Tag Archives: stratfor

Stratfor: In France, New Attacks Come From Old Problems

Summary: Here Stratfor looks at a seldom-mentioned aspect of the Paris attacks. Their roots lie deep in France’s history, allowing large-scale immigration from its colonies to provide cheap labor for its corporations. Just as American has done. But as Frances’s Jews discovered, France has little ability to assimilate foreigners. Its slow economic growth makes this even more difficult. Paris was a result.


In France, New Attacks Come From Old Problems

By Mark Fleming-Williams, Stratfor, 22 November 2015

On the evening of Friday, Nov. 13, eight people armed with assault rifles and suicide vests attacked several targets in Paris, killing 129 civilians. At least five of the attackers were French nationals and two were Belgians; all eight appear to have been radical Islamists, and the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks. French President Francois Hollande declared the killings to be an act of war and immediately scaled up France’s military operations, primarily by increasing its airstrikes in Islamic State territory. Taking advantage of a temporary state of emergency, French police have conducted more than 100 raids each night since the attack as they track down suspects.

While the attacks are obviously shocking, they probably will not have the same transformative effect as other major incidents such as 9/11 or the Madrid bombings, which led the states that were targeted to change their strategies. (9/11 prompted the United States to invade Afghanistan and ultimately Iraq, while the Madrid bombings persuaded Spain to withdraw its troops from Iraq.) By comparison, the French attacks, which are more akin to the July 2005 bombings in the United Kingdom, will likely accelerate the strategies France already had for achieving its domestic and foreign interests.

Domestic Concerns

From France’s perspective, the most immediate concern the Paris attacks raise is that French citizens were killed. Any government that fails to protect its citizenry risks being replaced, meaning that officials must work quickly to neutralize the attackers before doing the same for any accomplices who were directly involved. Then the government must try to prevent similar attacks from taking place in the future. The first two of these actions are already well underway, and progress toward the third is evident. Hollande has asked to extend emergency powers for three months, to deploy an extra 5,000 police officers over the course of two years, and to amend the constitution to broaden surveillance powers. By all appearances, France seems to be on the verge of becoming a closely watched state in the coming years — much like the United Kingdom, which has one surveillance camera in place for every 11 Britons.

The Nov. 13 attacks also play into domestic politics, and the government will want to be seen avenging its citizens and punishing the offending party for its actions. This appears to be a large part of the motivation behind Paris’ increased bombings of Islamic State targets overseas. Hollande is the leader of the center-left Socialist Party, which traditionally takes a softer line on social, security and privacy issues and is therefore vulnerable to recriminations from the public that it has not done enough to protect French citizens. Adding to this problem, France has experienced other terrorist attacks this year, most notably in January when gunmen attacked the offices of the Charlie Hebdo newspaper, and people expected the government to have learned from these experiences in addressing security threats.

Regional elections in December will give voters across the country a chance to show their displeasure with the government’s response, making the situation even more urgent for Hollande. The anti-immigration National Front has enjoyed a surge in support in recent years, with party leader Marine Le Pen polling strongly ahead of the 2017 presidential election. For the more moderate voter, there is also the center-right Republicans party headed by former President Nicolas Sarkozy. The former president has long divided public opinion with his tough stance on immigrants and security, which dates back at least to his time as France’s interior minister in the early to mid-2000s.

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Stratfor: A Weakening Islamic State Still Poses a Threat

Summary: Here is a typically skillful but narrow analysis by Stratfor about the uses of terrorism, and especially by ISIS. It ignore the many examples of successful use of terrorism by insurgents (e.g., Zionists), and the s the often-decisive moral dimension of conflict (skillful terrorism can destroy a movement), I agree that ISIS will flame out soon. It’s the second generation of modern jihadist terrorism. What form will the third generation take?


A Weakening Islamic State Still Poses a Threat

By Scott Stewart, Stratfor, 19 November 2015

Earlier this month I wrote an analysis asserting that time is working against the Islamic State. I argued that the factors responsible for the Islamic State’s stunning rise in popularity last year — the group’s territorial gains, its successes against authorities and its propaganda — are starting to wear out. Much of the group’s appeal lies in its portrayal of itself as an agent of apocalyptic Islamic prophecy, and as time passes without the prophecies coming true, people will become increasingly disillusioned.

Since that analysis was published, it has come to light that the Islamic State’s Wilayat Sinai was responsible for the Oct. 31 bombing of Metrojet Flight 9268. Meanwhile, the Islamic State also claimed responsibility for the Nov. 13 Paris attacks. In the wake of these incidents, many people are asking me, “How can the Islamic State be weakening when they are conducting spectacular terrorist attacks?” So I thought it would be a good time to discuss where terrorism fits within the spectrum of militancy and how a weakening militant organization can still effectively employ terrorism, even as its capabilities to wage conventional and guerrilla warfare diminish.

Tool of the Weak

For the most part, terrorism historically has been employed by weak militant organizations against militarily stronger opponents. (There are, of course, exceptions to this.) Many revolutionary theories hold that terrorism is the first step toward launching a wider insurgency and eventually toppling a government. Marxist, Maoist and focoist militant groups have often sought to use terrorism as the beginning phase of an armed struggle. In some ways, al Qaeda and its spinoff, the Islamic State, have also followed a type of focoist vanguard strategy. They attempt to use terrorism to shape public opinion and raise popular support for their cause, expecting to enhance their strength enough to wage an insurgency and later, conventional warfare, to establish an emirate and eventually a global caliphate.

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Stratfor: After Paris, France Contemplates a Reckoning

Summary: Here is Stratfor’s follow-up analysis about likely implications of the Paris attacks. Now it’s time for the West to double down on stupid, repeating our tactics since 9/11 — more intensely. Expect few mentions of France’s acts of war against the Islamic State, but many calls for revenge against ISIS’s unprovoked attacked against innocent France. This distorted view of events is what causes wars.

“It is an act of war that was committed by a terrorist army, a jihadist army, Daesh, against France.”
President François Hollande speaking to the people of France. He didn’t mention the 273 strikes by French aircraft against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (flying almost 1300 missions).


After Paris, France Contemplates a Reckoning

Stratfor, 14 November 2015


Details are still emerging as to precisely who was responsible for the Nov. 13 Paris attacks. Sorting through the jumble of misinformation and disinformation will be challenging for French authorities, and for outside observers such as Stratfor.

While the Islamic State has claimed credit for the attack, it is still uncertain to what degree the Islamic State core organization was responsible for planning, funding or directing it. It is not clear whether the attackers were grassroots operatives encouraged by the organization like Paris Kosher Deli gunman Ahmed Coulibaly, if the operatives were professional terrorist cadres dispatched by the core group or if the attack was some combination of the two.


French President Francois Hollande publicly placed responsibility for the Nov. 13 attack on the Islamic State, declaring it an act of war. This French response to the Paris attacks is markedly different from that of the Spanish Government following the March 2004 Madrid train bombings. Instead of pulling back from the global coalition working against jihadism, it appears that the French will renew and perhaps expand their efforts to pursue revenge for the most recent assault. The precise nature of this response will be determined by who is ultimately found to be the author of the Nov. 13 attack.

To date, there has been something akin to a division of labor in the anti-jihadist effort, with the French heavily focused on the Sahel region of Africa. The French have also supported coalition efforts in Iraq and Syria, stationing six Dassault Rafale jets in the United Arab Emirates and six Mirage jets in Jordan. On Nov. 4, Paris announced it was sending the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to enhance ongoing airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. To date, French aircraft have flown more than 1,285 missions against Islamic State targets in Iraq, and only two sorties in Syria.

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Stratfor: What to Expect After the November 13 Paris Attacks

Summary: Here is Stratfor’s same day analysis of the terror attack on Paris, and speculation about its implications and what comes next.  {1st of 2 posts today.}


What to Expect After the November 13 Paris Attacks

Stratfor, 13 November 2015


Update (6:00 CST): According to French media reports, French security forces have stormed and secured the Bataclan theater. The attackers apparently used grenades inside the main concert hall, Aujourd’hui Paris reported Nov. 13. Details are still emerging.

As many as 60 people died Nov. 13 in multiple terrorist attacks throughout Paris. At least five gunmen – likely jihadists judging from witness’s accounts – conducted the attacks.

Timeline of the Attack

The attacks, which were clearly coordinated, took place in multiple locations and involved different methods. In the first wave, two suicide bombers detonated their explosives at locations near the Stade de France, where a soccer match between France and Germany was taking place. (French President Francois Hollande himself was at the stadium at the time of the attack. He was escorted from the scene and met with French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve in a closed meeting shortly thereafter.) It is unclear whether grenades or other explosives were used, and it is possible a suicide bomber may have been involved.

Meanwhile, gunmen also opened fire, reportedly with Kalashnikov rifles, on a tightly packed Cambodian restaurant in a drive-by shooting. Shots were also fired at the Bataclan concert hall, where a hostage situation in now underway.

Roughly 25 minutes later, gunmen also opened fire on Rue de Charonne. And about an hour after the initial attacks, attacks by other terrorist cells took place at the Louvre and Les Halles.

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Stratfor: Time Is Working Against the Islamic State

Summary: Slowly it the obvious becomes apparent that the hype about the the Islamic State was (like that about the USSR and al Qaeda) bogus, that it is neither a potential superpower nor going to sweep beyond is based in the Sunni Arab areas amidst the wreckage of Iraq and Syria. Here Scott Stewart of Stratfor reviews the evidence.


Time Is Working Against the Islamic State

By Scott Stewart, Stratfor, 5 November 2015

At this time last year, a string of leaderless resistance-style attacks by grassroots jihadists in the West was making people very nervous. And their concern was understandable: In late October 2014, the tempo of attacks by grassroots jihadists in the West reached its highest point in history. The spike in activity largely stemmed from a statement made by Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani a month earlier, urging individuals in Western countries to:

“… single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman, or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him.”

The wave of violence continued through the end of 2014 and into 2015, as assailants struck in Australia and in France in December, followed closely by the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January and the Copenhagen attack in February. But since that time, it has become clear that the momentum of the attacks has slowed, and that grassroots jihadists have not been able to keep up a consistent tempo of striking multiple times each month. In other words, the violence taking place in October last year was an anomaly, not the start of an emerging trend. The question is: Why didn’t the movement gain more traction?

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Stratfor: Why Germany Cannot Stop the Flow of Migrants

Summary: Europe’s people thought that the economic crisis that began with Greece in 2010, quickly spreading, was their test of the decade. They’re slowly realizing that the flood of migrants, especially from the Middle East, poses a far larger and more profound threat — disrupting not just the European Union, but also to the politics of its individual nations. Here is Stratfor’s analysis of the dilemma facing Germany, the EU’s core.  First post in this series.


Why Germany Cannot Stop the Flow of Migrants

Stratfor, 29 October 2015


  • Germany will not be able to compel Greece or Turkey to stem the flow of migrants without jeopardizing other, more pressing priorities.
  • Winter will lower the number of arrivals, giving the European Union room to strategize and negotiate.
  • Ongoing fighting in Syria means that the surge in arrivals will likely pick up again in 2016.


A massive wave of migration has been sweeping Europe for much of 2015 as hundreds of thousands of people arrive from conflict-ridden parts of the globe. The European Union is still struggling to find a way to stem the flow or adapt. Germany, as both a major migrant destination and EU leader, has led the effort. On Oct. 25, a selection of European leaders gathered in Brussels to discuss the crisis, including representatives of Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece. Non-EU members Macedonia and Serbia also took part. The summit was the latest attempt to come to a consensus on a solution to the problem and contain the resulting political fallout.

Of course, the Continent has always struggled to deal with the arrival of new immigrants. Peninsular Europe sits at the westernmost edge of the massive Eurasian landmass, which encompasses the Middle East and is closely connected to Africa. New arrivals have often taxed the Continent’s naturally fragile geopolitical balance. In antiquity, for example, the influx of nomads off the Central Asian steppe precipitated the end of another Continental bloc — the Roman Empire. The European Union has had to deal with this challenge since its inception. The unprecedented surge over the past 10 months, however, has called into question current domestic political arrangements as well as the structure of the entire bloc.

Routes of Tension

Ultimately, it has been the sheer number of migrants this year and the shift in arrival routes that have led to deeper structural problems. In 2014, the primary route into Europe was across the Mediterranean from the south. Migrants traveled in boats of up to 800 passengers from the North African coast to Italy and Malta, the so-called southern route. In 2014, 170,000 people took this journey, the vast majority from African countries, with 25% (around 42,000) coming from Syria. So far in 2015, volumes on this route have remained much the same, with the number of migrants holding relatively steady at around 139,000. The one key difference, however, is that Syrians now make up just 5% of the total.

But while the Italian route has been relatively static, migration along the alternative eastern route has surged. In past years, the journey began with a walk over the land border between Turkey and Greece. New arrivals would then either remain in Greece or continue into Europe through the Balkans.

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Stratfor: The Coming Age of Cyberterrorism

Summary: For five years readers of the FM website have learned the facts and myths of cybersecurity and cyberterrorism. Now CEOs are fired for big security breeches, wild headlines stoke the public’s fears — and Stratfor declares the “coming age of cyberterrorism”. Their analysis, as usual, gives a solid introduction to this important subject.


The Coming Age of Cyberterrorism

By Scott Stewart
Stratfor, 22 October 2015

The Islamic State is trying to hack U.S. power companies, U.S. officials told a gathering of American energy firms Oct. 15 {CNN: “ISIS is attacking the U.S. energy grid (and failing)”}. The story quoted John Riggi, a section chief at the FBI’s cyber division, as saying the Islamic State has, “Strong intent. Thankfully, low capability … But the concern is that they’ll buy that capability.”

The same day the CNNMoney report was published, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the arrest of Ardit Ferizi — a citizen of Kosovo and known hacker, apprehended in Malaysia — on a U.S. provisional arrest warrant. The Justice Department charged Ferizi with providing material support to the Islamic State, computer hacking and identity theft, all in conjunction with the theft and release of personally identifiable information belonging to 1,351 U.S. service members and civilian government employees stolen from the servers of an unnamed U.S. retail chain.

According to the Justice Department, Ferizi provided the stolen personal information to the Islamic State’s Junaid Hussain (aka Abu al-Britani) who was subsequently killed in an airstrike in the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa, Syria.

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