Beyond the Wire - 18 JUL 17
July 18, 2017
Your daily briefing on the state of the world and the state of the art for all things Transnational Threats.
United States considers turning to private contractors in Afghanistan.
Aides to President Trump have met with the founders of Blackwater and DynCorp International who have proposed deploying a mercenary army led by an American viceroy that would report directly to the president in the spirit of Douglas MacArthur in Japan. (TNT Comment: The viceroy proposal rightly identifies how constant leadership turnover has led to strategic confusion at the cost of American blood and treasure, and raises important questions about the future of the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan. However, the viceroy idea lacks the economic mandate to rebuild Afghanistan that victory in World War II provided MacArthur. Prince also uses the postwar administration of a hierarchical society as a model to govern an ethnically diverse society in the middle of a war. If anything, Prince’s idea should spark further debate about the true role of the United States military. Read General Paula Thornhill’s RAND monograph for more.)
A new proxy war emerges in Syria.
Despite the Syrian government’s long-standing relationship with Hezbollah, reports indicate that pro-Russia factions within the Syrian government are advocating that the Assad regime sever ties with the group. The alleged strain between Syria and Hezbollah is the product of the Russian government’s desire to exert more control over pro-Assad forces, thereby limiting Iran’s ability to influence the battlefield using its proxies. (TNT Comment: With the significant amount of training, weapons, and combat experience gained by Hezbollah in Syria, it is unlikely that the weak Syrian government will be able to push Hezbollah out of the country as long as Iran continues to support it.)
Balancing political and religious authorities in combating extremism.
A new report released by the International Crisis group details the complexities faced by the Malian government in its attempts to prevent the growth of extremism without hindering religious freedom. The report, understanding that religion is a strong part of Malian culture, looks at how to use religion as a stabilizing force and prevent the onset of violence by various jihadist groups. (TNT Comment: The increasing violence in Mali, including the killing of eight Malian soldiers by Islamists last week, underscores the importance of finding a balance between government regulation and religious leaders to better combat extremism.)
Turkish court orders arrest of Amnesty International’s Turkey Director. Idil Eser was detained with nine other human rights workers, four of whom were released on bail but remain under investigation. (WaPo)
U.S. reliance on Kurds leaves them at a dead end in Syria. Sam Heller asserts that if the U.S. withdraws from Syria’s north, Turkey will most likely launch an offensive on the YPG which “would almost certainly give ISIS a chance to recover and reverse the U.S.-led coalition’s gains.” (Foreign Affairs)
Lister: “lasting victory against ISIS may still be a generation away.” Charles Lister asserts that the slowing Raqqa front, episodes of internal division within the SDF, and recently surfaced videos showing Iraqi Security Force brutality against prisoners threaten to slow the campaign against the Islamic State. (MEI)
Pro-regime forces seize new oil fields. The Syrian Arab Army, supported by Iranian-backed militias, seized the Daylaa oil field and Zamla gas field from the Islamic State in southwest Raqqa province. (Reuters)
SDF clashes with Turkish-backed opposition. The Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces killed roughly 12 Turkish-backed rebels in hit and run clashes near the village of Ain Daqna in Aleppo province. (Daily Star)
Kozak warns on U.S.-Russia cooperation. ISW’s Christopher Kozak asserts that Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime are not fit to seize and secure territory from Salafi-jihadi groups “given their severe manpower shortages and shortfalls in command-and-control.” (ISW)
Suicide bomber kills four in Rojava. The bomber detonated a VBIED at an Asayish Kurdish internal security force checkpoint in the village of Tel Tamr. (Reuters)
Palestinian driver rams into IDF soldiers. The driver was shot dead by members of the Israeli military at the entrance of Beit Einun village in the West Bank. (Reuters)
LAF set to carry out border operation. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad el Hariri announced that the Lebanese Armed Forces will carry out the operation in the militant-permeated area of Juroud Arsal. (Al Arabiya)
Australia creates “super ministry” to combat terrorism. The super ministry will be headed by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and combines domestic spy agencies with border and national police. (Al Arabiya)
The Islamic State threat to Southeast Asia. The Diplomat’s Bilveer Singh contends that Southeast Asia must prepare for the threat of returning Southeast Asian fighters, a post-Islamic State realignment with al Qaeda, and the potential that the Islamic State exports its model to SE Asia. (The Diplomat)
Trump eyes imposing aid restrictions on Pakistan. Analyst Michael Kugelman of the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars contends “if there is one US administration likely to take a hard line against Pakistan, it's the Trump administration.” (DW)
Russia-backed separatists announce “mini Russia.” The declaration of Malorossia in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region received swift condemnation by Kiev. (RFERL)
In the Weeds
More on Syria
More on Iraq
Iraq’s democracy shows resiliency (USA Today)
Mosul in ruins: 'I see only despair around us' (Al Jazeera)
More than just revenge: Why Isis fighters are being throw off buildings in Mosul. (Independent)