Continuing our series of articles on Iranian politics, Kevjn LIm analyses the six contenders in the forthcoming presidential election and assesses the chances of re-election for the moderate incumbent, Hassan Rouhani.
China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a vision to parlay large-scale economic dynamism into a foreign policy projecting Chinese influence overseas in the name of development. If the its promise of mutual prosperity and development is to be more than the sum of its parts, its stabilising effect on the Middle East would be a major litmus test. The momentum may come from Beijing, but smaller countries like Israel can and must shape it.
Many intelligence agencies were caught off-guard by the Arab Spring in 2011. Similarly, many agencies failed to anticipate the Islamic State taking over Mosul in 2014. Yet, the reasons behind these instances of strategic surprise were not new at all. They were already apparent over 25 years before, prior to the Iranian Revolution, and still pervade contemporary intelligence work.
This monograph examines post-revolutionary Iran’s grand strategy by way of its adjustments at three key inflection points. The first (1988-91) spans the end of the Iran-Iraq war, the collapse of the bipolar order and the First Gulf War, along with internal structural changes following Ayatollah Khomeini’s death. The second (2001-03) encompasses 9/11 and the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The third (2011-15) corresponds to the more recent Arab uprisings and the increasing internal and external pressures Iran faced over its nuclear programme.
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.
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’.
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.
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.