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

National security decision-making in Iran

  • Author: Kevjn Lim
  • Published: 11 June 2015

In this journal article for Comparative Strategy, Open Briefing analyst Kevjn Lim reviews national security decision-making in the Iranian context by focusing on institutions, formal process and individuals. He specifically examines the Supreme National Security Council, which formalises and embodies the decision-making process, as well as the Revolutionary Guards, which epitomise both the influence of institutions as well as the centrality of the agent-individual. Read more

Bibi’s upset comeback

  • Author: Kevjn Lim
  • Published: 20 March 2015

After a last minute electoral upset, Israeli Prime Minster Benyamin Netanyahu will almost certainly form a new government. What does a fourth term for Bibi mean for Israel, Palestine and the wider region? Read more

US demands for democratic reform in Egypt likely to take backseat to national security concerns

  • Source: Blog
  • Filed: 19 January 2015

The US Congress has stipulated that military aid provision to Egypt will be linked to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s democratic reform. However, the bill also entails that in circumstances pertaining to national security, democratic focus may be abandoned in favour of domestic or regional stabilisation. Given the current security climate, it appears likely that international financial and political support will favour al-Sisi and the waiver of national security. Thus, it remains to be seen how effectual the US aid stipulation for democratic reform will be. Read more


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