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Inside The ISIS Machine Turning Children to ‘Monsters’

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D

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When a little boy who looked and sounded American appeared in propaganda video put out by the failing Islamic State this week, threatening “Trump: puppet of the Jews,” it caused a sensation as, of course, it was meant to do.

 “How can a group make a child into a monster?” we ask.  Yet the answer comes to us in the voices of numerous ISIS defectors and prisoners who tell us precisely how ISIS takes the blank-slate minds of children and fills them with poisonous ideologies alongside dreams of Paradise.

Children are powerful tools in the hands of groups like the so-called Islamic State, as we’ve learned after interviewing 63 ISIS returnees, defectors, and prisoners.

Trained at Cubs of the Caliphate camps in both Iraq and Syria, children are indoctrinated to hate—and to kill all others who do not adhere to ISIS’s strict, brutal and intolerant views of Islam. They are also taught to give their own lives in acts of “martyrdom.” “I saw them train young kids to blow things up. From my camp 15-year-and-younger kids went on bombing missions.  They tell us they are going to go to Paradise,” 15-year-old Syrian Ibn Omar told researchers for the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism.

Ibn Omar ran off to join ISIS at age 13 after having his head filled with dreams from the preachers who took over his mosque when ISIS overran his region. Impoverished and young enough to be drawn in, Ibn Omar was motivated by the income he could bring home to his unsuspecting parents, and the promises of cars and other material rewards. In the first days, the “brothers” also appeared to be “real Muslims,” preaching the “real Islam.” Little did he know. “I liked them [ISIS] a lot in the beginning, but later…They taught us about God, the Prophet and our religion. We spent just one month training at the camp. It was military training, not compassionate at all.” (The classic Muslim invocation is to Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful).

 “A lot of the training was with weapons,” said Omar. “​If you get distracted when you’re holding a real weapon they will put your finger in the barrel of the rifle and almost break it. Some of the kids were 13 to15. Some as young as six-years-old.”

Children drawn into the Cubs of the Caliphate camps serve many purposes for ISIS.  Some are trained as propagandists and used in face-to-face preaching in the region, as well as in videos sent out both to the West and to their own constituents. This was the newest ISIS video of ten-year-old Yusuf, the purported son of an American soldier now threatening the U.S. in ISIS’s latest release of a few days ago. Abu Firas, an Iraqi media emir imprisoned in Baghdad, as well as many defectors from Raqqa, told ICSVE about how ISIS films all its battles, makes video interviews with its subjects, and videos all their heinous terrorist acts to use later for recruitment and propaganda purposes.

Abu Firas, who was responsible for supplying the media arm of ISIS in the southern Baghdad region, told us ISIS sets up TV screens in its territories where children and adults can sit, theater style, to view the various feats of ISIS, including those where children behead ISIS prisoners or go to their deaths driving suicide vehicles into enemy lines.

Claims of ISIS spreading the glories of Islam, winning over so-called “infidels” and sacrificing their own lives to move immediately to Paradise are powerful recruiting tools for young minds still unable to understand completely concepts like death, the nuances of religious interpretations, and the afterlife. Part of the goal is to raise an army of children who are easily and cynically sacrificed.

Soldiers who from a jihadi faction that had been on the front lines against ISIS told us they were terrified of children carrying explosive-filled backpacks. They could never be sure, and rather than mistakenly shoot an innocent, these battle-hardened men fled their posts.

Similarly all of the former ISIS soldiers who spoke to us told us that ISIS has lines of warriors in battle, the first line always consisting of young people who either race into enemy lines driving bomb-rigged vehicles, or adult cadres, who wear suicide vests intending to explode themselves rather than surrender.  After all, the slogan of ISIS cadres, taken from the Chechen rebels who joined, is “Victory or Paradise!”  They believe they win either way, in life or in death. The dark side of the victory story is that these children can be as young as six and ISIS is more than willing to destroy their lives. According to ISIS cadres we interviewed, some are exploded remotely. Others are cynically instructed, “Push the button and you will immediately go to Paradise.”  Some are even offered sedatives to calm them in their missions. Speaking to Abu Islam, an ISIS emir in prison in Sulaymaniyah, we learned that ISIS doesn’t view young boys in the same manner as most cultures, defining a man as one who has entered puberty, whatever the age—which means a child as young as seven can be viewed as an adult man.

 “We don’t have any age limit,” Abu Islam told us. “Instead we believe that when a man’s semen develops, then he’s considered a grown-up man. We only take them when they get to that point. They were never children. They were men.” Yet when Abu Islam was shown Ibn Omar’s video clip he hung his head in shame and admitted the cherubic faces of children proudly carrying ISIS flags in the video were not men.  

“We were wrong,” he admitted as we discussed how ISIS manipulates children into becoming killers.

Manipulating sacred scriptures already revered, and well known, by believers is a powerful tactic that groups like al Qaeda and ISIS have learned to rely on in their recruitment of naïve and earnest believers.

Everyone we spoke to from ISIS returnees and cadres in Europe, the Balkans, and Central Asia had joined ISIS and its affiliates because they had come to believe in the ISIS dream of creating a new world governance with justice, dignity, security, and inclusion for Muslims, and Sunni Muslims in particular, in Iraq and Syria and beyond.

This is the dream that ISIS peddles over the Internet and through its face-to-face recruitment.  

Indeed, although most of the defectors and prisoners had become disillusioned with the corruption, brutality, and un-Islamic character they experienced inside ISIS, they often held fast to this dream.   ISIS knows the media amplifying power of videos of children, and the newly released video of 10-year-old Yusuf, who purportedly traveled with his mother to join ISIS two years ago and who claims he is the son of an American soldier who fought in Iraq, hits all the media sweet spots.

An ISIS child threatening Donald Trump and repeating the oft-claimed ISIS mantra—that the battle will move to the West—garners widespread attention because it’s an innocent involved in brutality, the son of an American denouncing our own country. When this same child describes the constant airstrikes against ISIS he also hits a sympathetic note—we all know that children unfortunately become both the pawns of terrorists and the victims in our battles against them. Whether we look at the body of three-year-old Alan Kurdi on the shores of the Mediterranean, 7-year-old Julian Cadman who died on Las Ramblas in Barcelona, or the children unwittingly killed in aerial attacks against ISIS, our hearts are conflicted. All these children are the victims of violence. Videos of ISIS indoctrinated children both horrify and tug at our heartstrings. Ibn Omar was next in line for a suicide attack and only stopped by his parents when he took a home leave and shared his “glorious task” with them. They immediately forced him to flee ISIS and enter Turkey. Ibn Omar was so convinced by the ISIS claims that he told us that it took over a year away from the group before he felt the brainwashing of ISIS ideologies left him completely. Abu Islam, Iraqi ISIS emir, also tells us how successful they were in indoctrinating children into the “martyrdom” ideology teaching them that giving up their own lives to kill others would gain them a place in Paradise.  “There is an office. If anyone volunteers… ‘I want to my give my bayat [pledge],’ then he signs up for a martyrdom mission at the same time. It’s like a regular recruiting process.”

In regard to the ISIS training camps with a steady stream of explosive-rigged cars being made to put the children into, to send them to their deaths at checkpoints and the frontlines, he says: “They instruct them. They know what will happen. They’re happy. It’s like a kid at Christmas. You know how happy they are? Calmly happy, knowing something good is going to happen.”

Referring to the joyful expectations of children and young people anticipating their final journey to Paradise, Abu Islam says, “They have a list of serial numbers and names. If I’m set to go next, then I’m next. If something changes the order and they aren’t sent, they start crying. If they are the next one, they actually cry and get angry, and even complain, ‘My name is set to go!’ I’ve seen this with my own eyes.” Abu Islam’s own eyes were shining in admiration for the zeal of these youth that he helped to indoctrinate. When it comes to killing we also need to understand that ISIS is a command and control organization. Not all young people, or even adults, who go to “martyr” themselves wish to do so.  Inside ISIS, orders are from the top and are not to be defied.  Once in, there are no more choices to be made. Attempting to escape ends in beheading for males, being sent back to Raqqa for females.  “We were supposed to just obey,” Syrian ISIS defector Abu Abdullah explains. “If they tell you to slay others, you have to do it. Even if they tell you to behead your own father you have to do it. Whatever the sheik tells you to do, you have to do it. When we hear the order, we have to execute it.” According to defectors, children who were ordered to kill were often horrified, but knew that they had no choice. Follow orders and kill, or be killed. As Ibn Omar described one of his friends who was summoned, like many youths are, to carry out a beheading, “They picked him up in a truck and told him he was going to execute an infidel. He took the Zarqawiya [knife] with him and they led him to the prisoner. The person’s hands are tied, so he pulled his hair back, and sawed across his neck until he was beheaded.”  

The groupthink of ISIS and their social coercion, backed up by brutal punishments, silenced any dissenters. “Some people felt upset deep down, but they wouldn’t say anything, Ibn Omar explains. If someone was executed, everyone would act happy and shout ‘Allahu-Akbar!’ They couldn’t say they were upset, or that it wasn’t right.” “I was upset,” Ibn Omar admits.

For defectors like Ibn Omar, witnessing violence and injustices began to undermine sharia training from teachers who manipulated Islam to justify the brutality of the group.

In Iraq the government estimates that half a million young people lived under or served ISIS. It may be even more in Syria. Now these children are returning to schools that were decimated by ISIS.  Some spent two or more years in ISIS schools where learning to kill and behead and taking on the ISIS ideology was central to their curriculum. It’s a huge job to reintegrate these children back into society.

At ICSVE we hope that raising the voices of ISIS insiders may be one way of smashing the ISIS illusion. Justice, dignity, security and inclusion in society are the tasks of good governance and are needed to put an end to ISIS terrorism, but as the struggle to achieve these larger goals continues at a slower pace than most would like, we work at breaking the ISIS brand—using insiders to tell the truth about ISIS. “I lost my country…Everything,” Ibn Omar says while wiping away tears. “I would tell all the children of the world—I would tell them not to join this organization. This organization is not Muslim, they’re the infidels. They slaughter innocent people. And that they are not here for real jihad. They are just here for the money. And whoever joins them cannot leave. They pretend to be Muslim but they just teach people to blow themselves up and tell you that you’re going to Paradise—but none of it is true. I would tell them not to join this organization.”

Reference for this article: Speckhard, Anne (August 25, 2017) Inside The ISIS Machine Turning Children to ‘Monsters’ The Daily Beast http://www.thedailybeast.com/inside-the-isis-machine-turning-children-to-monsters

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D., is an adjunct associate professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine and Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE). She has interviewed over 500 terrorists, their family members and supporters in various parts of the world including Gaza, the West Bank, Chechnya, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, the Balkans, the former Soviet Union and many countries in Europe. She is the author of several books, including Talking to Terrorists and ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate. Follow @AnneSpeckhard

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What Role Should Criminology Play in Government Policymaking?

Alina Toporas

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At this very moment in time, there is not much agreement over what the role of criminology should be in society. Therefore, in this academic article, an attempt will be made at portraying what the author considers to be a more appropriate picture of the role of criminological research in government policymaking based on multi-disciplinarity, multi-professionality and multi-institutionality.

For the purpose of this analysis, I will employ the notion of public criminology as the type of criminology which ‘takes as part of its defining mission a more vigorous, systematic and effective intervention in the world of social policy and social action’. The reason why public criminology seems to be the perfect fit for the conduction of a proper discussion on the relationship between criminological theory and government policy is that it attempts to give meaning and context to social facts, moving beyond ‘administrative criminology’ or ‘policy criminology’ which is considered to be practiced in an optimal fashion when it uses experimental evidence that leads to easily proven benefits.

The Influential Role of Theory in Politics

With the advent of all the changes occurring in the 21st century, there is a need for a stronger bond between criminological research and government policymaking. There have been scholars advocating for an insulation of crime and punishment institutions from the political arena, together with other leading criminologists which have concluded about the criminological industry that it is politically and socially irrelevant and does not have much to add to the big debates on crime and justice   However, most criminologists recognize the benefits of getting involved one way or another in the process of governmental policymaking. As a case in point, Kitcher (2001) tried to answer the question of what collective good is criminology enquiry aiming to promote and came up with a long and, perhaps, inexhaustive list of added benefits, namely reduction in crime, improved efficacy of criminal justice institutions, heightened public security, the protection of the rule of law, individual liberty and human rights and responding to crime in a reasoned manner while dispelling myths.

Multi-disciplinary Criminological Research

Treatments of multi-disciplinarity in the development of criminology throughout history do not exist in the academia. Nor has any other branch of knowledge (i.e. psychiatry, psychology, law, sociology, forensics, medicine, anthropology) been able to claim criminology as its own. For this reason, it is important to bring to the forefront the problematiques of multi-disciplinarity regarding the production of criminological research and of multi-professionality concerning the government policymaking.

At one side of the spectrum, criminology has accustomed itself so far to operating in arenas, which have already been inhabited by other disciplines, while being delineated as constantly ‘raiding’ these disciplines. Nonetheless, not possessing enough ‘autonomy’ and being more outward looking has been looked at as a strength. Thus, it can be argued that it is crucial for the strength in relevance of criminological research in governmental policy for it to be multi-disciplinary, as opposed to morphing into a single discipline. In the unfortunate event of the latter, criminology would risk an increase in insularity from key debates in the political science and on the political scene. Since many scholars agree with the fact that criminology does not engage in the distribution of a shared conceptual language or a basic theoretical tradition, methodological and theoretical pluralism are not only preferred, but should be endorsed and promoted by criminologists in the governmental policy sphere. This can be achieved through the engagement of economists, sociologists, developmental psychologists and operations researchers, among others, in the creation of professional criminological knowledge.

Multi-professional Government Policymaking

On the one hand, the side of policymaking and the “circumstances of politics” are exceedingly relevant and need to display certain ‘multi-professional’ traits in order for criminological research to be easily put into practice. The issue of who is on the receiving end of all of this criminological research has been initially brought up together with Harold Laswell’s concept of the ‘science of democracy’ in which he draws attention to the necessity of establishing specific audiences for criminological research .Hoppe (2005) attempts to answer this dilemma by framing ‘the policy analyst’s operational task as focusing the attention of all those involved in policymaking so as to bring about their maximum rationality’ . In the category of ‘all those involved’, we should be able to include politicians, police, penal professionals, international political agencies, private security companies, pressure groups, non-governmental organisations, social research companies, consultancy firms, media organisations and the public opinion (i.e. crime victims) which should all both sponsors and recipients of criminological research. Therefore, academics should not be so hung up on engaging externally solely for the purpose of informing public policy, considering the possibilities offered by commissioned research from the part of NGOs and businesses or the prospects brought about by consultancy work. As a whole, these newly-forged networks should provide a great source of multi-professional engagement in the production, mediation and usage of criminological research. In terms of production and usage of criminological research, it might prove valuable to keep in mind that government policymaking should encompass a wide operation of ‘practical rationality’ in which all concerned voices are able to come to ‘reasonable decisions’ Moreover, their participation in the formulation of the criminological policy discourse could provide ‘reality checks’ which help prevent scholarly insulation found in other social sciences apart from criminology.

Since democracy is at the heart of governmental policymaking in the 21st century, the ‘professional’ knowledge needs to be supplemented by knowledge from a broad spectrum of sources such as science, the media, party preferences and opinion polls in order for a proportionate and representative policy response to be formulated. In this sense, one can argue that governmental policymaking is not as much of a science, as it is a craft, not as much of an ‘art of the optimum’ as it is an ‘art of the possible’. As discussed above, it is impossible to escape politics if criminologists want to be included in the crime policy discussion since ‘the only legitimate way for anybody’s views about principle or policy to be put into practice is through the dirty and messy business of politics’.

Multi-institutional Collective Decision-Making

This is best represented by Loader and Sparks’ concept of the ‘democratic under-labourer’. This idea contains an ‘institutional-critical dimension’ responsible for facilitating the interaction process between criminology, criminal justice institutions, the government, the media and the civil society organisations. This comes in the shape of an effort to try and ‘explain how criminological claims are likely to fare when translated into ‘communication formats’ of other social organisations and thereby shed light on the obstacles that stand in the way of a more informed politics of crime’

When translating criminological research into policy, decisions should be taken collectively, bearing in mind the prevalence of ‘self-interest, ignorance or prejudice’ of different stakeholders in the policymaking arena which might impede the process of reaching an agreement between policymaking parties. Conversely, these various know-hows different policymakers bring to the table also imply different lenses around crime controversies which, as opposed to gridlock, could set forth alternative manners of ‘thinking and responding to crime’. Using Wegner’s concept of ‘boundary’ as both the border between two ‘communities of practice’ and a way to ‘develop ways of maintaining connections with the rest of the world’ and applying this concept in relation to criminology as put into use by Jones (2012), specific practical ways of forming interlinks between disciplines, professions and institutions surface. Jones (2012) proposes that some of these could encompass ‘industry work placements, academic exchange, visiting scholar programmes[…]conferences, workshops, work programmes, seminar series, secondments, or consultancy work’ . Taking it a step further, he goes on to suggest that even social activities, communal newsletters, email distribution lists or office and site visits could potentially aid in the process of connecting various practices. Furthermore, by exploiting the notion of ‘boundary work’ as employed by Henry and Mackenzie (2011), it becomes clear how boundaries between criminologists and non-criminologists lead to a ‘failure of academics to make research comprehensible to external audiences’

One of the best mechanisms employed for the inclusion of more stakeholders in the translation of criminological knowledge into policymaking is interactive governance. This method helps facilitate ‘relational interaction’   between state and non-state contributors to the dissemination of criminological work through, for instance, ‘reflexive monitoring and dynamic social learning’ since in the dynamic age of globalisation people tend to trust in the ‘reflexive monitoring of action’ to guide us. The benefits of connecting with particular governmental, academic, civil society groups, and even corporate actors, can aid in the creation of alternative justice policy proposals (i.e. remaking of criminal justice institutions).To go a step even further, the creation of a ‘market in crime control’ populated with ‘consultants’ and ‘entrepreneurs’ selling their expertise to criminal justice and law enforcement agencies is something to strive for and not fear because of potential loss of academic integrity  . While these proposals might not be implemented in the next couple of years, they will certainly create more space for an active presence of criminologists in contemporary controversies.Nevertheless, collective decision making should be exercised with caution considering the dangerous prospect of deadlock due to potential ‘burdens of judgement’ such as troubles deciding upon what can be deemed as relevant evidence or competing values of policymakers as a result of various life experiences

All things considered, criminology can truly play an influential role in informing public policy as long as it learns how to engage with other disciplines. However, nothing will bring great results if the government policymaking machine does not do its part in inviting multiple professions to the decision table. These two actors (i.e. criminology and government) should learn how to work in a multi-institutional fashion commissioning a variety of stakeholders for the policy consultation process. Bearing in mind the “catastrophic trajectory of contemporary policies”, this short essay served as a platform to envisage a multi-disciplinary criminology, a multi-professional government policymaking and a multi-institutional engagement in order to successfully respond to the trials of living in the era of globalisation. Thus, the main inference that we draw from this paper is that the relationship between criminological research and government policy should, in its turn, occupy a multi-disciplinary arena. It should fearlessly and unapologetically acknowledge that it contains a ‘subject matter but no unique methodological commitment or paradigmatic theoretical framework, fact which can only move the debate forward in order to design the ideal type of criminological engagement with government policymaking.

This short paper was written on the back of an extensive academic bibliography. For a full list of references, please contact the author on Twitter or Linkedin.

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Iranian Intelligence response to the new security challenges in the West of Asia

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During the years after the Islamic Revolution of Iran, national security considerations have undergone various changes. Changes have been conducted in the light of the pursuit and continuation of some of the great features of the Islamic Republic’s holy system. The country’s security considerations are divided into three axis-driven discourse-driven, center-driven and growth-driven divisions. In each discourse, four basic variables, namely, “national security goals and principles”, “national power”, “national security threats and vulnerabilities”, and finally “national security policies” have been considered. Islamic loyalty, how it originated and speed its growth was so sudden and shocking that most analysts and observers were shocked. How self-immolation by a simple street vendor in Tunisia has led to the emergence and growth of democratic democracies in the Middle East and the fall of the dominoes of North African countries, and how none of the world’s leading analysts and future scholars failed to make the slightest speculation about its emergence needs a debate Another is to review the methods of analysis and approach to dealing with political phenomena. On the other hand, the emergence of radical Islamist groups emerged in the wake of the lockup and stalemate of the liberationist movement in Syria, and the rapid growth of a group such as ISIL, which, until two years ago, was one of the names of extremists al-Qaeda, The whole area of ​​the game changed completely from western Iraq and eastern Syria, turning it from a guerrilla group to overnight. Of course there is no doubt that this cannot happen without the coordination of security systems in the countries of the region and the world.

Thus, the challenges of the region changed from one to two years from soft to hard. In analyzing the causes of emergence, leading challenges and, consequently, determining the orientation of defense strategies, two basic approaches can be considered. In the first approach, the weight of analysis is given on the scene of global power, and the regional forces are the majority of the vertebrae playing on the enemy’s ground. Questions like this:

  1. Are these superpowers of the world seeking to change the fabric of political powers in the Middle East?
  2. Does the Trump government follow what its Republican self-government governments, father and wife Bush wanted to do?
  3. Are the Arab Gulf states, in the form of traditional and closed spaces, cannot be a good alliance for the West bloc and its head in the United States?

All of them will have a fairly positive answer. If we look at the cases with this hypothesis, conspiracy theory, color and smell become more pronounced, and its predecessor comes back decades ago, and it can even be traced back to World War I. Returns The emergence of Islamic extremist groups, the September 9th, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the Iran-Iraq War, the Arab-Israeli wars, and even the rise of Israel, are all examples that can be analyzed in the context of conspiracy theory and can explain the Middle East’s current situation. Be In this approach, the tip of the Iranian intelligence movement will go to the world powers more than their puppets in the region.

However, without intending to abandon this approach, one can look at another window, and at least since 2000, on the other, as well as the fact that Western countries, and at their head, the United States more than the beginning and the end These currents have a role to play, in their benefit, in the framework of their own interests, have become stronger. If we deal with this approach, we can take responsibility for part of the political game in the region and see the impact on the political trends and trends in the region. Accordingly, our defensive strategy will also be regional. Based on the approach that the question in the above lines once again reminds us, why our tentacles have been so weak in getting weak signals? If we even admit that these probabilities have been investigated in the think tanks, then there should not have been any signs of public diplomacy.

Indeed, the rapid growth of a group of insurgents who does not consider itself to be bound by any international law, and which has been taking part in large parts of eastern Iraq and western Syria, over a period of several months, the total size of which is in the country’s size and size Britain, cannot be justified in the form of spontaneous and radical group movements. Accordingly, if we accept that countries in the region, such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are somehow drawn from the curvature of the transfer of power, financial support and military equipment, should I accept that their policies as influential powers in the region Maintaining stability and balance of power has changed? Is Saudi seeking gendarme in the Gulf region? Is Turkey looking to revive the Ottoman Empire in the region? Does the Qatari government seek huge financial resources to become an influential pole in the region? Does this mean that the discourse of the twentieth century, in which Israel was the most pivotal enemy, has been altered, and the reorganization and redefinition of the regional map of the region with the triangle of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have been on the agenda of these countries? Where is the position of Iran? What role is Iran to play? Should security policy focus on preserving domestic security, or the importance of regional unilateral security shrinking into Iran? If the maintenance of impartiality is not fulfilled, how much should participation in the process affect the events, in what way, should our strategy be set up?

The point here is that if ISIL, which is free from any kind of adherence to any international treaty and treaty, is the executive arm of this policy of emerging powers in the region, and then the situation will be a little more complicated and complicated. ISIS has, as it has shown, exerted its greatest energy in its area of ​​influence and influence, in other words, ISIS’s policies are largely outspoken and the least attention has been paid to the satisfaction and welfare of the citizens of their occupied territories, which could be potential for Iran is very dangerous. Because of it provides not only the incentive for this group to violate the borders of Iran, but also the possibility of its actualization at all.

As evidence suggests, ISIS is not committed to any international treaties and norms in the war, and basically believes its war with the Western domination system in the world. So, given the attractiveness of this group among Muslims in different levels of power in Central Asia, and in particular Pakistan, and even Syria, the ISIS’s scenario of unusual and massacre weapons, such as nuclear, chemical and microbial weapons, is unlikely to happen. That realization can completely change the playing field.

Whether ISIS met with its supporters and sponsors can also be decisive in determining Iran’s security strategy. Is this alliance between these countries and ISIS a temporary and short-term solution or a long-term strategy? In the first assumption, with the provision of relative stability in the territory of this group, the challenges and conflicts will flood the Arabian countries of the Persian Gulf in the south and Turkey in the north. In the latter case, ISIS will play the role of a puppet or a puppet element of Iran’s regional rivals who can challenge the western borders of Iran by provoking religious motives.

What is important that the possibility of occurred these challenges is all, simultaneously and in the near future. And this also greatly adds to the complexity of the issue. On this basis, it is well worth the point that Iran’s security strategy is very smart, flexible and operational. In addition, Iran’s national security considerations have been subject to various developments, which can be summarized as follows from the transformation of the “extravagance to the introspection” from the “ideological approach and pure devotion to more realism”, from the “Ummah-axis to Iran-centered” From “simplicity to complexity”, and from the “Threat to Threat – Opportunity in the International System”. In these developments, we are paying more attention to the need for a balance between the implications and limitations of national security considerations.

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World Enters Critical Period of Intensified Risks in 2018

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The prospect of strong economic growth in 2018 presents leaders with a golden opportunity to address signs of severe weakness in many of the complex systems that underpin our world, such as societies, economies, international relations and the environment. That is the message of The Global Risks Report 2018, published by the World Economic Forum today.

The report – which every January shares the perspectives of global experts and decision-makers on the most significant risks that face the world – cautions that we are struggling to keep up with the accelerating pace of change. It highlights numerous areas where we are pushing systems to the brink, from extinction-level rates of biodiversity loss to mounting concerns about the possibility of new wars.

Our annual Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS) suggests that experts are preparing for another year of heightened risk. When we asked nearly 1,000 respondents for their views about the trajectory of risks in 2018, 59% of their answers pointed to an intensification of risks, compared with 7% pointing to declining risks.

A deteriorating geopolitical landscape is partly to blame for the pessimistic outlook in 2018, with 93% of respondents saying they expect political or economic confrontations between major powers to worsen and nearly 80% expecting an increase in risks associated with war involving major powers.

However, as in 2017, the environment was by far the greatest concern raised by experts. Among the 30 global risks the experts were asked to prioritize in terms of likelihood and impact, all five environmental risks – extreme weather; biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse; major natural disasters; man-made environmental disasters; and failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation – were ranked highly on both dimensions. Extreme weather events were seen as the single most prominent risk.

“A widening economic recovery presents us with an opportunity that we cannot afford to squander, to tackle the fractures that we have allowed to weaken the world’s institutions, societies and environment. We must take seriously the risk of a global systems breakdown. Together we have the resources and the new scientific and technological knowledge to prevent this. Above all, the challenge is to find the will and momentum to work together for a shared future,” said Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum.

According to the GRPS, cyber threats are growing in prominence, with large-scale cyberattacks now ranked third in terms of likelihood, while rising cyber-dependency is ranked as the second most significant driver shaping the global risks landscape over the next 10 years.

John Drzik, President of Global Risk and Digital, Marsh said: “Geopolitical friction is contributing to a surge in the scale and sophistication of cyberattacks. At the same time cyber exposure is growing as firms are becoming more dependent on technology. While cyber risk management is improving, business and government need to invest far more in resilience efforts if we are to prevent the same bulging ‘protection’ gap between economic and insured losses that we see for natural catastrophes.”

Economic risks, on the other hand, feature less prominently this year, leading some experts to worry that the improvement in global GDP growth rates may lead to complacency about persistent structural risks in the global economic and financial systems. Even so, inequality is ranked third among the underlying risk drivers, and the most frequently cited interconnection of risks is that between adverse consequences of technological advances and high structural unemployment or under-employment.

“Future Shocks”

The growing complexity and interconnectedness of our global systems can lead to feedback loops, threshold effects and cascading disruptions. Sudden and dramatic breakdowns – future shocks – become more likely. In this year’s Global Risks Report we present 10 short “what-if” scenarios, not as predictions but as food for thought to encourage world leaders to assess the potential future shocks that might rapidly and radically disrupt their worlds:

  • Grim reaping: Simultaneous breadbasket failures threaten sufficiency of global food supply
  • A tangled web: Artificial intelligence “weeds” proliferate, choking performance of the internet
  • The death of trade: Trade wars cascade and multilateral institutions are too weak to respond
  • Democracy buckles: New waves of populism threaten social order in one or more mature democracies
  • Precision extinction: AI-piloted drone ships take illegal fishing to new – and even more unsustainable – levels
  • Into the abyss: Another financial crisis overwhelms policy responses and triggers period of chaos
  • Inequality ingested: Bioengineering and cognition-enhancing drugs entrench gulf between haves and have-nots
  • War without rules: State-on-state conflict escalates unpredictably in the absence of agreed cyberwarfare rules
  • Identity geopolitics: Amid geopolitical flux, national identity becomes a growing source of tension around contested borders
  • Walled off: Cyberattacks, protectionism and regulatory divergence leads to balkanization of the internet

Alison Martin, Group Chief Risk Officer, Zurich Insurance Group commented: “Extreme weather events were ranked again as a top global risk by likelihood and impact. Environmental risks, together with a growing vulnerability to other risks, are now seriously threatening the foundation of most of our commons. Unfortunately we currently observe a “too-little-too-late” response by governments and organisations to key trends such as climate change. It’s not yet too late to shape a more resilient tomorrow, but we need to act with a stronger sense of urgency in order to avoid potential system collapse.”

The Global Risks Report 2018 has been developed with the invaluable support throughout the past year of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Advisory Board. It also benefits from ongoing collaboration with its Strategic Partners Marsh & McLennan Companies and Zurich Insurance Group and its academic advisers at the Oxford Martin School (University of Oxford), the National University of Singapore and the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center (University of Pennsylvania).

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