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The war with Islamic State: An assessment of the United Kingdom’s Operation Shader and the wider coalition campaign against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria

Overall, the US-led coalition has had some considerable successes in containing and rolling back Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; however, much more should have been achieved given the combined military might and other resources of the 66 members of the global coalition to counter Islamic State. Those gains that have been made have come at the expense of civilian casualties. Furthermore, there are no signs that the terrorist threat to the United Kingdom from Islamic State is reducing despite nearly two years of UK airstrikes and other efforts to target the group.

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How to respond to the threat from hostile drones in the UK

Islamic State has used aerial drones for reconnaissance and battlefield intelligence in Iraq and Syria and has attempted to use aerial and ground drones with explosive payloads to attack Kurdish troops. Should we therefore be concerned about the possibility of Islamic State or another terrorist group using drones to attack Western cities? If so, what should we do to address the threat?

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Rouhani’s moment of truth

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.

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Hostile drones: Supplementary risk assessment

This briefing is provided as a supplement to the Open Briefing/Remote Control Project report Hostile drones: The hostile use of drones by non-state actors against civilian targets. Our findings are based on a risk assessment involving 270 individual likelihood/impact judgements taking into account the type of threat group, the type of unmanned vehicle, the theatre, the nature of the threat and the target.

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Hostile drones: The hostile use of drones by non-state actors against British targets

In this groundbreaking report for the Remote Control project, Open Briefing has analysed over 200 commercially-available drones and assessed known drone use by non-state groups, including terrorist organisations, insurgent groups, organised crime groups, corporations and activists. The report sets out a series of recommendations to mitigate the threat from the hostile use of drones, including specific regulatory, passive and active countermeasures.

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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.

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Big data and strategic intelligence

In this journal article for Intelligence and National Security, Open Briefing analyst Kevjn Lim examines the intersection of Big Data and strategic intelligence from a conceptual viewpoint. It argues that Big Data analytics is best used to discern long-term developments, generate intelligence hypotheses, and adduce refuting facts. The article also examines the use of Big Data via social media. It concludes that Big Data should continue to complement traditional subject-matter expertise, supported by game theory, as part of a tripartite analytical framework for strategic intelligence consisting of ‘subtext’, ‘context’ and ‘metatext’.

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Iran seen from Beijing

China views Iran as a central element in its much-touted Silk Road Economic Belt, which aims to extend Beijing's influence overland through Central Asia to the Persian Gulf and Europe. This article for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Open Briefing analyst Kevjn Lim discusses Iran's importance to China, including the geostrategic Iran plays as China's most convenient non-Russian access route to open waters and the only east-west/north-south intersection for Central Asian trade.

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