Tracking Global Terrorism in 2018

Scott Stewart   Scott Stewart – Re-Blogged From Stratfor

Editor’s Note

With the start of a new year, we once again examine the state of the global jihadist movement. Shared from Threat Lens, Stratfor’s unique protective intelligence product, the following column includes excerpts from a comprehensive forecast available to Threat Lens subscribers.

In some ways “the global jihadist movement” is a misleading phrase. Rather than the monolithic threat it describes, jihadism more closely resembles a worldwide insurgency with two competing standard-bearers: al Qaeda and the Islamic State. To make matters more complicated, grassroots extremists have been known to take inspiration from each group’s ideology — and, in some cases, both.

A Yemeni man surveys the aftermath of a bombing in Huta, in the southern province of Lahj, March 27, 2017.

(SALEH AL-OBEIDI/AFP/Getty Images)

 

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Iranian Protesters Attack Police Stations, Raise Stakes in Unrest

By Michael Georgy – Re-Blogged From Reuters

Iranian protesters attacked police stations late into the night on Monday, news agency and social media reports said, as security forces struggled to contain the boldest challenge to the clerical leadership since unrest in 2009.

Videos on social media showed an intense clash in the central town of Qahderijan between security forces and protesters who were trying to occupy a police station, which was partially set ablaze. There were unconfirmed reports of several casualties among demonstrators.

In the western city of Kermanshah, protesters set fire to a traffic police post, but no one was hurt in the incident, Mehr news agency said.

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In the Middle East, Russia Seems to Be Everywhere

Re-Blogged From Stratfor

Russia’s growing prominence in the Middle East was on full display Dec. 11 when Vladimir Putin visited three key Middle Eastern countries in one day. The Russian president followed a surprise trip to Syria with a quick stop in Egypt before ending his day’s travels in Turkey. He met with his presidential counterparts in all three countries, and the economic deals, military agreements and political settlements he discussed highlighted Russia’s role in the region. While Russia has its own reasons for bolstering its relationships with Syria, Egypt and Turkey, it also benefits from being visible where its regional rival, the United States, is not.

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In the Middle East, Strange Times Make for Strange Bedfellows

Re-Blogged From worldview.stratfor.com

Highlights

  • The Iranian threat is pulling the once-clandestine relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia into the public eye.
  • But there are other factors encouraging the two countries to work more closely with each other, including their legitimacy at home and abroad.
  • As Israel and Saudi Arabia move into uncharted territory, both risk exposing themselves to pushback and new dangers.  

A map of Saudi Arabia and Israel

(OMERSUKRUGOKSU/iStock)

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In Lebanon, Saudi Arabia Attempts the Impossible

Re-Blogged From https://worldview.stratfor.com

Highlights

  • In the regional competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Lebanon is the most recent proxy battleground.
  • Iran’s political and security connections in Lebanon mean Saudi Arabia will have a hard time countering its influence there.
  • Saudi Arabia can wield some financial tools to try to pressure Lebanon, but Iran has the means to cushion some of the impact.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

(FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

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America the Beautiful, but Divided

By Rebecca Keller – Re-Blogged rom https://worldview.stratfor.com

For nearly a year the world has worked to adapt to recent changes, both real and perceived, in U.S. foreign policy. But as the globe responds to the new priorities of its only superpower, Americans themselves remain divided over how best to engage with their surroundings.

Much like the members of the European Union, each of America’s states has its own needs to fulfill. Technological progress has given some states an edge in pursuing their goals, but it has also left behind regions that were once among the most prominent forces in U.S. politics — including the country’s flourishing breadbasket, the American Midwest. And as the socio-economic gap between different parts of the country has widened, so have their policy preferences.

By design, political discourse and debate are woven into the very fabric of American governance. But rarely do rifts among states spill into foreign policy and global issues in a substantial way. That may not be the case for much longer, however, as U.S. President Donald Trump’s populist appeals attract strong allies — and even stronger opponents — to the White House.

States like California hold political stances that are much different than those of Trump's constituents in the American Midwest, particularly on matters related to the environment, energy, immigration and the tech sector.

(DUSTYPIXEL/iStock)

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Turkey Poised to Roll Into Syria

Re-Blogged From Stratfor Worldview

Turkish-backed Syrian rebel fighters advance toward jihadist-controlled Idlib province along the Syria-Turkey border on Oct. 6.

(NAZEER AL-KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)

Weeks after Turkish forces started to deploy in large numbers along the border with Syria, adjacent to the province of Idlib, Ankara appears to be on the verge of launching yet another significant military operation into the war-torn country. Unlike Operation Euphrates Shield, which targeted lands occupied by the Islamic State, the upcoming operation into Idlib will be directed toward lands occupied by Syrian rebels. As befitting a convoluted conflict such as Syria, Turkey’s advance into Idlib will be assisted by other Syrian rebel groups trained over time by Turkey in neighboring Aleppo province. And according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest statements, they will be supported by Russian aviation. Continue reading