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.
Category: Middle East and North Africa
Parsing Iran’s grand strategy
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.
National security decision-making in Iran
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.
Bibi’s upset comeback
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?
Kobane, and the failure of Turkey’s Kurdish policy
Heavily influenced by the memories and legacies of the past, Turkey has not demonstrated the required degree of flexibility and imagination in dealing with the issue of Syria’s Kurds. This article from Open Briefing contributing analyst Arman Baisuanov explores Turkey's complex and differing relationships with Kurds in Iraq, Syria and Turkey and sets out some of the failings of its Kurdish policies in light of events in Kobane.
Iran: The Ayatollah succession question
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, recently underwent prostate surgery, following recurrent rumours that he suffers from some form of cancer. The looming succession in Iran is far from straightforward. In this article, Open Briefing contributing analyst Kevjn Lim considers the pool of candidates from which the Supreme Leader's successor may emerge, as well as the possibility of a temporary leadership council or even a Revolutionary Guards-led military takeover.
Intelligence brief: The use of barrel bombs by the Syrian government
Barrel bombs are a type of IED dropped from a helicopter or cargo aircraft. It is estimated that 5-6,000 such bombs have been dropped by the Syrian military since the uprising began, killing at least 20,000 people. This intelligence brief explores the reasons behind the Syrian government's use of these improvised devices and assesses whether targeting helicopter manufacturers or spare-part suppliers might be an effective strategy for international NGOs wishing to put pressure on the Syrian government to end its use of these weapons.
How Israel should approach Iran’s nuclear programme
In this article for the Jerusalem Post, Open Briefing Middle East analyst Kevjn Lim proposes a controversial three-part strategy to strengthen Israel's 'Iron Wall' by bringing a nuclear-threshold Iran under firm international constraints, restoring Israel’s conventional deterrence, and closing the gap with Israel’s closest allies.