Tagged: al-Qaida

Is Saudi Arabia the Middle East’s Next Failed State?

(Consortium News) — By Daniel Lazare

Reports are growing that Muhammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s hyperactive crown prince, is losing his grip. His economic reform program has stalled since his father, King Salman, nixed plans to privatize 5 percent of Saudi Aramco. The Saudi war in Yemen, which the prince launched in March 2015, is more of a quagmire than ever while the kingdom’s sword rattling with Iran is making the region increasingly jumpy.

Heavy gunfire in Riyadh last April sparked rumors that MBS, as he’s known, had been killed in a palace coup. In May, an exiled Saudi prince urged top members of the royal family to oust him and put an end to his “irrational, erratic, and stupid” rule. Recently, Bruce Riedel, an ex-CIA analyst who heads up the Brookings Institution’s Intelligence Project, reported that the prince is so afraid for his life that he’s taken to spending nights on his yacht in the Red Sea port of Jeddah.

What does it all mean? The person to ask is Ibn Khaldun, the famous Tunisian historian, geographer, and social theorist. You might have trouble getting him on the phone, though, since he died in 1406. But he’s still the single best guide to the deepening Saudi crisis.

If you do somehow channel him, the message might be grim. In a nutshell, it’s that if MBS goes, he’ll likely take the Al-Saud with him, and that the people waiting in the wings will not be the “moderates” beloved of Washington, but ISIS and al-Qaida. A modern state bristling with shopping malls, superhighways, and high-tech weaponry thus will succumb to a ragtag militia riding Toyota pickups and waving AK-47s.

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Isis trying to foment a wave of migration to Europe, says UN official

(THE GUARDIAN) — Islamic State commanders fleeing Syria are conspiring with extremist groups in Africa to foment and infiltrate a new migration wave destined for Europe, the head of the UN World Food Programme has said.

David Beasley, a former Republican governor of South Carolina, said Europe needed to wake up to the extremists’ strategy in the Sahel region.

Those forced out of Syria were uniting with local terrorist groups to use a lack of food as both a recruitment tool and a vehicle to push millions of Africans towards Europe, he said.

Speaking to the Guardian during a visit to Brussels for a two-day Syria summit, Beasley said: “You are going to face a similar pattern of what took place years ago, except you are going to have more Isis and extremist groups infiltrating migration.

“What we are picking up is that they are partnering with the extremist groups like Boko Haram and al-Qaida to divvy up territory and resources and to continue to infiltrate and destabilize in the hope of creating migration into Europe where they can infiltrate and cause chaos.

“My comment to the Europeans is that if you think you had a problem resulting from a nation of 20 million people like Syria because of destabilization and conflict resulting in migration, wait until the greater Sahel region of 500 million people is further destabilized. And this is where the European community and international community has got to wake up.”

A four-year campaign against Isis has destroyed much of the group’s so-called caliphate, confining it to a tract of land in the Euphrates valley near the border with Iraq and decimating the cities of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. But officials involved in the campaign say at least 2,200 fighters remain entrenched in the east of Syria.

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Munich Security Conference: How to stop a post-caliphate jihad?

(DEUTSCHE WELLE) — Munich Security Conference: How to stop a post-caliphate jihad?

Panelists at the Munich Security Conference about how to stop a post-caliphate jihad unanimously agreed that the terror group “Islamic State” remains a threat, even though it may have lost its “territory.”

It has been just 3 1/2 years since the self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the founding of the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) at the mosque of the freshly captured city of Mosul in Iraq.

Now, after a long and bloody military campaign, the group has been wholly driven out of the country. And in neighboring Syria, only isolated pockets of IS fighters remain in the former IS stronghold of Raqqa. At its zenith, some 40,000 people took up arms for IS. Now 3,000 of them are hiding in the desert – or are seeking new areas of operation.

Although the terror group has been thwarted in its efforts to create a sovereign state, it nevertheless lives on. It still has its propaganda division — albeit greatly weakened. It also lives on in the hearts of its blind adherents and as the dream of a Salafist “utopia” for which thousands were willing to die. More than 5,000 people traveled to the “caliphate” from Western Europe alone.

Above all, “jihad” as such lives on. And the demise of IS could encourage other terror groups such as al-Qaida to launch new attacks, as Dan Coats told participants at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. As the US director of national intelligence, Coats has a good overview of the threat posed by terrorism. The “Global Threat Assessment” that the US intelligence community released on Tuesday emphasized that the largest terror threats still emanate from “violent Sunni extremists,” above all from Islamic State and al-Qaida.

One thing participants at the Munich Security Conference unanimously agreed upon is that the fight against jihadism is far from over. Many spoke of the stamina that would still be required to achieve ultimate victory. The primary importance of exchanging information among intelligence services was also stressed.

Germany’s federal interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, emphasized the importance of international intelligence services’ cooperation in tracking down German jihadists who have fought for IS in Iraq and Syria: “Especially with America, but also with other agencies in the region that often give us tips. Those agencies are key to helping us protect German citizens,” he told DW.

Nevertheless, during the panel discussion on “Post-Caliphate Jihad,”he spoke of the many technical and legal hurdles impeding data exchange within the European Union itself. EU security commissioner Julian King assured the audience that the EU was dealing with such impediments effectively. He pointed out that the exchange of information among national anti-terror agencies had grown by 40 percent since 2015.

It was conspicuous that Thomas de Maiziere, much like Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen before him, spoke in support of the concept of “networked security” – albeit, without calling it by name. De Maiziere did not limit himself to addressing the importance of police and intelligence cooperation; he also spoke extensively about prevention and the necessity of denying terrorism any kind of platform.

This issue was also addressed in a separate panel discussion called “Making the Sahel Safe.” A number of African leaders, the president of the World Bank and the secretary-general of the UN Climate Secretariat spoke frankly about the connections between development, climate change and terrorism. Lack of opportunity, poor governance and a lack of education, they said, all provide fertile ground for terrorism.

Moussa Faki, the chairman of the African Union (AU), illustrated the threat posed by a lack of education with an anecdote about a woman living near Lake Chad. She decided to become a suicide bomber because she was told she would be able to choose her own husband when she got to paradise.

Tunisia’s foreign minister explained that many Tunisians join terror groups for financial reasons. A disproportionate number of Tunisians traveled to the caliphate because IS offered them good pay, he said.

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