Tag Archives: stratfor

Stratfor: France’s National Front Defeated, For Now

Summary: Support for the far-Right National Front grows in France, part of a tide sweeping through the developed nations. Here Stratfor looks at the results of the recent election, where the two major parties cooperated to suppress the NF, despite its 40% vote in the first round. While successful in the short-term, it is a tactic likely to increase alienation from the Fifth Republic. Will they use the time bought by their win to address its problems? Let’s watch. We might get ideas to help deal with our resurgent Right-wing.

Stratfor

France’s National Front Defeated, For Now

Stratfor, 14 December 2015

The right-wing National Front party will not control any regions in France. Despite its strong showing in the first round of elections, in which it earned more than 40% of the vote in the densely populated regions of Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardy in the north and Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur in the south, the nationalist party failed to win any districts in the second round of voting Dec. 13. However, the party led by Marine Le Pen will continue to be a key political player in the months ahead of the 2017 French presidential election.

In many ways, the results of the Dec. 13 elections are not surprising. France’s electoral system is explicitly designed to prevent extremist parties from accessing power, and it was this that prevented the National Front from winning regions in the runoff vote. In this case, France’s ruling Socialist party decided not to participate in the runoff vote in those regions where it did not have a serious chance of winning, hoping that voters would choose the center-right The Republicans party over the National Front. This is exactly what happened, and the National Front saw only a small increase in popular support between the first and the second round.

As Stratfor wrote after the first round, many voters who supported moderate forces in the first round will probably support other parties to keep the National Front from winning again.

In other words, most people who wanted to vote for the National Front did so in the first round, but only a small number of additional voters supported the party in the second round. In addition, there was a higher voter turnout in the second round, which suggests that many voters who did not participate in the first round made the conscious decision to vote in the second to prevent the National Front from winning.

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Stratfor: Terrorism doesn’t ‘just happen’. Here’s how it develops.

Summary: With hysteria building in the West about terrorism, Stratfor provides an analytical look at the origins of terrorism — an understanding essential if we are to prevent it from spreading. This discussion will not, of course, affect the public debate which is driven mostly by fiction and fear.

Stratfor

How Terrorist Trends Develop

By Scott Stewart, Stratfor, 27 November 2015

Summary

Developments in terrorism are driven by numerous factors. Some drivers, such as ideology and politics, are inherent to terrorism. However, there are other elements to consider, such as technology and counterterrorism tactics, which force terrorists to adapt their techniques to stay one step ahead of the authorities.

Analysis

During the past two weeks, I have had the opportunity to speak to audiences in Ottawa, Canada and Washington, D.C., about developments in terrorism that will affect the security of governments, companies and nongovernmental organizations in the next few years. Some of those trends, such as the competition between the Islamic State and al Qaeda, the emergence of true cyberterrorism, the progression of the grassroots threat from lone assailants to larger cells and the advent of the “online university of terrorism” will undoubtedly be familiar themes to Stratfor readers, as I have used my writing over the past few months to help flesh out my thinking in this area.

But what I’d like to do here is give readers a bit of an inside look at the factors I am thinking about when I forecast terrorist trends.

One of the most obvious drivers of terrorism is ideology. Terrorism is always ideologically driven, and ideological developments can have a dramatic impact not only on the decision to employ terrorism but also on the types of attacks conducted and the types of targets selected. For example, the emergence of the Islamic State’s strain of jihadism in Yemen over the past year has led to a number of mosque bombings — attacks that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula would not conduct under its operational guidelines. In Nigeria, the leaders of the Islamic State’s Wilayat al Sudan al Gharbi, the group formerly known as Boko Haram, have decided that it is permissible to use women and girls in suicide bombing attacks, and they have used over 50 female suicide bombers in 2015 alone. Ideology is also at the heart of the competition between al Qaeda and the Islamic State as the two rivals struggle to become the religious pole of the global jihadist movement.

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Stratfor: will France hand power to a far right government (again)?

Summary: With the polls looking good for the National Front, Stratfor examines the rise of the far Right in France — part of the right-flowing tide sweeping through the developed nations. Memories have faded in Europe; hopes rise that this far right movement differs from the last. The implications are massive for economic policy, for France’s immigration policy, its treatment of its ethnic minorities, and perhaps most important — for its role in the European Union. Did anyone guess that having survived the centrifugal forces of the 2008-09 and 2010-2015 economic crises, Europe would immediately face another and perhaps more difficult one?

Stratfor

In France, Discontent Favors the National Front

Stratfor, 5 December 2015

Summary

France is preparing to hold regional elections, and the country’s ruling party is bracing itself for the fallout. At a time of high unemployment levels and sluggish economic growth, French voters will likely look to punish the Socialist Party by backing its center-right and far-right rivals instead. The National Front, which opposes immigration and wants France to leave the eurozone, is already expected to win in at least two of the country’s biggest regions. The Dec. 6 elections will be the last vote held before France’s presidential election in 2017, and every indicator suggests they will mark yet another victory for the Euroskeptic forces gaining strength across Europe.

Analysis

On Dec. 6, French voters will head to the polls to select the councils of France’s 13 metropolitan regions, as well as some of its overseas territories. In regions where no party manages to garner 50% of the vote, a second electoral round will be held Dec. 13.

The elections will be an important test of popularity for France’s main parties, and they will set the stage for the country’s upcoming presidential vote. The Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris gave a slight boost to French President Francois Hollande’s approval ratings, but his Socialist Party will probably put on a weak performance in the polls nonetheless. Because the Socialists currently control most of France’s regions, they have the most to lose. By comparison, their two main rivals, the center-right Republican Party and the right-wing National Front, will likely see significant gains.

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Stratfor explains: Has a Turkish military spearhead penetrated northern Iraq?

Summary: Here Stratfor examines rumors that Turkey’s army has entered the fighting in Iraq. If true, it’s a serious expansion of a conflict that already looks like the early stages of the Thirty Years War that devastated central Europe. This might not be an increase of Turkey’s involvement, but such a step might be coming. Watch this story.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Stratfor

The Routine Nature of Turkey’s Presence in Iraq

Stratfor, 4 December 2015

In keeping with the adage that things are seldom what they seem, reports from Dec. 4 that a Turkish military spearhead had penetrated northern Iraq were exaggerated. Local news media claimed that three Turkish regiments entered Iraqi territory on Dec. 3, deploying in the vicinity of the Islamic State-held city of Mosul in Nineveh province. As it turns out, this supposed Turkish intervention was simply a small rotation of forces, switching out troops assigned to a routine training mission across the border. Ankara reportedly has been training Kurdish peshmerga and other Sunni volunteer forces in the Kurdish-controlled regions of Iraq since November 2014.

The dispatch of 130 Turkish troops — described as a battalion but closer to the size of an infantry company — is much less remarkable than the commitment of three regiments. The presence of these soldiers will not alter the course of the operation to retake Mosul, nor affect its timeline, though formal military training may assist the overall fight against the Islamic State. It also is not an anomalous move by Ankara: In addition to ongoing training operations in Kurdish areas, there is a Turkish military presence in the Amedi district of Dohuk province to combat revolutionaries from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, also known by its Kurdish acronym, the PKK.

Initial reports from local news agencies alleged that Turkish troops entered Iraqi territory on Dec. 3, massing at the Nargizliya camp (also known as al-Shekhan camp), a militia base in Shekhan District. The Turkish military uses the location to train Sunni volunteer forces. The Nargizliya camp sits on the internal border between Dohuk and Nineveh provinces and has so far processed around 3,500 combatants that are now actively involved in operations against the Islamic State.

Media reports also suggested that an assault on Mosul was imminent. News agencies cited an anonymous peshmerga official as well as sources from a militia known as the National Crowd for Liberating Nineveh. The sources claimed that the three supposed Turkish regiments would help forces in the region assault and reclaim Mosul. Hours after the statement was released, however, several local leaders denied the report, including Nineveh Gov. Nawfal Humadi, Nineveh Operations Command chief Maj. Gen. Najim al-Jubouri and representatives of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

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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.

Stratfor

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?

Stratfor

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).

Stratfor

After Paris, France Contemplates a Reckoning

Stratfor, 14 November 2015

Summary

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.

Analysis

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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