less than a year prior to being appointed as

National Security advisor, Bolton wrote an article entitled “Trump

Must Withdraw from Iran Nuclear Deal —Now” (Bolton 2017). In

a television interview which aired just days before he became

National Security advisor, Bolton said: “I don’t see that there’s any

prospect of a real fix to this deal. I think the deal is inherently flawed.

I think it’s a strategic debacle for the US” (Fox News Insider 2018).

Dismissing those administration members who tried to convince

Trump to stay in the JCPOA, and replacing them with individuals

who have called for the US to leave it, indicates that a US withdrawal

from the JCPOA may be imminent.


In October 2017, President Trump offered the signatories to the

JCPOA an ultimatum: work with the US to fix flaws in the agreement,

or he would pull the US out of the deal. America’s European cosignatories

in the deal also see the JCPOA as less than perfect, and

agree that it would be better if Iran’s ballistic missile program were

restricted and the deal’s sunset clauses amended. Despite this common

view, European members of the P5+1 agreement have so far been

unwilling to take the risks necessary to make these changes. This is

most likely due to the fact that Iran has rejected all prospects of making

changes to the deal, and that it took years of arduous negotiations to

get Iran to sign the deal in the first place. Since the JCPOA is a

multilateral agreement, the US cannot make changes to it by itself.

With no indication that it will receive legislative cooperation from

other members of the P5+1, Trump has made personnel changes to

his administration that reflect and reinforce his viewpoint that the US

should withdraw from the deal. France, the UK and Germany must


work with the US and sign a resolution that amends the alleged weaknesses

of the JCPOA, or sign a follow-up agreement that addresses these

issues before the 12 May deadline if it wants to prevent a US

withdrawal. With no evidence that this will occur, I assert with high

confidence the US —and consequently the P5+1 as a whole— will

not continue to support the JCPOA in 2018.


References Cited

BBC News (2014) “US-Iran Relations: A Brief Guide”, British

Broadcasting Corporation, 24 November accessed on April 15, 2018.

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

accessed on April 15 2018.

Bolton, J. (2017) “Trump Must Withdraw from Iran Nuclear Deal —Now”,

The Hill, 16 July

accessed on April 16, 2018.

Davenport, K. (2018) “Timeline of Nuclear Diplomacy With Iran”, Arms

Control Association, April

accessed on April 14, 2018.

Emmott, R. (2018) “France Urges Tough EU Approach on Iran to Save

Nuclear Accord”, Reuters, 19 March

accessed on April 16, 2018.

Fox News Insider (2018) “Bolton on Trump’s Iran Deal Meeting: ‘Putting

Lipstick on a Pig’ Won’t Make a Difference”, Fox News Network, 20


accessed on April

16, 2018.

Hafezi, P. Irish, J. (2018) “French Foreign Minister Talks to Iranian Officials

About Nuclear Deal and Missile Program”, Radio Free Europe/Radio

Liberty, 5 March

accessed on April 15, 2018.

NTI (2017) “Nuclear”, Nuclear Threat Institute, July , accessed on 14 April, 2018.

NPR (2017) “Transcript: Trump’s Remarks on Iran Nuclear Deal”, National

Public Radio, 13 October < https://www.npr.org/2017/10/13/5576220

96/transcript-trump-s-remarks-on-iran-nuclear-deal> accessed on April

15, 2018.

Tobin, S.J. (2018) “Ignore the Foreign-Policy ‘Experts’ Who Defend the

Iran Deal”, National Review, 29 March accessed on April 15, 2018.

Rozen, L. (2018) “Sunsets ‘Tricky Bit’ in Transatlantic Talks on Trump

Iran Demands”, Al-Monitor, 28 February accessed on April 15, 2018.



Will Rising Tension Persist in Relations

Between Poland and the European


Ian Russick

The current trajectory of relations between Poland and the European

Union (EU) is reaching a critical junction, following the election in

2015 of the rightwing populist Law and Justice (PiS) party. This burst

of populist nationalism may have critically amplified tensions in

Polish-EU relations. Given the latest developments, it can be stated

with moderate confidence that tensions will continue to rise and that

a return to pre-2015 Polish-EU relations is not looming.


Poland’s populist Law and Justice party surged into power in October

2015, swiftly defeating the centrist opposition Civic Platform (PO) with

37.58 percent of the vote (RT 2018). Shortly after coming into power

with the support of the Law and Justice party, President of Poland Andrzej

Duda introduced judicial reforms that gave the parliament and the

justice minister power to appoint and relieve Supreme Court judges.

In addition, a retirement regime was imposed under which female


judges were required to retire at the age of 60, while male judges could

continue working until the age of 65 (Cuddy 2018). The Law and

Justice party justified these reforms as a measure intended to reform

a judicial system plagued by corruption and links to the days when the

country was still under the communist rule of Moscow (Santora 2018).

However, outside critics, including the European Commission, saw

these actions as authoritarian and said they severely undermined

judicial independence (De La Baume 2018).

On December 20, 2017, the European Commission initiated Article

7(1) disciplinary proceedings which have the potential to strip Poland

of voting rights in the European Parliament. This is the first time that the

European Commission has triggered the Article 7(1) process. Article

7(1), often labeled the “nuclear option” is the EU’s punishment clause,

solely designed to ensure that member countries stick to the bloc’s core

values. The European Council, with the consensus of the European

Parliament, must then reach a four-fifths majority decision on the

proposal in order to formally punish the state in question. If the

implementation of Article 7(1) does not have the desired effect,

Article 7(2) can then be used to impose sanctions and suspend EU

voting rights of the state in question (Cuddy 2018).

In addition to the judicial reforms, Poland was drew the EU’s ire

following the Polish government’s decision to resist EU-enforced

quotas on accepting refugees from the Middle East and North Africa.

Before the Law and Justice party came into power in 2015, EU states

agreed to relocate 160,000 asylum-seekers between them in an attempt

to relieve pressure on Greece and Italy, where the vast majority of

migrants were arriving at the time (BBC 2018). But Poland’s new

populist-controlled government grudgingly promised to admit about

half of the number previously agreed on.

Recent Developments

On December 7, 2018, Poland reshuffled its government, hoping to

ease tensions and improve its deteriorating position within the EU.

Mateusz Morawiecki took over the role of prime minister from Beata

Szydlo, as she offered her resignation at the midpoint of the Law and

Justice party’s four-year term. Morawiecki, a former finance minister,

was widely viewed by Law and Justice party members as betterqualified

to represent Poland to EU officials who have deemed the

country’s tidal wave of populist nationalism a threat to the bloc’s unity.


Two months after coming into office, Morawiecki announced a

comprehensive reshuffle of the government. Morawiecki dismissed a

third of his cabinet, including the foreign minister, defense minister,

environmental minister, and several other government officials with

tense relationships with EU leaders (Santora 2018). This government

reshuffle indicated that Poland was willing to be malleable to win back

EU favor. However, in the name of protecting the independence of

the Polish Supreme Court, Brussels decided to continue the course

of Article 7(1) proceedings.

In March of 2018, several media outlets, including the respected

international news agency Reuters, reported on Poland’s direct warning

to the EU at a meeting in Brussels, Belgium (Baczynska 2018). In the

meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker,

Morawiecki staunchly defended Poland’s controversial court overhaul

and warned that the EU’s onerous criticism of Poland’s reforms could

backfire. During the meeting, Morawiecki also presented Juncker with

a 96 page “white paper” document that explained the Polish government’s

reasons for implementing changes to the judicial system (Polskie Radio

2018). Morawiecki further explained that the document underlined

Poland’s aim to improve the judiciary. However, after thoroughly analyzing

the white paper, Frans Timmermans, the European Commission’s

first vice president, was quoted as saying that the document was “not

the answer” (Maïa De La Baume, 2018) to the Polish-EU debacle.

On April 11, 2018, Reuters reported that Poland had agreed to implement

minor changes to its judiciary system. According to Law and Justice

member Marek Ast, the proposed modifications to the judiciary included:

a clause forcing the justice minister to seek the opinion of judges before

deciding whether to dismiss a court president; equalizing the compulsory

retirement age of female and male judges at 65 years; and allowing

the country’s president the right to decide whether a judge could

work past the age of 65 (Deutsche Welle 2018). On April 16, 2018,

the proposals were passed in the Polish upper house and approved

by President Duda.

These concessions came as the ruling Law and Justice party is facing

pressure from multiple fronts. First, there are indications of a coming

clash between EU budget beneficiaries, like Poland, and the largest

EU net contributors, like Germany and France, as Brexit has inflicted

a €13 billion ($15 billion)-a-year hole in the Union’s coffers.

Currently, Poland is allocated €86 billion ($100 billion) of “cohesion”


development funds as part of the current €1 trillion ($1.15 trillion)

EU budget for the years 2014-20 —by far the largest of any other EU

member state (Peel 2018). Additionally, according to Visegrad Insight,

the upcoming EU budget is expected to allocate Poland €30 billion

($33 billion) less than the previous budget, which was implemented

by Brussels under Poland’s previous government (Zaborowski 2018).

Because of this, the Law and Justice party is actively attempting to

mollify the EU, in order to secure Poland’s critically significant

portion of EU cohesion funding. Second, according to Poll of Polls, a

private, non-profit, and independent EU statistical and polling site,

Law and Justice party electoral polling has fluctuated over the past

six months with the party reaching as high as 50 percent to as low as

36 percent (Poll of Polls 2018). This is a direct indication that the

Polish voter population is growing weary and restless over the lengthy

spat with the EU. The next ballot box test for the Law and Justice

party will occur later this year, with local elections slated for October

21. Furthermore, the next Polish parliamentary election is scheduled

to be held no later than November 2019.


The recent concessions from the Law and Justice party indicate that

the governing party is actively attempting to improve the country’s

image abroad, as well as win breathing space from its domestic political

rivals that have criticized it for straining Poland’s ties with the EU.

The concessions also come as French President Emmanuel Macron

warned that “there seems to be a European civil war” between liberal

democracy and rising authoritarianism, during a speech to the European

Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on April 17 (BBC 2018). Finally, the

situation at hand indicates that both Poland and the EU are putting

in an effort to avert using —for the first time in history— Article 7(1)

proceedings over a set of controversial reforms to Poland’s judiciary.

Warsaw has proven to be malleable by reshuffling their government;

however, the ruling party has yet to offer any kind of substantial

judicial concessions that would satisfy the EU’s demands for judicial

independence. Therefore, it can be stated with moderate confidence

that tension between Poland and the EU will continue to rise and that

a return to pre-2015 Polish-EU relations is not looming.


References Cited

Baczynska, G. (2018) “Poland Warns EU Pressure Over Legal Reforms

Could Backfire”, Reuters, March 08 accessed on March 12, 2018.

BBC News (2017) “EU to Sue Poland, Hungary and Czechs for Refusing

Refugee Quotas”, BBC News, December 07 accessed on April 22, 2018.

BBC News (2018) “France’s Macron Urges EU to Shun Nationalism”,

BBC News, April 17 accessed on April 21, 2018.

Cuddy, A. (2017) “What Is ‘Article 7’ and Why Was it Triggered Against

Poland?”, EuroNews, December 20 accessed on April 23, 2018.

De La Baume, M. (2017) “Brussels Puts Warsaw on Path to Sanctions

over Rule of Law”, Politico, December 21

accessed on April 22, 2018.

De La Baume, M. (2018) “Frans Timmermans: Poland’s Rule of Law

Paper ‘not the Answer’”, Politico, March 20

accessed on April 22, 2018.

Deutsche Welle (2018) “Poland Agrees to Minor Changes to Planned Judicial

Reforms in Response to EU Criticisms”, Deutsche Welle, 22 March

accessed on April 10,


Peel, M. (2018) “Poland Attacks Plan to Tie EU Funds to Rule of Law”,

Financial Times, February 19 accessed on April 23, 2018.

Poll of Polls (2018) “All Polls for the Next Polish Parliamentary Election

2019”, Poll of Polls, October 06 accessed

on October 07, 2018.

Polskie Radio (2018) “Polish White Paper on Judicial Changes Handed

Over to EU”, Polskie Radio, March 09

accessed on March 11, 2018.

Reuters (2018) “Poland’s Opposition Overtakes Governing Eurosceptics:

Poll”, Reuters, April 13 accessed on April 21, 2018.

RT (2018) “Guide to the Right: Where and How the Right Wing is Rising

in Europe”, RT, March 07

accessed on March 10, 2018.


Santora, M. (2018) “Poland Reshuffles Government, Hoping to Ease Tensions

With EU”, The New York Times, January 09 accessed

on April 21, 2018.

Zaborowski, M. (2018) “With an Ever More Aggressive Russia and

Questionable Commitments from the US, PiS is Rather Isolated in

Europe”, Visegrad Insight, October 04

accessed on October 06, 2018.


Which is the Most Powerful Drug

Cartel in Mexico?

Rachel Panichella

Illicit drug cartels have been part of the social, political and economic

fabric of Mexico for decades. Beginning in the 1970s, much of the

development of Mexican cartels can be attributed to the influence of

Pablo Escobar and his Medellín Cartel in Colombia. Escobar had

close relations with Mexican drug lord Miguel Gallardo, who is

notoriously known as ‘El Padrino’ (‘the Godfather’) of Mexican drug

cartels (Pérez 2016). During the 1970s and 1980s, few realized that

Escobar and Gallardo were paving the way for modern day Mexican

drug lords like Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán of the Sinaloa Cartel, and

Rubén ‘El Mencho’ Cervantes of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel,

known as CJNG (Longmire 2016). Today, cartels such as the Sinaloa,

CJNG, Gulf, and the two factions of Los Zetas —Old School Zetas and

the Northeast Cartel— continue to battle for authority. Specifically,

two powerhouse cartels compete for territorial domination: the

Sinaloa Cartel and the CJNG. Since it splintered from the Sinaloa

Cartel in 2010, the CJNG has advanced more aggressively than any

other modern-day Mexican drug cartel (Pérez 2016). It can be stated

with high confidence that the CJNG is currently the most powerful

drug cartel in Mexico.



Mexican cartels were forever altered by the criminal rise of Escobar.

Throughout the 1970s, as he networked with other criminals to form

the Medellín Cartel of Colombia, Escobar acquired control of the

production of nearly 80 percent of the cocaine disseminated into the

United States (US). His approach to leadership, infrastructural tactics,

drug trafficking, and territorial domination appealed immensely to

Gallardo. The success of Gallardo, the chief of Mexico’s Guadalajara

Cartel, mirrored the successes of Escobar and his Medellín Cartel, so

the two were in close cooperation as producers (Medellín Cartel) and

distributors (Guadalajara Cartel) of cocaine (Becerra and Parra 2012:1).

By the 1980s, the Guadalajara Cartel had control of nearly all drug

trafficking in Mexico and across the border into the US. While still very

much operating under the shadow of the overall efficiency and productivity

of the Colombian cartels, Gallardo modeled the Guadalajara Cartel as a

template for the future growth of all other Mexican cartels (Longmire

2016). In 1985, Gallardo was incarcerated for the murder of the Drug

Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Enrique Camarena, and

was thus effectively taken off the streets. But his legacy is imprinted

upon Mexico’s modern-day cartels, which have since evolved from the

now defunct Guadalajara Cartel. Today, key players in Mexico’s drug

war are the Sinaloa Cartel, the CJNG, the Gulf Cartel, and both factions

of the Los Zetas Cartel (US Drug Enforcement Administration 2017).

Once working as Gallardo’s logistics supervisor, Joaquín ‘El Chapo’

Guzmán became a recognized leader of the Sinaloa following the

dismantlement of the Guadalajara Cartel. Throughout the 1990s and

early 2000s, El Chapo gained exclusive power over the Sinaloa and its

operations. But thirst for power caused fragmentation within the cartel

(Beittel 2017:13). In 2010, the paramilitary wing of the Sinaloa, referred

to as the Milenio Cartel, splintered when Sinaloa leaders refused to

promote Rubén ‘El Mencho’ Cervantes as the leader of the wing.

Following the split, El Mencho and trained operatives of the Milenio

Cartel formed the CJNG (Beittel 2017:22).

The Rise of the CJNG

The CJNG strategically centered its foundation on the geographical

habitat of its membership in Guadalajara, the largest city and capital of

the Mexican state of Jalisco. The new cartel had several opportunities


to capitalize on: first, its accessibility to the Pacific coast and several

unclaimed seaports, such as Manzanillo and Colima, for drug trafficking.

Second, Guadalajara had a booming economy which aided the CJNG in

two ways: the economy allowed the cartel to launder money undetected,

which funded weapons manufacturing; and the economy generated an

influx of educated young people, including many chemists. Although

these individuals had moved to Guadalajara for legitimate employment,

many were eventually hired by the CJNG to manufacture illegal substances.

Not only did the CJNG recruit scientists, it also bribed low-level members

of law enforcement agencies. According to Mexico’s National Institute

of Statistics and Geography, the state of Jalisco has the highest number

of low-paid police officers and ranks in the top 10 Mexican states for

the number of police officers failing vetting tests (Croft n.d.).

While the CJNG kept getting stronger, rival cartels preoccupied Mexico’s

law enforcement and security forces. The dismantlement of rival cartels

by the Mexican government gave the CJNG the opportunity to thrive

largely uninterrupted. But, the meteoric rise of the CJNG could only

go unnoticed for so long (Cordero 2013:290). Starting in 2015, the

Mexican government began to pay increasing attention to the

established presence of the CJNG, not only in Guadalajara, but in

almost half of Mexico’s states. The rapid expansion of the CJNG

prompted the Mexican authorities to implement Operation JALISCO.

Operation JALISCO was a militarized security plan proposed by

President Enrique Peña Nieto and federal law enforcement leaders,

to combat cartel violence and drug trafficking. Merely hours after

JALISCO was announced, the CJNG shot down a military aircraft.

Some commentators theorized that the abrupt retaliation on Jalisco’s

part represented an overcompensation of the cartel’s capabilities,

aimed at deterring conflict with the government. Others said it was

purely an act of revenge against the government. The CJNG did not

publicly announce its purpose for launching an armed counterattack

on Operation JALISCO. It is worth noting, however, that after the

deadly incident the CJNG continued to pursue offensive and exorbitantly

violent operations. This suggests that the CJNG today has the resources

and numerical strength to retaliate against the government (Croft n.d.).

The rise of the CJNG has been paralleled by soaring drug-related

homicide rates. In 2010, more than 15,000 deaths were attributed to

cartel violence. In 2011, drug-related homicides nearly doubled, reaching


27, 213. Since the establishment of the CJNG in 2010, Mexico has yet

to see a year with fewer than 15,000 drug-related deaths. Moreover,

in just a few years the CJNG managed to solidify its internal structure

and implement an ambitious expansion strategy (Cordero 2013:294).

It displayed extreme aggression while tearing through Mexican states

in order to increase the territory under its control. Violence ensued

between the CJNG and rival cartels battling for control, but also with

law enforcement. Following Operation JALISCO, the CJNG issued

an official declaration of war against all Mexican security forces. While

targeting rival cartels and law enforcement throughout 2017, the

CJNG caused homicide rates to reach staggering levels. That year went

on record as the deadliest in Mexico, with more than 29,000 drug-related

murders. Homicide data is still being collected, however, so the total

should expected to rise (Fredrick 2018). As rival cartels continue to

experience internal division, makeshift leadership and dismantlement

by the federal government, the projection that the CJNG will continue

to advance in 2019 remains strong (US Department of Justice 2018).

The CJNG Today

In the first eight days of January 2018, more than 240 drug-related murders

occurred across Mexico. According to the Strategic and Defense Studies

Center of the Australian National University, the CJNG has now

become a transnational criminal organization with presence in North

America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia (Croft n.d.).

The 2017 DEA Threat Assessment considers the CJNG as “the

greatest criminal threat to the United States”, as 46 active CJNG cells

have been detected in the US (US Drug Enforcement Administration

2017:vi). In 2018, the Department of Justice reported that of the 31

states in Mexico, 16 are under travel 3 or 4 advisory. Travel 3 advisory

is to “reconsider travel” in those states, while travel 4 advisory is to

“not travel [there] at all”. CJNG’s authority reigns unchallenged by

rival cartels in nine of the most dangerous 16 states in Mexico, while

it is still present in at least 14 more (US Department of State 2018).

Given the past evolution of the CJNG, the acquisition of more territory

suggests that the CJNG is likely to continue to prosper through typical

cartel tradecraft, such as drug trafficking, money-laundering, bribery,

organizational size and influence. These capabilities will ultimately give

the CJNG an opportunity to strengthen and thrive (Borunda 2017).



The CJNG shows no sign of decline. To combat the advancement of

the CJNG, the Mexican government has been working towards

identifying the CJNG’s strategy and has implemented legislative and

tactical operations, engaging all levels of law enforcement, as well as

civic groups (Croft n.d.). Regardless of the continual effort by the

government to eradicate the CJNG, the group continues to prevail.

It remains largely unaffected by legislation and uses its formidable

paramilitary capabilities to adequately contend with armed forces.

Lastly, the CJNG retains considerable authority over corrupt law

enforcement. As CJNG consistently dominates in the streets of Mexico,

citizens do not have the confidence to engage in even basic forms of

civic participation (Pérez 2016). The CJNG has been able to actively

evade nearly all opposition by other cartels, while augmenting its

territorial control, net worth, membership, weaponry capabilities, and

ultimately its ability to threaten and intimidate the populace (Borunda

2017). It is with high confidence that we find the CJNG to be the

most powerful drug cartel in Mexico at the present time.


References Cited

Becerra, J. and Parra, M. (2012) “Twenty Years after the Killing of the King

of Kingpins Pablo Escobar: Lessons Learned from Narco-Terrorism”,

Journal of Trauma and Treatment, 1(2), pp1-2.

Beittel, J.S. (2017) Mexico: Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking Organizations,

Congressional Research Service, United States Library of Congress.

Borunda, D. (2017) “Mexico’s fast-growing Jalisco New Generation Cartel

expands to El Pasoregion”, The El Paso Times, 27 October

accessed on

13 April 2018.

Cordero, C.F. (2013) “Breaking the Mexican Cartels: A Key Homeland

Security Challenge for the Next Four Years”, UMKC Law Review, 81(2),


Croft, H. (n.d.) “Operation Jalisco: The Rise of the Jalisco New Generation

Cartel and PeñasNieto’s Militarized Security Strategy”, Small Wars Journal


accessed on 19April 2018.

Fredrick, J. (2018) “Mexico Registers its Highest Number of Homicides

on Record”, National Public Radio, 25 January ,

accessed 21 April 2018.

Longmire, S. (2016) “DEA: The CJNG is Now the Largest Criminal

Group in Mexico”, In Homeland Security, 28 December , accessed on

17 April 2018.

Pérez, L.A. (2016) “Mexico’s Jalisco Cartel – New Generation: From

Extinction to World Domination”, InSight Crime, 26 December ,

accessed on 17 April 2018.

US Department of Justice (2018) “Sinaloa Cartel Trafficker Sentenced”,

United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC, United States.

US Department of State (2018) “Mexico Travel Advisory”, United States

Department of State, Washington, DC, United States.

US Drug Enforcement Administration (2017) “2017 National Drug

Threat Assessment”, United States Drug Enforcement Administration,

Washington, DC, United States.




Will US-Cuba Relations Improve in


Joseph Cain

In 2014, United States President Barack Obama and Cuban President

Raúl Castro appeared to move past simple détente and forge an era of

significantly improved relations between Washington and Havana.

But that did not last, as the bilateral relationship between the US and

Cuba has since ventured into uncharted territory. Today, for the first

time in nearly six decades, Cuba has someone without the Castro

name at the helm of government —President Miguel Díaz-Canel.

However, Cuba’s former president, Raúl Castro, remains both head

of the military and First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba

(PCC). Additionally, the new American administration of President

Donald Trump has partially rolled back President Obama’s initiatives.

For that to be reversed, the US would need to revert to a policy of

engagement, in the manner of the Obama administration, instead of

relying on isolating Cuba in order to achieve a number of stated policy

objectives. Furthermore, both countries’ embassies would need to be

fully staffed and operational in order to engage in essential bilateral

exchanges on a consistent basis. However, current relations remain

strained. Recent shifts in both governments, paired with sharply

differing ideologies, and the limited presence of diplomats at each other’s


embassies, have halted nearly all prospects of a rapprochement.

Therefore, it can be stated with a high level of confidence that

relations between the US and Cuba will likely not improve in the

foreseeable future.


The current strains in US-Cuba relations have their roots in the

Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro’s rise to power in 1959. By 1961,

the US had severed relations with Cuba and launched a wide-ranging

covert-action operation program the island nation. Aspects of that

program, principally the infamous Bay of Pigs invasion, have gone

down as some of the biggest intelligence failures in US history, as they

resulted in solidifying Castro’s power on the island. In 1962, the US

imposed a trade embargo on Cuba, which remains in place today (US

State Department n.d.). Another outcome of the revolution was the

mass migration of Cuban political refugees to America —the Miami

area being their most popular destination. Today, the Cuban community

holds extensive political power in Florida and has historically been

one of the major forces in isolating Cuba (MPI 2018). Eventually, the

Cuban government aligned itself with the socialist bloc and became

a close ally of America’s Cold War enemy —the Soviet Union. The

US and Cuba became ideological antagonists, representing the clash

between capitalism and socialism throughout the Cold War.

However, political change looked possible in Cuba with Raúl Castro

succeeding his brother at Cuba’s helm in 2006. The next two years

saw the rise of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States.

In 2014, a normalization process commenced and diplomatic

relations between Washington and Havana were reestablished on July

20, 2015. However, following the rapid improvement in US-Cuban

relations, major health symptoms began plaguing a number of US

and Canadian embassy personnel stationed in Cuba, which were first

reported in November of 2016, just days after Donald Trump was

elected president of the US (Sullivan 2018:32). The State Department

has labelled the cases as targeted attacks and the US government has

since expelled 17 Cuban diplomats from the US, blaming Havana for

failing to protect American diplomatic personnel. On June 16, 2017,

President Trump announced a new policy via a National Security

Presidential Memorandum (NSPM) on strengthening US policy

towards Cuba. The NSPM partially rolled back President Obama’s

policies, most significantly by placing restrictions on doing business


with companies associated with the Cuban military, and prohibiting

“self-directed, individual travel” to the Caribbean island (White House

2017). This new policy went into effect on November 19, 2017.

Recent Developments

The first four months of 2018 produced multiple key events that

provided insight on the direction of US-Cuba relations. The most

perplexing event pertains to the ongoing investigation into who or

what caused 24 American and 10 Canadian diplomats, posted to their

respective embassies in Havana, to experience severe neurological

ailments. A study released on February 15 by the Journal of the American

Medical Association, with the US State Department’s approval, failed to

provide definitive clarity on the incidents. This prompted the US

State Department to announce on March 2 that the US embassy in

Havana would be deemed an unaccompanied post —meaning that no

family members would be permitted to reside there and that it would

continue to operate with essential personnel only. On April 11, the

US State Department released updated embassy rosters, which list

only 10 officers present at the Havana embassy. This number does

not include political, economic, public affairs or cultural officers.

Also of importance are recent administration appointments made by

President Trump. Mike Pompeo —former director of the Central

Intelligence Agency— was confirmed as Secretary of State on April

26, 2018. When questioned about Cuba during his confirmation

hearing before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on April 12,

Pompeo stated that he wanted to make sure that embassy personnel

were safe and then eventually build up the embassy “in a way that

represents the finest of American diplomacy”, before improving

ties with Havana (Pompeo 2018). President Trump also appointed

John Bolton as his National Security Adviser (NSA), effective April

9. In this position, Bolton, who has a history of hardline policy views

against Cuba, will constantly have the ear of the President. But

arguably the event that holds the most sway over the direction of

relations between the US and Cuba was the culmination of the Cuban

election process, which resulted in Díaz-Canel being sworn in as

president of Cuba on April 19, 2018. President Díaz-Canel will likely

serve two five-year terms, as his predecessor, Castro, did before him.

For the next decade President Díaz-Canel will be at the forefront of

political exchanges between Cuba and the US.



Bilateral relations between countries evolve primarily through

diplomacy, with an adequate embassy presence being essential in that

process. The US and Cuba only recently reestablished diplomatic

relations in 2015. But with what the US State Department labels as

directed attacks on US diplomatic personnel, relations between

Washington and Havana have chilled. The Miami Herald reported on

April 6, 2018, that “most of the jobs [of personnel that are still

present at the US embassy in Havana] deal with maintenance, security

or the internal functioning of the embassy” (Whitfield 2018). This

means that critical tasks, such as processing visas, engaging in trade

talks and in general dialogue between the two sides, have stalled. In

fact, Cubans wishing to visit their families in the US must now travel

to the US embassy in Guyana to acquire visas. As the average Cuban

makes only about 30 dollars a month, visiting Guyana to acquire a

visa creates a difficult situation without financing from their families

outside of Cuba (CDA 2018). This could possibly further-damage the

popular opinion of America among Cubans.

Despite the generally positive comments on US-Cuban relations by Mike

Pompeo during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign

Relations Committee, it is still debatable as to which direction he will

push relations as America’s top diplomat. Notably, during a Senate

hearing in 2017, Pompeo agreed with Florida Senator Marco Rubio that

Cuba takes advantage of warmer ties to influence Americans in a way

that is “adverse to US interests” (Washington Post 2017). The situation

becomes more complicated with NSA Bolton, whose hardline views

towards Cuba may hold sway over the president while he occupies such

a key advisory role. As US undersecretary of state in 2002, Bolton

added Cuba to the “Axis of Evil” powers, which was a cornerstone

concept in the foreign policy of then-President George W. Bush

(Gardner 2003). Considering the crucial roles that these two men will

play in US foreign policy, along with their history regarding Cuba, it

is likely that they will have an adverse effect on relations.

Moreover, even with the recent transition in the presidency, deep change

in Cuba is highly unlikely. Raúl Castro controls the military and most

importantly remains the First Secretary of the PCC. President Díaz-

Canel stated in his first public speech as president that “Raúl Castro

[…] will lead the most important decisions for the present and the

future of the nation” and that he would continue to pursue the ideals


of the Cuban Revolution and not shift towards a capitalist economic

system. (Díaz-Canel 2018). Until 2021, when Raúl Castro steps down

as First Secretary of the PCC, no substantial political change should

be expected in Cuba. The only legal party in Cuba is the PCC, under

Raúl Castro’s leadership, making it the only source of political power

on the island. The lack of change could possibly cause minor issues

domestically, but it is unlikely to create any major push for social and

political change within Cuba that could help improve relations with

the US in 2018.


Relations between the US and Cuba have steadily declined since the 2016

Presidential election in the US. Based on careful analysis of reliable

information, it seems likely that bilateral relations will not improve.

The US does not have the necessary diplomatic presence in Cuba that

is required to improve relations, nor is it willing to enact the type of

legislation that is required to open up and truly encourage bilateral

trade. The present official US policy clearly states that any further

improvements rely on the Cuban government promoting the rule of

law, respecting human rights, and improving political and economic

freedoms in the country (White House 2017). Meanwhile, the newly

elected President Díaz-Canel will carry on with reference revolutionary

dogmas and governing methods that have stood in defiance of the

US for six decades. Therefore, it can be stated with high confidence

that relations between the US and Cuba will not improve in 2019.


References Cited

Batalova, J., and Zong, J. (2018) “Cuban Immigrants in the United States”,

Migration Policy Institute, 10 January, accessed 20 April 2018.

Center for Democracy in the Americas (2018) “Cuba Central News Brief:

3/30/2018”, Center for Democracy in the Americas, 30 March, accessed

10 April 2018.

Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, M. (2018) “Asumo La Responsabilidad Con La

Convicción De Que Todos Los Revolucionarios Seremos Fieles Al

Ejemplar Legando De Fidel y Raúl”, Granma, 20 April, < http://www.



eles-al-ejemplar-legado-de-fidel-y-raul-video-20-04-2018-04-04-02> accessed

20 April 2018.

Gardner, F. (2003) “Who’s Who in the ‘Axis of Evil’”, BBC News, 20

December, accessed 20 April


Pompeo, M. (2018) “Secretary of State Nominee Mike Pompeo Confirmation

Hearing”, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing, C-SPAN. Washington,

DC, 12 April.

Washington Post Staff (2017) “Full Transcript: Acting FBI Director

McCabe and Others Testify before the Senate intelligence Committee”,

The Washington Post, 11 May,

accessed 14 April 2018.

Sullivan, M.P. (2017) Cuba: U.S. Policy in the 115 th Congress, United States

Congressional Research Service, 22 November, accessed 14 April 2018.

Swanson, R.L, Hampton, S., Green-McKenzie, J., Diaz-Arrastia, R.,

Grady, M.S., Verma, R., Biester, R., Duda D., Wolf, R.L., and Smith,

D.H. (2018) “Neurological Manifestations Among US Government

Personnel Reporting Directional Audible and Sensory Phenomena in

Havana, Cuba”, Journal of the American Medical Association, 15 February.

The White House (2017) “Fact Sheet on Cuba Policy”, The White House,

Washington, DC, United States, 13 November, accessed on 18 April 2018.

US Department of State (n.d.). “Brief Diplomatic History”, United States

Embassy in Cuba, United States Department of State, Washington, DC,

United States,

accessed 15 April 2018.


US Department of State (11 April 2018). “US State Department Telephone

Directory: Key Officers List”, Global Information Services, United States

Department of State, Washington, DC, United States, accessed 12

April 2018.

Whitefield, M. (2018) “U.S. Embassy in Cuba: Diplomatic Population 10”,

The Miami Herald, 6 April, accessed 7 April 2018.



Special Report: Middle Eastern

Linguistics in the US Intelligence

Community After 9/11

Shannon Brophy

Mastering foreign languages has always formed a central part of the

mission of the United States Intelligence Community (IC). After the

tragic events of September 11, 2001, the need for foreign languages

within the US IC, especially Middle Eastern languages, has increased.

For the purposes of this report, Middle Eastern linguistics is referring

to languages such as Arabic, Farsi, Kurdish, and Turkish. However,

Arabic will be the focus of most of the data, since it is the most

prevalent language in the Middle East.

With the change of strategic priorities after 9/11, America’s intelligence

agencies began focusing mainly on the Middle East, rather than on

Russia, or before that the Soviet Union. This was reflected in Middle

Eastern language prioritization, as Arabic, Farsi, Kurdish and Turkish

quickly joined Russian and Chinese as critical languages (Central

Intelligence Agency 1997:1). In subsequent years, Middle Eastern

language requirements were heightened, more people enrolled in


school for these critical languages, and government-funded criticallanguage

programs became more prevalent (Executive Office of the

President of the United States 2003:16).

Despite these efforts, however, the IC still lacks personnel with these

critical language abilities, and this gap needs to be closed. In the

domain of American national security, Middle Eastern languages

such as Arabic are even more important now than they were nearly

20 years ago, but there have been only small gains in the education of

these languages (Zakaria 2011).


On September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda operatives flew planes into the Twin

Towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington DC, and a field

in Pennsylvania, killing approximately 3,000 people. Al-Qaeda and

their actions on that day changed the way the United States operated

as a world actor. Not only did it turn American foreign policy to what

is now known as the “Bush Doctrine” (Record 2003:1), but it

introduced a new war —the “Global War on Terrorism”. This war

was the Bush administration’s way of declaring that they were going

to do everything possible to rid the world of terrorism. In the IC, this

effort was far more geographically specific. It started with a rise in

priority for Middle Eastern linguistics (Babbin 2014).

Before 9/11, terrorism was not the primary focus of American politics

or intelligence, nor was the Middle East the primary regional focus. The

extent of America’s foreign policy in the Middle East concentrated

on topics such as trying to estimate Iran’s missile capabilities (Central

Intelligence Agency 1997:1). After 9/11, terrorism became the top

priority of the government and the intelligence community, and the

Middle East became the focus of almost all intelligence agencies and

security-minded politicians. The main shift after 9/11 was a new

concentration on non-state actors. Before that, the US had mainly

focused on single state-actors such as Russia and China. Concentrating

on state-actors was well-understood: these actors had set boundaries,

set rules, and set methods of communication. Then, 9/11 happened,

and the IC had to transition from a Cold War mindset to dealing with

randomized groups of people with no national boundaries, no set

rules, and unorthodox methods of communication (Perez 2016:3).


The primary concern here was the communication. The IC had very

limited numbers of personnel with proficiencies in Arabic, let alone

less prominent Middle Eastern languages, like Farsi. Immediately

following 9/11 and going into the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the US IC

needed to start gathering intelligence on these non-state-actors. This was

made very difficult by the lack of personnel able to translate intercepted

communications from speakers of these languages (Central Intelligence

Agency 2013:8). Ever since then, the US IC has been actively recruiting

personnel just for Middle Eastern language capabilities.

Promoting Language Capabilities

Over the past few years, there has been an increase in scholarships

and programs for people learning critical languages for national

security purposes. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence

(ODNI), created after 9/11 to help improve the effectiveness of the

IC, has created several language programs that have been receiving

national attention for their effectiveness. One of these is the Boren

Scholarship. It is a program that pays for students to travel abroad to

learn critical languages. In return, students work in a national-security

position for a set amount of time upon their return to the US.

Another initiative that is still growing and gaining applicants is

STARTALK. This is a program for middle and high school students

to learn critical languages over their summer breaks. (Office of the

Director of National Intelligence 2010).

These government programs do have a limit, however. Only a small

number of people can obtain these scholarships and get into the programs.

That is why the government endorses a number of language schools

all over the country. This way students can attend those schools and

have a connection with agency recruiters. For example, both Middlebury

College in Vermont and the University of Maryland do this. In order

to be accepted into one of these language schools, applicants have to

write an essay about how they intend to blend their language abilities

with national security. These colleges are directly endorsed by government

agencies that send scouts to these locations to actively look for outstanding

students with critical-language capabilities (Middlebury Language Schools

n.d.; University of Maryland n.d.).

The Critical Language Incentive Programs within the US IC also help

to encourage IC personnel to learn a Middle Eastern language. Most

US intelligence agencies have them, and they provide bonuses and


higher salaries for intelligence employees who know a critical language

at specific proficiency levels. For example, CIA employees can obtain

up to a $35,000 hiring bonus and up to $400 bi-weekly bonus for

knowing and maintaining a critical language (Central Intelligence

Agency n.d.b).

Remaining Problems

Today, nearly 20 years after 9/11, the need for Middle Eastern language

capabilities is still a high priority. That priority has not been met. Even

with the increase of Middle Eastern language programs and incentives,

there remains a deficit in Middle Eastern language capabilities in the

US IC. The main problem with meeting this deficit is that languages

take years to master. More specifically, Middle Eastern languages take

more time than usual to learn since they are so different from the English

language. This means that agencies are “continuing to experience

shortages of people skilled in hard-to-learn languages due to a limited

pool of Americans to recruit from” (US Congress 2012:1).

The lack of Middle Eastern linguists is hurting intelligence agencies in

more ways than one. This deficit causes a deficiency of interpretation

skills, so intelligence analysis can fall behind and end up damaging national

security. It can also damage the agencies’ budgets and finances. With

such a deficit in linguists, “agencies are forced to fill language-designated

positions with employees that do not have those skills” (US Congress

2012:2). They have to send these employees off for years to learn the

required language. Therefore, agencies spend valuable time and money

training their employees because there are not enough linguists to be


It can be argued that the “Global War on Terrorism” is a significant

reason why Middle Eastern language capabilities are limited within the

US IC. This war, and the broad strokes with which it has been painted in

the public discourse, has added to a phenomenon known as ‘Islamophobia’.

Islamophobia is the discrimination or fear of Muslims, Arabs, or Middle

Eastern language speakers. Specifically, since 9/11, it has become common

in America to associate people with one or more of these traits with

terrorism. This way of thinking has had a significant negative impact

on how many people want to study Middle Eastern culture or languages

(Clay 2017).


Available Data

One of the most interesting things to examine since 9/11 is the critical

language enrollment history. The Modern Language Association (MLA)

has tracked each language and how many students enroll in those

classes each year. This organization has the longest-running study of

language enrollment (other than English) in the US. It provides a

visualization on how 9/11 has impacted the US’ needs for critical

language, and how that is affecting enrollment levels in critical

language classes in universities around the county (Modern Language

Association 2007).

In the MLA’s data, the biggest strides in language enrollment are in

the Arabic language —as mentioned before, the most prevalent language

in the Middle East. The data shows the impact of 9/11 in the MLA’s

2002 report: “University enrollments in Arabic nearly doubled between

1998 and 2002, from 5,505 to 10,584 enrollments” (Modern Language

Association 2002). This shows how big the push to find people with

fluency in the Arabic language was following 9/11.

In 2006, the MLA’s data showed a 127 percent increase in enrollments

from 2002. This jump was the highest spike in language enrollment

that the MLA had ever recorded up to that point. The data gathered

in that report showed that Arabic was then the 10 th most studied

foreign language in the country. Also, the 2006 survey showed that

Arabic programs in higher education had nearly doubled since 2002,

from 264 programs in 2002 to 466 programs in 2006 (Modern

Language Association 2006). In the MLA’s 2009 survey, Arabic again

showed a large increase in enrollments, namely a 46 percent jump from

2006. Here Arabic was shown as the eighth most studied foreign

language in the country (Modern Language Association 2009).

However, after all of these increases, the 2013 data showed a decrease

and stagnation in enrollments, not only in Arabic, but in many other

foreign languages including Spanish. For Arabic there was an 8

percent decrease (Modern Language Association 2013). This trend

has continued in the most recent MLA survey in 2016. A 6 percent

decrease in enrollment in Arabic language programs was shown from

2013 to 2016 (Modern Language Association 2016).


Future Trends

The trend of the rising need for Middle Eastern linguists since 9/11

suggests that this need will continue to grow. Ever since the

beginning of the “global war on terrorism” Middle Eastern linguistics

have been needed because of the United States’ added involvement

in the region. Today, the US is still majorly involved in the region,

and it is very likely that it will stay this way for the foreseeable future

due to ongoing energy, security and military interests (Juneau 2014).

Even though the need for Middle Eastern linguistics will continue to

rise, current data suggests that the decrease or —in the best-case

scenario— stagnation in enrollments for these languages will continue.

Also, even with the addition of more Middle Eastern language

programs in the US, learning these difficult languages will take many

years for new generations of current and prospective IC employees.

While Middle Eastern language learners and programs for them may

be slowly rising, so is the need for those linguists. Therefore, the

language deficit in the US IC will very likely continue for the

foreseeable future.


The topic of Middle Eastern linguistics in the US IC is complex. Much

of the complexity comes from the —understandable— standards of

secrecy in the US IC, which result in numerous information gaps. The

biggest information gap here is that many agencies in the IC do not

release the total number of their employees, let alone linguists. Overall,

the state of Middle Eastern linguistics in the United States Intelligence

Community has changed significantly after 9/11. The demands for

Middle Eastern languages, such as Arabic, were not met after 9/11,

and continue to not be met today, almost 20 years later. The US IC

has done some things to help improve its language capabilities

including providing incentives and creating different scholarship

opportunities, but these have not yet been able to fill the deficit.


References Cited

Babbin, J. (2014) “The Sorry Shape of the War on Terror”, International

Security Affairs, ,

accessed on 7 April 2018.

Central Intelligence Agency (1997) “Current and Projected National

Security Threats”, Acting Director of Central Intelligence, Washington,

DC, United States.

Central Intelligence Agency (2013) “CIA Comments on the Senate Select

Committee on Intelligence Report on the Rendition, Detention, and

Interrogation Program”, Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, DC,

United States.

Central Intelligence Agency (n.d.a) “Foreign Language” Central

Intelligence Agency, Langley, VA, United States , accessed on 7 April 2018.

Central Intelligence Agency (n.d.b) “Foreign Language Incentive Program”

Central Intelligence Agency, Langley, VA, United States , accessed on 8 April 2018.

Clay, R. (2017) “Islamophobia”, American Psychological Association, April,

, accessed

on 8 April 2018.

Executive Office of the President of the United States (2003) “National

Strategy for Combating Terrorism”, Executive Office of the President of

the United States, Washington, DC, United States.

Juneau, T. (2014) “U.S. Power in the Middle East: Not Declining”, Middle

East Policy Council, ,

accessed on 8 April 2018.

Middlebury Language Schools (n.d.) “Intensive Summer Programs”

Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT, United States , accessed on 8 April 2018.

Modern Language Association (2002) “Enrollments in Languages Other

Than English in United States Institutions of Higher Education- 2002

Report” Modern Language Association, , accessed on 8 April 2018.

Modern Language Association (2006) “Enrollments in Languages Other

Than English in United States Institutions of Higher Education- 2006

Report” Modern Language Association, , accessed on 8

April 2018.

Modern Language Association (2007) “Foreign Languages and Higher

Education: New Structure for a Changed World”, Modern Language

Association, ,


accessed on 7 April 2018.

Modern Language Association (2009) “Enrollments in Languages Other

Than English in United States Institutions of Higher Education: 2009

Report” Modern Language Association, , accessed on 8 April 2018.

Modern Language Association (2013) “Enrollments in Languages Other

Than English in United States Institutions of Higher Education- 2013

Report” Modern Language Association, , accessed on 8

April 2018.

Modern Language Association (2016) “Enrollments in Languages Other

Than English in United States Institutions of Higher Education- 2016

Report” Modern Language Association, , accessed on

8 April 2018.

Office of the Director of National Intelligence (2010) “ODNI Fact

Sheet”, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Washington, DC,

United States.

Perez, L. (2016) “Threat Perception, Non-State Actors, and U.S. Military

Intervention after 9/11”, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State

University, Blacksburg, VA, 2016.

Record, J. (2003) “The Bush Doctrine and War with Iraq”, The Army War

College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 2003.

University of Maryland (n.d.) “UMD Summer Language Institute”

University of Maryland, College Park, MD, United States , accessed on

8 April 2018.

US Congress (2012) A National Security Crisis: Foreign Language Capabilities in

the Federal Government, Committee of Homeland Security and

Governmental Affairs, United States Senate, Washington, DC, United


Zakaria, T. (2011) “U.S. spy agencies struggle with post-9/11 languages”,

Reuters, 19 September , accessed on 7 April 2018.





Biographical Notes on Contributors

SHANNON BROPHY, from Anderson, South Carolina, is a junior Intelligence

and National Security major and Global Studies minor at Coastal Carolina

University. In the fall of 2018 Shannon was accepted in the United States

Department of State’s prestigious Student Internship Program and will

be joining the Regional Security Office of the US Embassy in Muscat, Oman,

in the spring of 2019. In May 2018, Shannon was elected to serve as the

Recruitment Officer for the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief, where she also

serves as the head of the Middle East Desk. Shannon’s research interests

include the Arabic language and Middle Eastern politics, particularly the

Syrian Civil War and relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Shannon has

been studying Arabic since her senior year in high school and has

attended Arabic language immersion programs at Middlebury College

and the University of Maryland. In May 2017, Shannon received the

Intelligence Student of the Year award from the Intelligence and National

Security Studies program at Coastal Carolina University.

JOSEPH CAIN, from Springfield, Kentucky, is a junior Intelligence and

National Security Studies major and a Pre-Law minor at Coastal Carolina

University. He has been a member of the Coastal Carolina’s Honor College for

the duration of his undergraduate career. In 2018, Joseph studied Eastern

Mediterranean security and geopolitics during a month-log stay in the

countries of Cyprus and Greece. As a member of the Chanticleer Law

Enforcement Analysis and Research Group (CLEAR), Joseph has provided

geographic information system (GIS) capabilities and analysis to the Myrtle

Beach Police Department. He currently serves as the Quality Assurance

Officer and head of the South America Desk for the Chanticleer Intelligence

Brief. Joseph is also the recipient of the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief’s

Intelligence Analysis Award and Regional Expert Award.

BLAKE GUTBERLET, from Hickory, North Carolina, majored in Intelligence

and National Security Studies and minored in Psychology at Coastal

Carolina University. He graduated, with Cum Laude honors in May 2018

and is now employed as an intelligence analyst. As executive director of

the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief for three semesters, Blake helped

systematize and strengthen the organization’s recruitment efforts, and

set the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief on the rising path it still follows today.

He has also served as president of Coastal Carolina University’s Order of

the Sword and Shield National Honor Society, the academic and professional

honor society for homeland security, intelligence, emergency management,

and all protective security disciplines. Blake is the recipient of the Chanticleer

Intelligence Brief Achievement Award, Best Intelligence Essay Award,

Intelligence Analysis Award, and the Intelligence Forecast Award.


NATHAN LAKE, from Greenville, New York, is a senior Intelligence and

National Security Studies major with a double minor in Philosophy and

Islamic Studies at Coastal Carolina University. He serves as Vice President

of Coastal Carolina University’s Interfaith and Multicultural Dialogue club

and has been a member of the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief for three years.

In 2018, Nathan received the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief’s Weekly Intelligence

Brief award as a member of the Middle East Desk. Nathan refined his

analytical abilities by completing the Applied Intelligence Analysis course

at Coastal Carolina University, and in April 2018 he was selected to serve as

a panelist for the 4 th Chanticleer Intelligence Brief Symposium. By virtue of

his GPA, Nathan also joined the invitation-only Order of the Sword and

Shield (the honor society for homeland security, intelligence and emergency

management) and the National Society of Leadership and Success.

RACHEL PANICHELLA, from Mullica Hill, New Jersey, graduated cum laude

from Coastal Carolina University in May 2018, with a Bachelor of Arts in

Communication and a minor in Intelligence and National Security Studies.

Her undergraduate research focused on interpersonal communication

with an interest in human intelligence. In April 2018, Rachel presented her

interpersonal communication research at the Southern States Communication

Association’s 88 th Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. At the

Chanticleer Intelligence Brief, Rachel focused on the power dynamics of

the Mexican drug cartels, and her intelligence briefs on the subject were

published on the organization’s website. She was also a panelist at the

4 th Chanticleer Intelligence Brief Symposium and was featured on Intelligence

Report, the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief’s television broadcast. Rachel was

awarded the Emerging Scholar Award by the Department of Communication,

Media, and Culture of the Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts

at Coastal Carolina University. She was also inducted into Lambda Pi Eta

by the Upsilon Eta Chapter of the United States National Communication

Association. At the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief, Rachel received the Intelligence

Analysis Award for delivering the highest-quality oral analytical product in

the spring semester of 2018.

IAN RUSSICK, from Emerald Isle, North Carolina is a senior Intelligence

and National Security Studies major and Geographic Information Systems

minor at Coastal Carolina University. During his time at Coastal, Ian joined

the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief in order to hone his analytical capabilities

and contribute to the organization’s Europe Desk. In the spring 2017 semester

Ian was awarded the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief’s Regional Expert Award.


JOSEPH FITSANAKIS, PhD, is Associate Professor of Politics in the

Intelligence and National Security Studies program at Coastal Carolina

University, where he teaches courses on intelligence operations,

intelligence communications, national security, intelligence analysis, and

intelligence in the Cold War, among other subjects. 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, cyber-espionage, transnational crime and intelligence reform.

He is a frequent media commentator, syndicated columnist, 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) and the Journal of European and American Intelligence Studies. 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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