UK actions against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria: Intelligence briefing #5, April 2016

  • Source: Intelligence unit
  • Filed: 13 April 2016

This briefing provides an update on recent developments in the conflict against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. It also includes an overview of UK air, ground and sea forces in the region and an analysis of Ministry of Defence data on airstrikes. It concludes that the deliberate opacity surrounding UK special forces deployments allows the British government to authorise ground operations while at the same time claiming that there are no UK combat troops involved in the conflict, thereby sidestepping public and parliamentary debate. Read more

UK actions against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria: Intelligence briefing #4

  • Source: Intelligence unit
  • Filed: 15 March 2016
  • 2 responses

This briefing provides an update on recent developments in the conflict against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. It includes the MoD response to an Open Briefing Freedom of Information request and an overview of UK military actions in the two countries, including ground operations – an often overlooked element of the UK campaign. It also discusses the substantial cache of IS documents recently handed to Sky News. Read more

UK actions against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria: Intelligence briefing #3

  • Source: Intelligence unit
  • Filed: 15 February 2016
  • 2 responses

UK forces continue to be very active in Iraq, but have also increased offensive operations in Syria. However, the majority of UK airstrikes continue to be opportunist rather than intelligence-led, with targets being both identified and attacked by combat air patrols. The first major UK combat injuries have been reported, raising questions over the true nature and extent of UK ground operations against Islamic State. Read more

Rouhani’s moment of truth

  • Author: Kevjn Lim
  • Published: 20 January 2016

Despite the obvious constraints, elections in Iran – whether for the Assembly of Experts, the presidency, the parliament, or even the regional municipalities – can still tell observers a lot. And they also matter; they can be the difference between the slow wearing down of the hardliners’ outsized control or the further consolidation of power in their hands. This Open Briefing article for Foreign Affairs explores how the coming Assembly of Experts vote could shape Iran’s future. Read more

UK actions against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria: Intelligence briefing #2

  • Source: Intelligence unit
  • Filed: 14 January 2016

On 2 December, the UK parliament voted in favour of authorising airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria. The RAF has since targeted well heads within the Omar oil field in Syria and undertaken multiple missions around Raqqa. A key issue in the build-up to the vote was the risk posed to innocent civilians in the areas of Iraq and Syria targeted by the RAF. Claims by the government and Ministry of Defence that there is no evidence of civilian casualties from UK military action against Islamic State do not stand up to scrutiny. Read more

Transnational organised crime monthly briefing: Islamic State’s income from transnational organised crime

  • Source: Intelligence unit
  • Filed: 11 December 2015

Islamic State is the richest terrorist group in the world, with an estimated annual turnover of between $2 billion and $3 billion. The groups control over substantial territory allows it to generate considerable amounts of money from organised crime, including the smuggling of oil and antiquities and taxing those smuggling drugs and people, as well the through levying taxes and fines on the populations of the areas it controls. Read more

UK actions against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria: Briefing #1

  • Source: Intelligence unit
  • Filed: 1 December 2015
  • 2 responses

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, MPs will shortly vote on whether to extend British military action against Islamic State from Iraq to Syria. After the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, announced he would allow Labour MPs a free vote on military action against Islamic State in Syria, the prime minister, David Cameron, will be confident in winning the vote, and it is likely air strikes will begin soon. However, there are serious concerns over the UK military strategy, which appears to be considered simply the ‘least worst’ option. Read more

Parsing Iran’s grand strategy

  • Author: Kevjn Lim
  • Published: 17 November 2015

To understand the Islamic Republic we need to not look not at its consistencies but at its ‘adjustments’. Iran has now placed a premium on maximising both influence and soft power, constantly renegotiating its margins of maneuver and seeking situations of strength where possible. Whatever hard power it still holds, it has repurposed into tools of deterrence in order to hold its enemies hostage against the threat of regime decapitation and war. Read more

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