Legacy Articles On Iran

2024-04-15 Spotlight on Vatanpour, Iran’s “Most Active” Airbase (Michael Rubin)
2024-04-15 Iran Hints It Will Supply Air Defense Weaponry to Palestinians (Michael Rubin)
2024-04-15 Iran Rationalizes Russia’s Pro-Arab Position on Disputed Islands (Michael Rubin)

2024-03-01 Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Seeks Dominant Role in Maritime Development (Michael Rubin)
2024-03-01 Iran’s Supreme Leader Announces Maritime Development Strategy (Michael Rubin)
2024-03-01 Iran Seeks To Assert Global Leadership in Determining International Cyber Policy (Michael Rubin)
2024-03-01 Belarus and Iran Form Alliance Against the West (Paris Gordon)

2024-01-03 Iran Announces Integration Of Artificial Intelligence Into Drone Fleet (Michael Rubin)
2024-01-03 Iran Equips Drones With Heat-Seeking Missiles (Michael Rubin)
2024-01-03 Iran Demands Disarmament Of Kurdish Dissidents In Iraq (Michael Rubin)

2023-11-08 Iran Promoting Medical Tourism To Generate Hard Currency (Michael Rubin)
2023-11-08 Iran’s Supreme Leader Accuses West of Ukraine War Conspiracy (Michael Rubin)

2023-10-03 Iran Claims Development of Cruise Missiles Guided by Artificial Intelligence (Michael Rubin)
2023-10-03 Requirements for Desirable Iranian Oil Ministry Jobs Revealed (Michael Rubin)
2023-10-03 Iran’s Supreme Leader Warns of Declining Fervor of New Generation (Michael Rubin)

2023-08-25 Iran Claims New Flight Simulator Will Enhance National Power (Michael Rubin)
2023-08-25 Iran’s Simorgh Transport Plane Makes Maiden Flight (Michael Rubin)
2023-08-25 Iran Indicates Plans To Commercialize Nuclear Technology, Sell Heavy Water (Michael Rubin)
2023-08-25 Iran’s Persistent and Growing Influence in Latin America (Ryan Berg)

2023-06-01 Iran Unveils New Thermobaric Warhead (Michael Rubin)
2023-06-01 Iran Opens New Helicopter, Drone Base in Southeastern Provincial Capital (Michael Rubin)
2023-06-01 Iran Ready To Help Syria Rebuild Its Defense Infrastructure (Michael Rubin)

2023-05-01 Iran Installs New Precision Missiles on Army Helicopters (Michael Rubin)
2023-05-01 Iran Seeks To Reestablish Embassy and Consulate in Saudi Arabia Before Hajj (Michael Rubin)
2023-05-01 Iran Considers Rapprochement With Pakistan (Michael Rubin)

2023-04-01 Iran Unveils Updated Yasin Training Jet With Possible Close Combat Applications (Michael Rubin)
2023-04-01 Iran’s Increased Defense Budget Leading to More Arms Exports (Michael Rubin)
2023-04-01 Iran Capitalizing on Post-Earthquake Conditions To Deepen Influence in Syria (Lucas Winter)

2023-03-01 Iran Praises Revolutionary Guards’ Proxy Afghan Brigade (Michael Rubin)
2023-03-01 Iran Profiles the Female Police Seeking To Quell the Women’s Protests (Michael Rubin)

2023-02-01 Iran Moves Sea-Borne Drone Fleet Closer to Reality (Michael Rubin)
2023-02-01 Iranian General Reiterates Goal To Expel United States From Region (Michael Rubin)
2023-02-01 Iran Fires Indigenous Torpedoes From Submarines for First Time (Michael Rubin)

2023-01-01 Iran Asks Tajikistan Not To Use Iranian Drones in Dispute With Kyrgyzstan (Michael Rubin)
2023-01-01 Iran Claim of Hypersonic Missile Capability Probably Exaggerated (Michael Rubin)

2022-11-01 Iran Vaunts Persian Language as Marker of National Identity Despite Country’s Ethnic Diversity (Michael Rubin)
2022-11-01 Iran’s Proposal To Build Railroads and Housing in Syria Could Enrich IRGC (Michael Rubin)
2022-11-01 Iran Lauds Air Defense, Claims Sepehr Radar Will Soon Be Operational (Michael Rubin)

2022-10-01 Iran Wants Sukhoi-35 Fighters From Russia (Michael Rubin)
2022-10-01 Iran Intercepts Crystal Meth Shipment From Afghanistan (Michael Rubin)

2022-09-01 Iran Reportedly Using New Carrier, Submarines To Expand Reach of Drones (Michael Rubin)
2022-09-01 Iran Unveils Stealth Speedboats (Michael Rubin)
2022-09-01 Iran’s Flawed Statistics and Growing Drug Addiction (Michael Rubin)

2022-08-01 Iranian F-14 Crash Highlights Iran’s Need for New Fighter Contract (Michael Rubin)
2022-08-01 Iranian Trade With China Is Up, but So Is Political Risk (Michael Rubin)
2022-08-01 Iran’s Revolutionary Guards To Expand Drug Treatment Center (Michael Rubin)
2022-08-01 Iran Believes Turkey’s Rapprochement With Israel and Saudi Arabia Is a Threat (Ihsan Gunduz)

2022-07-01 Iran Unveils New Drone-Fired Cruise Missile (Michael Rubin)
2022-07-01 Iran Opens New Drone Plant in Tajikistan (Michael Rubin)
2022-07-01 Iran Warns UAE Against Allowing Israel in the Persian Gulf (Michael Rubin)

2022-06-01 Khamenei Speaks on Necessity of Palestinian “Resistance” (Michael Rubin)
2022-06-01 Iran Initiates and Defends New Bread Subsidies Amid Deteriorating Economy (Michael Rubin)
2022-06-01 Iran Seeks To Counter Misinformation Circulating on Social Media (Michael Rubin)

2022-05-01 Iran Digs into Central Syria, Filling Vacuum Left by Russia (Lucas Winter)
2022-05-01 Iran Tries To Justify Abstention in UN Vote Condemning Russian Invasion of Ukraine (Michael Rubin)
2022-05-01 Iranian Navy Joins Indian Naval Exercises (Michael Rubin)
2022-05-01 Iran’s New Damavand Destroyer Set To Join Navy (Michael Rubin)

2022-04-01 Iran: Emphasizing Religiosity in Regular Army Promotions (Michael Rubin)
2022-04-01 Iran Uses Online War Games To Teach Younger Generation of Officers (Michael Rubin)
2022-04-01 Iran’s Supreme Leader Condemns Alleged Corruption of the West (Michael Rubin)
2022-04-01 Iran Repositions Its Proxies in Syria as Russia Turns Focus to Ukraine (Lucas Winter)

2022-03-01 Iranian Authorities Arrest Alleged Deputy Leader of Royalist Terrorist Group (Michael Rubin)
2022-03-01 Iran’s Prosecution of Arab Separatist Highlights Supposed Saudi Ties (Michael Rubin)
2022-03-01 Russia and China To Help Iran Build New Airports (Michael Rubin)

2022-02-01 Iran and Syria Discuss Transportation Cooperation (Michael Rubin)
2022-02-01 Iran’s Purported Counter-Hijacking Record (Michael Rubin)
2022-02-01 Iran Busts Weapons and Ammunition Smuggling Ring (Michael Rubin)

2022-01-01 Iran-Pakistan Bolstering Naval Cooperation (Michael Rubin)
2022-01-01 Iran Agrees To Gas Swap with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan (Michael Rubin)
2022-01-01 Iran and Syria Seek To Jumpstart Economic Ties (Michael Rubin)

2021-04-01 IRAN Unveils New Baman Radar System (Michael Rubin)
2020-10-01 Iran Stockpiling Supplies through Chahbahar (Michael Rubin)

2020-09-01 More Iran in Venezuela (Geoff Demarest)
2020-09-01 Iran Increases Range of Smart Bombs (Michael Rubin)
2020-09-01 Iran: Passive Defense Organization and Basij Sign Memorandum of Understanding (Michael Rubin)
2020-09-01 Iran: Khamenei Speaks on Sanctions, Enmity toward America, and Nuclear Power (Michael Rubin)

2020-08-01 Iran: Khamenei Speaks on Corruption (Michael Rubin)
2020-08-01 Iran: What’s Behind the Government’s Secrecy on Handing Over Kish Island to Chinese? (Michael Rubin)
2020-08-01 Iran Eager to Enter the Global Market as a Military Equipment Exporter (Jerrilee Plude)
2020-08-01 China and Iran Announce $400 Billion Trade Deal (Peter Wood)

2020-07-01 Russian Arms Sales to Iran? (Ray Finch)
2020-07-01 An Afghan Perspective: A New Phase in Afghanistan-Iran Relations (Michael Rubin)
2020-07-01 More Iran in Venezuela (Geoff Demarest)
2020-07-01 The Three Main Missions of the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Michael Rubin)

2020-06-01 Iran: Prosecute Cybercriminals (Michael Rubin)
2020-06-01 Iran Improves its UAV Technology (Robert Bunker and Alma Keshvarz)

2020-05-01 Iran: Khamenei on Power and Patience (Michael Rubin)
2020-05-01 Iran Unveils Ghadir Submarine Upgrades (Michael Rubin)
2020-05-01 India Evacuates its Citizens from Iran (Michael Rubin)
2020-05-01 Iran Announces Mass Production of COVID-19 Test Kits (Jerrilee Plude)

2020-04-01 Israel Establishes New ‘Strategy and Iran Directorate’ Under General Staff (Zachary Fesen)
2020-04-01 Iran: Sanctions Don’t Impact Military Spending (Michael Rubin)
2020-04-01 Iran: IRGC Establishes Biological Defense Headquarters (Michael Rubin)

2020-03-01 Counterfeit Bank Notes Seized in Iran (Michael Rubin)
2020-03-01 Iran-Increasing Domestic Production of Rare Earth Elements (Michael Rubin)
2020-02-01 Iran to Send Astronaut into Space? (Michael Rubin)

2020-01-01 Iran: Identity Theft and Extortion in Isfahan (Michael Rubin)
2020-01-01 Iran and Russia to Establish Visa Waivers (Michael Rubin)
2020-01-01 Iran: Use Suicide Drones as Air Defense (Michael Rubin)
2020-01-01 Iran, China, and Russia Plan Joint Naval Drills in Indian Ocean (Zachary Fesen)

2019-12-01 Iran- Khamenei Speaks on America (Michael Rubin)
2019-12-01 Iran Establishes Official VPN Operators (Michael Rubin)

2019-11-01 Iran and Turkey- Friend or Foe (Ihsan Gunduz)
2019-11-01 Iran Opens Persian Gulf Air Defense Command Center (Michael Rubin)
2019-11-01 Iran- Mobile Rocket Systems and Underground Tunnels (Michael Rubin)
2019-11-01 Iran Announces Dome Defense against Drones (Michael Rubin)

2019-10-01 Iran- Khamenei Speaks on Kashmir (Michael Rubin)
2019-10-01 Iran- Armed Forces Ready to Take Over National Intranet Project (Michael Rubin)
2019-10-01 Israel- Iran’s Military Entrenchment in Iraq Poses Threat (Karen Kaya)

2019-09-01 Iran Warns of Phone and Text Scams (Michael Rubin)
2019-09-01 Iran – Mohajer-6 UAV Strikes Targets in Iraq (Michael Rubin)
2019-09-01 Iran’s Negotiations with Domestic Kurdish Opposition Groups (Ihsan Gunduz)
2019-08-01 Iran: Optoelectronic Military Developments (Michael Rubin)

2019-07-01 Iran: Progress on National Intranet (Michael Rubin)
2019-07-01 Iran: Nationwide Curriculum for Computer Programming (Michael Rubin)
2019-07-01 Iran: Preparing for Zafar III Satellite Launch (Michael Rubin)
2019-07-01 Iran: Admiral Fadavi Selected as Revolutionary Guards Deputy (Michael Rubin)
2019-06-01 The Dynamics of Trilateral Relations between Turkey, Russia, and Iran (Ihsan Gunduz)

2019-05-01 Iran Cements its Presence in Syria (Lucas Winter)
2019-05-01 Iran: Khamenei Threatens to Use Precision Missiles (Michael Rubin)
2019-05-01 Iran Conducts its Largest UAV Exercise (Michael Rubin)

2019-04-01 Iran: Hovercraft successfully fires cruise missiles (Michael Rubin)
2019-04-01 Iran Diverting Money from Development to Military (Michael Rubin)
2019-03-01 Iran Builds Up Syrian Proxies on the Western Banks of the Euphrates (Lucas Winter)
2019-02-01 IRGC: Iran Can Extend Ballistic Missile Range (Michael Rubin)

2019-01-01 Iran’s Basij in Cyberspace (Michael Rubin)
2019-01-01 Iran Unveils JDAMs? (Michael Rubin)
2019-01-01 China, Russia and Iran Seek to Revive Syrian Railways (Lucas Winter)

2018-11-01 Iran to Build New Missile System? (Michael Rubin)
2018-11-01 Supreme Leader’s Advisor- United States Common Enemy of Iran and China (Michael Rubin)
2018-09-01 Will Iran Pivot to the East (Michael Rubin)
2018-09-01 Iran: IAEA Shouldn’t Inspect Universities (Michael Rubin)
2018-09-01 Russia and Iran Hamper Turkey’s Aspirations to Become Energy Hub (Ihsan Gunduz)

2018-08-01 Questions on Shortfalls in Electricity Generation in Iran (Michael Rubin)
2018-08-01 Achieving Gasoline Self-Sufficiency in Iran (Michael Rubin)
2018-08-01 Visit of Chinese Military Delegation to Iran (Michael Rubin)
2018-08-01 Iran to Re-Launch “Helicopter Carrier” (Michael Rubin)
2018-08-01 Iran Preparing to Host Nanotechnology Festival (Michael Rubin)
2018-08-01 Iran to Launch New Satellite by Year’s End (Michael Rubin)

2018-07-01 Group Planning to Hack Bank in Iran Arrested (Michael Rubin)
2018-07-01 Who Took $30 Billion out of Iran? (Michael Rubin)
2018-07-01 Iran to Attend Russian Military Trade Show (Michael Rubin)
2018-07-01 Iran Cracks Down on Internet Café VPNs (Michael Rubin)

2018-06-01 Iran, Russia to Jointly Manufacture Helicopter (Michael Rubin)
2018-06-01 Iran Unveils New Unmanned Helicopter (Michael Rubin)
2018-06-01 Russia and Iran Compete for Syria’s Phosphates (Lucas Winter)
2018-06-01 Is Iran Ready to Send Its Navy to Japan (Michael Rubin)

2018-05-01 Iran and Russia Compete for Influence in Syria (Lucas Winter)
2018-05-01 Will Iran Interfere in Kashmir? (Michael Rubin)
2018-05-01 Iran and Russia Compete for Influence in Syria (Lucas Winter)
2018-05-01 Iran and Russia Compete for Influence in Syria (Lucas Winter)
2018-05-01 Will Iran Interfere in Kashmir? (Michael Rubin)
2018-05-01 Iran and Russia Compete for Influence in Syria (Lucas Winter)

2018-04-01 13 Million Users of Domestic Messaging Apps in Iran (Michael Rubin)
2018-04-01 Iran: Supreme Leader Advisor Lauds Russian Strategic Ties (Michael Rubin)
2018-04-01 Iran: Muslims Supported by US, UK are Illegitimate (Michael Rubin)
2018-04-01 Iran: Israel’s Missile Defense Can Be Overwhelmed (Michael Rubin)
2018-04-01 Iran Unveils New Anti-Armor Missile (Michael Rubin)

2018-03-01 Iran: Warship Sinks after Mishap (Michael Rubin)
2018-03-01 Iran: Winning Hearts and Minds in Deir Ezzor (Lucas Winter)
2018-03-01 Iran Develops UAS with “Smart Bomb” Capability (Alma Keshavarz and Robert Bunker)
2018-03-01 Iran: US Sponsoring Islamic State in Afghanistan (Michael Rubin)
2018-03-01 Iran: Winning Hearts and Minds in Deir Ezzor (Lucas Winter)
2018-03-01 Iran: Telegram Giving Data to US and Israel (MIchael Rubin)

2018-02-01 A Malaysian Perspective on US-Iran Relations (Jacob Zenn)
2018-02-01 Turkish Perspectives on Iran (Karen Kaya)
2018-02-01 Iran: Was America Behind Uprising? (Michael Rubin)
2018-02-01 Iran: Lifting the Ban on Instagram was Illegal (Michael Rubin)

2018-02-01 Iran Approaches the Syria-Jordan Border (Lucas Winter)
2018-02-01 Indonesian Perspectives on the Iran Protests (Jacob Zenn)
2018-02-01 India’s Interest in Stability in Iran (Matthew Stein)
2018-02-01 China Limits Internet Exposure to Iran Protests (Jacob Zenn)
2018-02-01 Saudi-Iran Tensions Seen in Nigerian Crackdown on Shia Group (Jacob Zenn)

2018-01-01 Iran: New Military Budget Proposed (Michael Rubin)
2018-01-01 Iran-Khamenei Speaks on Views toward America (Michael Rubin)
2018-01-01 Iran’s Amphibious Aircraft from Russia (Michael Rubin


India Upgrades Its Artillery Systems Based On Lessons From The War In Ukraine

Dhanush howitzer during Republic Day Parade 2017


“The war also brought out the matter of increased survivability, the source said, referring to reports which suggested that Russia had lost 5,000 guns and rocket systems so far.”


India continues to draw many operational and tactical lessons from the war in Ukraine.[i] The excerpted article from The Hindu reports that India’s Branch of Artillery, an operational arm of the Army, conducted a study of the Ukraine conflict and will subsequently convert all existing towed and self-propelled artillery systems making 155mm the standard caliber. The article also notes that the Army will be looking to India’s defense industry to update these systems with a focus on buying indigenously produced munitions. Officials in India’s Ministry of Defense stated concerns about the availability of ordnance for various systems after the war in Ukraine began.[ii] Overall, this marks an example of Indian officials taking another lesson from the war in Ukraine resulting in a long-term change for the country’s armed forces.


Sources:

Dinakar Peri, “Indian Army draws lessons from Ukraine war, revises artillery requirements,” The Hindu (English-language newspaper in India), 17 September 2023. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/army-draws-lessons-from-ukraine-war-revises-its-artillery-requirements/article67315823.ece

Drawing lessons from the Ukraine war, the Indian Army has revised the profile of its Artillery regiment, with focus on a mix of mobility and augmented long-range firepower.

The Army expects to achieve its target of converting the entire artillery to medium 155 mm gun systems by 2042…

“The Regiment of Artillery has done a detailed study along with the Operations Branch. In the revised Artillery profile, Army is going for more self-propelled and mounted gun systems,” the source said…

The Army has embarked on a plan to make 155 mm the standard calibre of all artillery guns…

The war also brought out the matter of increased survivability, the source said, referring to reports which suggested that Russia had lost 5,000 guns and rocket systems so far.

There is a need for methods for force preservation as well as to adopt shoot-and-scoot techniques. “The Russia-Ukraine conflict also shows that we need to be prepared for such a prolonged war,” the source said.

…the Army inducted the M777 Ultra Light Howitzer (ULH) in November 2018. It has since inducted all 145 guns contracted. In addition, 100 K9-Vajra Self Propelled Guns have been inducted and the Defence Acquisition Council has approved procurement of 100 more.

…The Army has also placed orders for 114 Dhanush guns, indigenously upgraded based on the Bofors guns, and 300 Sharang guns, which are upgraded from 130mm guns to 155 mm…

In addition, Request for Proposals (RFPs) have been also issued for two more gun systems — 155mm/ 52 calibre Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) and Mounted Gun System (MGS). The MGS has crew and ammunition onboard the vehicle and has shoot-and-scoot capabilities, officials said. The Army is looking for around 300 guns.…In addition to guns, there is a major focus on indigenisation of munitions, officials said, stating that four types of munitions were currently under trials.


Notes:

[i] The Indian Army carried out an exercise in the summer of 2022 that worked through tactical communication issues related to the war in Ukraine and earlier this year policy makers outlined several capabilities that India should develop in its armed forces after watching how Russia and Ukraine have made adjustments on the battlefield, see: Matthew Stein “Lessons For India From The War In Ukraine,” OE Watch, 05-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/lessons-for-india-from-the-war-in-ukraine/

[ii] For more information on India’s issues with deliveries of ordnance since the war in Ukraine began, see: Matthew Stein “India Takes a Step Away from the Russian Defense Industry,” Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs, 31 July 2023. https://www.airuniversity.af.edu/JIPA/Display/Article/3475660/india-takes-a-step-away-from-the-russian-defense-industry/


Image Information:

Image: Dhanush howitzer during Republic Day Parade 2017
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dhanush_howitzer_during_Republic_Day_Parade_2017.jpg
Attribution: Government Open Data License – India


Côte d’Ivoire’s Stance On Military Interventions Prioritize Democratic Principles

Members of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center honor guard stand in formation during a welcoming ceremony for Ivory Coast Gen. Soumaila Bakayoko.


“If ECOWAS chooses a particular option to resolve the regional crisis, Côte d’Ivoire will follow this option in solidarity with other member states.”


On 29 September, the Turkish website of Anadolu News Agency published the excerpted French-language article on Côte d’Ivoire’s intention to comply with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) if the organization military intervenes in Niger. The article notes that ECOWAS has threatened to intervene militarily in Niger to reinstall deposed president Mohamed Bazoum to power. A spokesperson for Côte d’Ivoire’s government confirmed that the country will not make any decision regarding Niger unilaterally but will respect the outcomes of ECOWAS member states’ debates.

The decision to follow ECOWAS into battle in Niger differs from Côte d’Ivoire’s announcement in November 2022 that it would withdraw its forces from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), despite MINUSMA’s continued counterinsurgency efforts against al-Qaeda and Islamic State-loyal militants. According to the excerpted French-language article in tvmonde5.com, Côte d’Ivoire’s withdrawal from MINUSMA came after Mali’s coup leaders alleged that Ivorian troops who entered Mali to operate with a German contingent were “mercenaries.”[i] Côte d’Ivoire’s commitment to ECOWAS and reduction in military support to MINUSMA can be interpreted as a reflection of how opposition parties have been permitted to participate in Ivorian politics and how other reforms have improved electoral competition since 2020.[ii] Côte d’Ivoire is willing to support military efforts to restore democratically elected civilian rulers, such as Bazoum, to power. However, the country is refraining from offering its troops for regional military efforts to support governments, such as in Mali, that refuse to return power to democratically elected leaders and that express allegiance towards Russia, including its proxy, Wagner Group.


Sources:

“L’option d’une intervention militaire de la Cédéao au Niger reste possible (The option of ECOWAS military intervention in Niger remains possible),” Anadolu News Agency (Turkish state-run news agency aligned with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)), 29 September 2023. https://www.aa.com.tr/fr/afrique/loption-dune-intervention-militaire-de-la-c%C3%A9d%C3%A9ao-au-niger-reste-possible/3003520

The option of military intervention by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Niger remains on the table and Côte d’Ivoire will comply with the decisions adopted collectively by the community “if ECOWAS decides on this option,” said Ivorian government spokesperson Amadou Coulibaly. The government spokesperson affirmed that Côte d’Ivoire is a member that respects its commitments in ECOWAS.

In Niger, members of the presidential guard took power on July 26, pushing aside President Mohamed Bazoum and announcing the suspension of the Constitution and the formation of a National Council for the Safeguarding of the Homeland. ECOWAS threatened to intervene militarily to enable Bazoum to regain power and considered this an option ready to be implemented alongside strict punitive measures.


“La Côte d’Ivoire va retirer progressivement ses soldats du Mali (Ivory Coast will withdraw its soldiers from Mali gradually),” tvmonde5.com (French public television broadcaster’s website focusing on worldwide affairs affecting France), 16 November 2022. https://information.tv5monde.com/afrique/la-cote-divoire-va-retirer-progressivement-ses-soldats-du-mali-1424754

Côte d’Ivoire indicates that the soldiers and other elements active within MINUSMA will not be relieved in August 2023.Relations between Côte d’Ivoire have become significantly strained in recent months, particularly after the arrest last July of 49 Ivorian soldiers in Bamako.


Notes:

[i] The bilateral dispute between Côte d’Ivoire and Mali reached a culmination in January 2023 when Côte d’Ivoire honored 49 soldiers after they were released from detention in Mali, where there were held for half a year, and returned home. Only weeks before their release from detention, a Bamako court had sentenced most of the Ivorian soldiers to 20 years in prison and others to death for being “mercenaries”. Although Ivorian soldiers had been invited to Mali by the German contingent of MINUSMA, the Malian coup leaders alleged the “Sahel Aviation Service (SAS),” which is a private company, transported the Ivorian soldiers. In contrast, the Wagner Group, which is affiliated to the Russian government, was welcomed into Mali by the Malian coup leaders. It is possible that the Ivorian and German governments’ criticism of the coup in Mali and lack of transition back to democracy underscored the Malian coup leaders’ initial actions to detains the Ivorian soldiers. See; “Mali detains Ivorian soldiers, accuses them of being mercenaries,” Rfi.fr, 12 July 2022. https://www.rfi.fr/en/africa/20220712-mali-detains-ivorian-soldiers-accuses-them-of-being-mercenaries

[ii] The U.S. State Department notes that since the Ivorian president’s election to a third term in 2020, the country’s democratic processes have been “generally considered free.” Similarly, the election monitoring group, New Dawn, assessed that the latest Ivorian local and regional elections in September 2023 “had gone smoothly.” Consistent with these democratic trends, Ivorian foreign policy has become increasingly aligned with ECOWAS and its member-states’ oppositions to military coups in West Africa. See; “2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Cote d’Ivoire,” U.S. Department of State, 2023. https://www.state.gov/reports/2022-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/cote-divoire. See also; “Sweeping win for ruling party in Ivory Coast local and regional elections,” france24.com, 5 September 2023. https://www.france24.com/en/africa/20230904-sweeping-win-for-ruling-party-in-ivory-coast-local-and-regional-elections


Image Information:

Image: Members of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center honor guard stand in formation during a welcoming ceremony for Ivory Coast Gen. Soumaila Bakayoko.
Source: MSG Montigo White https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/43/Members_of_the_Kofi_Annan_International_Peacekeeping_Training_Center_honor_guard_stand_in_formation_during_a_welcoming_ceremony_for_Ivory_Coast_Gen._Soumaila_Bakayoko%2C_the_Economic_Community_of_West_African_130626-A-ZZ999-016.jpg
Attribution: CC x 2.0


Niger Sees Wave of International Departures Post-Coup

Forces Armées Nigeriennes (Niger Armed Forces) personnel complete a training course in February 2020. Following the coup d’état in July 2023, the Nigerien military junta has seen a wave of international departures from the country.


“The regime in Niger…ordered the UN coordinator…to leave it within three days, denouncing in particular the ” obstructions” of the United Nations to its international recognition.”


The military junta that took over Niger in July 2023 is consolidating its power, kicking out numerous international entities, and severing relationships with others. As the first article from the pan-African news aggregator AfricaNews.fr relays, after several contentious months, French troops are leaving Niger via Chad. Soon after the military takeover by General Tiani, Niger began to annul security cooperation agreements with France, which to that point, had relied on Niger as its most reliable ally after being ousted from other African states. When Paris was slow to initiate the request to move its 1,500 soldiers out of the country, the Nigerien government accused France, and other West African states, of colluding to launch an armed intervention to reinstall the ousted president, Mohamed Bazoum.[i] Anti-French sentiment, especially as regards Paris’ role in military and security affairs, has been a marker of the political ethos in West Africa for several years.[ii]

France is not the only entity to be ousted. As per the second article, also from AfricaNews.fr, in mid-October the military junta in Niger demanded the departure of the UN’s country coordinator and its highest-ranking member in the country, Canadian Louise Aubin. The junta decried the “obstructions” that the United Nations had placed on it being an internationally recognized government. Niger’s anti-UN stance is in line with its new ally Mali, which recently demanded the end of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) mission in Mali. The article noted that the absence of a UN coordinator will worsen humanitarian conditions in Mali where an estimated 4.3 million people are in need of humanitarian aid. In addition to the physical departure of French troops and the UN coordinator, other entities in Niger are leaving of their own volition. In October, the United States formally declared the transition of power to be a coup and suspended more than $300 million in aid. Algeria, which has been leading the mediation efforts between the junta and the deposed president, also asserted in mid-October that it would suspend its efforts. In an official statement, Algeria noted that the decision came as “official and public declarations from Nigerien authorities have raised legitimate questions as to their real willingness to follow up on their acceptance of Algerian mediation.” The Prime Minister of the new government in Niger has called the attempts by Algeria “manipulation.”[iii]


Sources:

“Niger: départ des forces françaises en direction du Tchad (Niger: departure of French forces towards Chad),” AfricaNews.fr (pan-African new aggregator), 11 October 2023. https://fr.africanews.com/2023/10/11/niger-depart-des-forces-francaises-en-direction-du-tchad/

French soldiers left their bases in Niger on Tuesday in a first land convoy under local escort, heading “in the direction of Chad” indicated the military regime in power in Niamey since the end of July.

“The troops based in Ouallam (west) left their base today. These are operations for the departure of the first land convoy towards Chad under escort of our Defense and Security Forces,” specifies the regime of Niamey, in a press release read Tuesday evening on national television.

In addition to this departure by land, “three special flights” were recorded at Niamey airport , two for the departure of “97 special forces elements” and one “dedicated to logistics.”

The regime which had assured that it wanted this withdrawal to take place “in complete safety” specified that the disengagement will continue in accordance with “the timetable agreed by both parties.”

The withdrawal of the French was quickly demanded by the Nigerien generals after their arrival in power and French President Emmanuel Macron announced their departure at the end of September.


“Niger: l’ONU “regrette” l’ordre d’expulsion de sa représentante (Niger: the UN “regrets” the order to expel its representative),” AfricaNews.fr (pan-African new aggregator), 12 October 2023. https://www.africanews.com/2023/10/12/niger-the-un-regrets-the-order-to-expel-its-representative/

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres “deeply regrets” the order to expel the UN coordinator in Niger given by the military regime, which will “hinder” humanitarian operations, his spokesperson said on Wednesday.

This expulsion of Louise Aubin, requested within 72 hours by the regime resulting from a coup d’état in July, “will hinder the ability of the UN to fulfill its mandate and disrupt essential work” in Niger where “4.3 million people need humanitarian aid, mainly women and children,” insisted Stéphane Dujarric, adding that this order was contrary to international rules applicable to United Nations representatives.

The regime in Niger on Wednesday ordered the UN coordinator in this country, Canadian Louise Aubin, to leave it within three days, denouncing in particular the ” obstructions” of the United Nations to its international recognition. He had previously denounced the “perfidious actions” of Secretary General Antonio Guterres for, according to him, hindering the participation of the representative of Niger in this event and “undermining any effort to end the crisis.”


“Crise au Niger: l’Algérie suspend sa mediation (Crisis in Niger: Algeria suspends its mediation),” AfricaNews.fr (pan-African new aggregator), 10 October 2023. https://fr.africanews.com/2023/10/10/crise-au-niger-lalgerie-suspend-sa-mediation/

Algeria announced on Monday that it was “suspending” its mediation intended to put an end to the crisis that has shaken Niger since the takeover by the military…

But the exchanges between the two chancelleries on “the program and content of this visit” were not “conclusive”, added the press release.

Algeria also deplores that “official and public declarations from Nigerien authorities have raised legitimate questions as to their real willingness to follow up on their acceptance of Algerian mediation.”The Prime Minister of Niger, Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, declared that he had learned of the acceptance of this mediation on social networks, half-heartedly accusing Algeria of “manipulation.”


Notes:

[i] See: Jason Warner, “West African States Split On Potential Intervention In Niger,” OE Watch 08-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/west-african-states-split-on-potential-intervention-in-niger/

[ii] See: Jason Warner, “Anti-French Sentiment Undergirds Overthrow Of Nigerien Government,” OE Watch 08-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/anti-french-sentiment-undergirds-overthrow-of-nigerien-government/; Jason Warner, “French Researchers Respond To Wave Of Anti-French Sentiment In Africa,” OE Watch 07-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/french-researchers-respond-to-wave-of-anti-french-sentiment-in-africa/; Jason Warner, “CAR Joins Mali In Accusing France Of Funding Terrorists,” OE Watch, 04-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/car-joins-mali-in-accusing-france-of-funding-terrorists/

[iii] “Algeria ‘postpones’ its mediation in Niger”, AfricaNews.com, 10 October 2023. https://www.africanews.com/2023/10/10/algeria-postpones-its-mediation-in-niger//


Image Information:

Image: Forces Armées Nigeriennes (Niger Armed Forces) personnel complete a training course in February 2020. Following the coup d’état in July 2023, the Nigerien military junta has seen a wave of international departures from the country.
Source: https://nara.getarchive.net/media/forces-armees-nigeriennes-niger-armed-forces-personnel-65f554
Attribution:  Public Domain Dedication.


Military Junta Led Sahelian States Create New Collective Security Organization

The leader of junta currently ruling Mali, COL Assimi Goita, recently tweeted an announcement about the new mutual defense pact between Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.


“The military regimes led by Assimi Goïta in Mali, Ibrahim Traoré in Burkina Faso and Abdourahamane Tiani in Niger signed a charter on Saturday establishing a defensive alliance.”


With the string of coups d’état that have engulfed the African continent over the past three years, a steady drumbeat of alliances has been growing among military juntas.[i] As per the article from leading Africa-focused French language publication Jeune Afrique, the increasing amity between Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger has coalesced into a formalized mutual security cooperation organization. Called the “Alliance of Sahelian States,” the grouping is a defensive alliance that commits each country to respond to the aid of the others in the event of any “attack on the sovereignty or integrity of the territory” of one of its members. Additionally, the Alliance of Sahelian States also includes economic dimensions (likely to help each of the regimes, all of which have faced threats of economic sanctions for unconstitutional transfers of power) and counterterrorism dimensions (as the three collectively constitute the epicenter of jihadist violence undertaken by Al-Qaeda and Islamic State-linked groups).[ii] While Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger have been getting closer since 2022 – often with support from Russia[iii] – the real impetus for the formalization of the Alliance of Sahelian States was Niger’s July 2023 coup. In the aftermath, West Africa’s primary regional organization, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), threatened to launch a military intervention to restore power to the democratically elected president. This proposal starkly divided West African states, with Nigeria, Benin, and Senegal falling on one side, and Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Algeria, on the other. Mali and Burkina Faso intuitively aligned behind Niger given the vulnerabilities that other military juntas would face if ECOWAS made good on its word. Whether or not the Alliance of Sahelian States is more than a paper tiger remains to be seen. However, the spate of military coups overtaking the region is having serious implications for patterns of alliances and rivalries.


Sources:

“Le Mali, le Burkina Faso et le Niger scellent ‘l’Alliance des États du Sahel’ (Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger seal ‘The Alliance of Sahelian States’),” Jeune Afrique (centrist pan-African news outlet), 16 September 2023. https://www.jeuneafrique.com/1483586/politique/le-mali-le-burkina-et-le-niger-scellent-lalliance-des-etats-du-sahel/   

The military regimes led by Assimi Goïta in Mali, Ibrahim Traoré in Burkina Faso and Abdourahamane Tiani in Niger signed a charter on Saturday establishing a defensive alliance.This “Charter of Liptako-Gourma” creates “the Alliance of Sahel States” (AES), wrote on X (former Twitter), the head of the junta in Mali, Assimi Goïta. Its goal is “to establish an architecture of collective defense and mutual assistance,” he stressed. The charter provides (art. 6) that “any attack on the sovereignty and integrity of the territory of one or more contracting parties will be considered as an aggression against the other parties and will engage a duty of assistance and relief of all parties, individually or collectively, including the use of armed force to restore and ensure security within the area covered by the Alliance.Since the July 26 coup in Niger, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has maintained a consistent position: the military authorities must “restore constitutional order immediately” by releasing deposed President Mohamed. Bazoum and reinstalling him in his functions. The West African organization has repeatedly threatened armed intervention and imposed heavy economic sanctions on Niger.“This alliance will be a combination of military and economic efforts between the three countries,” Malian Defense Minister Abdoulaye Diop told journalists. “Our priority is the fight against terrorism in the three countries,” he added.


Notes:

[i] For more on the growing ties between these three countries, see: Jason Warner, “’Axis’ of Military Regimes Strengthens In West Africa, With Support From Russia,” OE Watch,09-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/axis-of-military-regimes-strengthens-in-west-africa-with-support-from-russia/; Jason Warner, “West African States Split On Potential Intervention In Niger,” OE Watch, 08-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/west-african-states-split-on-potential-intervention-in-niger/; Jason Warner, “West African States Ruled By Military Leaders Seek To Circumvent Future Sanctions,” OE Watch, 03-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/west-african-states-ruled-by-military-leaders-seek-to-circumvent-future-sanctions/; Jason Warner, “Russia-Supported Military Leaders In Mali, Burkina Faso, And Guinea Continue To Deepen Ties,” OE Watch, 04-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/russia-supported-military-rulers-in-mali-burkina-faso-and-guinea-continue-to-deepen-ties/

[ii] For more on the differing approaches that West African states have taken in dealing with these groups, see: Jason Warner, “As Sahelian Jihadists Expand South, Côte d’Ivoire Stands As Model Of Success,” OE Watch,09-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/as-sahelian-jihadists-expand-south-cote-divoire-stands-as-model-of-success/;  Jason Warner, “Sahelian Countries Divided On Negotiating With Al-Qaeda, Islamic State Militants,” OE Watch,07-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/sahelian-countries-divided-on-negotiating-with-al-qaeda-islamic-state-militants/; Jason Warner, “Burkina Faso Claims Disguised Jihadists, Not Military, Responsible For Civilian Killings,” OE Watch, 06-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/burkina-faso-claims-disguised-jihadists-not-military-responsible-for-civilian-killings/; Jason Warner, “Vast Majority Of Malians Express Confidence In Russia’s Ability To Address Jihadist Violence,” OE Watch,06-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/vast-majority-of-malians-express-confidence-in-russias-ability-to-address-jihadist-violence/

[iii] For more on Russia’s role with these three countries, see: Jason Warner, “’Axis’ of Military Regimes Strengthens In West Africa, With Support From Russia,” OE Watch,09-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/axis-of-military-regimes-strengthens-in-west-africa-with-support-from-russia/; Jason Warner, “Burkina Faso Claims Disguised Jihadists, Not Military, Responsible For Civilian Killings,” OE Watch, 06-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/burkina-faso-claims-disguised-jihadists-not-military-responsible-for-civilian-killings/; Jason Warner, “Vast Majority Of Malians Express Confidence in Russia’s Ability To Address Jihadist Violence,” OE Watch, 06-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/vast-majority-of-malians-express-confidence-in-russias-ability-to-address-jihadist-violence/; Jason Warner, “Russia-Supported Military Leaders In Mali, Burkina Faso, And Guinea Continue To Deepen Ties,” OE Watch, 04-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/russia-supported-military-rulers-in-mali-burkina-faso-and-guinea-continue-to-deepen-ties/


Image Information:

Image: The leader of junta currently ruling Mali, COL Assimi Goita, recently tweeted an announcement about the new mutual defense pact between Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.
Source: https://t.co/IjT43NHrKs
Attribution: BY-SA 4.0


Indonesia Attempts To Calm Sentiments After Counterinsurgency Operation

A picture of Wamena, Papua, Indonesia, from 2019.


“The protest focused on the government, and in this case the security forces, for actions that the public considers immoral.”


Indonesia has been combatting separatist insurgents in its Papua region since 1965. While the long-running insurgency has ebbed and flowed, there has been a notable increase in tempo in the last five years.[i] The excerpted article from the Papua-based Indonesian-language media outlet Seputarpapua.com describes Indonesia’s calculus in attempting to win over the Papuan civilian population despite their opposition to certain counterinsurgency operations.

The article focuses on the 17 September arrests adjacent to a Papuan church of five suspected members of the Free Papua Organization (OPM), which the Indonesian government calls the “Armed Criminal Group” (KKB). Indonesian police justified the operation by claiming the suspects’ confessions and cellphone content strengthened the evidence of their affiliations and support to KKB. According to the article, the operation enflamed local sensitivities because the house was behind a church and the officers broke down the doors of the house and scuffled with the suspects.[ii] Following the arrests, local Papuans began protesting the perceived desecration of church grounds. The local police chief and the head of the operation responded to the public dissent by meeting with the regional secretary, the chairman of the People’s Representative Council of Papua, the families of the five suspects, and the neighbors of the house where the arrests occurred, explaining the legal process and providing justification for the arrests. In addition, as per the second excerpted article from the independent online Catholic news agency Union of Catholic Asian News, on 22 September, the police chief acknowledged that police engaged in violence and encouraged officers to maintain professionality to not provide any reasons for critics to use their actions to discredit the security forces. The response demonstrates Indonesian authorities’ determination to defuse controversy over the arrests to avoid losing the support of the local population.


Sources:

“Tangkap 5 Warga Sipil di Nduga, Polisi: Mereka Diduga Kuat Dukung KKB (Police Arrest 5 Civilians in Nduga: They Allegedly Strongly Support the KKB),” seputarpapua.com (Papua-based Indonesian-language media outlet claiming to provide the most current and accurate news from Papua), 18 September 2023. https://seputarpapua.com/view/tangkap-5-warga-sipil-di-nduga-polisi-mereka-diduga-kuat-dukung-kkb.html

Nduga Police Chief Commissioner Vinsensius Jimm, through the operational head, AKP Bayu Pratama Sudirno, confirmed the arrest of five civilians by personnel. The police suspect that the five civilians are KKB supporters in the area. “This is because of the perpetrators’ confessions regarding their participation [in KKB], which is supported by documentation such as photos on the confiscated cellphones,” stated the operational head in his written statement.

The arrests were made in one of the houses in the neighborhood behind the church. At the time of the arrest, there were attempts of resistance, such as locking the door from the inside to prevent the officers from entering, which resulted in a clash and attempts to push the officers when they were making the arrests…. The local community and congregation from several churches staged a protest. The protest focused on the government, and in this case the security forces, for actions that the public considers immoral.

Because of this, the Nduga police chief accompanied by the operational met directly with the Nduga regional secretary and the chairman of the DPRD to discuss the arrest process. [They] also met the families of the five individuals who were arrested as well as other residents at the house where the arrests were made.


“Indonesia police slammed for violent action inside church,ucanews.com (independent online Catholic news agency reporting on multiple Asian countries), 22 September 2023. https://www.ucanews.com/news/indonesia-police-slammed-for-violent-action-inside-church/102685

The Secretariat for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation of Jayapura Diocese and Papua Bureau of Union of Churches in Indonesia joined the coalition in condemning the incident and demanding action against the police personnel involved in the incident. Papua Police Chief Mathius Fakhiri said the five people were arrested because they had links to an armed criminal group, a term used by the Indonesian government for those fighting for Papuan independence. Fakhiri though admitted there “had been acts of violence by the police” and said he “had admonished the local police chief to act professionally.”


Notes:

[i] Data collected by Amnesty International Indonesia showed that at least 179 civilians, 35 Indonesian soldiers and nine police officers, as well as 23 Papuan insurgents were killed in clashes between the insurgents and security forces between 2018 and 2022. In contrast, a fewer 95 people were killed in the eight previous years from 2010 to 2018. See abc.net.au, “West Papua Liberation Army fighters linked with kidnapped pilot Phillip Mark Mehrtens killed in clash,” 2 October 2023. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-10-03/independence-fighters-killed-indonesia-papua-phillip-mehrtens/102927194. See also Amnesty, “Indonesia: Police and military unlawfully kill almost 100 people in Papua in eight years with near total impunity,” 2019. https://amnesty.org.nz/indonesia-police-and-military-unlawfully-kill-almost-100-people-papua-eight-years-near-total

[ii] Catholic and Protestant churches have long “played a leadership role through developing the ‘Papua Land of Peace’ campaign calling for dialogue, demilitarization and respect for human rights” in Papua. The churches also have been among the most critical and influential voices against Indonesian military activities in Papua and are seen as “representing the overwhelming majority of Papuan opinion.” Jason MacLeod, “The Struggle for Self-Determination in West Papua (1969-present),” International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, March 2011. https://www.nonviolent-conflict.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/West-Papua-1.pdf


Image Information:

Image:  A picture of Wamena, Papua, Indonesia, from 2019.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wamena,_Papua,_Indonesia_2019_21.jpg
Attribution: Spasimir Pilev, CC x 2.0


Pakistan Struggles In The Tri-Border Region After Multiple Terrorist Attacks

Location of the Mastung district in Balochistan, Pakistan.


“Recently, the insecurity and activities of militants have increased in different parts of Balochistan, and a number of security forces, government employees, and civilians have been killed in attacks and clashes.”


As attention turns to developing terrorism trends in other regions of the world, Pakistan has recently suffered a series of deadly suicide attacks in its Balochistan province. [i]

 According to the first excerpted article from the London-based, Afghan-run independent news outlet Afghanistan International, on 29 September, 59 people were killed, and more than 60 were injured, in a suicide attack during the Milad al-Nabi ceremony in Mastung, Balochistan. Milad al-Nabi is an important Muslim holiday celebrating the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.[ii] The Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan (TTP) quickly condemned the attack and denied responsibility, claiming they provided information to Pakistan’s intelligence agency before the bombing. While the TTP denied this bombing, the pro-Pashtun group has been responsible for multiple deadly attacks in the province, as well as the greater Balochistan region.[iii] No group has claimed responsibility for this attack, though Pakistan’s Acting Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti claimed India was involved.

The second excerpt from the Pashto language branch of Radio Free Europe, Mashal Radio, describes some of the complex issues that Pakistan’s Balochistan province is facing. In addition to TTP activity, the Islamic State (IS) and Baloch separatist groups like the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) have claimed responsibility for multiple recent attacks.[iv] Pakistan’s Counter Terrorism Department conducted kinetic operations in the area, killing a prominent IS member days before the bombing in Mastung. Hours after the Mastung attack, an additional suicide bombing was conducted in Doaba, a small city in the Hangu district of Pakistan. It is currently unclear whether the attacks are related. Recent attacks in Balochistan province – as well as the greater tri-border region – have created a delicate security situation. The Taliban, IS, and Baloch separatist groups conducting attacks in the same area make it difficult for counterterrorism units to combat them effectively and accurately attribute attacks to the appropriate groups. Although Pakistan has stepped up counterterrorism efforts in its own province, the larger Balochistan region is remote and challenging for each country to police. Terrorist groups can base their operations out of Afghanistan or Iran and conduct attacks in Pakistan, with little ability for Pakistan to conduct follow-up operations inside bordering nations. If these groups gain a permanent foothold in the greater Balochistan region, transnational groups could use the area to coordinate international attacks or further destabilize the relationship between Pakistan and India.


Sources:

“المرصاد: طالبانو د بلوچستان د برید په هکله له پاکستان سره معلومات شریک کړي وو

(Al-Mursad: The Taliban had shared information with Pakistan about the attack in Balochistan),” Afghanistan International (London based Afghan run independent news outlet), 1 October 2023. https://www.afintl.com/pa/202310018517

Al-Mursad, a website close to the Taliban, says that the group had shared the information about the Baluchistan attack and other similar attacks and the names of those involved with Pakistan’s intelligence…. The previous day, 59 people were killed and 60 were injured in a suicide attack on the Milad al-Nabi ceremony in Mastung, Balochistan. Pakistan’s Acting Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti said in Quetta yesterday that India is involved in the Balochistan attacks. But al-Mursad says, reliable evidence shows that Pakistan is carrying out the project of raising and strengthening ISIS as a proxy organization in Afghanistan and the region…. They [Al-Mursad] add in their report that Balochistan is considered a large and lawless area for ISIS in this country. Even before this, Daesh has claimed responsibility for some attacks in Balochistan, the last of which was Hafiz Ahmad, the leader of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, in Swabi last month. ISIS has not yet said anything about the Mustang attack.


Terin, Ayub, Majeed Babar, Shahin Buneri, Daud Khattak, “د مستونګ چاودنه کې لسګونه کسان وژل شوي دي

(Dozens of people were killed in the Mustang explosion),” Mashal Radio, 29 September 2023. https://www.mashaalradio.com/a/eid-miladunnabi-explosion-in-mastung-many-killed/32615419.html

[H]e did not say anything about the nature of the explosion, but the Reuters news agency quoted a police official, Munir Ahmed, as saying that the suicide bomber detonated near the “Madina Mosque” when people were attending the Milad ceremony. Achakzai said the government declared a state of emergency in the hospitals of Quetta after the incident…. A few hours after the explosion in Mastung, a number of people were killed in a suicide attack in Doaba, Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation condemned the attacks in Doba and Mastung in a statement on September 20. The statement says that the organization’s Secretary General Hussain Ibrahim Taha condemns “any form of terrorism” and expresses “full support for Pakistan’s efforts in the fight against terrorism.” This is while 11 people, including the spokesman and former senator Hafiz Hamdullah,were injured in a bomb blast in Mastung on September 14. The police had said at that time that Hamdullah’s convoy was going towards the Mustang from Quetta when an explosion occurred at the checkpoint. The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the Mastung blast…. The Pakistani army has said that four soldiers were killed in a missile attack on a security post in Zhob. The Army Public Relations Office (ESPR) said in a statement that the attack took place on the evening of September 28. It has been claimed in the statement that the missile was sent by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants from Afghanistan, but that group and the Taliban government in Kabul have not yet said anything in response…. Recently, insecurity and activities of militants have increased in different parts of Balochistan and a number of security forces, government employees and civilians have been killed in attacks and clashes. On the 9th of September, six local football players were going from Dera Bugti to Sawai in a car to participate in the championship called “Al Pakistan Chief Minister Gold Cup” when armed men kidnapped them. Before this, a soldier was killed in two attacks on the traffic police and the Levies force in the afternoon of August 16…. On August 13, militants attacked the convoy of Chinese engineers in the port city of Gwadar, after which a clash with the security forces began….


Notes:

[i] Balochistan has been conquered and divided by multiple empires, gaining partial independence in the 18th century, and is now divided amongst three nations, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan—with other ethnic majorities. While not as commonly known as the Pashtun, Kurdish, or Punjabi people, the Baloch are ethnically, linguistically, and historically unique. Years of subjugation and marginalization – along with its remote and sparsely populated geographic location – have contributed to the fragile state of the region, allowing nationalist and radical Islamist groups to further destabilize the province through violence. For more information on the history of the Balochistan region, see: Mickey Kupecz. “Pakistan’s Baloch Insurgency: History, Conflict Drivers, and Regional Implications,” The International Affairs Review, 16 May 2012. https://www.iar-gwu.org/print-archive/8er0x982v5pj129srhre98ex6u8v8n

[ii] For more information on the Mawlid al-Nabi celebration, see: “Birthday of the Prophet: Mawlid al-Nabi,” The Pluralism Project – Harvard University, 2020. https://pluralism.org/birthday-of-the-prophet-mawlid-al-nabi

[iii] For additional background information on Tehrik-E Taliban Pakistan, see: “Tehrik-E Taliban Pakistan (TTP),” Office of the Director of National Intelligence. https://www.dni.gov/nctc/groups/ttp.html

 [iv] For additional information on the Balochistan Liberation Army, see: “Balochistan Liberation Army,” Stanford Center for International Security and Cooperation, Updated 2019. https://cisac.fsi.stanford.edu/mappingmilitants/profiles/balochistan-liberation-army


Image Information:

Image: Location of the Mastung district in Balochistan, Pakistan.
Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/39/Pakistan_-_Balochistan_-_Mastung.svg/1172px-Pakistan_-_Balochistan_-_Mastung.svg.png?20211017045741
Attribution: CC-BY-SA-4.0


Maduro Regime Claims Victory Over Tren de Aragua Criminal Network

The aftermath of a deadly prison riot in Lara state, Venezuela in 2013.


“Its fugitive leader, “El Niño” Guerrero, benefited from complicity and even negotiated with the government to leave the prison before the security operation began, according to the NGO Venezuelan Prison Observatory.”


The Maduro regime in Venezuela recently conducted a military operation in the Tocorón prison, the power center of the transnational Tren de Aragua criminal network.[i] According to the excerpted article from the Argentine outlet Infobae, the regime uncovered a large stockpile of weapons and munitions at the prison, including anti-tank launchers, artillery rockets, and a cache of rifles and pistols. Additionally, the article reports that prisoners controlled a small town where family members lived, replete with amenities such as a pool, baseball stadium, and zoo. This level of criminal control is common in Venezuela, where the Maduro regime has relied on prison gang leaders, called “pranes,” to maintain a semblance of stability and control, and to reduce violent prison uprisings.[ii] In exchange, groups like the Tren de Aragua possess a high degree of autonomy within prison walls to continue criminal activity. In reasserting state control over the Tocorón prison, the Maduro regime claims to have defeated Tren de Aragua, as reported by Colombia’s center-left daily El Espectador. There are many reasons to doubt this claim notably, Tren de Aragua’s leader, Héctor Guerrero Flórez (alias “Niño Guerrero”), escaped before the raid with forewarning about an impending operation. Despite this, the Maduro regime’s military operation is significant for a few reasons. First, it allows the Maduro regime to claim that it is addressing the complaints of its neighbors in the region, who have openly fretted about the regional growth of the Tren de Aragua criminal network. Second, the operation could pay domestic dividends as the Maduro regime seeks to convince voters that it is tackling the country’s security crisis ahead of the anticipated elections in the latter half of 2024. Lastly, the regime’s recent operation serves as an important testing ground for the strength of its security forces, which it may resort to using to suppress any opposition mobilization in 2024.[iii]


Sources:

“El sorprendente interior del penal de Tocorón, el centro de operaciones del Tren de Aragua en Venezuela (The surprising interior of the Tocorón prison, the operations center of the Tren de Aragua in Venezuela),” Infobae (Argentine outlet with excellent regional coverage), 27 September 2023. https://www.infobae.com/venezuela/2023/09/27/el-sorprendente-interior-del-penal-de-tocoron-el-centro-de-operaciones-del-tren-de-aragua-en-venezuela/

More than 11,000 members of the security forces occupied the prison controlled by this gang that has spread its tentacles to several Latin American countries…There was tranquility, there was a swimming pool, a zoo…Its fugitive leader, “El Niño” Guerrero, benefited from complicity and even negotiated with the government to leave the prison before the security operation began, according to the NGO Venezuelan Prison Observatory.


“Gobierno de Maduro dice que el temido Tren de Aragua fue desmantelado ‘totalmente’ (Maduro’s government says that the feared Tren de Aragua was ‘completely’ dismantled),” El Espectador (Colombia’s center-left daily), 23 September 2023. https://www.elespectador.com/mundo/gobierno-de-maduro-dice-que-el-temido-tren-de-aragua-fue-desmantelado-totalmente/

We have total control of this prison, of this penitentiary center, and, in addition to that, we have completely dismantled the self-proclaimed former Tren de Aragua. We have 88 people detained at this moment, providing information of interest, all members of that group, which was abandoned by those who led it,” said the Minister of the Interior of Venezuela, Remigio Ceballos, when presenting a balance of the operation…Ceballos denied that the government had negotiated with the leaders of this gang dedicated to, among other crimes, kidnapping, extortion, drug trafficking, and human trafficking.


Notes:

[i] For more information on Tren de Aragua, its origin, and its historical evolution from railway construction union to criminal organization, see this excellent and comprehensive profile of the group; “Tren de Aragua,” InSight Crime, 12 May 2020. https://insightcrime.org/venezuela-organized-crime-news/tren-de-aragua/

[ii] The history of pranes, or leaders of prison gangs in Venezuela, is complex. For a condensed version of this history, see; Marie Metz, “Venezuelan Prisons and the Power of Pranes,” Foreign Policy Association blog, 15 October 2012. https://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2012/10/15/venezuelan-prisons-and-the-power-of-pranes/

[iii] For more information on the idea that the Maduro regime may be testing the security forces in anticipation of the 2024 election season, see; Ryan C. Berg and Henry Ziemer, “The Only Threat of Violence in Venezuela’s Opposition Primaries Comes from the Regime,” Center for Strategic & International Studies, 17 October 2023. https://www.csis.org/analysis/only-threat-violence-venezuelas-opposition-primaries-comes-regime


Image Information:

Image: The aftermath of a deadly prison riot in Lara state, Venezuela in 2013.
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/diariocriticove/8422860917
Attribution: CC BY 2.0 DEED


North African Wave of Support For Palestinians At Onset Of Israel-Hamas War

Tunisians protest in support of Palestine in 2021. Since the Hamas attack on Israel in October, North African civil societies have shown a wave of support for Palestine.


“President Tebboune [of Algeria] reiterated to the Palestinian President, ‘the unwavering solidarity of Algeria, both people and government, with the brotherly Palestinian people.’”


Civil societies across North Africa have shown staunch solidarity with the Palestinian cause in response to Israeli retaliation for the 7 October attack by Hamas. The first article from the pan-African news aggregator AfricaNews.fr, provides a broad overview of the pro-Palestinian reactions emanating from Morocco, Libya, and Algeria. Namely, it underscores how civil societies have demonstrated in support of Palestine, and in the case of Morocco,[i] and to a lesser extent, Libya,[ii] have used the conflict to call for the cessation of their states’ efforts to normalize relations with Israel. The protests also denounce the role of the United States and France in the conflict. As per the second article, also from AfricaNews.fr, Tunisians gathered to show support for Palestinians, similarly seeking to penalize their own state for its efforts for rapprochement with Israel. The third article from the Algerian government-owned Algeria Press Service emphasizes the unanimity between Algeria’s government and its citizens on the issue. While protestors in Morocco, Libya, and Tunisia sought to punish their leaders for would-be softening stances towards Israel, in Algeria, President Tebboune faced no such backlash. In a call with Mahmoud Abas, the President of the State of Palestine, he underscored, “the unwavering solidarity of Algeria, both people and government, with the brotherly Palestinian people.”


Sources:

“Manifestations pro-palestiniennes dans plusieurs pays arabes (Pro-Palestinian protests in several Arab countries),” AfricaNews.fr (pan-African news aggregator), 14 October 2023. https://fr.africanews.com/2023/10/14/manifestations-pro-palestiniennes-dans-plusieurs-pays-arabes/

Pro-Palestinian rallies, both organized and spontaneous, in response to the conflict between Israel and Gaza-based militant groups have taken the MENA region by storm. In North Africa, demonstrators gathered in Algeria, Libya, and Morocco to show support in favour of Palestine.

“The entire Algerian people are in solidarity with the Palestinian people and stand by their side. The Palestinian people are in distress and need the support of the Arab and Muslim communities,” shared Khaled Sofiane, pro-Palestinian protester in Algeria.

Despite, Morocco’s normalized ties with Israel in exchange for U.S. recognition of its sovereignty over the long-disputed Western Sahara territory, Prince Moulay Hicham El Alaoui, cousin to the Moroccan monarch, has voiced his support for Palestine on social media.

Thousands of Moroccans also protested to ask the government puts an end to the normalization.

“This is a call to the Moroccan state to stop normalization. An appeal to Morocco, which chairs the Jerusalem Committee, to act urgently, to close the liaison office with Israel. And to withdraw from all agreements. This is what Moroccan people demand today,” expressed Rachid Fellouli, pro-Palestinian protester in Morocco.

In Libya, the 5 El- Emad towers illuminated in the colors of the Palestinian flag in support.

The Libyan government has always publicly sided with Palestine and has not recognized Israel. A couple of months ago, Libya’s head of diplomacy was suspended for meeting with her Israeli counterpart. The news of the encounter had created unrest in the already unstable country.


“Guerre Israël-Hamas: des Tunisiens manifestent pour les Palestiniens (Israel-Hamas War: Tunisians protest for Palestinians),” AfricaNews.fr (pan-African news aggregator), 13 October 2023. https://fr.africanews.com/2023/10/13/guerre-israel-hamas-des-tunisiens-manifestent-pour-les-palestiniens/

Thousands of trade unionists, civil society representatives, political activists, lawyers and high school students demonstrated in the centre of Tunis on Thursday in support of the Palestinian people and called for the criminalisation of any normalisation of relations with Israel.

Denouncing the Israeli strikes against the Gaza Strip, the demonstrators, brandishing the Palestinian flag, gathered in front of the headquarters of the trade union centre, the UGTT, before marching to Avenue Habib Bourguiba, the main thoroughfare in the city centre, AFP journalists observed.

“The people want to penalise normalisation” with Israel, chanted the demonstrators, angry at “Zionist crimes” and “international silence on the genocide in Gaza”, the Palestinian enclave.

The demonstrators also denounced the support of France and the United States for Israel, which had become “allies in the attack on the Palestinians”.


“Algeria: President Tebboune Receives Phone Call From President of State of Palestine,” Algeria Press Service (government-owned news service from Algeria), 9 October 2023. https://allafrica.com/stories/202310090525.html

President of the Republic, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, has received a phone call from his brother the President of the occupied State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, the presidency of the Republic said on Monday.

Abbas informed the president of the Republic “about the grave abuses committed by the occupying forces against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank,” the statement said.

President Tebboune reiterated, to the Palestinian President, “the unwavering solidarity of Algeria, both people and government, with the brotherly Palestinian people.”He stressed that “these developments remind everyone that a just and comprehensive peace, as a strategic choice, can only be achieved by establishing an independent, sovereign Palestinian State.”


Notes:

[i] For more on the Israel-Morocco normalization pact of 2020, see: “Israel, Morocco agree to normalise relations in US-brokered deal,” Al-Jazeera, 10 December 2020. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/12/10/israel-morocco-agree-to-normalise-relations-in-us-brokered-deal

[ii] While Libya has never formally recognized Israel, protests erupted in Libya in August 2023 when Israel revealed that Libya’s Foreign Minister, Najla Mangoush, had met with Israeli representatives. Mangoush was subsequently suspended and fled the country. For more, see: Sam Magdy, “Libya’s foreign minister suspended, flees country after meeting with Israel’s top diplomat,” Associated Press, 28 August 2023. https://apnews.com/article/libya-israel-meeting-normalization-arab-world-62d6d37df1838ecba9a604e80b675733


Image Information:

Image: Tunisians protest in support of Palestine in 2021. Since the Hamas attack on Israel in October, North African civil societies have shown a wave of support for Palestine.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Protest_for_palestine_Tunis_Kassba_17-05-2021_By_Brahim_Guedich-3582.jpg
Attribution: BY-SA 4.0


Arabic Media Boasts Narrative Of Victory Following Hamas’ 7 October Attack Of Israel

Israel strikes targets in Gaza Strip, October 2023


“What happened…will cause the Israeli public, especially those in the settlements surrounding Gaza, to lose confidence in the ‘professional army’ model that the occupation army has promoted in the last two decades…”


In the aftermath of the 7 October attack by the Hamas Qassam Brigades into Israel’s Gaza Envelope, a narrative of victory regarding the operation appears to be crystalizing in Arabic-language media. The accompanying excerpts from mainstream Arabic-language publications illustrate the contours of this narrative, in which Israeli forces are portrayed as largely ineffective and Qassam forces as highly effective. The first accompanying excerpt, from Qatari-aligned daily newspaper al-Araby al-Jadeed, emphasizes that the raid brought to light a disconnect between the image and reality of Israeli capabilities. According to the article, Israel’s elite forces and its military-security technology both suffered a reputational defeat that will lead the “Israeli public, especially those in the settlements surrounding Gaza, to lose confidence in the ‘professional army’ model.” Parallel to the narrative of Israeli military ineffectiveness is a narrative of the Qassam Brigades’ competence and operational success. The second accompanying excerpt, from Qatari-funded and pro-Arab al-Jazeera, is centered on Hamas’s information advantage and effective operational planning and execution, highlighting the group’s “strategic deception” and the effective coordination between various Qassam units (elite forces, engineering teams, drone operators, rocket/artillery units, and marine commandos).[i] The third accompanying excerpt, from Lebanon’s al-Akhbar, presents Qassam’s elite forces as devoted, committed, religious, mentally and physically strong young men. These young men, the author concludes, have replaced Qassam [RG1] ’s rockets as “the most permanent and effective strategic weapon.”[ii] The divergence between this emerging narrative of Hamas’s competence and heroism, and the Western portrayal of Hamas’s fighters as brutal terrorists, is striking.


Sources:

“نخبة القسام في مواجهة «اليمام»

(Qassam’s elite faces ‘Yamam’),” al-Araby al-Jadeed (Qatari-aligned daily), 14 October 2023. https://www.alaraby.co.uk/investigations/نخبة-القسام-في-مواجهة-اليمامالسردية-الإسرائيلية-تسقط-في-غلاف-غزة

Al-Najjar… confirms that the clashes that took place with the Qassam elite forces were isolated pockets, and were carried out by individual settlers, who were killed or captured immediately, while the occupation army did not resist…

The occupying state, which promotes the capabilities of its elite forces, even through drama, as in the case of the widely known “Fauda” series, needs a long time to repair the damage to the prestige of its own units, according to Saeed Abu Moalla, professor of media at the Arab American University…

It is not only the reputation of the elite combat units that was damaged in the battle of the “Al-Aqsa Flood,” says Ahmed Rafiq Awad, head of the “Jerusalem Center for Future Studies” at Al-Quds University. The military technology units in the occupation army, which market themselves as being the top in manufacture spyware, as well as the military industries that established the separation fence with the Gaza Strip, including its surveillance tools, have also been subjected to a profound shock that will affect their reputation around the world…

Ultimately, what happened, according to Mansour, Awad, and Erekat, will cause the Israeli public, especially those in the settlements surrounding Gaza, to lose confidence in the “professional army” model that the occupation army has promoted in the last two decades, which relies on elite units and high technology.


الأدوات العسكرية للمقاومة في معركة “طوفان الأقصى”

(The Resistance’s military tools in the ‘al-Aqsa Flood’ battle),” al-Jazeera (pro-Arab Qatari media company), 14 October, https://www.aljazeera.net/politics/2023/10/14/الأدوات-العسكرية-للمقاومة-في-معركة

The resistance used all military operational tools, starting with intelligence deception operations of the intelligence services in the occupying state, led by the “Aman” [military intelligence] apparatus, which is responsible for giving estimates of the army’s position to the political leadership. The resistance was also able to hide the details of the operation and preparations from Israeli technology and espionage systems, and to mobilize forces, organize equipment, and maintain leadership and command during the battle, through the resistance’s continuous affirmation of the progress of the prepared plan, and its later announcement of rotating forces on the front and supplying the fighters with ammunition and equipment.


العابرون على جناح “النخبة”: هؤلاء أبناؤنا الذين لم يكبروا بعد

(Those going through the ‘elite’ wing: these are our children who have not yet grown up),” al-Akhbar (pro-Hezbollah leftist Lebanese daily), 9 October 2023. https://www.al-akhbar.com/Palestine/370863/العابرون-على-جناح-النخبة-هؤلاء-أبناؤنا-الذين-لم-يكبروا-بع

Out of every 100 fighters, the resistance selects one or two who succeed in passing the physical, psychological, and spiritual tests…

What is it like for Muhannad to be among the elite? A young man free from all restrictions, single, of pure nature, who believes in authentic slogans untainted by reality, whose heart is attached to God, who is enthusiastic and has an excellent physical structure, and also, wholly ready for sacrifice…

Before the day before yesterday, missiles were, in the eyes of both enemy and friend, the only resistance weapon capable of limited action and morally acceptable impact. Today, rockets have become a secondary weapon, while men’s forearms, which trampled on Zionist military honor, have become the most permanent and effective strategic weapon.


Notes:

[i] Planning is important for the Qassam Brigades. A Qassam training manual, published in 2011, appears to have been used by ISIS for training. See: “Military Training in the Islamic State,” OE Watch, August 2015.

[ii] These elite forces are purported to include 5,000 well-trained and well-equipped forces, per a 2017 study by Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies https://www.inss.org.il/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/GazaCrisis_ENG-51-62.pdf


Image Information:

Image:  Israel strikes targets in Gaza Strip, October 2023
Source: Palestinian News & Information Agency (Wafa) in contract with APAimages, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Damage_in_Gaza_Strip_during_the_October_2023_-_01.jpg
Attribution: CC 3.0