The author, FPRI’s Clint Watts, has been at the forefront in exposing Russian influence operations in social media — after spending a decade tracking jihadis online. He now sums up his work in this new book, Messing with the Enemy, while offering recommendations on how best to defeat our adversaries. His testimony on Capitol Hill in March 2017 electrified the country and overnight he became a regular commentator on MSNBC. He is a former FBI Special Agent who served on a Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Yesterday’s exchange of missile and air attacks between Iranian forces stationed in Syria and Israel was the most violent and overt exchange so far between them in their “secret war”. In this shadowy conflict, Tehran is making strenuous efforts to consolidate its military foothold in Syria, gained by being the military savior—along with Russia and with proxy Shiite militias—of the Assad regime, into a permanent presence. The Islamic Republic also hopes to improve its strategic capabilities there, especially surface-to-surface missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and air defense. Israel is determined to prevent such an eventuality: Since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, it has carried out, without taking credit until the last few weeks, over one hundred airstrikes against the Hezbollah and Iranian strategic capabilities in Syria.
Afghans celebrated the new access that Iran’s Chabahar port provides the country, but this victory may turn out to be a pyrrhic one. As recent as May 2016, India, Iran, and Afghanistan signed their first-ever trilateral partnership agreement allowing Indian goods to reach Afghanistan and Central Asia via Iran, while also inserting new geopolitically competing players into the region. Over one year later, in October 2017, the first shipment of Indian wheat arrived in Zaranj, Afghanistan, via Chabahar port.
Discussions concerning the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have lately shifted to when, rather than if, the group will ultimately be defeated. After being pushed out of longtime strongholds in places like Mosul and Raqqa, the group no longer appears to pose the kind of entrenched threat that prompted the intervention of global powers just a few short years ago. Surprisingly, the game of poker offers important lessons about the group’s changing strategy amid its current circumstances. One reason why poker is such a popular game is because it offers players with weak hands the opportunity to turn the tables on stronger opponents. While ISIS undoubtedly weakens with every passing day, the potential threat it poses remains at an all-time high. If the global community no longer takes this threat seriously, or shifts attention to other issues, ISIS could successfully reverse its fortunes.
Whether you get your news online, on the radio, on television, or in print, there is no way to escape the recent spate of revelations of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and sexual assault that have taken place in every industry and at every echelon. Powerful politician, billionaire media mogul, tenured professor, it makes no difference; the Harvey Weinstein scandal (rather than the countless sexual disgraces associated with our Commander-in-Chief) provided the watershed moment that now has our country engaged, at least for the time being, in this important, albeit uncomfortable, conversation.
I’m an Israeli, a Zionist and an orthodox Jew. I admit—I am conflicted about the Trump administration’s plan to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. And I shouldn’t be. There is no question that this is a long overdue step. But the timing, and the potential for harsh reactions which may harm U.S., and perhaps even Israeli, interests, while promoting those of our enemies, is problematical.
One of the clear analytical distinctions that could be made about the “Arab Spring” (2011-2014) was the marked stability of monarchial regimes—as opposed to “dynastic republics” (gumrukiyah) like Egypt, Syria, and Libya—in the Arab world. Eddies of the wave of rebellion that swept many of the Arab republics touched on Jordan and Morocco, but gained little traction (except in Bahrain, the newest Arab kingdom, whose challenges from its majority Shia population are different in kind).