Daesh is an armed coalition, not a terrorist organization
The popular perception of Daesh – also known as Islamic State or IS – as a terrorist organization is as inaccurate as it is dangerous. Daesh is essentially a military force that uses the desert to its advantage, employing terrorist operations where useful. The misconception is dangerous because it leads decision makers to implement bad policy and distracts from the cool-headed analysis needed to defeat the force.
Hezbollah’s role in Syria
Iran established Hezbollah in Lebanon in the 1980s to fight Israel and subvert Sunni regimes in the Middle East. Now, it is doing Tehran’s bidding in the Syrian civil war, supporting President Bashar al-Assad. The experience has given Hezbollah fighters the military skill necessary to strike again at Israel. The coming conflict could be much worse than the previous round of fighting in 2006.
Don’t blame Sykes-Picot
May 2016 marked 100 years since the signing of the controversial Sykes-Picot Agreement, which divided up spheres of influence in the Middle East between France and the United Kingdom. Some argue that the colonial powers duped a helpless and naive Arab world, leading to the region’s chronic instability. However, over the past century Arab countries have constantly been torn between nationalism and Islamism – something that has made it difficult for them to become modern democratic states.
Debt, violence risk instability for Mozambique
The revelation of billions of dollars in secret debt and a resurgence of violence have plunged Mozambique into a two-pronged crisis that puts President Filipe Nyusi between a rock and a hard place. With the country’s renewed instability threatening a slide into civil war, Mr. Nyusi is under pressure to work out a lasting peace with his party’s political rivals. It may be the only way to lure international donors and investors back.
India’s push for land reform needs people power
Poor property records have proven a major obstacle to economic development in India. Their slipshod quality leads to property disputes, corruption and social problems. Numerous Indian government initiatives to digitize these records have had mixed results. But authorities will have to look beyond IT solutions – empowering citizens and eliminating high transaction costs will be necessary.
In Nigeria, things fall apart
Nigeria and its president, Muhammadu Buhari, are having a rough year. Thirteen months after taking office, the 73-year-old former general is struggling to cope with a battered economy, increasingly violent secessionist agitations and mounting frustration with the status quo.
Saudi Arabia’s role in Middle East instability
Over the past two years, Saudi Arabia has rejoined the premier league of global geopolitics. But the kingdom is in conflict on all fronts. Economically, it is waging a “petro war,” starting a contest of wills with not just the United States, but also Canada, Iran and Russia. Militarily, the Saudis and their Sunni allies are conducting a full-scale war in Yemen against the Houthis. Riyadh is also developing more assertive policy of influence, reflected in its recent refusal to finance arms for the Lebanese military.
Saudi Arabia-Russia partnership takes shape
Saudi Arabia is losing trust in its old ally, the United States, whose posture in the Middle East has markedly changed. This provides an opening for partnership with Russia. Although the two countries stand on opposite sides of several important issues – especially the conflict in Syria and how to manage low oil prices – there are signs that cooperation is increasing.
Kim’s weakness on the menu as waitresses defect
The defection of 13 North Koreans who worked at a restaurant in China was a huge public relations blow for Kim Jong-un, just one week before his country’s most important festival. The workers could not have succeeded in traveling to South Korea without the help of China, which may have used the stunt to respond to Kim Jung-un’s recent brinksmanship.