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14.12.2016

"This Won’t Look Like Winning: A Sensible Path for Trump’s Syria Policy"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/12/this-wont-look-like-winning-a-sensible-path-for-trumps-syria-policy/

Nach der Einnahme Aleppos durch syrische Regierungstruppen hält Sam Heller einen militärischen Sieg der Aufständischen endgültig für ausgeschlossen. Die künftige US-Regierung sollte dies in ihrer neuen Syrien-Strategie berücksichtigen und einen "vernünftigen Pfad" zur Beendigung des Krieges einschlagen. "The idea that backing an anarchic armed opposition that was increasingly dominated by genocidal jihadists would make the regime more likely to negotiate was also mistaken. (...) If the United States is going to disengage from the Syrian opposition, it should not do so abruptly or for free. (...) It should negotiate away support for the opposition only in exchange for Russian buy-in for smaller, internationally guaranteed enclaves in the eastern Aleppo countryside, southern Syria, and the Kurdish northeast. These areas, secured in part through the continued presence of foreign troops, could provide long-term havens for internally displaced persons and serve as buffer zones against various bad actors, thus serving the security needs of America and allies Turkey, Jordan, and Israel. And for areas the regime will likely recapture, America should coordinate with Turkey and Jordan to allow the safe exit of refugees who cannot survive under regime control."

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05.12.2016

"Drone Proliferation Matters, But Not For the Reasons You Think"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/12/drone-proliferation-matters-but-not-for-the-reasons-you-think/

Michael Horowitz, Sarah E. Kreps und Matthew Fuhrmann haben sich mit den möglichen sicherheitspolitischen Folgen der weltweiten Verbreitung der Drohnentechnologie beschäftigt. Viele Beobachter warnen demnach davor, dass andere Länder dem Beispiel der USA folgen und verstärkt eigene Drohnenschläge durchführen könnten. Andere hielten Drohnen dagegen nur für ein neues Werkzeug, das die militärische Entscheidungsfindung nicht beeinflussen werde. "In a newly-published article in International Security, we evaluate these two competing perspectives. It turns out, the reality is more context - specific than either side in the drone debate has acknowledged. We examine the consequences of current-generation drone proliferation in six different contexts — counterterrorism, interstate conflict, crisis onset and deterrence, coercive diplomacy, domestic control and repression, and use by non-state actors for the purposes of terrorism – to see how the increasing use of drones might change military outcomes, or even the global balance of power."

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21.11.2016

"The Syrian Civil War and Avoiding Trump’s First Big Mistake"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/11/the-syrian-civil-war-and-avoiding-trumps-first-big-mistake/

Michael Hanna meint dagegen, dass Donald Trump nicht ohne russische Zugeständnisse auf Präsident Putin zugehen sollte. Insbesondere in Syrien dürfe eine Rekalibrierung der bisherigen US-Strategie nicht einfach als "Seitenwechsel" umgesetzt werden. "Recalibration of policy should not simply entail the United States switching sides and ceasing covert support to all rebel groups. While there might be moments of convergence with the regime in terms of common enemies, outright cooperation with Assad would sully America’s reputation, produce much broader militant blowback and anti-Americanism, radicalize what remains of the non-jihadist opposition, link the United States with an ineffective military partner in the form of the Assad regime, damage relations with regional allies, and unnecessarily enmesh the United States in the metastasizing enmities consuming the Arab world. (...) Instead, the incoming Trump administration should revive the much-maligned diplomatic path forged by the Obama administration by negotiating the terms of its engagement in Syria and seeking Russian and Syrian concessions that could allow for a de-escalation of the central war between the regime and rebels."

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18.11.2016

"The Trump Administration Will be Hawkish"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/11/the-trump-administration-will-be-hawkish/

Benjamin H. Friedman vom Cato Institute glaubt nicht, dass es dem gewählten US-Präsidenten Donald Trump gelingen wird, die im Wahlkampf versprochene Kehrtwende in der US-Außenpolitik herbeizuführen. "Three factors constrain presidents from ditching established foreign policy. The first is the continuous nature of policy. Policies outlast those that make them. So do the agencies that execute policies. (...) Appointees to foreign policy posts are a second constraint. With limited time and thousands of spots to fill, presidents naturally turn to the foreign policy establishment housed in think tanks, law firms, and consultancies. These experts, who are highly interventionist and pro- alliance, regardless of party, gain considerable sway, especially when the president is inexperienced and focused elsewhere. (...) Finally, there’s Congress, whose members naturally defend policies that they helped make."

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21.10.2016

"Political Airpower, Part I: Say No to the No-Fly Zone"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/10/political-airpower-part-i-say-no-to-the-no-fly-zone/

Die beiden US-Luftwaffenoffiziere Mike Benitez und Mike Pietrucha schreiben, dass Luftschläge und Flugverbotszonen kein Ersatz für eine umfassende Strategie sein könnten. Flugverbotszonen seien militärisch nur schwer durchzusetzen und politisch kaum attraktiv, insbesondere, wenn sie gegen Länder mit moderner Artillerie und Luftabwehrsystemen gerichtet seien. "Discounting the ground and political situation for the sake of analysis, Syria’s air defenses provide a case study in the obsolescence of the no-fly zone. By comparison to Kosovo’s 41 1960s-era SAMs, Syria’s robust air defenses total over 130 systems, most which are vastly more lethal than their older counterparts. As many as a dozen encompass the area surrounding Aleppo, the crucible of the civil war. Syria also has over 4,000 air defense artillery pieces and a few thousand portable infrared-guided missile systems. In the world we live in today, a single system can completely invert this relationship overnight. This was notably seen in the Russian deployment of an S-400 system to Syria."

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19.10.2016

"Why the Flying IED Threat Has Barely Started"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/10/why-the-flying-ied-threat-has-barely-started/

In einem weiteren War on the Rocks-Beitrag zur taktischen Bedeutung des Einsatzes von Kampfdrohnen durch irreguläre Truppen stellt Mark Jacobsen fest, dass der von T.X. Hammes erwartete "dramatische Wandel" in Konflikten zwischen staatlichen und nichtstaatlichen Akteuren bisher nicht eingetroffen sei. Der Grund: Bestimmte Schlüsseltechnologien seien einfach noch nicht so weit. "Only two sectors of the civilian drone market currently offer high reliability: a handful of consumer video drones and high-end commercial systems. The optimum systems for flying IED attacks lie in the space between. As key technologies mature and reliable systems fill this space, expect to see flying IED attacks increase dramatically."

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18.10.2016

"The Democratization of Airpower: The Insurgent and the Drone"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/10/the-democratization-of-airpower-the-insurgent-and-the-drone/

T.X. Hammes hält die Einschätzung von Ulrike Franke, dass der vermehrte Einsatz von Kampfdrohnen durch irreguläre Truppen kurzfristig kaum etwas am taktischen Umfeld bewaffneter Konflikte ändern werde, für "optimistisch". Hammes erwartet einen "dramatischen Wandel" des Charakters von Konflikten zwischen staatlichen und nichtstaatlichen Akteuren. "At the tactical level, these 'flying IEDs' will raise the cost of protecting forces in country by heightening the threat to bases and lines of communications. (...) To counter this threat, state military forces will have to harden some targets and provide air defense for critical elements that cannot be hardened. Command posts, ammo dumps, fuel farms, living spaces, and all other fixed soft targets will have to be hardened. The time tested method of digging in with overhead cover will be sufficient but expensive. Elements that cannot be hardened — including communication towers, satellite dishes, and large parked aircraft — will require a sophisticated 24/7 air defense system. This will be much more challenging. (...) drones are rapidly moving from cutting-edge to pedestrian. Sales in the United States alone are expected to reach 7 million annually by 2020. As they become pervasive, we can expect to see insurgents and terrorists use them very creatively. It is essential we make use of the very short time available to develop defenses against these systems."

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13.10.2016

"Flying IEDs: The Next Big Threat?"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/10/flying-ieds-the-next-big-threat/

Nach Berichten über den Einsatz von mit Sprengsätzen ausgerüsteten Kampfdrohnen durch IS-Kämpfer in Irak analysiert Ulrike Franke, Doktorandin im Fach Internationale Beziehungen an der Universität Oxford, die möglichen Auswirkungen der neuen Taktik auf künftige Militäroperationen. "We are likely to see a series of action-reaction-counter-reactions as has been the case with the roadside IED: Counter-UAV technology and doctrines will be developed and fielded. Clever insurgents will find a way around them, and then the technology and doctrine will adapt once more. Flying IEDs will claim lives. In the short term they are unlikely to fundamentally change the fight. In the longer term, however, troops are likely to encounter more sophisticated systems that will be much harder to intercept. Autonomous drone swarms – a scenario the military places much hope in – are likely to eventually also be adapted by non-state actors."

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10.10.2016

"What’s Really At Stake in the Syria Debate"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/10/whats-really-at-stake-in-the-syria-debate/

Marc Lynch schreibt, dass die amerikanische Debatte über die Syrienstrategie der US-Regierung von moralischen und nicht von rationalen Argumenten geprägt sei. Es deute einiges darauf hin, dass die Nachfolger der Administration Barack Obamas einen Kurs einschlagen werden, der eine militärische Eskalation erzwingen würde. "The next administration, whoever it might be, will likely follow the first path, of limited intervention in some form, whether de facto no-fly zones or declared safe areas. Given the failure of diplomacy and the magnitude of the horrors, even a slim chance of changing the game – with allies and adversaries, even if not in Syria’s reality – will seem preferable to continuing along a terrible path. Allies and pundits will declare themselves thrilled, and the new president will be able to proudly declare that America is back. And then when the moves fail to resolve the war, and the conflict and suffering continue, the new president will face renewed pressure to do more to deliver on American promises. When faced with the decision sometime next year to pull back and thus tacitly admit defeat or to escalate despite the grim prospects for success, history does suggest which course will be chosen."

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23.09.2016

"The Coming of the Russian Jihad"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/09/the-coming-of-the-russian-jihad-part-i/

Leon Aron erwartet, dass russische Dschihadisten künftig international eine noch stärkere Rolle spielen werden. Bereits heute kämpften geschätzte 2.400 Russen für den IS in Syrien. "With an estimated 300 to 500 ISIL recruiters in the Russian capital, Moscow has become a key hub and a way station to Syria for fighters from Russia and the former Soviet Union. Between 80 to 90 percent of ISIL fighters from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan have been radicalized and recruited while in Russia as migrant workers. According to Russian sources, all of the 300 ethnic Uzbeks who are members of ISIL were recruited during work stints in Russia — as were 80 percent of the ethnic Tajik fighters, including their leader, Nusrat Nazarov. In response, in January of this year, Russia’s Migration Service issued a list of 333,391 Tajiks barred from entering the country. According to the National Security Council of Tajikistan, 700 Tajiks have left for Syria and 300 have been killed there. Nazarov has claimed that there were 2,000 Tajiks with ISIL."

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22.09.2016

"Charting Boko Haram’s Rapid Decline"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/09/charting-boko-harams-rapid-decline/

Nathaniel Allen untermauert die These, dass sich die radikalislamische Terrorgruppe Boko Haram im Niedergang befinde, mit einigen empirischen Befunden. "A close look at the data, drawn from Johns Hopkins University’s Nigeria Social Violence Research Project, reveals four key factors behind Boko Haram’s decline: a failure to spread much beyond Nigeria’s extreme northeast, a loss of popular support, poor strategic thinking by the insurgents, and improved counterinsurgency operations. Though these factors have led to a decisive shift in momentum against the group, the conflict is far from over. Winning the war will require better regional coordination, the re-integration of former militants, and a systematic plan to re-build the northeast, where thousands are currently on the brink of starvation."

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20.09.2016

"It is Time to Shine a Light on the Islamic State’s Hidden Executions"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/09/it-is-time-to-shine-a-light-on-the-islamic-states-hidden-executions/

Einer neuen UN-Untersuchung von Menschenrechtsverletzungen im Irak zufolge werden viele brutale Hinrichtungen unschuldiger Zivilisten vom "Islamischen Staat" nicht öffentlich propagiert. Patrick Burke vom Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism (CPOST) meint, dass die US-Regierung dies in ihrer Online-Kampagne gegen den IS aufgreifen sollte. "(...) the number of people executed on social media makes up only 29 percent of the 6,019 people executed by ISIL in my dataset. So which executions didn’t make it to social media? Yazidi civilians make up the largest excluded group at 1,218 executions. Family members of (mainly Sunni Arab) Muslim tribes fighting ISIL come in second at 274. The final two groups are women and children at 135 and 14, respectively. (...) it is possible that highlighting the executions of families of Sunni Arab tribal fighters could damage ISIL’s brand. ISIL has publicly condemned the killing of Sunni Arabs. (...) there are in fact acts of brutality that even ISIL doesn’t want made public, and that highlighting these atrocities is the best way to chip away at the facade that brings in so many recruits."

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19.09.2016

"Germany Embraces Realpolitik Once More"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/09/germany-embraces-realpolitik-once-more/

John R. Deni lobt das neue Weißbuch zur Sicherheitspolitik und zur Zukunft der Bundeswehr als Rückkehr zu einer deutschen Realpolitik. "Although it has received limited attention in the Anglophone media, the Weissbuch marks a fundamental shift in several respects. Whether and how Germany follows through on the potential embodied in this historic document will determine the degree to which Europe is able to play a role in security and defense commensurate with its economic strength and its transatlantic responsibilities."

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12.09.2016

"Will Brexit unravel the European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy?"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/09/will-brexit-unravel-the-european-unions-common-foreign-security-policy/

Joel Hillison erläutert, welche Konsequenzen der Brexit für die Gemeinsame Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik (GASP) der EU haben könnte. "The Brexit might make decision-making under CFSP easier, particularly since the United Kingdom tended to favor NATO over E.U. action. Brexit also clears some of the objections to greater use of common funding in support of CFSP missions. However, the European Union will certainly lose some of its diplomatic, intelligence, economic, and military capability without the United Kingdom."

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31.08.2016

"The Decay Of The Syrian Regime Is Much Worse Than You Think"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/08/the-decay-of-the-syrian-regime-is-much-worse-than-you-think/

Die US-amerikanische Syrienpolitik basiert auf dem Wunsch einer Balance zwischen der Formulierung humanitärer Bedenken und dem Wunsch, staatliche Institutionen zu erhalten, um ein Machtvakuum zu vermeiden, welches ein Abdriften des Landes in die totale Anarchie zur Folge haben könnte, schreibt Tobias Schneider auf War on the Rocks. "Over the past three years in particular, this line of argument has not only been a mainstay those supporting a carefully calibrated, limited U.S. Syria policy in line with the current administration but also by a number of commentators writing both implicitly and explicitly in defense of Damascus. In two revisionist articles published recently at War on the Rocks, an author writing under a pseudonym presents the Assad regime as ruthless, but at least secular, pluralistic and — most importantly — as the final basion of civic, central authority in a tumultuous Middle East. Whereas the indefatigable Emile Hokayem already formulated an eloquent response regarding sectarian dynamics in the Levant, there is an equally important question raised in the piece warrants answering: What’s really left of the Syrian central state?"

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24.08.2016

"Repairing the U.S.-Turkish Alliance"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/08/repairing-the-u-s-turkish-alliance/

Aaron Stein, Resident Senior Fellow am Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, warnt vor einer weiteren Verschlechterung der türkisch-amerikanischen Beziehungen infolge des gescheiterten Militärputsches in der Türkei. "This decades-old partnership, already wounded by building mistrust and animosity, was struck a major blow with the coup attempt and its aftermath. Can these two proud nations get back on track to a healthy alliance?"

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02.08.2016

"The End of Globalization? The International Security Implications"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/08/the-end-of-globalization-the-international-security-implications/

Das mögliche Ende der wirtschaftlichen Globalisierung könnte in den USA weitreichende sicherheitspolitische Folgen habe, erläutert T.X. Hammes von der U. S. National Defense University. "(...) if globalization no longer has major economic benefits for the United States, then employing U.S. power in an effort to maintain global security will be seen purely as a cost. This will create a very different domestic environment for the practice of U.S. foreign policy. Deglobalization will reduce the American people’s interest in propping up global stability at exactly the time the widespread dissemination of smart, cheap weapons will significantly increase the costs of doing so. Faced with growing social and infrastructure needs, Americans may no longer be willing to underwrite international security with their tax dollars. Under these conditions, the United States public may demand a return to a limited strategic concept of defending the hemisphere and assuring access to the global commons. The U.S. military’s primary mission may revert to the punishment of bad behavior (gunboat diplomacy) rather than engagement to stabilize a region."

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27.07.2016

"What if a U.S.-Russian Deal in Syria Goes Exactly as Planned?"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/07/what-if-a-u-s-russian-deal-in-syria-goes-exactly-as-planned/

Faysal Itani vom Atlantic Council kritisiert die mögliche russisch-amerikanische Kooperation bei der Bekämpfung der radikalislamischen Al-Nusra-Front in Syrien, da die Schwächung dieser mächtigen Rebellenfraktion dem Assad-Regime in die Hände spielen würde. Die USA sollten deshalb zugleich andere Rebellen im Kampf gegen die Assad-Truppen stärken. "Al-Nusra should be destroyed of course, but the JIG [Joint Implementation Group] as currently conceived would very likely sabotage broader U.S. counterterrorism and strategic interests in Syria. An anti-Nusra effort should instead be paired with direct and proxy military pressure on the regime to prevent its capitalizing on a post-Nusra opposition’s weakness. This could include increased qualitative military support to vetted insurgents and a U.S. commitment to punishing any regime targeting of civilians. There are other means, but the aim is to make the military option unpalatable to the regime. Al-Nusra should not be targeted at the price of condemning Syria to endless war and terrorism. If unaccompanied by robust U.S. measures to protect a weakening insurgency and contain an emboldened regime, the JIG will probably destroy the Syrian opposition, rule out any negotiated settlement, and replace one set of radicals with another."

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13.07.2016

"Determined By History: Why Sweden and Finland Will Not Be More than NATO Partners"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/07/determined-by-history-why-sweden-and-finland-will-not-be-more-than-nato-
partners/

Carl Bergqvist erklärt in diesem informativen Rückblick auf die sicherheitspolitische Geschichte Skandinaviens, warum Schweden und Finnland ihre militärische Kooperation untereinander und mit der NATO angesichts ihrer schwierigen Beziehungen zu Russland fortsetzen werden, ein Beitritt beider Länder zum Militärbündnis aber unwahrscheinlich bleibt. "Finland’s position just next to Russia and the latter’s geostrategic nuclear second-strike capability may be too much to stomach for some of NATO’s member states who fear provoking Moscow. Russia’s concern for its sphere of interest is nothing new, but in the case of the Nordic countries, the stakes are somewhat higher. Finland directly borders the Kola Peninsula, which holds the majority of Russia’s nuclear second-strike capability in the form of nuclear ballistic missile submarines. Sweden and Finland will continue their policies of close partnerships with NATO without applying for membership. (...) By doing so, Sweden and Finland can strengthen their security while avoiding aggravating Moscow too much. Moscow will always have to take into account that if it pursues its ambitions too forcefully, the two countries may finally seek a full membership in NATO."

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08.07.2016

"False Alert: Is Russia Beefing Up Forces on NATO’s Border?"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/07/false-alert-is-russia-beefing-up-forces-on-natos-border/

Ulrich Kühn vom Institut für Friedensforschung und Sicherheitspolitik an der Universität Hamburg widerspricht "alarmistischen" Meldungen, denen zufolge Russland zusätzliche Truppen an der Grenze zu den baltischen Ländern zusammenziehe. "Stick with the facts: Russia is engaged in large-scale military exercises with alarming scenarios, its military behaves extremely irresponsible since two years (not to speak of its politicians), and almost all parts of its military are being modernized. But Russia has not (yet) increased its conventional forces close to the Baltics. While this is good news for the three countries, the restructuring of forces close to Ukraine is a problem for Kiev. NATO’s reassurance measures pale in comparison to what Russia could bring to bear, but Russia’s return to the division level is no additional justification for the Warsaw Summit decisions and possible post-Warsaw calls for even more NATO troops."

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28.06.2016

"Russia is in Charge in Syria: How Moscow Took Control of the Battlefield and Negotiating Table"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/06/russia-is-in-charge-in-syria-how-moscow-took-control-of-the-battlefield-
and-negotiating-table/

Sam Heller schreibt, dass Russland heute ohne Zweifel die mächtigste Kriegspartei in Syrien sei. Die USA sollten dies anerkennen und zugleich darauf drängen, dass Russland die entsprechende Verantwortung übernimmt und das Assad-Regime zu Zugeständnissen bewegt. "Diplomatic sources have told me that Russia has been convinced that Assad is basically indispensable — that the decapitation of the regime would result in the collapse of the Syrian state institutions Russia wants to preserve. Assad seems to have recognized this and used it as a sort of reverse leverage on Russia. As one Western diplomat put it, 'I don’t think the regime is an easy ally.' (...) But if negotiations are doomed, military victory is unachievable, and Russia’s preferred mix of military coercion and politics is impossible to properly calibrate, then it is unclear what sort of endgame Russia can realistically pursue in Syria."

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28.06.2016

"Russia’s 'China Dreams' are Less of a Fantasy Than You Think"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/06/russias-china-dreams-are-less-of-a-fantasy-than-you-think/

Im Westen würden die Demonstrationen der neuen Allianz zwischen Russland und China in der Regel mit einer Mischung aus Skepsis und Spott kommentiert, schreibt Alexander Gabuev vom Carnegie Moscow Center. Gabuev selbst charakterisiert das neue Bündnis als "asymmetrische Interdependenz": "China is reaping the lion’s share of the benefits and Russia acting like the needier, more pliable partner. However, the partnership is not driven by mutual trust or by a desire to undermine the West. (...) the growing partnership is spurred not only by growing anti-Americanism, but more importantly by Russia’s quest for external economic support to keep the regime afloat in the wake of Western sanctions. Chinese leaders are carefully camouflaging the growing lopsidedness of the relationship through skillful shows of respect. Given the Kremlin’s lack of viable alternatives to China’s embrace, Beijing is now poised to acquire the kind of assets it needs to energize its quest for global influence."

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02.06.2016

"Don’t Kill the Caliph! The Islamic State and the Pitfalls of Leadership Decapitation"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/06/dont-kill-the-caliph-the-islamic-state-and-the-pitfalls-of-leadership-de
capitation/

Haroro J. Ingram und Craig Whiteside sind davon überzeugt, dass der Islamische Staat besser bekämpft werden könnte, wenn der IS-Anführer Abu Bakr al Baghdadi nicht im Zuge der bisher üblichen Enthauptungsstrategie getötet werden würde. "On the surface it would seem that eliminating terrorist leaders, especially charismatic figures whose symbolic power alone is able to attract followers to a movement’s cause, is a no-brainer. Yet charismatic leadership is an inherently volatile and ephemeral form of leadership. Killing a charismatic leader may inspire a potent posthumous charismatic appeal (...), or cause splintering that results in otherwise 'suppressed' extreme factions rising in prominence thanks to the ensuing vacuum (arguably what occurred with the death of Osama bin Laden and the rise of ISIL). Alternatively, decapitation could result in the removal of a leader that was a volatile and destabilizing force in an organization under strain being replaced by a brilliant individual who helps lay the foundations for the group’s future."

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10.05.2016

"How Al Qaeda is Winning in Syria"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/05/how-al-qaeda-is-winning-in-syria/

Für Yasir Abbas wird immer offensichtlicher, dass nicht der "Islamische Staat", sondern die der Al-Qaida nahe stehende Nusra-Front der große Gewinner des Bürgerkriegs in Syrien werden könnte. Der radikalislamischen Rebellenfraktion sei es im Gegensatz zum IS gelungen, durch eine graduelle Strategie echte Unterstützung für ihre langfristigen politischen Ziele zu gewinnen. "Gaining the acceptance of the Syrian people is the heart of al-Nusra’s Syria strategy. It relies on a persuasive approach to expand its influence, ideology, and, eventually, control. Al-Nusra uses this gradual approach to pursue a social reform agenda, using soft tactics to gain local support and buy-in to their long-term vision for Syria. (...) al-Nusra’s gradual and very steady expansion of influence is not declining in any major way. Its well-trained fighters continue to win battles and play an important role in combating the Syrian regime and its allies, which remains the main priority to many pro-opposition Syrians. (...) Barring a major change, such as a shift in the U.S.-led coalition policy towards attacking al-Qaeda in Syria or a change in Ahrar al-Sham’s current position towards al-Nusra, it is possible that we will see al-Qaeda ruling parts of the country in the foreseeable future — and end all hopes for a democratic Syria."

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27.04.2016

"The Tangled Web of the Syrian Jihad"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/04/the-tangled-web-of-the-syrian-jihad/

Sam Heller stellt das Buch "The Syrian Jihad: Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and the Evolution of an Insurgency" von Charles Lister vor, der sich eingehend mit den radikalislamischen Fraktionen der syrischen Rebellen beschäftigt hat. "The focus of Charles Lister’s The Syrian Jihad is there in the book’s title. Lister zeroes in on the evolution of the jihadist trend within the Syrian insurgency, principally Jabhat al-Nusrah and the self-proclaimed Islamic State, but also the revisionist-jihadist Ahrar al-Sham and an assortment of smaller jihadist splinters. Yet he also makes clear that jihadists are not the whole of Syria’s armed opposition, and he attempts to define the relationship between the jihadists and the rebel mainstream. These hardline groups, Lister argues, are often best understood in terms of the different ways they have allied with or tried to overtake the revolutionary insurgency."

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21.04.2016

"Outnumbered, Outranged, and Outgunned: How Russia Defeats NATO"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/04/outnumbered-outranged-and-outgunned-how-russia-defeats-nato/

David A. Shlapak und Michael W. Johnson von der RAND Corporation schreiben, dass die NATO Russland in Europa militärisch in vieler Hinsicht klar unterlegen sei. "Nearly two years of extensive wargaming and analysis shows that if Russia were to conduct a short-warning attack against the Baltic States, Moscow’s forces could roll to the outskirts of the Estonian capital of Tallinn and the Latvian capital of Riga in 36 to 60 hours. In such a scenario, the United States and its allies would not only be outranged and outgunned, but also outnumbered. (...) It seems unlikely that Vladimir Putin intends to turn his guns on NATO any time soon. However, the consequences should he decide to do so are severe. Probably the best outcome — if the phrase has any meaning in this context — would be something like a new Cold War, with all the implications that bears."

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15.04.2016

"Does Europe Need a New Warsaw Pact?"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/04/does-europe-need-a-new-warsaw-pact/

Christopher Preble und Marian Tupy vom Cato Institute meinen, dass die Länder Osteuropas sich nicht nur auf den militärischen Schutz durch die NATO verlassen sollten. Die Gründung eines zusätzlichen europäischen Militärbündnisses könne möglicherweise viel zur Sicherheit in Europa beitragen. "First, the good news. On paper, the member states of the proposed pact are, collectively, comparable to Russia in isolation. (...) Now, the bad news. Trump has a point when he criticizes the meager military spending of America’s NATO allies. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reports that Russia spent 5.4 percent of its GDP on its military in 2015. The new pact states spent 1.62 percent, on average, well below the NATO mandate of 2 percent. (...) Moreover, the problems afflicting the NATO alliance would not go away altogether in a new, smaller pact. But it would be easier to sort out the member states’ true intentions, gauge the strength of their commitments to mutual defense, and resolve questions pertaining to military inter-operability and response time, in a ten-member alliance than NATO in its present form. Plus, the New Warsaw Pact would have a single clear goal: checking Russia. NATO does not have as clear a raison d’être."

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18.03.2016

"There is No Russian Withdrawal from Syria"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/03/there-is-no-russian-withdrawal-from-syria/

Angesichts des in Syrien verbleibenden russischen Militärs möchten Dmitry Gorenburg und Michael Kofman lieber nicht von einem Rückzug Russlands sprechen. Putins entsprechende Ankündigung habe vor allem politische Zwecke gehabt, tatsächlich gehe der russische Militäreinsatz immer noch weiter. "It seems likely the number of aircraft present will be reduced by half, close to the original numbers Russia fielded in Syria in October 2015. The remaining aircraft will continue to operate over Syria, and in fact have conducted strikes in recent days in support of Syrian army efforts to retake Palmyra from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). This means that, according to the Pentagon, they’re focusing on ISIL for the first time. (...) In other words, what is happening on the ground is a drawdown of forces that were surged to Syria in the aftermath of the shootdown of a Russian Su-24 by Turkey in November 2015 and the intensified fighting over the winter. Furthermore, since Russia is keeping control of the Hmeymim airbase and continuing work to expand the Tartus naval base, nothing changes from an infrastructure point of view."

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16.02.2016

"The Russian Quagmire in Syria and Other Washington Fairy Tales"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/02/the-russian-quagmire-in-syria-and-other-washington-fairy-tales/

Michael Kofman wirft der US-Regierung vor, den russischen Militäreinsatz in Syrien von Beginn an unterschätzt und Russland damit die Initiative überlassen zu haben. Moskau sei dabei, die militärischen Fortschritte politisch zu nutzen, um die diplomatischen Verhandlungen über die Zukunft Syriens im eigenen Interesse zu lenken. Ein Erfolg Russlands könnte längerfristige geopolitische Folgen haben, so Kofman. "If Moscow shows that it can get the job done in Syria, and secure Assad’s fortune from what appeared to be certain defeat, then other dictators may see Russia as a potential alternative guarantor of their rule. Few in the region were happy with the U.S. policy during the Arab Spring. If there was another power capable of providing security and acting independently, but one that prized stability over democracy (the way the United States used to), it would be welcome in the Middle East. This is why U.S. success against ISIL is even more paramount from a geopolitical perspective. America no longer has a monopoly on being the only viable actor in the Middle East."

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15.02.2016

"Germany and Russia: Berlin’s Deadly Self-delusions"

http://warontherocks.com/2016/02/germany-and-russia-berlins-deadly-self-delusions/

Dustin Dehez, geschäftsführender Gesellschafter beim Unternehmen Manatee Global Advisors, kritisiert die Russland-Politik der Bundesregierung mit dem deutschen Begriff der "Lebenslüge", da Berlin immer noch den Dialog mit dem "autoritären Regime" in Moskau suche. Deutschland verhindere damit ein entschiedeneres Auftreten Europas gegenüber der russischen "Aggression" in Osteuropa. "Germany is not the first or only country to maintain self-delusions in its foreign policymaking, but its geopolitical position renders its self-delusions particularly important matters for two reasons. First, Germany is chairing the OSCE at a critical juncture. Though no one can say for certain what Russia’s endgame in Ukraine is, the Kremlin is definitely hoping to undercut not only Ukrainian sovereignty, but the European security architecture as a whole. (...) That leads to the second reason why Germany’s self-delusions matter. Its constant display of goodwill toward Russia is often combined with lip service to NATO’s promise of common defense and the idea of deterrence. There is little reflection, however, on what deterrence would entail. (...) When military aggression that challenges the foundation of Europe’s security is not met proportionally, why should the Kremlin ever believe that Berlin will keep its vague promise of deterrence? This is why Germany’s actual allies suspect that should little green men ever show up in the Baltics, Berlin will set up another Normandy-like format rather than mobilize troops."

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