• On the Current Confrontation with Iran

    Robert Jervis, the eminent scholar of international relations, writes that in trying to predict the next move in the U.S.-Iran confrontation, “Most obviously, humility is in order”: “Most of our generalizations are probabilistic,” Jervis notes. He writes that Trump may have calculated that the bold move of killing Soleimani would deter Iran from continuing to pursue the kind of malign activities Soleimani had orchestrated, and coerce Iran to be more accommodating on other issues, for example, the nuclear issue. But for the target country, being deterred or coerced is a matter of choice – a costly choice, but still a choice. And we should not discount the unexpected: “World politics rarely follows straight paths,” he writes.

  • Abandoning West Africa Carries Risks for U.S.

    News that the U.S. Department of Defense is contemplating a major drawdown in West Africa—potentially cutting support to France’s 4,500-strong combat mission in the Sahel as well—comes as the region is in crisis. France has been leading the fight against Islamist terrorism in the Sahel region since early 2013. “Not caring about Ghana’s fate is deplorable but understandable; not caring about France is at best reckless,” Michael Shurkin writes. “Leaving France in the lurch in the middle of the war could significantly damage that relationship. It would also signal to the world that the United States is not committed to helping even one of its closest and most important allies.”

  • Iran and Hezbollah’s Presence Around the World

    In the days since the U.S. strike that killed Quds Force commander Qassim Soleimani, Americans have heard dire warnings about potential retaliation by Iran. Eric Halliday writes that in addition to Quds Force, Iran’s ability to retaliate is enhanced by Iran’s extensive network of proxy forces, most notably Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran and Hezbollah have spent the last three decades creating international bases of operation, which means they already have resources in place which would allow them to strike U.S. interests far outside of the Middle East.

  • 2020 Conflicts: The Most Likely, and Most Damaging to U.S.

    The Council on Foreign Relations has asked policy experts to rank thirty ongoing or potential conflicts based on how likely they are to occur or escalate in the next year, and their possible impact on U.S. interests. For the second year in a row, a highly disruptive cyberattack on critical infrastructure, including electoral systems, was the top-ranked homeland security–related concern. A mass-casualty terrorist attack was a close second. A confrontation between the United States and Iran, North Korea, or with China in the South China Sea remain the biggest concerns overseas.

  • Iran's Attacks on U.S. Assets Could Encourage N. Korea's Nuclear Ambitions: Experts

    Iran’s attacks on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops as Tehran announced it will no longer comply with restrictions on uranium enrichment may encourage North Korea to perfect its nuclear and missile technologies, experts said.

  • Soleimani Assassination Met with Wide Range of Anti-Semitic Responses

    Immediately after news broke on 3 January 2020, that a U.S. drone strike had killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassim Soleimani, anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist conspiracy theories began circulating online and in public statements in the region. 

  • Iran’s Revenge Plans Are Bigger Than Missile Strikes

    The consequences of the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, several U.S. intelligence officials say privately, will be clear: more deaths, and some of them American. Zach Dorfman writes that Iran’s noisy Tuesday attacks were only the beginning. Suleimani understood that, unlike Russia or China, Iran was not, and would never be, powerful enough to challenge the United States head-on. Suleimani instead developed a network of proxies which showed that a state could forgo traditional means of power projection and nevertheless powerfully assert its suzerainty outside its own borders. Those same tools will now be brought to bear by Iran on enacting vengeance for Suleimani—in the Middle East and beyond.

  • How Qassem Soleimani Expanded, Managed Iran's Proxies in the Middle East

    The Iranian general who was killed last week in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad, along with several Iranian-backed Iraqi militia leaders, was instrumental in expanding Iran’s influence and reach beyond its borders through various proxy groups in the region.

  • Soleimani Strike Marks a Novel Shift in Targeted Killing, Dangerous to the Global Order

    The 3 January drone strike against Qasem Soleimani marks a significant escalation in the U.S. use of force against external security threats as it has evolved in the years since September 11, 2001. Anthony Dworkin writes that there is nothing new or remarkable in a state carrying out the targeted killing of a military commander of another state in wartime, as the United States did in 1943 when it brought down the plane carrying Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. But the attack against Yamamoto took place in the context of an all-out war between the United States and Japan, while the killing of Soleimani which ended with the complete surrender of Japan. looks less like a wartime military operation, and more like the targeted killings that the United States, Israel, and other countries have carried out to remove individual members of non-state groups.

  • Ordinary Jihad

    In 2012, Mohamed Merah, a French self-proclaimed jihadist, and friends killed seven people, including three Jewish children outside their school, in several shootings in southwestern France. Since then, more than 260 people have died in France at the hands of Islamist terrorists. Many of the killers came from what what Bernard Rougier, in his book The Conquered Territories of Islamism, called “Islamist ecosystems.”

  • Was America’s Assassination of Qassem Suleimani Justified?

    David Petraeus, the former American army general who served as the commander of the Central Command and later as director of the CIA, said that the killing of Qassem Suleimani was “more consequential” than the killing of Osama bin Laden or of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The Economist writes that while few bemoaned the demise of the jihadist leaders of al-Qaeda and Islamic State, the killing of Suleimani on 3 January has sparked a debate over the legality, effectiveness, and impact of his assassination.

  • U.S. Strike Kills Commander of Iran’s Elite Quds Force

    The Pentagon confirmed the killing of Quds Force Commander General Qassem Soleimani in an elaborate missile strike in Baghdad. Soleimani, a cunning and ruthless military commander, was the mastermind behind Iran’s relentless drive to achieve a regional hegemony in the Middle East. His major achievements include securing Bashar al-Assad’s victory in the Syrian civil war; turning Iraq into an Iranian satellite; making Hezbollah into a potent and well-equipped military force; igniting the Houthi rebellion in Yemen; overseeing the development of sophisticated drones and cruise missiles which, in a massive September 2019 attack on Saudi oil facilities, showed they can evade U.S. dense air-defenses; and accelerating Iran’s march to the bomb since the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal.

  • Don't Ignore Far-Left Extremists Even as Far-Right Violence Is Rising: German Police

    New Year’s violence between left-wing extremists and police in the eastern Germany city of Leipzig has created a heated political debate. “It is right and important to fight far-right extremism with all means, but that doesn’t mean we should disregard the left,” said Rainer Wendt, head of one of the two largest German police unions.

  • 1. The Killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

    The 26 October 2019 killing in northwest Syria of ISIS (later: Islamic State) founder and leader Abu Bar al-Baghdadi by U.S. Special Forces brought deserved justice to a brutal terrorist leader, but his killing is not likely to have much of an effect on IS and its appetite for perpetrating acts of violence.

  • 2. A New Era of Terrorism

    Five years ago, when U.S. federal and state law enforcement agencies were asked to identify the most serious violent extremist threats they faced in their respective jurisdictions, they all cited far-right, anti-government extremists. Following far-right, white nationalist extremists on the list of threats the United States was facing, these law enforcement practitioners placed Salafi-Jihadi-inspired extremist violence; radical environmentalists; and racist, violent extremism. Law enforcement agencies in Western Europe reached similar conclusions.