Author Archive

For Want of Greater Security and International Power: Vote to Remain within the European Union

Within the dimensions of international power and security, there appears a clear narrative of European loss if Britain were to leave the EU. Indeed, a European context shows our armed forces to be strong, capable and well-equipped; our intelligence services are mature with deep global connections; our diplomatic service is ranked among the best in...
Islamism in Somalia: the Historical Context of Al-Shabaab

Islamism in Somalia: the Historical Context of Al-Shabaab

Abdirahman Ahmed, petrified, leapt for cover in his hotel as violence erupted in the adjacent street. ‘The blast was so huge and windows [were] broken everywhere… gunfire was outside.’ Having enjoyed a quiet afternoon at the Somali Youth League Hotel, Abdirahman, like so many Somalis before him, was plunged albeit briefly into the bloody epicentre...
The Battle for Afghanistan: a New Contender?

The Battle for Afghanistan: a New Contender?

Just as the term of US ambassador James Cunningham was coming to a close in Afghanistan, ISIS announced the start of theirs. In the summer of 2014, ISIS trumpeted their arrival by hanging 12 Taliban commanders in Nuristan Province. A 17-minute video soon after appeared online, confirming the validity of rumours. The film, produced by...
The Manama Dialogue 2015: Security in the Middle East

The Manama Dialogue 2015: Security in the Middle East

The capital of Bahrain hosted the International Institute of Strategic Studies’ (IISS) annual forum to discuss the most prominent security issues threatening the Middle Eastern region. Directed by former British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sir John Jenkins, the dialogue saw governmental delegations from over twenty countries come together to share thoughts and debate policy ideas...
Egypt’s Opposition-Free Democracy

Egypt’s Opposition-Free Democracy

“Celebrate the choice of representatives and make the right choice!” announced former army chief and now President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. “Plant with your votes the hope for a bright tomorrow for our new Egypt.” President Sisi was referring to the national elections for a new unicameral parliament, an ostensibly democratic move considering the...
Extremism in the UK: PREVENT or Promote?

Extremism in the UK: PREVENT or Promote?

On the 13th May, David Cameron pledged to up the fight against radicalisation in the UK. His proposed measures, which had been blocked by the Liberal Democrats in the previous coalition government, will introduce banning orders for those using extremist and hateful language in public spaces. Bans would correspond to Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs), with...
Survival of the Fortunate? The Enduring Arab Monarchies

Survival of the Fortunate? The Enduring Arab Monarchies

Not a single ruling monarchy fell during the 2011 Arab Awakening. Qatar and the UAE faced minimal opposition. Tensions in Oman and Saudi Arabia were remote. The Kings of Jordan and Morocco sat back to witness popular reform movements mobilise, only to then fade away. Only Kuwait and Bahrain experienced noteworthy violence. Yet, whilst Kuwait’s...
Hezbollah’s Media Machine

Hezbollah’s Media Machine

Originating from Musa Sadr’s Shi’a Amal Movement during the Lebanese Civil War, Hezbollah – ‘God’s Party’ literally; the ‘National Resistance’ in Lebanese colloquial – has arguably become the most substantial non-state force in the Middle East. Militarily successful, politically astute, and strategically flexible, the functional diversity of this Islamist movement is undoubtedly striking: operating four...
‘The Base with No Foundation’

‘The Base with No Foundation’

Fawaz Gerges, a prominent Middle Eastern scholar, notes that there exists a ‘terrorism narrative’ in the West. Amongst government officials and the wider public, the notion of imminent terrorist attack seems institutionalised, and many would point the finger at the mediatic al-Qaeda. There is however a disconnect between this narrative and reality. Indeed, since 9/11,...
A Borderline Question: ‘The End of Sykes-Picot?’

A Borderline Question: ‘The End of Sykes-Picot?’

In a widely shared video published by ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham [Greater Syria]), a Chilean Islamist militant declares – whilst walking across the “so-called border of Sykes-Picot” separating Iraq and Syria – that ISIS “does not recognise [the border], and will never recognise it… this is not the first border we...
Two Heads, Same Body?

Two Heads, Same Body?

To simply brand the fundamentalist Islamic militia dispersed across Afghanistan and Pakistan as ‘Taliban’ – meaning ‘students’ in Pashto – is both inadequate and misleading. Although this umbrella term seems to amalgamate Pakistan’s Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) with neighbouring Afghanistan’s Kandahari and Paktia Taliban, the movements in reality share little more than a name, religion, and a...
Space – the Final Frontier for International Relations

Space – the Final Frontier for International Relations

Outer space has long provided a playground for the imaginations of media whizzes. Gene Roddenberry’s creation, Star Trek, now designates a multi-billion dollar media franchise. Not only has Roddenberry’s Starship Enterprise sourced the name of NASA’s prototype space shuttle, his fantastically fictional paraphernalia seemingly inspired the design of the more palpable handheld mobile phone. However,...