Tag Archives: security

The Iranian Irritation:​ President Trump’s menace to the Iran Deal

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Clément Briens is a second-year undergraduate student in War Studies & History with an interest in Cybersecurity and Nuclear Proliferation.

On October 15th, Donald Trump must decide in front of US Congress whether to certify that Iran is complying with the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) signed in 2015. After more than 20 months of negotiations, P5+1 countries (the Security Council Permanent 5 members+ Germany) signed a deal with Iran limiting their nuclear weapons development program in exchange for tightened economic sanctions. The JCPOA became integrated into US Law with the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act passed in May 2015.

This act asks for re-certification from the US President every 90 days that Iran is, in fact, complying with the deal; if the POTUS refuses to certify, then a period of 60 days opens up in which US Congress may decide to reintroduce sanctions against Iran, hence formally marking an exit of the United States from the JCPOA. President Trump has recently made headlines by threatening to decertify the deal during the next hearing this October, which might lead to a collapse of the deal with Iran.

Donald Trump has always strongly opposed this deal and has been extremely vocal about his opinions regarding the regime, especially during his presidential campaign. However, President Trump’s first UN speech in September was particularly brutal and was of unprecedented violence: he described the Iran deal as being “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.” He even qualified Iran of being a “corrupt dictatorship” hiding as a democracy. “Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it”, he warns.

A potential exit of the United States from the deal would be disastrous for all parties. This includes US firms seeking to conduct business in Iran, America’s allies, as well as provoking irreversible damage to an already strained relationship between Iran and the United States.

It is also foolish to believe that it is the JCPOA’s aim to completely stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons; our best hope is to slow down Iran’s program while we repair relations with what used to be a crucial regional ally. As declared by, Robert Einhorn, a US academic who was partly behind the American negotiation of the deal, “opponents have had to scale back their criticism, in large part because the JCPOA, at least so far, has delivered on its principal goal—blocking Iran’s path to nuclear weapons for an extended period of time.” Therefore it is important for us to review what this deal’s objectives as they were designed by policy-makers are before threatening to cut it off and measure the benefits and shortcomings before assessing whether President Trump should jump the trigger of decertification.

Can we really stop Iran from gaining nuclear weapons?

Signed in Vienna on July 14th 2015, the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action marked an agreement between P5 countries and Iran that it would limit its nuclear enrichment activities (that would eventually lead them to gaining access to nuclear weaponry) in exchange for the lifting of various embargos and economic sanctions put in place by the Security Council since 2006. Here are the simplified terms of the agreement[1]:

  • Arms embargo until at least until 2020. Ballistic missile technology embargo until at least 2023.
  • Limitation of Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium to 300kg until 2030.
  • Redesigning of the heavy-water Arak Reactor so it does not produce weapons-grade plutonium as waste. No building of further heavy-water reactors until 2030.
  • Inspections and security measures until 2040.
  • End of economic sanctions on Iranian assets and end of embargo (UN Resolution 1737)
  • Redesigning of the heavy-water Arak Reactor so it does not produce weapons-grade plutonium as waste. No building of further heavy-water reactors until 2030

So what sense can we make of these terms? Do they stand to actually stop Iran from developing nuclear devices in the near future?

Firstly, the most obvious and the most alarming to some is how these agreements are limited in time, with quantitative limits over-enrichment and ballistic weapons research that last until approximately 2030, effectively delaying Iran’s “breakout time” instead of avoiding it. Adversaries of the deal, such as President Netanyahu, have called these limits a “sunset clause”. Former Israeli ambassador to the US Michel Oren declared in July that Israel and the US would cooperate “to ensure that the sun never sets on the sunset clause until there is a different Iranian regime.”[2]

Secondly, one may wonder how it would be possible to enforce these measures. While redesigning a reactor might be possible to be publicly proven by Iran, what stops them from building secret, undetectable reactors or nuclear enrichment facilities under mountains in the Iranian countryside?

This is where the IAEA[3] comes in. This international agency is a key factor in the enforcement of this deal, as they are the ones that provide the reports concerning Iran’s compliance with the deal. Their main framework for these reports is the Additional Protocol (AP) a treaty signed by Iran in 2003 in supplement to the NPT[4] which allows IAEA inspectors to visit any nuclear facilities in a very short notice (as to avoid hiding evidence of nuclear enrichment) and most importantly is legally binding for the signatory. [5]

Therefore, trust is an inherent factor in Iran’s compliance with security measures. This may explain the West’s approach at the Vienna summit: if the West successfully negotiates a delay in Iran’s nuclear programme, then it buys time for the West to rebuild economic and diplomatic ties with Iran, in order to ultimately persuade Iran that it does not need nuclear weapons, to begin with. Real change comes within. Being coercive with a key regional power is not the solution to achieve nonproliferation.

Upholding the agreement is a divisive question even in the POTUS’ camp. Both Rex Tillerson, Trump’s Secretary of State, and General James Mattis, his Secretary of Defence, are both rumoured to defend the deal. Mattis, in particular, has been very vocal about his support of his deal, despite his beliefs that it can be reinforced. “Iran is not in material breach of the agreement, and I do believe the agreement to date has delayed the development of a nuclear capability by Iran,” Mattis claimed in front of a Senate hearing.[6]

So is the Iran deal really one-sided?

To many observers, this deal stood out as being mutually beneficial, as Iranian compliance allowed for peace of mind for Western leaders regarding Iran’s nuclear activities as well as dropping economic sanctions which effectively opened Iranian markets to foreign investment. Boeing is poised to make an estimated $16.6bn from a first deal made in December 2016 for more than 80 planes, with a project for a second deal worth $3bn in the works.[7] European rivals Airbus have also exploited this golden opportunity and have passed a similar deal worth $20bn. Of course, what President Trump will omit from his speech on October 15th is the 18,000 jobs that are said to be created from this deal for American workers in Boeing plants all over the country.[8] His 2016 campaign was, of course, heavy with slogans of “bringing jobs back to America”.

Many private actors in other domains have also benefitted from this opening, such as rail and road infrastructure, potentially $25bn and $30bn markets respectively. Iran has also benefitted from this economic opening: they have claimed to have made “more than $100bn” from the end of economic sanctions.[9]

One look at the Iranian economy tells us why: oil represents more than 80% of the country’s public revenues.[10] The Iranian economy is volatile, as any country whose economy depends on market prices for natural resources- this is why they would also benefit from a situation of trust and stability, as it is easier to find clients in a time of crisis.

Conclusion

Iran is not only valuable as a potential geopolitical ally, but also a potential customer and economic partner. Trust is not only the key to diplomatically persuade them from developing nuclear weapons. It is also the key to the stability of their economy. An economy that, if it finds the right diversification under the right leadership, can transform Iran into a global power, and a powerful ally to the United States.

President Trump is right in that the international community should be uncompromising concerning Iran’s violations of human rights and sponsoring of terrorist groups such as Hamas, which are issues that should not be ignored and need to be solved. America’s commitment to its alliance with Israel is also crucial in the President’s decision. However, threatening to decertify the only sensible solution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions should not be on the United States’ agenda, and is of an unprecedented magnitude of violence concerning his speech.

Unfortunately, the West will not be able to stop Iran from getting the bomb short of invading them. The economic and political benefits to the JCPOA far outweigh any sanctions, as well as having the potential to make Iran reconsider their bright future as one without nuclear weapons. Trust is once again a key factor in both economic relations but also in the ability for the IAEA to enforce its security measures, hence allowing the international community to verify Iran’s compliance. Trump’s comments about Iran being a “rogue state” was detrimental to this effort and clearly shows his intent in decertifying- one may only hope that the remainder of the P5 powers will remain sensible and attempt to uphold the agreement despite America’s divided leadership.

 

Bibliography:

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/03/31/world/middleeast/simple-guide-nuclear-talks-iran-us.html

[2] http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Israeli-MK-calls-on-US-to-scrap-sunset-clauses-of-Iran-deal-500097

[3] International Atomic Energy Agency

[4] Non Proliferation Treaty

[5] https://www.iaea.org/topics/additional-protocol

[6] http://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/03/politics/mattis-iran-nuclear-deal-national-security/index.html

[7] http://nypost.com/2017/06/10/iranian-airline-finalizes-deal-to-purchase-60-boeing-planes/

[8] https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-co-says-it-signed-new-3b-deal-with-iranian-airline/

[9] http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/feb/3/iran-claims-100-billion-windfall-from-sanctions-re/

[10] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/8996819/Iran-threatens-new-war-games-in-the-oil-lanes-of-the-Gulf.html

 

 

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Relieving the Disaster: Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean

 

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Airport in the British Virgin Islands trashed – Taken by 70sqd offloading Royal Marines

By William Reynolds, a third year War Studies undergraduate. From a British Armed Forces background, William follows the military capabilities of the West and the security issues in the Middle East with great interest, placing special emphasis on COIN and the experiences of individuals on the ground. William has worked as a Research Fellow for Dr Whetham in the Centre of Military Ethics and is a spammer of many articles on the King’s Middle East and North Africa Forum.

Intro

 With Hurricane Irma now departing the Caribbean and making landfall at Florida, it is time to take stock of the situation and analyse the responses. At least in the UK the news cycles continue to be dominated by the topic and a tale of two narratives are developing. On the one hand, a tale of a rapid and effective response by the UK government in dealing with the situation. On the other, of an ineffective and uncaring Britain leaving it to the last minute before mustering any sort of response.

 This article hopes to put much of this debate to rest and deliver an analysis of the situation, resources and response of the UK government to the disaster. Furthermore, this case offers an excellent example of explaining more on how disaster relief, the government and the military works in the UK- otherwise known as ‘Military Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Response’ (HADR). Apologies if this article is rather UK-centric. My knowledge of the French and Dutch response is limited and this is not meant to be seen in anyway as an ‘us vs them’ argument.

 The last vestiges of Empire

 Currently the UK response is being compared mainly alongside France and the Netherlands. On face value this comparison makes sense. All three states still have territories in the area, they all possess somewhat similar capabilities and they all are of a similar distance away from the region.

 However, the logic stops there. For France and the Netherlands, these territories form an integral part of their ‘homeland’. Politically these territories enjoy entirely different relationships with their European capitals than those possessed by the British. They have parliamentary representation, or at the least equivalent of, and are enshrined in their separate constitutions. By contrast, the UK governs their islands via defence and external affairs with some bespoke differences between the islands and varying degrees of assistance (for example, some islands rely on the UK for legal assistance). Other than that, most affairs are governed by local administrations.

 The key difference however is in geography and populations. The Dutch Antilles has a population of 300,000 spread over a small number of islands in close proximity to each other and the French West Indies has a population of around 850,000 on 7 islands, again in close proximity. By contrast, the UK governs 5 island groups; the Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Montserrat – all of which are spread out across the entire Caribbean and housing a population of around 100,000 between them. This is very much a product of Empire and de-colonisation. Whilst France and the Netherlands pursued integration, the UK eventually opted for granting independence. Many of these islands in fact separated from their established ‘colonial administrations’ in order to remain affiliated to the UK rather than follow their administrations into independence (such as Anguilla). This is a very simplified explanation, but it shall suffice for the context of explaining the HADR response.

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An example of just jaw spreads out the islands are. Compared Turks & Caicos + British Virgin Islands with the French West Indies.

 The UK response – too slow?

 The initial response to the incoming Hurricane Irma was already on station. RFA (Royal Fleet Auxillary – a separate organisation from the Royal Navy) Mount Bays was in the vicinity for Hurricane season. As an auxiliary landing ship dock (LSD(A)), she is fully kitted out for working from the sea onto land. Rather than carrying the equipment necessary for an amphibious landing, this bay-class LSD(A) has been fitted out for humanitarian relief, carrying a Wildcat helicopter (capable of underslung loads), 40 Royal Marines and a contingent from the Royal Logistics Corps (RLC).

RFA Mount Bay in the Caribbean

 This singular ship is currently being compared to the French and Dutch response by the media. The French have an infantry regiment based in Martinique, coupled with a small contingent of corvette (and possibly one frigate) sized ships in a small naval facility. The Dutch maintain a support ship and escort in the region with a further detachment (of around 1,000) personnel at an airfield which doubles up as a US Air Force forward operating base. Naturally, all of these resources were available instantly during the hurricane. Yet, it is also worth noting that they were also exposed to said hurricane.

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It is natural therefore to state that the British initial effort is poor in comparison. A singular ship vs the low thousands deployment of French and Dutch. However, this does not accurately reflect the defence posture of either group. The British islands, as mentioned, are spread out across the entire theatre. Some islands only number in the low thousands unlike the heavily concentrated, both geographically and population wise, French and Dutch groupings. There is no point in the UK having a military garrison in the region for security purposes. Thus, the deployment of a specialised vessel by the UK made sense. It could sit in the middle of the British islands and prioritise the most heavily affected regions.

 Following the initial devastation, HMS Ocean a Landing Platform Helicopter amphibious assault ship (LPH), was re-tasked from acting NATO flagship in the Mediterranean to the Caribbean. This became the crux of the next false accusation levelled at the UK government, that the response was too slow. Ocean will arrive in the disaster zone in roughly two weeks. Many have called this unacceptably too slow. Unfortunately, the Mercator projection (a nautical cylinder like map highlighting distances and courses) is revealed bare for all to see here. The Atlantic is huge. Any relief effort via ship will take a while.

 So why not focus by air? The Caribbean has very few airfields, and even fewer rated for the larger aircraft the size of C-17’s, and many of these will have been wrecked by the hurricane that transited through. Even then, with the islands spread out so far, this forces the relief effort on singular islands with little capacity to airlift it to the smaller islands, something that would require helicopters. The Turks & Caicos islands for example have 8 main islands and 299 smaller ones housing 31,500 people. Thus, a maritime response is the most efficient in this area of the world

There is an issue, at least in this commentator’s mind, of instant gratification here. With 24hr news, instant messaging and Hollywood many believe that responses, especially military ones, are rapid and fast (just look at the Game of Thrones cast teleporting around Westeros). One newspaper ran with the headline of a British couple complaining they were stranded for 72hrs before a rescue came. Even the military suffers from this portrayal. Both Gulf Wars were conducted at a rapid pace with the media witnessing action and reaction in a matter of hours. There was little to convey that it took half a year to get all of these assets in the region. Thus, when a response takes more than a couple of days to a major natural disaster, it is criticised and ridiculed. This goes without even mentioning that there was only a 48hr window between the first warning of an incoming major hurricane and it making landfall.

 A case study in disaster Response

 Now for some positivity. Little has been said on just how amazing the response has been from the UK. Let’s be honest we’re not a major power anymore. Yet in little under 3 days the UK has gone from identifying a ‘bad hurricane’, identified the relief on sight is not enough and then airlifted hundreds of personnel, their equipment and supplies into a devastated region half way across the globe. It’s incredibly hard to explain how impressive, purely from a logistical and planning sense, this is.

 The military, an organisation whose modus operandi is not disaster relief, has conducted a truly joint effort enterprise. Again, this is hard to put into words how impressive it is. The ability for separate organisations (the Army, Royal Navy, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Royal Air Force) to work together in such a joint enterprise takes much professionalism and training to conduct. Just for an example, RAF chinooks will deploy army RLC personnel from a Royal Navy platform to conduct disaster relief. Furthermore, this occurs whilst continuing to coordinate British forces in Eastern Europe, the Black Sea, patrolling the Med, conducting operations over Iraq and Syria, working across the Middle East, delivering support from Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams (OMLT) in Afghanistan and continuing to garrison sites across the world. This is truly a joined-up collaboration and is not the mark of a minor military power.

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RLC deploy via amphibious barge from RFA Mount Bay to Anguilla

 The UK government should also get a pat on the back for their response. Between last weekend (written on 10/09/17) and Wednesday, a significant amount of planning, preparation and getting folks up to the line of departure occurred. This may be a statement of the bleedin’ obvious, but it’s a remarkable example of joined up government. The government was able to get the Cabinet Office, FCO, DFID, Home Office and the MOD to all work together to conduct the planning and implementation of disaster response. Not only do all of these organisations have their own quirks and rank structure, but they also all vie for funding from the Treasury on a regular basis and thus it would be understandable if teamwork was not in their nature. Yet these military and civil offices worked rapidly and efficiently to oversee the Operation. One great example was from DFID. “It had to work with charities to identify what emergency response was needed, to pull coherent asks together and get the supplies ready to move and sort out a £32 million shopping list of items required to get moving…[all of this] happened in 72 hours.”[1] Even the 72hr waiting couple, mentioned previously, were found and rescued in 72 hours. The FCO were able to realise there were British citizens there, track them down, notify a local responder and rescue them from a country which has essentially been damaged by something with the strength of a nuclear bomb, in 72 hours.

 Whilst not a perfect case study by any stretch of the imagination, the initial preparation and response is a great example on how effective disaster response is done. For those of us interested in the relationship between the military and civil government, it further provides a clear example of how impressive a well oiled civil service at work is.

 Conclusion

 There should always be analysis of the response of a government to an out-of-the-blue situation such as a natural disaster. Holding such actions to account is equally important and is clearly in the purview of the media. However, these recent news cycles highlight that sometimes the media does get it wrong. Judgements are given without context and headlines are formulated in a ‘click-bait’ish manner (such as the 72hr couple). This is somewhat excusable as they’re not expected to generate military, political and civil experts on the matter. But it can still be avoided. What is not excusable is the politicisation of such things. Many an MP has already taken to Twitter and question PM’s time to deliver a ‘stinging rebuke’ to the ‘inadequacy’ of the government’s handling of the situation. This is truly inexcusable. It offers further fuel to the media fire and galvanises and misinforms their followers on twitter, deepening divides along party lines or ideology. More importantly, it begins to offer confirmation bias to misinformed pundits.

 It was with this in mind that I hoped to at least offer the facts, the context and then my own opinion on the topic. Even if my opinion is wrong, I hope that my offering of the facts and context allows you to develop your own opinions which you can at least claim are informed by evidence.

 Bibliography

[1] https://thinpinstripedline.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/is-uk-still-failing-in-west-indies-part.html – Thin Pinstriped line – ‘Is the UK still failing in the West Indies (Part Two) – summarised perfectly.

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The anatomy of TERROR

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By Diana Ecaterina Borcea, a first year War Studies Undergraduate at King’s College London and European Editor for International Relations Today.

 10:35pm Monday, May 22nd 2017. Massive explosion taking place at the Manchester Arena, shortly after the end of 20.000 people packed concert.

Two months earlier, on March 22nd, a 52-year-old British citizen drove a car into the pedestrians on the south side of the Westminster Bridge.

The timeline of the UK terrorist attacks started to count more and more incidents and deaths of the innocent since the beginning of the year, leading the detectives into the hunt for a terrorist network, especially after the Iraqi Islamic State’s responsibility claim over the bombing which happened earlier this week. However, the public proved itself to be increasingly confused in the attempt to contour a broader understanding of what the terrorists are looking for in their operations – or even better – what the real terror is meant to achieve.

Considering that UK has just been through the worst attack since 2007, the polarization of a pure anti-humanity agenda, successfully restored under the international spotlight since the beginning of the year proved once again, its underlying permanent influence over the global society, regardless of the geo-political targeting of the attacks. Therefore, what is actually primarily important to understand is the concept that describes best the perpetrators’ intentions in their offensive procedure, which essentially relies on the very definition of terror. They aim for publicity (which by its own means both attracting other individuals or groups on the side of the perpetrators and breaking the rational will of the targeted mass), they generally intend to deteriorate the image of a recognized government in the eyes of both the world and their own citizens, they inspire a super-wave of collective guilt amongst the individuals and ultimately, strive for a socio-political (and sometimes economic) paralysis of the targeted state-system, once the faith and the support of the masses are completely lost. From this point of view, UK’s constant response to the attacks can be theoretically interpreted as being antiterrorist, because it mainly relies on collective national security measures meant to keep sheltering the rights of the citizens and the rule of law. However, the increasing density of the attacks does raise some vital questions about the state’s protective capability, given the large numbers of casualties caused only since the beginning of this year. The more successful attacks, the lower the people’s faith in their own security and safety and implicitly, the lower the trust in the state’s protective ability. So what will happen next?

It is clear that unlike the Unites States, the British government does not see terrorism as warfare, nor does it look at it through the crime analogy. What UK has actually done so far is considering terrorism as being a matter of disease, which implies a cause-symptom treatment based on arrests and increased prevention through additional security measures. It is certainly important to note the achievements of this approach, as so far the danger of a social paralysis has been avoided and regardless of the extent of the destruction caused by the perpetrators of extreme violence, life went on. But how long will this last for?

A more relevant idea to bear in mind when dissociating terrorism is that due to the ever-changing nature of the phenomenon (including the targeting vision, the conduct of the operations, the tactics and devices used etc.), there is not and will never be a clear, comprising and universally valid definition for the case. This fact itself plays an important role in the broad understanding process of how and why the perpetrators act the way they do against the society. The psychological view of the attacker prototype does explain the individual’s perspective before and during the ‘pull of the trigger’, as it acknowledges the psychological map and processes taking place in human mind, which are, to a certain extent, quite similar to the ones of a soldier on the battlefield. It fails, however, to identify the vague transition between the ideological, religious, political, economic or personal motivation of an individual to carry out an act of extreme violence and the actual process of making it happen. In other words, there is no clear link between the theory and the practice of inducing terror. What is more, the group cohesion theory can barely justify the determination and outstanding operational focus of the terrorist groups and yet, it does not even reach the lone wolves’ case studies. Perhaps, this is one element that makes the latest London attacks stand out in the series of the recent attacks, because if the individuals acted on their own, one can hardly identify – not to mention understand – the mental realm of the terrorist. Thus, there is a general state of confusion between the target and the shooter. Unlike traditional warfare, the war on terror is not just asymmetrical from the grand strategic point of view, but it is also extremely irregular when it comes to the individual level of analysis.

Therefore, the thinner the correlation between the victim and the killer, the more endangered the conditions of life, regardless of the geographical zone discussed. What is certain, though, is that the continuation of the attacks against the human society has become in the past decades, an inherent matter of reality. Whether the hits similar to the one Britain took earlier this week will intensify or not, it is important to remember that terrorism is now a big part of the world we live in. The attackers are not prone to fundamental changes on any level of analysis, but what needs consideration is how (from the citizens to the states and to the international community) the society will ‘digest’ and cope with this traumatizing reality and the first step on this path is actually deciding whether the surviving mechanism of the world as we know it is actually that bulletproof against terror as we thought it was.

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Why ISIS will not succeed in Afghanistan

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By Lily Hess, a 2nd year undergraduate Student studying International Relations. She is currently studying abroad, and is the Foreign Editor of International Relations Today.

In 2014, a worrying development occurred in Afghanistan: The spread of ISIS’ Khorasan branch into several provinces, with its stronghold in Nangarhar. Following its stunning successes in Syria and Iraq, ISIS decided to expand its franchise outside the Arab world. The Khorasan branch encompasses South Asia in general — including India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. Afghanistan had appeared as a particularly promising country for expansion, given the limited control of its weak government and extensive history of jihadist wars against Western invaders and the “indel” regimes they support. ISIS’ strategy was to use its reputation, superior resources, and the internal discord of local competitors, like the Afghan Taliban, to recruit and integrate existing militants in Afghanistan to build up its own force there. [1]

Currently the Afghan Taliban and ISIS are at war with each other, while both also fight the NATO-backed Afghan government forces. Why didn’t ISIS decide to simply cooperate with groups like the Taliban, a jihadist group that is well-organized and holds long-established networks? This answer may stem back to the foundations of ISIS in Syria. The predecessor of ISIS is the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), al-Qaeda’s previous branch in Iraq. At the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, al-Qaeda saw a ripe opportunity to expand its operations. It tasked the ISI with helping to establish its new Syrian branch, and the Jabhat al-Nusra was declared in 2012. [2] However, al-Qaeda kept ambiguous its connection to al-Nusra in order to give it more leeway to gain the support of other local fighter groups in Syria. At the same time, the leadership of ISI itself wanted to spread its operations into Syria and establish itself as a separate group from al-Qaeda. These tensions culminated to the point where ISI announced that al-Nusra was it’s Syrian subsidiary, but from then on its existence would be unnecessary because ISI would reform itself as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Most of al-Nusra rejected this association, and in the process had to let loose that it was a branch of al-Qaeda. [2] ISI’s (newly ISIS’) announcement was followed with a series of large victories in Syria and Iraq, which propelled it to international attention. But it’s brutal tactics and hunger for sole control caused other militant groups, including al-Nusra, to increasingly oppose the new group. Al-Qaeda also denounced and dropped its Iraq branch, now ISIS.

 The hostility between ISIS and al-Qaeda has been transcribed into the South Asian theater, owing to the ties between al-Qaeda and the Taliban. But ISIS’ vitriol toward the Afghan Taliban also stems from what it believes are ideological deficiencies. It denounces the Taliban’s adherence to local tribal laws instead of a blanket application of a strict form of Sharia Law claiming  the Taliban a puppet of Iran and Pakistan’s intelligence service, in order to present its illegitimacy. Before the world knew that Mullah Omar had been dead for years, ISIS publicly assailed his “nationalist” worldview as opposed to trying to unite all Muslims. After he was found to have been dead, ISIS accused the Taliban of deceiving their followers and being untrustworthy for hiding his death. [3] Indeed, the revelations of Mullah Omar’s death stirred unrest within the Taliban as a power struggle ensued. When Mullah Mansour emerged as the leader, it disaffected a number of its members, some of whom then joined ISIS in Afghanistan.

On top of the discord within the Taliban, ISIS also has used other inter-group tension to recruit top fighters. The two original leaders of ISIS’ Khorasan branch are solid examples of these: The leader, Hafiz Saeed Khan, was a former chief of the Orakzai branch of the Tehreeke-Taliban Pakistan who was passed over for the highest position in the organization. The second-in-command (but since deceased), Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim, a former commander in the Afghan Taliban, had perceived an unfair tribal representation in its shura council, and was frustrated over whether Mullah Omar was alive or not. By itself, ISIS also had the advantage of resources over the other groups. Owing from its victories in Syria and Iraq, the group became rich from oil, antiquities, kidnapping, extortion, and other activities. Furthermore, it was willing to spend large sums of money to expand its networks in South Asia. Finally, its sophisticated media campaign was far more advanced than the Taliban’s. [1] Overall, ISIS had the perfect opportunity to use it many advantages to unseat the Taliban and become the dominant insurgent force against the state and expand its “caliphate”.

However, since its early successes in recruiting militants to its cause, ISIS has been facing severe failures in Afghanistan. The main cause of this ultimately originates from its core brutality and intolerance for local practices of Islam and society. Afghanistan’s tribal variations and provinciality, which have long bedeviled the Afghan government’s attempts at constructing a national identity, now bedevil ISIS’ attempts at garnering local support. The group is a foreign import, and does not understand the local people as much as the indigenous Taliban. The largest ethnic group in Afghanistan — and the majority of Taliban fighters — are Pashtuns. ISIS has criticized the tribal code of Pashtuns called Pashtunwali, which does not help their recruitment of Taliban fighters. [3] While the Taliban can be harsh, ISIS is brutal to another level, to the point where it alienates the local population. In fact, ISIS has minuscule local support and no cooperation with other militant groups in Afghanistan. The majority of its fighters in Afghanistan are actually former members of the Pakistani Taliban that were driven out by Pakistani military operations in its tribal areas. [4] In the competition between ISIS and the Taliban, this gives the Taliban two legitimacy advantages: They can claim to be the indigenous and (comparatively) moderate group. Meanwhile, ISIS is being targeted from all sides as American drone strikes, Afghan operations, and clashes with the Taliban batter down the group. The Khorasan Branch is geographically far from its central leadership in Iraq and Syria. Owing to the recent challenges it faces there, it seems unlikely that the central command would place the Khorasan Branch as a high priority and send aid. The group has been virtually eradicated from South and West Afghanistan. [5] While the Taliban now holds more territory than ever since the US-led invasion in 2001, ISIS has lost more than half the districts it once held in Afghanistan. [6]

In the future, ISIS’ influence in Afghanistan is likely to steadily decline, especially if it loses most of its territory in Syria and Iraq. However, the risk of spread to other regions is always present. Many of the fighters are likely to return to their home countries eventually, and this may be troubling news for Central and South Asia. ISIS has recently been attempting to control territory in Northern Afghanistan in order to create a corridor for militants from Central Asian states it borders and Afghanistan. [5] While it is highly unlikely that ISIS will ever succeed in conquering Afghanistan and adding it to the “caliphate”, remnants of the group will disseminate to neighboring regions, where they can remain as a small but perpetual threat.

Bibliography:

Picture credit: Link: https://southfront.org/vilayat-khorasan-isis-takes-over-afghanistan/

1 = Jones, Seth G. “Expanding the Caliphate: ISIS’ South Asia Strategy.” Foreign Affairs. 11 June 2015. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/afghanistan/2015-06-11/expanding-caliphate

2 = Mendelsohn, Barak. The Al-Qaeda Franchise. New York City: Oxford University Press, 2016. Print.

3 = Barr, Nathaniel and Bridget Moreng. “The Graveyard of Caliphates.” Foreign Affairs. 13 January 2016. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/afghanistan/2016-01-13/graveyardcaliphates

4 = “ISIS increasing recruitment from Pakistan, Afghanistan: US.” Financial Express. 24 March 2017. http://www.financialexpress.com/world-news/isis-increasing-recruitment-from-pakistanafghanistan-us/600632/

5 = “IS in Afghanistan: How successful has the group been?” BBC. 25 February 2017. http:// http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-39031000

6 = Gidda, Mirren. “Why ISIS is Failing to Build a Caliphate in Afghanistan.” Newsweek. 25 March 2017. http://www.newsweek.com/afghanistan-isis-taliban-caliphate-kabulbombing

 

 

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Are they MAD to deploy THAAD?

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By William Reynolds, a 2nd year undergraduate studying War Studies. From a British Armed Forces background, William follows the military capabilities of the West and the security issues in the Middle East with great interest, placing special emphasis on COIN and the experiences of individuals on the ground. William has worked as a Research Fellow for Dr Whetham in the Centre of Military Ethics and is a spammer of many articles on the King’s Middle East and North Africa Forum (MENA).

East Asia has seen a significant deployment of military hardware by the US and its allies in response to increasing military activity on the part of the Chinese. The deployment of Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) systems in South Korea and the planned deployment of the Japanese Izumo class Helicopter Destroyer in disputed regions have certainly raised the ire of the Chinese. Whilst one could speculate what the Chinese response to such activities will be, this piece will simply focus on why said deployments have taken place, and what about them has provoked the PRC.

THAAD

THAAD is one of the most modern Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) systems available to the US in the short to intermediate ranges. The system operates by destroying an incoming missile via the kinetic energy of its own missile system. However, the drawback to the device is that it can only target the incoming weapon system once it is in its terminal phase of the flight. Essentially, the incoming missile is on its final approach when THAAD is finally able to identify, lock on and attempt to destroy the target.

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Therefore, its deployment in South Korea (it should be operational by April according to PACOM sources) is clearly a result of North Korean missile testing. Assuming Mr Kim finally decided to watch the peninsula burn, THAAD would operate as South Korea’s very best hope of knocking out any incoming North Korean nukes.

So with THAAD only able to knock out intermediate missiles, and therefore unable to touch China’s ICBM’s, why does China view the deployment as a threat? There are two possible theories at this time. The X-band radar, which tracks targets for THAAD, is a powerful piece of kit. If it were to be turned westwards and pointed at Mainland China it could penetrate deep into Chinese territory. Naturally China is not particularly keen on US SIGINT monitoring Chinese airspace, where their own missile tests could be at risk. However, this assumes that the radar will be pointed that way. As the diagram highlights, pointing X-band westwards completely neutralises its primary task of watching North Korea for possible threats. It would be easier for USPACOM (United States Pacific Command) to deploy submarines or additional ISTAR (Information, Surveillance, Targeting Acquisition, and Reconnaissance) assets to watch the Chinese rather than waste expensive BMD systems on simple surveillance.

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The second, and far more likely, possibility is Chinese fear of containment. China has always viewed the Korean peninsula a vital security interest and the threat of a US, RoK and Japanese integrated missile defence system is intolerable. Regional missile defence complicates much of China’s military planning and security interests as THAAD operates as an area denial system for much of China’s hardware. A common phrase in any military is ‘move to live’. Area denial weapons hamper and restrict options for the Chinese military if the region did indeed come to blows. Just as NATO worries about the A2/AD (Anti-Access/Area Denial) systems in Kaliningrad, so does China worry about such systems on the Korean Peninsula.

This fear of containment influences much of China’s actions in the region. If one were to stand in Beijing, they would see the RoK and Japan to the East, Taiwan to the south and an increasingly US friendly Vietnam to the southwest. Whilst none of these countries operate as one single unit, the real possibility that these states, with US backing, could act to prevent Chinese movement clearly permeates Chinese policy. THAAD, as of this time, cannot be deployed on such a regional scale under one system. However, technology improves and the Americans have become quite adept at innovation when it comes to war.

This is not to say that China is justified in its opposition. Unable or unwilling to curtail North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, China has little right to interfere in the sovereign security decisions of the RoK. Indeed, it was China’s own policies that brought THAAD closer to the RoK. One cannot also help but view said opposition to a Korean BMD as hypocritical. After all, China is developing its own BMD system.

The Izumo

The JS Izumo represented a significant maritime development for the JMSDF (Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force). In the same class as the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Invincible, the ‘helicopter destroyer’ Izumo allows Japan to project power with both its helicopter detachment and on-board marines. Indeed, the designation ‘helicopter destroyer’ (DDH) is a somewhat new concept. Most destroyers in fleets around the world have the capacity to house one or two helicopters in order to conduct anti-submarine warfare or stop and searches. However, no known destroyers have the capacity to house such a vast quantity of aircraft. It is simply safer to ditch the political narrative and refer to the Izumo as what it truly is: a light aircraft carrier.

It is this designation that concerns China. Aircraft carriers are the offensive weapons of the fleet. Able to deploy air assets over large areas, carriers can project the power of its nation right into your city. Even if they have no airbases nearby. Thus, the deployment of one into the South China Sea, where Japan has no stakes or claims, is a worrying turn of events for China. Officially, the deployment is to test the ship on long duration operations. But it’s list of visits: Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, infer a different story. One could argue that this is a statement from the Japanese. That they are willing to leave their own waters and interests in order to support other Asian states in their quarrels. With the Izumo, they now have the capacity to do so.

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Conclusion

China’s concerns with recent military activity are indeed justifiable. The deployment of THAAD and the Izumo show a significant jump in the ‘West’ orientated states security policies and manoeuvring. However, what China fails to realise is that it was through its own actions that such policies were brought about. A muscular belligerence concerning the ‘Nine-Dash’ line and the Senkaku Islands has forced states to respond in kind. To many it may be viewed as the US asserting its hegemony in what should clearly be China’s region. However, China has failed to pick its fights well and has done more to unite the East-Asian states than anything the US could come up with. With President Trump we cannot be sure what US policy will continue to be. But Japan, and many other states in the region, has taken up the baton. We may very well see a more assertive collection of East Asian states on the horizon.

Bibliography:

http://www.lockheedmartin.com/content/dam/lockheed/data/mfc/photo/thaad/hr/mfc-thaad-info-web-page-intercepting-hr.jp

 

 

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A violent peace: El Salvador 25 years on

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Carly Greenfield is a second year International Relations student with an interest in non-wartime violence, gender theory, and organized crime, especially in Latin America.

El Salvador, a state of little more than 6 million people, often falls below the radar in the 21st century. However, 25 years ago, El Salvador was ending a 12-year civil war that had ushered it into a violent Cold War paradigm and brought global media attention along with it. Today, El Salvador is the battleground for deadly gang warfare and a hardened state presence. While the peace deal of 1992 ensured an end to the conflict, Salvadorans have not been able to cultivate a peaceful society. In 2015, San Salvador hosted the third highest murder rate in the world: with its population hovering around 1.7 million, almost a third of all Salvadorans have been forced to make this a part of their daily lives. The peace deal failed to create a peaceful state due to an inability to remedy the conflict’s roots of inequality and injustice, failure to persecute military members following the deal, and a failure to address the trauma experienced by local communities. Along with a lack of political will, El Salvador has faced the same abject poverty as its neighbor states and extreme levels of emigration towards the United States (US), leading to an excess in crime rates.

The civil war was fought between the Government of El Salvador and Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN), but its roots lay much further back in El Salvador’s history. Like most of Latin America, Spain dominated El Salvador for over 300 years until its full independence in 1838. This laid down a system built around natural goods such as indigo and sugarcane and the need for a peasant population to farm it. Following independence, as in the colonial period, a group of elites held almost all of the wealth in the country. In the 19th century, they amassed control of the economy through the farming of a new crop: coffee. Economic disparity grew and in the 20th century, peasant revolts became increasingly common, leading to brutal crackdowns by the government. As El Salvador swung from one military dictatorship to the next and social mobility stayed practically impossible, the growth of leftist guerrilla movements was expected. Like in neighboring states Nicaragua and Guatemala, the 1970s and 1980s became ground zero for revolutionary politics.

El Salvador’s civil war lasted from 1980 to 1992, leaving over 75,000 people dead and thousands more displaced from their homes. It was notorious for death squads, the use of child soldiers, and various other human rights violations. Thousands had fled to neighboring countries, chief among them the United States. The US, who had backed the Salvadoran government during the war, would play a key part in both the peace deal and its ensuing breakdown. Following the 1989 Jesuit massacre, and the US no longer supplying the government with weapons but rather calling for an end to the conflict, the government and FMLN brokered a peace deal. Although the peace deal succeeded in ending the violent civil war and incorporating FMLN into the political system, economic goals of the peace agreement were less successful. Along with this, a lack of funding for government programs reincorporating child soldiers or supporting communities most affected by the atrocities kept areas from healing.

Within the peace accord, several agreements have been breached or not followed closely— Chapter 1, Armed Forces, facing the most challenges. Point 5, End to Impunity, gave the Commission on the Truth power to end impunity for armed actors involved in human rights abuses. However, the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly passed an amnesty law that protected all military and guerrilla forces from prosecution in 1993, undercutting the Commission on the Truth, leaving many victims without anyone to hold to account. To this end, the entrance of the FMLN into the president’s office in 2009 led to the removal of the blanket amnesty law, yet still few cases have been prosecuted. Now, at the 25th anniversary, prosecutions are becoming less and less likely, meaning the justice side of the conflict remains unfulfilled, keeping the country from experiencing total peace. With Point 6 of Chapter 1, Public Security Forces, the government has loosened the regulations set out in the peace accord. While the peace accord set about creating a police force controlled by civilian authorities, rather than allowing the military to conduct the policing within El Salvador, the government has instead militarized its police. Though the primary role of the national civil police was shaped around safeguarding peace, anti-gang policies have been more offensive than defensive in nature. In the first decade of the 2000s, El Salvador’s leadership developed the manu duro policy (iron fist). President Antonio Saca brought more force to the program and labeled it super mano duro. These policies led to increased police presence in El Salvador along with heavier weapons and the legal ability to take harsh methods against suspected gang members, therein beginning to blur the line carefully set out by the peace accords. In 2015, the government labeled street gangs as terrorist organization— a step that proponents said was fitting, given how the gangs terrorize the local population and seek to undermine the government. What this decision also does, however, is expand police rights to round up any person with a gang-related tattoo, as being a member of a gang is now illegal. Searches and raids rose and stories began to crop up of police abuse and overzealousness, but few arrests were made inside the police force. The government’s ability to seek justice as it sees fit is reminiscent of the civil war, making some civil society activists uncomfortable. As many gangs are most active in poor neighborhoods, it is those people who are most affected by gang violence and extortion and government abuse, rekindling the divide between the poor and the heavily armed police.

Point 11 called for the suspension of forcible recruitment: children disappeared throughout the conflict and many were coerced or forced into fighting, leaving a generation with few skills outside of war. While the government has taken steps to protect children, the gangs recruit boys as young as 10 to serve as lookouts and informants throughout the country. Recruitment into a street gang should be treated as a similar crime to that named in the peace accord since most of the gang members are young and die early. The government’s inability to protect its youth shows that the peace accord has not been implemented in its entire scope, made more acute due to a lack of finances.

The El Salvador peace deal, like many other peace deals, focused on resolving the conflict at hand and less with the structural issues going on inside El Salvador. Still, Chapter 5 sought to answer “the agrarian problem.” Land reform occurred to give workers more access to the wealth being gained from the earth they till and more peasants were able to buy land. Still, wages did not rise substantially, and an elite few continue to amass a critical amount of the wealth. The space left between peace accords and truth commissions following conflict leaves substantial room for economic structures to remain in place even while they are often a focal point of the conflict. The failure of the government to set significant reforms in place means that many Salvadorans face similar economic pressures as those prior to the civil war.

It would be incorrect to claim, however, that El Salvador is wholly responsible for its homicide rate or gang epidemic. The role of the US in Salvadoran politics was a main hindrance to peace within the state during the civil war, and its support of the original peace deal was mainly in pursuit of its own national interest. Now, as the international community looks to how El Salvador can lower its homicide rate, it should really be analyzing US immigration policy. The practices that gangs employ have their origins in Los Angeles, not in Soyapongo.

Thousands of Salvadorans escaped the country during the civil war, particularly young men avoiding being brought in to fight. Many fled to the US, albeit without the proper documentation, and settled in Los Angeles. The adolescents noticed the street culture already prevalent in the city at the time, particularly the gang rivalry between the Bloods and the Crips. This gave birth to la Mara Salvatrucha, commonly known as MS-13, and one of the main gangs in El Salvador today. While the gang was formed in Los Angeles, it ended up back in El Salvador: the US government, cracking down on illegal immigration, deported thousands of Salvadorans back to El Salvador following the peace accord. Since the US prioritizes deporting those with criminal records, gang members were the perfect example of what the government wanted to get out of the country. So although the young men were raised in American streets, the US took no responsibility for their behavior, and gang culture was exported to El Salvador along with the people. Since most of these men had little connection to El Salvador, they were difficult to integrate, notwithstanding all of the other issues that the country was facing. US foreign policy towards El Salvador, laden with hypocrisy for decades, has only furthered the destabilization of the small country. By only understanding the civil war through the Cold War, it supported brutal government tactics and furthered the endless bloodshed. The deportation of young gang members and the separation of families across borders continue to put Salvadorans at risk. Furthermore, when the US saw an increase in unaccompanied minors entering the US in 2014, they were careful not to label them refugees, even though they were escaping the deadliest region outside of a warzone. As El Salvador continues to grapple with its rival gangs, the US continues its deadly deportation policy.

What does this all mean, in the context of a 25 year-old peace deal? Small states do not have full agency in their policymaking if they are not afforded it by larger states, such as in the US-El Salvador relationship. The violence in El Salvador should also serve as a reminder of the importance of financial power to put in place post-conflict programs that emphasize reintegration, community building, and job opportunities. Impunity serves no one but those who committed the crimes, even if it is being done in the name of healing and moving on. Furthermore, governments must conduct their own commissions to reform long-established obstacles: while truth commissions may bring victims’ voices to light, and peace accords disarm the opposition, there continues to be no exact model for addressing the long-term grievances of oppressed groups, especially in postcolonial states. The peace accord may have ended the civil war, but it was unable to provide stability or lead to civil society involvement that could have created a peace that meant more than simply the absence of war.

 

Sources:

http://www.seguridadjusticiaypaz.org.mx/biblioteca/prensa/send/6-prensa/230-caracas-venezuela-es-la-ciudad-mas-violenta-del-mundo 

http://www.blog.rielcano.org/ciudades-violentas-sin-necesidad-de-guerras/#comments 

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/es.html 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/29/el-salvador-police-arrest-77-raids-powerful-ms13-gang 

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/sep/04/adam-hinton-el-salvador-ms-13-gangs-prison-portraits 

http://cja.org/where-we-work/el-salvador/ 

http://peacemaker.un.org/sites/peacemaker.un.org/files/SV_920116_ChapultepecAgreement.pdf 

http://www.usip.org/publications/truth-commission-el-salvador 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/18/nayib-bukele-san-salvador-mayor-save-worlds-most-violent-city 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGG7lRJJkJk 

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/11/arts/television/11bull.html 

http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1920741,00.html 

http://www.csmonitor.com/1996/1105/110596.intl.intl.1.html 

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/Latin-America-Monitor/2012/0425/Building-on-success-How-El-Salvador-is-trying-to-keep-gang-violence-down

 

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The Justice and Development Party (AKP): where Justice and Development have found new definitions

by Diana Ecaterina Borcea, a Romanian native who is also an incoming first year undergraduate at King’s College London. Diana will start pursuing a BA in War Studies this September. Her main interests in the research of international relations cover subjects like security and conflict in Eastern Europe, history of diplomacy & conflicts, military strategy and war in international order.


 

15 Jul 10:30 pm: the seizure of the key locations in Ankara (and the Bosphorus bridges) takes place

15 Jul 11:00 pm: guns are fired in Ankara and tanks start sieging close to the parliament

16 Jul 12:30 am: President Erdoğan’s call for people’s public rally is aired

16 Jul 2:30 am: the parliament is under attack and a coup members’ helicopter is shot down

16 Jul 9:30 am: the main stage of the coup is declared to be over and soldiers start surrendering

16 Jul 3:00 pm: eight coup participants fly to Greece to seek asylum.

AKP

AKP emblem

 

 

Bottom line? Over 270 people killed and almost 1500 wounded. This tragic outcome is deeply overwhelming even for a country where there have been no fewer than five major coups in the past six decades, with the latest one included. With Turkey’s bleeding stability, few days after the failed coup, questions started rising and the importance of the political leadership became a major element in understanding what really happened in Turkey. Identifying both the causes and the potential long-term consequences of the plotter’s overthrow basically means looking into the state’s leading party, which has been holding not only the majority of seats in the Parliament for thirteen years, but also the enthusiasm and support of the Turkish people.

 

Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (Turkish), internationally known as the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has become the strongest Turkish political association in the past decade and presents itself as a conservative right-wing, democratic party, which does not resemble any components of the Islamic agenda, according to its spokesperson, Hüseyin Çelik. Holding the reins of power in Turkey since 2002, AKP, whose leader was the actual President of the Republic (Recep Tayyip Erdoğan) has, however, consolidated a system leaning towards authoritarianism, facing accusations of having a secret agenda, which does not bear a resemblance to the democratic ideology at all. Moreover, the Western press and important Turkish media insiders have repeatedly underlined that Erdoğan’s party is responsible for acts against Turkish secularism and for the support of the Muslim Brotherhood. Under these controversial circumstances, in its thirteen years of power, AKP has faced numerous closing dates, one of which happened in 2008, when the party confronted dissolution by the Constitutional Court for violating article 86 from the Political Parties Law, because it attempted to change the secularism of the state. These tense moments did not, however, prevent AKP from tightening regulations regarding the usage of internet, abortion and alcohol consumption in 2013. The measures taken in the night between 15th of 16th of July – blocking access to social media (Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter) are identical to the ones imposed in 2014, which demonstrates the authoritarian operational mode of AKP.  So, is Erdoğan’s AKP actually protecting Atatürk’s Republic and its people?

 

The answer could be heard from the voices of the thousands gathered in the Taksim Square (Istanbul), who chanted for democracy and the Republic, but not as they once did for the President. The concerns for the Turkish democracy became stronger, as it is already noted that the first major consequence of the coup is giving the government both the justification and the power to tighten its control over the state, declaring, in the process of finding and eliminating the plotters, a three-month long state of emergency. Despite the waves of Western accusations for being an Islamist-influenced party and for its anti-democratic measures, AKP still has its mass supporters, who have also made their voice heard after the coup. The President’s lasting popularity is based on genuine facts, which include Turkey’s economic revival since 2003, the religious pervasiveness of the party and the very fact that Erdoğan is a man of people. As a result, by representing a conservative, religious lower-class, the President has assured his major support, shadowing the worrying fact that immediately after the coup, his government started a massive purge of soldiers, policemen, judges, prosecutors and even teachers in order to secure the post-coup safety of his governance.

 

What is more, the Turkish leader has publicly refused to eliminate the execution of the coup plotters, stirring EU reactions, which have clearly stated that in such case, Turkey will no longer be able to adhere to the Union. This adds up to the radical constitutional package presented earlier this week, which has also caught the international focus by being denominated as “a constitutional reform package aimed at EU integration.” Following these considerations, AKP’s political strategy does not seem hard to unveil. A foreign isolationist policy combined with the massive media shutdown in Turkey might protect the government’s reputation from the objective, alarming western critique, by which the President himself has proved to be so affected (2014 media access block). Is that, in this case, a well-designed plan to cover the abuses and injustices committed with Ankara’s leadership consent?

 

The certainty illustrates that the aforementioned events are definitely not singular or non-repeatable. The deaths of hundreds of people seem to fade in comparison with Erdoğan’s policy and his party movements, which is why the aforementioned tragic bottom line might as well be a header. On the edge between authoritarianism and military dictatorship, Turkey’s faith is in the hands of the so-called “Justice” and “Development”. Regardless of the isolation-related uncertainties, the future of Ankara relies on the guidelines of the new definitions offered to these two terms, as seen and understood by Erdoğan’s long-lasting impenetrable party.

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U.S Missile Shield Dispute: Romania, a voiceless pawn on a foreign chessboard

Diana Borcea is a Romanian incoming first year undergraduate at King’s College London and will start pursuing a BA in War Studies this September. Her main interests in the research of international relations cover subjects like security and conflict in Eastern Europe, history of diplomacy & conflicts, military strategy and war in international order.

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With Russia’s latest public threatening declarations against Romania and other eastern European states that have agreed to be involved in the US military defense shield, a clear, constantly strengthened message against NATO’s new allies has become the main coordinate of new tensions in Europe. The $800 million shield officially switched on in the Deveselu base (Romania) has proven to cause only the beginning of a whole new series of threats coming from the eastern superpower, making Romania a key element in the international dispute.[1]

The Russian concerns had their debut back in 2011, when the American plan to build a missile shield with defensive purposes against states like Iran came closer to reality, as Romania, Poland, Turkey and Spain have all agreed to join the strategic plan. [2] Five years later, major parts of the US military shield became operational, with the officially opened missile site (Deveselu, Romania) capable of shooting down enemy rockets which could reach areas of important European cities. The danger of having developed missile shield close to their borders has determined Russia’s latest reaction the a new addition to the NATO’s defense plan, in May 2016, when the Russian president Vladimir Putin has made a strong warning regarding Moscow’s retaliatory actions due to the threat of the missile shield, alerting Romania and Poland that they could become Kremlin’s enemies, as they are hosting hostile American military elements.[3]

The continuous dispute between the ex-Cold War enemies has, however, transformed Romania in a voiceless actor on the two superpowers’ stage and neither the Romanian leaders, nor the people proved to have acknowledged the very essence of the “play”.  It is explainable how, on the 12th of May, earlier this year, the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, has not attended the official opening ceremony of the Deveselu missile site, in spite of the event’s indisputable historical importance and the very presence of NATO’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg and US Deputy Secretary of Defense, Robert Work at the ceremony.[4] The absence of both the Romanian president and the SIE leader, Mihai Razvan-Ungureanu, was not clearly explained by the officials, but has stirred the critique of the public opinion, as it could have been misinterpreted by the American diplomats as a sign of uncertainty in the Romanian foreign policy. Consequently, the voice of Romania had barely proven its existence regardless of the crucial diplomatic occasion.

 Despite the official declarations coming from the NATO’s representatives, who have insisted on the fact that the military base is not directed against Russia, [5] Kremlin still sees in the SM-3 interceptors which are to be set up on the 430 acre-large Ballistic Missile Defense Site (near Deveselu Romanian Airbase) a serious threat. Thus, under the apparent absence of dialogue between Washington and Moscow, Romania is to face all the accusations and warnings of potential Russian military interventions across its borders. The Romanian response? A moderate, partially uncertain presidential declaration from Klaus Iohannis, stating that the future of Romanian security is unpredictable[6], considering the Russian reactions, which did not, however, prevent Romania from getting involved in the international Program “Security in the Black Sea Region. Shared Challenges, Sustainable Future”.[7]

Romania’s lack of voice – or better yet, alleged “silence” regarding its very own position and security in the missile dispute could also be explained by the fact that the country occupied only the 41st position in the 2016 GFP, whereas the two superpowers who seem to have been given vital rights to decide Bucharest’s faith are the world’s top two military forces.[8] Considering the real numbers, the danger truly comes from the East, and after the obvious American absence in the Crimean Crisis, a saving intervention for Romania in a potential conflict with Moscow seems quite unlikely. It must also be noted that, apart from Russia, Romania’s closest neighbour, Ukraine was ranked the 30th in the 2016 GFP, worsening the circumstances for the Carpathian country.

So, while the Romania’s relations with Russia keep deteriorating, the multi-purposed American plans are at a real risk of unwanted exposure, as an important voice from the U.S nuclear expertize highlighted the unnecessary need of American defensive missile base in Eastern Europe, because there is no probability of an Iranian nuclear war in the next two decades.[9] In this case, why is Romania half-passively eager to further involve in defensive plans which are to dramatically deteriorate crucial relations with the eastern superpower?

The answer which should have come from Cotroceni is still missing, whereas the dangerous threats from the east keep gathering and have managed to eclipse the importance of the missile host state itself. The only certain thing that remains, in conclusion, is the danger of a real conflict with Russia (who threatened to send Tu-22M3 supersonic bombers in Crimea as reaction to the missile shield[10]) and a few quarrels between Romanian politicians, who have not yet come up with a strategy to secure the faith of the country.

 

 

[1] Robin Emmot, “U.S. activates Romanian missile defense site, angering Russia”, Reuters, May 12, 2016. Accessed: June 10, 2016. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-nato-shield-idUSKCN0Y30JX

[2] Andrew Osborn, “Dmitry Medvedev threatens US over planned missile defense shield”, The Telegraph, November 23, 2011. Accessed: June 12, 2016. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/8910909/Dmitry-Medvedev-threatens-US-over-planned-missile-defence-shield.html

[3] Denis Dyomkin, “Putin says Romania, Poland may now be in Russia’s cross-hairs”, Reuters, May 27, 2016. Accessed: June 7, 2016. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-europe-shield-idUSKCN0YI2ER

[4] Dodo Romniceanu, Mircea Marian, Alexandra Chiric, “Iohannis a RATAT un MOMENT ISTORIC. Președintele ROMÂNIEI NU PARTICIPĂ la INAUGURAREA bazei americane de la Deveselu” [Iohannis has missed a historical moment. The President of Romania DOES NOT ATTEND the inauguration of the Deveselu American base], Evenimentul Zilei, May 12, 2016. Accessed: June 10, 2016. http://www.evz.ro/secretarul-general-al-nato-la-cotroceni.html

 

[5] Space Report, “Deveselu Base, Romania”, May 12, 2016. Accessed: June 7, 2016. http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/facility/deveselu.htm

 

[6] Mediafax, “Răspunsul lui Iohannis la ameninţările Rusiei împotriva României: Declaraţiile din partea Rusiei nu pot să ne intimideze, arată că abordarea noastră e corectă” [Iohannises answer to Russian threats: The Russian Declarations cannot intimidate us, they indicate our rightful approach], Ziarul Financiar, May 31, 2016. Accessed: June 10, 2016. http://www.zf.ro/politica/raspunsul-lui-iohannis-la-amenintarile-rusiei-impotriva-romaniei-declaratiile-din-partea-rusiei-nu-pot-sa-ne-intimideze-arata-ca-abordarea-noastra-e-corecta-15401757

 

[7] SRI Report, “Security in the Black Sea Region. Shared Challenges, Sustainable Future”, May 31, 2016. Accessed: June 7, 2016. https://www.sri.ro/academia-nationala-de-informatii-mihai-viteazul-si-universitatea-harvard-organizeaza-a-treia-editie-a-programului-securitate-in-regiunea-marii-negre-provocari-comune-viitor-sustenabil.html

 

[8] Global Firepower Ranking 2016, January 4, 2016. Accessed: June 12, 2016. http://www.globalfirepower.com/countries-listing.asp

 

[9] Robin Emmot, “U.S. activates Romanian missile defense site, angering Russia”, Reuters.

 

[10] Kuril Bora, “Russia May Send Tu-22M3 Supersonic Bombers to Crimea In Response To US Missile Buildup In Eastern Europe”, International Business Times, June 24, 2015. Accessed: June 10, 2016. http://www.ibtimes.com/russia-may-send-tu-22m3-supersonic-bombers-crimea-response-us-missile-buildup-eastern-2023159

 

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Part 3 | Russia & Europe

Adam Holub reads BA International Relations and happens to be IRT’s editor for Europe.

2014-01-17_Russia-EU_605

This little symposium looks at the perception of Russia as a threat across various regions. When discussing Europe, we have to face off an immediate issue: do we look at Europe as a region comprised of a large number of actors? Or is it perhaps, due to the large extent of EU integration, more useful to generalise when referring to the relations between Russia and European countries as those between Russia and the EU? Similarly, does it make sense to distinguish between the different perceptions of Russia as a threat of the individual European countries? To resolve this problem appropriately we would have to engage in a lengthy analysis of the EU’s foreign policy and look at how historical experience of European integration differed across the continent as well as how historical experience of the individual countries vis-à-vis Russia varied.

For the purpose of this article, it will be easier to look at the manifestations of the degree of perceptions of Russia as a threat. It makes sense to divide the answer into three parts: looking at the EU as a unified actor, looking at the more particular member states’ perception of Russia as a threat throughout Europe, and then finally zooming in even further to the Eastern European fringe where Russia notably oscillates between being perceived as a friend or as an existential threat. This question of how is Russia perceived in Europe is one that is absolutely crucial at the time of turbulent developments in the relations between Russia and the European countries which at times could be described as cold or unfortunate, if not yet openly hostile. The point of this bit is to show the other side of the coin as well, to point out to the opposition voices very present in some countries which doubt Russia’s dangerousness and try to peculiarly revise the mainstream opinion on Russia. Threat perceptions are in general hard if not impossible to adequately observe. Instead of trying to read the mind of people half a billion people we should look at some manifestations of perceptions of Russia in Europe and interpret them.

Whether the EU as a whole sees Russia as a threat or an enemy is not easy to assess. We could use the proclamations by senior EU representatives, such as the European council president Donald Tusk, to get a hint of a common stand. Tusk, the man who is responsible facilitating consensus in the EU, has described the policy of Vladimir Putin as “simply to have enemies, to be stronger than them, to destroy them and to be in conflict.”[1] Tusk, however, is not a spokesman for the EU member states on the matters of Foreign Policy. Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, was recently heard denying that there is a new Cold War between the West and Russia.[2] A new Cold War is a metaphor popping up every here and there in political discussions and commentaries in reference to both the Russian involvement in the conflict in Ukraine and in Syria. By ruling out a reference to a historical period which carries the connotation of arguably the largest possibility of a global nuclear face off, Mogherini’s attitude suggests that the European representative is trying to rule out Russia as an existential threat. A slight difference of accent and emphasis when it comes to Russia is not problematic per se but it shows plurality of opinion at the top political level.

Nevertheless, despite the difference in emphasis throughout the Union, Russia has been officially referred to a potential threat in the European Parliament resolution of 15 January 2015 on the situation in Ukraine.[3] The economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU countries, as well as non-EU countries like Norway for example, also show a common concern about Russia’s latest actions in Europe. The resolution talks both about the necessity of the sanctions and the Russian threat and is an example of how these two things are related topics in Europe. The assessment of the opinions on the EU level doesn’t do justice to the nuances between the rhetoric in the individual member states.

While the common imposition of the sanctions speaks of a common stance towards Russia, it is notable that according to some diplomats in Brussels, the Kremlin was trying to divide the EU on the issue of the extension of the sanctions. Among the countries that were perceived as likely to “see the sanctions relaxed or scrapped” were Italy, Greece, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic.[4] What is interesting in particular is the presence of three countries of the Visegrád Group. Reasons can be various, but what is evident, are pro Russian sympathies shown by some politicians of these countries. The Czech president Miloš Zeman, for example, has given an interview to the Russian First Channel in which he condemned the anti-Russian sanctions.[5]

In both The Czech Republic and Slovakia, it is the prime minister and not the president who has the largest executive power. While the Slovak president is critical of Russia, the prime minister Fico also condemned the sanctions and similarly to the Czech president did that while in Russia,[6] which has an extra symbolic value as it comes in handy for the Russian authorities and media. Finally, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán is notoriously known for his pro Russian sympathies. In western Europe, France found itself in a position after the Paris attacks which has been associated with “signs of deepening collaboration” between the French and Russian armies in the war against Daesh.[7] Germany’s Angela Merkel sees her country’s potential to mediate between Russia and the West. At the same time, the German chancellor no longer trusts the Russian president as much as she used to. The UK’s prime minister David Cameron is more openly critical of Russia and in 2014 called for a stronger NATO presence on the borders with Russia to be able to respond to any “threat”.[8]

Finally, there is the question of countries in the nearest vicinity of Russian territory (among which it is useful to include Poland). Being Russia’s neighbour does not instantly mean being threatened by it. What seems to correlate with the perception of Russia as a threat is the political orientation of a country in combination with particular historical experience of Russian involvement. The Baltic states have had the experience of direct Soviet rule while they are establishing themselves as valuable EU and NATO members. Estonia’s president Toomas Hendrik Ilves described Russia as a threat not only to his country and the Baltic region but to the Post World War order.[9] Similar case are the Poles. Russian establishment, to be frank, is not improving its perception in the Baltics by intensifying its intrusions into the airspace of the Baltic countries.[10]

An example of a country that does not seem to be threatened by Russia and is in its nearest vicinity is Belarus. Ukraine, on the other hand, long perceived as crucially historically and culturally oriented towards Russia, similarly to Belarus, is an example of how political orientation affects the extent to which Russia is a threat. In the Ukrainian case it was a change of regime following civil unrests, which were a reaction to the choice of its former president Yanukovych to give precedence to an agreement with Russia rather than the EU, something that is hardly expectable from the authoritarian Alexander Lukashenko. The point made here is that Russia is not, in my opinion, an expansionist country per se but some countries and their populations do seem to perceive Russia as believing in a special claim for intervening in their matters in various ways, a perception very much enhanced by Russia itself.

Clearly, the perception of Russia as a threat varies across Europe. Despite that, certain basic approach towards Russia can be narrowed down to the perception of at least a potential threat, at least in the EU and more pro-West European countries.

Sources:

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/15/donald-tusk-putins-policy-enemies-conflict-european-council-sanctions-russia

[2] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-eu-idUSKCN0VO11C

[3] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P8-TA-2015-0011+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN

[4] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/15/donald-tusk-putins-policy-enemies-conflict-european-council-sanctions-russia

[5] https://www.1tv.ru/news/2014/11/16/29156-milosh_zeman_osuzhdaet_antirossiyskie_sanktsii_i_trebuet_prekratit_bombardirovki_donbassa#

[6] http://www.aktuality.sk/clanok/277055/fico-sa-dostal-na-titulne-strany-ruskych-novin-som-proti-sankciam/

[7] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/23/francois-hollande-france-global-alliance-defeat-isis-russia-us-uk-germany

[8] http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/aug/02/david-cameron-west-stronger-russia-borders

[9] https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/estonias-president-russia-is-threateningthe-entire-post-world-war-ii-order/2014/09/29/035ef686-45cd-11e4-b47c-f5889e061e5f_story.html

[10] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/full-list-of-incidents-involving-russian-military-and-nato-since-march-2014-9851309.html

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Part 2 | Scandinavia’s ‘big bad bully’: Russia & Scandinavia

Silje Undlien is a Norwegian first-year War Studies student at King’s College London.

Dmitry Medvedev

At a time when few Nordic governments are willing to concede Russia as an immediate military threat, Russian relations with the Scandinavian three – Sweden, Norway and Denmark – continue to grow cold. When it comes to being the ‘big bad bully’ of Europe, Russia has met little competition from its neighbouring countries. Thus far we have seen Russian aggression escalate profoundly in terms of espionage targeting Scandinavian countries – as both Norway and Sweden has identified their northern neighbour as their leading threat vis-à-vis intelligence operations, and Denmark is no exception from Russia’s extensive surveillance. [1] The apparent reluctance of Russia to leave Scandinavian airspace and territorial waters alone does little to improve their strained relations. Its vested interests in Arctic areas ought to arouse some reaction from the conflicting Nordic governments, as indeed it has. Yet for the countries in question, Russia is a rival of much greater military capacity and ought not to be further provoked if possibly avoided. To Scandinavians – Russia is currently highly unstable due to Putin’s leadership. Thus, according to the Norwegian Minister of Defence, Ine Eriksen Søreide, it is critical to avoid miscalculations, and, although the threat is not considered imminent, military reforms may prove vital to the security and defence of the countries on the Scandinavian Peninsula. [2]

In the Norwegian Intelligence Service’s 2016 threat assessment, Russia’s blatant will to pursue regional ambitions in the Arctic and the High North is identified as a substantial threat to Norwegian interests. [3] As the only Scandinavian country sharing a border with Russia – a border extending 196 kilometres – Norway is familiar with the possibility that Russian strategic interests in Norwegian vicinities could end in military conflict. Yet, the military capacity of the areas in Finnmark is exceptionally inferior to that of Western Russia. As of today, Norway would hardly be able to restrain an invading force for more than a maximum of two days. [4] The plan has, nonetheless, always been to hold back the enemy in blind hope of triggering NATO’s Article 5. Yet, it has been questioned whether Norway would in fact go to war against Russia in a situation where East-Finnmark is occupied by enemy forces, and, as Russia is assumed unlikely to advance West of the Tana River to avoid further conflict; would NATO be willing to trigger a Third World War in defence of East-Finnmark, only a small part of Norway? Such thinking can be traced back to declassified defence documents from the 1980s, in which the primary defence lines of Norway were identified and the sacrifice of Finnmark was suggested. [5] The Norwegian Armed Forces deny that such actions would be made in today’s situation. Earlier this April, however, the strategic plan of defence, unofficially named ‘Operation Glory Death’ was revealed: In order to secure a quick response from NATO, Norwegian soldiers have been commissioned to die ‘as sensationally as possible’. [6] But to what end? It might take several months until NATO is mobilised and ready to act on Norway’s behalf, by which time Finnmark would have long since fallen.

Yet for Norway, there appears to be a greater potential for conflict on Svalbard. Leading Norwegian experts on Military Defence believe that a future military confrontation would develop on the archipelago in the Arctic Ocean due to its strategic position. [7] The Russian threat continues to increase with Russia’s rising military sphere of influence in the nearby areas; the planned launch of a second Arctic brigade and the attempted establishment of an airbase on Franz Josef Land are particularly construed as aggressive actions. Although any foreign military activity in Svalbard would be a violation of the Svalbard Treaty and would undermine Norwegian Sovereignty, the archipelago’s demilitarised state would make it easy to secure. [8] As the threat is progressively perceived more relevant, the Norwegian Armed Forces appear incapable of defending Norwegian soil. In a scenario like this, in fact, the Norwegian Royal Navy would be no match for the modernised Northern Fleet.

Also Denmark, with overlapping claims to the North Pole, has experienced territorial tensions with Russia. The need for engagement in areas of common interest was made clear by the massive border exploration we witnessed in the Arctic – ‘Ali Baba’s cave’. When it in 2015 was revealed that Denmark was to establish an Arctic TF, a Danish process of Arctic militarisation and preparation for a future war against Russia was assumed. The Danish Defence, however, discarded this allegation. [9] For their part, the reforms were intended to reinforce and create a more flexible Danish Defence for general purposes.  It is reasonable, however, to assume that such actions may be a response to increased Russian aggression. As a response to NATO’s Missile Defence, for one, Russian Ambassador to Denmark, Mikhail Vanin, made Russia’s plan of action, if Denmark was to participate in the system, explicit. In an article published in Jyllands-Posten in 2015 he wrote that Danish warships could, if his warning proved ineffective, become potential targets of nuclear missiles. [10] It has been popularly assumed in 2016, however, that the threat towards Denmark is in decline due to the decreased Russian activity in Danish airspace. The intelligence agencies of the Scandinavian countries have nonetheless dismissed such thinking by placing neighbouring aggression on the top of their security agendas. It is fundamental, too, to note that the decreased activity may be due to Russia’s role in the Syrian Civil War.

It is not surprising, moreover, to see the reported increase in Russian military activity in the Baltic Sea region. Although she does not recognise Russia as an imminent military threat, Sweden has also chosen to reinforce and invest in her military defence capabilities. The trouble is, however, issues of Swedish military recruitment. Like that of her Scandinavian neighbour Norway, the Swedish Armed Forces could not scare off a determined enemy if necessary. As of today, it would need to recruit another 100,000 soldiers to credibly be able to defend its country. [11] But despite the Swedish tendency to be favourably disposed to armed forces, their previous abolition of conscription has led to a decline in their ability to recruit soldiers – the Swedes, seemingly, do not want to join the Swedish Armed Forces. Many now believe that the reinstatement of mandatory military service is the only way to defend Sweden against a potential military attack in the future. Yet for such a development to happen, the Russian threat will probably have to increase even further.

As NATO members, as opposed to the non-aligned Sweden, Denmark and Norway are successfully displaying a clearly defined military policy. It is worth noting, as well, that while the current Secretary General is Norwegian the former was Danish, making both countries’ political character and commitment to NATO and the West evident to Russia. Although she is a non-member, Sweden’s great endeavour to remain a neutral country has to some extent failed: While not being entitled to military assistance from NATO by remaining non-aligned, Sweden’s close ties to the alliance still makes her a great threat to Russia.  For this reason, many appear to believe that a Swedish membership in NATO is an inevitable forthcoming development. Yet, the Prime Ministers of Sweden and Finland stated in early 2016 that the current situation serves them both well. [12]

Although Russian relations with the Scandinavian three continue to grow cold, Russia has not always been a ‘bully’ in the eyes of the Scandinavians. Au contraire – both Denmark and Norway have traditionally kept close bilateral ties with Russia. Fundamental to the preservation of Russian-Norwegian relations is the Norwegian Barents Secretariat. Daily cultural cooperation, the Secretariat believes, could rebuild the once good relations. With such opinions circulating, Scandinavian media has been accused of painting an overly negative picture of Russia. The great worry is that this vilification of Russia will create an excessively frightened and alienated public, and, ultimately, lead to the decline of all Scandinavian cooperation policies. In stark contrast – authorities have expressed concerns over a select few individuals in Finnmark, worrying that their close ties to Russia might make them loyal to the Russian government. [13] It has also come up that individuals of North-Norway deem the Southern perception of the Russian threat exaggerated. The residents of Northern Norway do, of course, have unique ties to the culture and language of their Russian neighbours. They are, furthermore, often deemed to have emotional connections to their 1944 liberators. Yet, the accusation of disloyalty is unreasonable: Residents of South-Norway will naturally have conflicting perceptions of the Russian threat from those of North-Norway.

Yet, militarily, the threat ought not to be ignored.  With dozens of spies on Swedish soil, military expansion in the Arctic, continual visits in Scandinavian airspace and territorial waters, and, excessive espionage – the Russian threat is obviously considered a great security challenge in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Furthermore, it led to the increased cooperation of the Nordic countries. Yet, the continued defence of the Scandinavian countries would, without assistance from NATO, be virtually impossible if they were to be attacked. Thus, seeing Russia is considered highly unpredictable, the threat is perceived even greater. If one is to believe the media’s narrative of Russia and its leadership – the Scandinavian three ought to seek immediate cover. Although many appear to believe that previous relations could be restored, Russia may already have reached the point of no return. Lest Russia alters its course, Russian relations with the countries on the Scandinavian Peninsula might be beyond repair.

Sources:

[1] The Swedish Security Service, ‘Ryska olagliga underrättelseoperationer,’ Säkerhetspolisen  

[2] Mick Krever, ‘Norway: We are faced with a different Russia,’ BBC, February 26, 2015

[3] The Norwegian Intelligence Service, ‘Fokus 2016: Etterretningstjenestens vurdering av aktuelle sikkerhetsutfordringer,’ Forsvaret, March 21, 2016

[4] Kjetil Stormark, ‘Hæren holder bare ut noen dager,’ Aldrimer, April 05, 2016

[5] Kjetil Stormark, ‘Finnmark skal ofres,’ Aldrimer, April 08, 2016

[6] Kjetil Stormark, ‘Operasjon: Heltemodig Død,’ Aldrimer, April 05, 2016

[7] Kjetil Stormark, ‘Brennpunkt Svalbard,’ Aldrimer, April 08, 2016

[8] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ‘Svalbardtraktaten,’ Lovdata

[9] Værnfælles Forsvarskommando, ‘Kommentar til Jyllands-Posten,’ Forsvaret, March 13, 2015

[10] Lars From, ‘Ruslands ambassadør: Danske skibe kan blive mål for russisk atomangrep,’ Jyllands-Posten, March 20, 2015

[11] Elisabeth Braw, ‘Sweden, Short-Handed,’ Foreign Affairs, April 13, 2016

[12] Juha Sipilä & Stefan Löfven, ‘Vår alliansefrihet bidrar till stabilitet i norra Europa,’ DN, January 10, 2016

[13] The Norwegian Barents Secretariat, ‘Samarbeidet med Russland er en villet politikk,’ Barents, March 02, 2016

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