Tag Archives: stratfor

14 years of assassinations: Stratfor describes the result

Summary: Slowly America’s geopolitical leaders see the futility of the assassination programs which are one of the three tools we rely on to win the Long War that began with 9/11 and President Bush’s imperial surge which followed (bombing and local militia are the other two, also failures). In this article Stratfor describes the meger results achieved by 14 years of assassinations. Perhaps soon they’ll see the Darwinian Ratchet.


The Lives of Jihadist Leaders Drop in Value

By Scott Stewart of Stratfor, 6 August 2015

Much has been written since the July 30 confirmation that the Taliban’s longtime leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, died two years ago. Most of the discussion has focused on the future of the Taliban movement, the impact of his death on the al Qaeda core — which had pledged allegiance to Mullah Omar as Amir al-Mu’minin, or “commander of the faithful,” — and of course, the Islamic State’s efforts to take advantage of Mullah Omar’s death.

Certainly, the announcement has caused existing rifts among the various factions of the Taliban to become more pronounced. But these divisions have always existed, and the Taliban have long been anything but a cohesive, unified organization. The announcement also became fodder for a massive Twitter campaign by the Islamic State “Twitteratti,” who are seeking to exploit the intentional deception of the Taliban cadres who sought to hide Mullah Omar’s death. The Islamic State had publicly challenged the Taliban to publish proof of life for Mullah Omar, suggesting that word of the Talban leader’s death had leaked. This likely forced the Taliban to admit that he was dead.

Islamic State gloating aside, I personally doubt we will witness the same scale of defections from the al Qaeda orbit of the jihadist universe that we did after the declaration of the caliphate last year. This is because the battle lines in the al Qaeda vs. Islamic State fight for the heart of the global jihad have become well established, and much of the shine has worn off the Islamic State’s claim to be an inexorable force.

From my perspective, the more interesting aspect of the announcement of Mullah Omar’s demise is that he had been dead since April 2013, but nobody really missed him. Concealing someone’s death for one “Weekend at Bernie’s” is one thing, but maintaining such a ruse for two years is quite another.

Continue reading

Stratfor: The Middle East Recalibrates After the Nuclear Deal with Iran

Summary: The six world powers and Iran have come to an agreement about the curbing of Iran’s nuclear program. But it would be a mistake to assume that this agreement will result in an immediate, or even short-term, decrease in violence or competition among the Middle East’s strongest powers. In fact, the opposite will be the case. Iran will use its newfound international legitimacy to attempt to realize its ambitions to become the regional hegemon. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and a host of small countries and even smaller religious and ethnic groups will all compete and at times align for influence.


After the Nuclear Deal, a Region Recalibrates
Stratfor, 28 July 2015

Though reams of bureaucratic red tape remain to be cut in the coming months, it seems likely that the joint accord will pass the U.N. Security Council. Furthermore, it will be extremely difficult for both houses of the U.S. Congress to muster the two-thirds votes necessary to prevent the lifting of certain U.S. sanctions levied against the Islamic Republic.

Normalization with the West will give Iran the chance to improve its economy and recruit foreign investment, and will also open up potential relationships that sanctions prevented from developing. Proxy battles and diplomatic rapprochements on the periphery of the Middle East will continue apace, but Iran’s primary focus will be on Baghdad. Control of Iraq is the necessary condition for Iran projecting force in the Middle East, whereas lack of control or, worse, control of Iraq by another outside power, would constitute a direct threat.

Continue reading

Stratfor: how the Iran deal will change the long-term price of oil

Summary: Oil is the most politically and economically sensitive mineral; all lines cross in the oil markets. Here Stratfor discusses how the Iran deal will affect oil prices, which will affect everybody.


How the Iran Deal Will Affect Oil Markets in the Long Term
Stratfor, 17 July 2015


  • Iran will offer joint venture contracts to attract international energy companies, which will give the country some advantage over Persian Gulf producers.
  • Tehran will need more than five years to achieve its goal of producing 6 million barrels per day.
  • Legal requirements imposed on foreign firms in Iran will still make operating in the country less cost-effective.


Iran was once one of the world’s largest exporters of oil. But ever since Western powers imposed sanctions on the country, a shortage of foreign investment has crippled what is now a corrupt and mismanaged energy sector.

With the announcement of a nuclear deal with the West, and the prospect of some sanctions relief within a year, Iran is now looking to revitalize its oil and gas industry. Tehran wants to increase its oil production from its current level of about 3 million barrels per day to 4 million barrels per day within six months of sanctions removal. And its longer-term goal is even more ambitious: By 2020, Tehran hopes to raise its production levels even higher than they were prior to the sanctions — roughly 6 million barrels per day.

Iran will likely need much more time to achieve that level of production. To develop new oil fields and new technology, Tehran needs access to more than $100 billion of investment — funds that the government is hoping to get from foreign investment. And while relaxed sanctions may open the country up to more outside funding, Iran also needs international oil companies to actually set up operations on Iranian soil. This could be a challenge; burdensome regulations have historically made it difficult for energy firms to operate in Iran despite the country’s ample reserves.

Continue reading

Stratfor: what the Iran deal means for oil prices

Summary: Here Stratfor discusses one of the big economic and geopolitical questions about the Iran deal, much more important the deal’s effect on Iran’s conjectural nuclear program (30 years of a nuke coming really soon). Low prices have depressed the economies of key nations such as Russia and the Gulf States (plus oil-producing areas of the US). If new oil from southern Iraq and Iran depresses oil prices even more we might see some shocks of a kind unimaginable in the heady days of $100 oil.


How the Iran Deal Will Affect Oil Markets in the Short Term
Stratfor, 16 July 2015

The nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers will naturally have consequences for global oil markets as Iran, the world’s third-largest oil producer before the Iranian Revolution, eventually exports more oil. Prior to the implementation of sanctions in 2012, Iran was a major crude oil and condensate exporter to Asia, Europe and others — in fact, exports totaled 2.6 million barrels per day in 2011. Today, that figure has fallen by almost 600,000 bpd to Europe and another 600,000 bpd to Asia. Iranian exports now hover closer to 1.4 million bpd, 1 million bpd of which is crude oil.

The July 14 deal paves the way for sanctions to be relaxed by early 2016, enabling anyone to buy oil from Iran. While Iran maintains that it can increase oil production by 500,000 to 600,000 bpd within one month of the removal of sanctions and increase exports to 2.5 million bpd within three months, Stratfor sees these figures as overly optimistic. Iran does, however, have at least 35 million barrels of crude oil and condensate in storage that it could use to increase exports in the interim before its oil production rises again. 2016, consequently, will likely be another year where a healthy oil supply tamps down any oil price recovery.

Continue reading

Stratfor: ISIS & the rise of Warlord Entrepreneurs

Summary: This analysis by Stratfor discusses the adoption of modern business methods by insurgents, something long discussed here. It’s progress that mainstream geopolitical analysts are finding more analytically useful perspectives on jihadists rather than the usual hackneyed labels. It’s learning, that if continued might make us a threat to them.  {1st of 2 posts today.}


The Rise of Warlord Entrepreneurs

By Jay Ogilvy at Stratfor, 24 June 2015

As the Islamic State digs in after its conquest of Ramadi, U.S. President Barack Obama has been candid about his lack of a strategy to deal with the group, in part because he is waiting for commitments from the Iraqi government, but in part because the Islamic State is poorly understood. We know it is “nimble,” “aggressive” and “opportunistic.” But there is much about it we don’t know.

If you Google “books on the Islamic State,” you might be surprised at how many have jumped off the press in the past year, a phenomenon all the more remarkable given how little we actually know about the group. One book you will not see among your search results, since it does not have “Islamic State” in its title, is the recently published Warlords, Inc: Black Markets, Broken States, and the Rise of the Warlord Entrepreneur, edited by Noah Raford and Andrew Trabulsi. It is an anthology and therefore unlikely to be widely noticed, but I would like to draw on the insights of a few of its authors.

Together with Philip Bobbitt’s analysis of the nation-state’s decline and the market state’s rise, Warlords, Inc. provides geopolitical context for understanding the rise of the Islamic State. Though their prescriptions differ, Bobbitt and several Warlords, Inc. authors define the edges of a white space that the Islamic State is trying to fill by referring to the group’s geopolitical context. By looking at what’s outside the outline rather than what’s inside it, they may be giving us a more accurate picture of the Islamic State than those who claim to be peering directly into the group’s dark and secretive interior.

Continue reading

STRATFOR gives A New Way to Think About Mexican Organized Crime

Summary: Stratfor looks at events in our southern partner, whose dynamics we ignore but might have a decisive effect on 21st century America. Trade, crime, immigration — Mexico is a central player in all of these, yet we pay more attention to events in Yemen. It’s another example of our cloudy vision, a weakness that can negate even the greatest power.   {2nd of 2 posts today.}

“What nation poses the greatest threat to the sovereignty of the US?”
— Q&A following briefing by Martin van Creveld to a US intelligence agency. Twenty years ago they were incredulous. Now it seems more realistic.


A New Way to Think About Mexican Organized Crime

By Tristan Reed at Stratfor, 15 January 2015

Decentralized but more powerful

Since the emergence of the Guadalajara cartel in the 1980s as one of the country’s largest drug trafficking organizations, Mexican organized crime has continued to expand its reach up and down the global supply chains of illicit drugs.

Under the Guadalajara cartel and its contemporaries, such as the Gulf cartel, led by Juan Garcia Abrego, a relatively small number of crime bosses controlled Mexico’s terrestrial illicit supply chains. Crime bosses such as Miguel Angel “El Padrino” Felix Gallardo, the leader of the Guadalajara cartel, oversaw the bulk of the trafficking operations necessary to push drugs into the United States and received large portions of the revenue generated. By the same token, this facilitated law enforcement’s ability to disrupt entire supply chains with a single arrest. Such highly centralized structures ultimately proved unsustainable under consistent and aggressive law enforcement pressure. Thus, as Mexican organized crime has expanded its control over greater shares of the global drug trade, it has simultaneously become more decentralized, as exemplified by an increasing number of organizational splits.

Indeed, the arrest of Felix Gallardo in 1989 and of colleagues such as Rafael Caro Quintero and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo a few years prior led to the breakdown of the Guadalajara cartel by 1990. Thanks to geographic factors, however, Mexican organized crime was destined to increasingly dominate the global illicit drug trade, soon even eclipsing the role Colombian drug traffickers played in supplying cocaine to the huge and highly lucrative retail markets in the United States.

Continue reading

Stratfor: The Islamic State’s Pretense of Strength in Yemen

Summary:  Today Stratfor provides another bulletin the front (one of the many fronts) in our mad global war on groups we don’t like (excerpt when they’re allies, or we accidentally put them into power).   {2nd of 2 posts today.}


The Islamic State’s Pretense of Strength in Yemen

Stratfor, 18 June 2015

The Islamic State launched multiple suicide bombings in Sanaa aimed at Houthi rebels’ political headquarters and two mosques June 17, the eve of Ramadan. According to the Yemeni Health Ministry, the attacks killed at least four people and wounded at least 50 more.

It was the Islamic State’s fourth attack against mosques in Sanaa. The first and most deadly occurred March 20, when suicide bombers killed over 140 people in the bombing of two mosques during midday Friday prayers. Because al Qaeda has eschewed assaults on places of worship, the attack was unexpected and Islamic State suicide bombers were able to easily sneak into the mosques.

In response to the March attacks, authorities increased security at religious buildings, making it more difficult for militants to carry bombs or weapons into places of worship. To evade security, the Islamic State has adjusted its tactics and started planning more complex attacks. On May 22, the group sent a suicide bomber into a mosque with explosives hidden inside his sandals. Once detonated, the bomb resulted in 13 injuries but no deaths because of the small amount of explosives. Security officers at a mosque thwarted another would-be bombing on May 29 when they detained another Islamic State suicide bomber with explosives in his shoes.

Continue reading