How important is a name to a terrorist group’s identity? When the militant organization Nusra Front announced recently that it was calling itself something else, analysts had good reason to be skeptical about whether the new label really did signal a genuine break from its parent organization al Qaeda. In fact, it probably doesn’t matter. Even if symbolic, the mere rebranding of Nusra could be enough to prolong Syria’s civil war.
The worst-case scenario is that the group, now known as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS ), or Front for the Conquest of the Levant, could embed itself within the Syrian rebel opposition and emulate the staying power that Hezbollah has demonstrated in neighboring Lebanon.… Seguir leyendo »
Many experts are now speculating that Islamic State is experiencing its death knell. It is losing territory, its finances are being drained and the number of foreign fighters recruited has reportedly down to a trickle, dropped by as much as 90 percent from a high of 2,000 a month in the past year. Each week, the U.S.-led coalition’s campaign to eliminate high-value targets seems to be achieving more of its objectives. In addition, substantial numbers of its fighters are defecting, especially from Syria.
Yet the recent reversals might only force Islamic State to adapt its campaign of irregular warfare -- as other militant groups, including al Qaeda, have done.… Seguir leyendo »
The nearly five-year civil war in Syria has exposed some of the difficulties that military forces have conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance against terrorists and insurgents in crowded urban environments. These challenges, while not insurmountable, will continue to plague even the most advanced military forces, including the United States, as migration out of rural areas and into cities continues unabated.
For the foreseeable future, deterring and countering near-peer adversaries such as Russia and China will undoubtedly remain at the forefront of American grand strategy. But in addition to meeting the challenges associated with traditional and well-known state-based threats, the U.S. military will be expected to combat an array of violent non-state actors — a blanket term that includes well-established groups like Islamic State, al Qaeda and the transnational criminal gang MS-13 but also countless other and less well-known militias, insurgent groups and terrorist organizations.… Seguir leyendo »