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Category archive for: international security

Obama’s legacy will be forever tarnished by his inaction in Syria

Written by Scott Lucas.

As his administration winds down, Barack Obama has plenty to be proud of. He can point to international breakthroughs that seemed unthinkable when he took office, from the nuclear agreement with Iran to the reopening of diplomatic relations with Cuba after almost 60 years. He can cite the concerted international action to stave off economic catastrophe, a more constructive US approach to Latin America, and a solid if cautious relationship with China.

But as far as Obama’s legacy goes, few of these noble achievements will stick to the wall after he gives his farewell speech in January 2017. Instead, he will always be associated with the fate of one country: Syria. Continue reading Obama’s legacy will be forever tarnished by his inaction in Syria

Radicalisation in Bosnia: old wounds reopened by an emerging problem

Written by Louis Monroy Santander.

Bosnia experienced a difficult reconstruction process after its 1992–1995 war. Now its ongoing political and economic crisis is making it harder to respond to a growing global problem – radicalisation.

According to recent reports, Bosnians have been travelling to Syria to fight for radical Islamist groups in increasing numbers since 2012. They now constitute one of the largest European foreign fighter contingents as a proportion of national population. Figures from 2015 suggest there are more than 300 Bosnians in Syria.

There have also been a number of low-level incidents of terrorist violence in Bosnia. In April 2015, for example, a 24-year-old man from an area near the town of Zvornik drove into a police station and opened fire. He killed one officer and injured two others before being shot dead.

This has prompted heated debates about how to handle the problem without feeding into the tensions that pervade in Bosnian politics. Of particular concern is the possibility that decisions about security will be coloured by ethno-politics. Continue reading Radicalisation in Bosnia: old wounds reopened by an emerging problem

Brussels terror attacks: a continent-wide crisis that threatens core European ideals

Written by Fiona de Londras.

The attacks of March 22 in Brussels were shocking, but not surprising. They reinforced what many have known for years: Belgium has a serious problem with terrorism.

For a long time, security analysts have expressed anxiety about the depth and extent of radicalisation and fundamentalism in the country. It is thought that Belgium has the highest per capita rate of foreign terrorist fighters of any EU country. A February 2016 “high-end estimate” puts that number at 562 out of a population of just over 11 million.

Last November it was revealed that some of the Paris attackers had Belgian connections and were known to the security forces there, and Brussels was virtually locked down for almost a week. Continue reading Brussels terror attacks: a continent-wide crisis that threatens core European ideals

Paris: the war with ISIS enters a new stage

Written by Simon Reich.

When in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo attacks last January, I wrote a column suggesting that we all had to demonstrate a new toughness.

At that time, I thought the scale of ISIS’ attacks on Western targets was contained by its avowed doctrine of territorial legitimacy. I assumed any attacks in the West would be carried out by lone wolves or with one or two partners.

I was wrong.

Ever since it first declared a caliphate, ISIS’ leadership consistently expressed the intent of fighting a more or less conventional war in a well-defined piece of territory spreading across Iraq and Syria. Continue reading Paris: the war with ISIS enters a new stage

Russia’s ‘New Way of War’? Asymmetric warfare and the Ukraine Crisis

By Bettina Renz

As I argued in my previous blog entry, ‘Russia Resurgent?’, conclusions about Russia’s conventional military capabilities drawn from operations in Crimea and the subsequent armed conflict in East Ukraine should not be exaggerated. In terms of manpower, training and equipment Russia is likely to trail far behind NATO and advanced Western militaries for a long time to come. However, Russian military performance particularly in Crimea has also raised concerns in the West about its growing abilities to wage asymmetric warfare. A NATO Defence Committee Report entitled “Towards the Next Defence and Security Review: Part Two – NATO” and published in July 2014 concluded that Russia had developed ‘new and less conventional military techniques’ and asserted that its use of ‘these asymmetric tactics (sometimes described as unconventional, ambiguous or non-linear warfare)…represents the most immediate threat to its NATO neighbours and other NATO Member States’. In the same report, former Chief of Staff of the British Armed Forces, Lord Richards, cautioned that whilst NATO had significant military capabilities ‘there was every chance it could be defeated by asymmetric tactics’. The report recommended that NATO, in response to this challenge ‘create an Alliance doctrine for “ambiguous warfare” and make the case for investment in an Alliance asymmetric or “ambiguous warfare” capability’.

Continue reading Russia’s ‘New Way of War’? Asymmetric warfare and the Ukraine Crisis

Towards a Global Counter-terrorism Architecture

By Wyn Rees

Contemporary terrorism represents a global security challenge. To address this threat, the international community requires a global framework of counter-terrorism measures to prevent an adversary thriving in, what FBI Director Robert Mueller described as, the ‘seams of our jurisdictions’. Some analysts have called for such a world-wide institutional architecture to be created, yet they appreciate that such a goal is still a long way off. What exists presently is more of a patchwork of counter-terrorism governance embodied in a variety of settings and operating at a relatively embryonic stage. No dedicated international organisation has emerged in this field with an all-embracing body of rules.

Continue reading Towards a Global Counter-terrorism Architecture

Russia resurgent? Russian military performance in Crimea and its implications on Western defence requirements

By Bettina Renz

Russia’s annexation of Crimea and subsequent developments in East Ukraine prompted much speculation in the West about Russia’s ‘new military prowess’. Many analysts and decision makers, including in NATO, concluded that modernisation efforts over the past few years had transformed the Russian military into a force that now posed a real threat to European and transatlantic security. Serious discussions are already underway about what this might mean for Europe’s and NATO’s future defence capabilities and requirements. There seems to be much agreement that Russia’s new-found military strength needs to be met with more military spending in the West. Sweden has announced an increase in its defence budget in response to the Ukraine crisis. This will include the expansion of its fighter jet fleet from 60 to 70 aircraft as well as the procurement of two new submarines. A UK Parliamentary Defence Committee report concluded that events in Crimea and Ukraine were a ‘game changer for UK defence policy [that] provoked a fundamental re-assessment of both the prioritisation of threats in the National Security Strategy and military capabilities required by the UK’. Is this a realistic assessment? What can the conflict in Ukraine really tell us about Russian conventional warfighting capabilities?

Continue reading Russia resurgent? Russian military performance in Crimea and its implications on Western defence requirements