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CSi Analytic Articles and Reports

CSi’s cadre of experts synthesize global events, breaking news, and policy shifts to determine real-world impacts to international business and regional power dynamics. Click on the updates below to read more.

Middle East

Specialist CSi Analytic Reports on the Middle East.

FEBRUARY 2020
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Iran: Expecting a Tumultuous 2020

Richard C. Baffa 

 

As the Islamic Republic celebrates the 41st anniversary of its founding, the regime is facing enormous pressure from a combination of factors, including: sanctions; a growing regime legitimacy crisis; anti-Iranian backlash in Iraq and Lebanon; and the killing of Qods Force Commander Qassim Suleimani, who was instrumental to advancing Iran’s regional strategy. Iran will continue to publicly tout its “resistance economy” but conditions will only worsen as the year progresses. New protests are almost certain to arise and probably with increasing frequency; they will be met by intimidation and violence, the response of a regime with no solutions and that appears to be losing its grip. For the near term, the regime will focus on regional diplomacy aimed at sowing division between the U.S. and its Gulf allies to eventually…(read more)

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John Raine CMG OBE, Senior Advisor for Geopolitical Due Diligence at IISS

 

Iran is scheduled to hold elections to the 290-member Majlis, or Consultative Assembly, on 21 February 2020. Given recent public opposition to the regime, the elections could prove a trigger for further challenges to its authority and legitimacy. The electoral contest between reformists and conservatives may be less significant than the deeper question of the constitutional basis on which they serve. Whoever is elected, the Majlis will still be operating…(read more)

Reports

CSi combines practitioner experience, academic insight and analytic rigor to craft bespoke reports focused on regional dynamics, business sectors, future risks, and burgeoning opportunities.  Click on the reports below for an example of the types of products CSi experts develop for international business and government clients.

 

JULY 2019

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Report on Qatar

Cambridge Security Initiative Report focusing the on political and economic security as well as the escalation of tensions between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

 

Report on Saudi Arabia

Cambridge Security Initiative Report analysing the ‘currents of discontent’ impacting Riyadh’s relationship with both Washington and London.

 

UAE Report

Cambridge Security Initiative Report investigating the extent to which the Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayid (MBZ) is the driving force behind the United Arab Emirates aggressive and expansionist foreign policy.

 

Gulf Tensions Report

Cambridge Security Initiative Report analysing the growth of tensions in the Gulf and the possibility of the United States and the United Kingdom contributing further to the conflict.

JANUARY 2020

Specialist CSi Analytic Reports on the Middle East from January 2020

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Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030- Progress and Problems 

Dr. Dina Rezk, University of Reading

At the beginning of a new decade, the Kingdom’s balance sheet in achieving the stated goals ofVision 2030 leaves much to be desired. This is in keeping with a historic trail of similar development plans to modernise and diversify the Kingdom since the 1970s: ultimately political considerations have trumped…(read more)

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The Implications of the U.S.-Iran Dispute on Iraq 

Dr. Renad Mansour, Research Fellow at Chatham House

The U.S. assassination of Iranian General Qassim al-Suleimani and leader of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis initially threatened to engulf Iran and the U.S. in direct conflict, despite the U.S. President’s claims that “Iran appears to be standing down.” For Tehran, however, retaliation will not be limited to short-term tit-for-tat military attacks, but will include a longer-term campaign to increase Iranian…(read more)

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Dorothea Gioe, former Near East Division officer at the Central Intelligence Agency

 

Haitham bin Tariq al-Said was not the obvious choice to succeed his recently-deceased cousin Qaboos as the Sultan of Oman. The new sultan’s half-brother, Asaad, served as Qaboos’ ‘special representative’ while he was ill, and his appointment as deputy Prime Minister in 2017 led to speculation that he would inherit the throne upon the Sultan’s death. Whether Haitham’s accession is derived from the fact that he is the son of his father’s first wife, or whether it was due to Sultan Qaboos’ final sealed…(read more)

 

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The Islamic State’s (IS) Arabic language propaganda provides a useful lens into its strategic priorities and local recruitment narratives. Revealingly, the focus in this literature is overwhelmingly on the group’s local and regional Islamic enemies, rather than the West. Whilst taking advantage of any opportunity to claim victory, it is clear that the principal target in the Islamic State’s hierarchy remains Iran, in line with its longstanding...(read more)

 

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DECEMBER 2019

Specialist CSi Analytic Reports on the Middle East from December 2019.

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Iraq’s New Prime Minister Will Not Be A Fix 

Dr. Renad Mansour, Research Fellow at Chatham House 

 

On 29 November 2019, after months of protests and related violence in which over 400 Iraqis have been killed, Iraqi prime minister Adil ‘Abd al-Mahdi resigned, one year after taking office. Yet, protesters are not satisfied with Mahdi’s resignation. Rather than calling for the end of one man, or one party, they have been calling for...(read more) 

 

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Saudi Arabia: Aramco’s Politicized Valuation 

Dr. Dina Rezk, University of Reading

 

Despite international investor scepticism, Saudi Arabia has managed to rally sufficient local and regional support to achieve Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s (MBS) long touted $2 trillion valuation for Aramco, after trading on the Tadawul stock exchange. The Kingdom undertook several public steps in recent months to secure a solid valuation for the nation’s crown jewel. Until September 2019, the head of Aramco was also Energy Minister. The decision to separate the two portfolios was an attempt to...(read more)

 

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Dr. Dina Rezk, University of Reading

The appointment of the Kingdom’s first royal, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman as Energy Ministersignals a break with the tradition of protecting this key post from palace intrigue. Half-brother to Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS), and with a personal reputation as a technocrat and consensus builder, Prince Abdul Aziz has critical experience in negotiating deals within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). As part of the quest to acquire as high a valuation for Aramco as possible, Prince Abdul Aziz has worked to secure deeper supply cuts within OPEC, particularly from…(read more)

 

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NOVEMBER 2019

Specialist CSi Analytic Reports on the Middle East from November 2019.

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Saudi Arabia: Implications of Aramco IPO

Dr. Dina Rezk, University of Reading

After considerable delays since Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS) first announced Aramco’s IPO as integral to the diversification strategy of Vision 2030, the decision to proceed on the Saudi Tadawul incorporates key political, economic and security considerations. This IPO is not only vital to the Kingdom’s long term economic goals, but MBS also needs the political success to shore up Saudi’s domestic and international reputation in the face of the Khashoggi murder last year, the resource-draining conflict in Yemen, and recent attacks on...(read more)

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Iraqi Protests Unlikely to Yield Meaningful Changes

Dr. Renad Mansour, Research Fellow at Chatham House

 

October 2019 represented one of the largest grassroots protest mobilizations in Iraq since 2003, protests which continue into November and will likely linger in diminishing numbers. Iraqi youth (two-thirds of Iraq is under the age of 30 and many are without job prospects) are disillusioned by rampant, systemic corruption that privileges Shia, Kurdish, and Sunni elites. In response to protests, which began in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square on 01 October but have spread throughout the south, Iraqi forces and allied Iran-backed militia have used increasing force against largely unarmed protesters, resulting in the deaths of over 300… (read more)

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Egypt: Protests and Political Upheaval 

Dr. Dina Rezk, University of Reading

 

Marking the most significant unrest Egypt has witnessed since 2013, a wave of dissident videos followed allegations of corruption from military contractor Mohamed Ali. Popular protests in Cairo, Alexandria, and other cities in September and October were ostensibly against corruption and austerity but also indicate a power struggle between the military and the Ministry of Interior…(read more) 

 

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Commonwealth of Independent States

Specialist CSi Analytic Reports and Articles.

JANUARY 2020
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Russia Eyes Arctic Opportunities

Dr. Tracey German, King’s College London

 

While Norway marked the centenary of its rule of the Svalbard archipelago on 09 February 2020 with concerts and cake, Russia chose to mark the occasion by asserting that Russia has ‘long- term plans to strengthen, diversify and modernise its presence’ there. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sent a letter to his Norwegian counterpart reiterating long-running concerns that Russian interests and activities are being discriminated against in Svalbard. The 1920 Svalbard Treaty, which established Norwegian sovereignty over the archipelago, also granted rights to all thesignatory states, including the right to settle and engage in economic activity. Russia is the sole signatory to have made use of this and Russian…(read more)

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Russia Seeks to Capitalise on U.S. Disengagement in Africa

Dr. Tracey German, King’s College London

 

Russia continues to consolidate its position on the African continent as the U.S. withdraws. Reports in December 2019 that the Pentagon is examining the possibility of a drawdown of its troops in West Africa, as part of a wider re-evaluation of global deployments, will present further opportunities for Moscow, which has been actively…(read more)

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Russia, Iran Still Partners of Convenience Post-Suleimani

Dr. Victor Madeira

Despite talk of deepening strategic ties, Russia and Iran remain mistrustful partners of convenience often competing for influence—including in Syria, where together they prop up the al-Assad regime. In Russia’s global strategy of “divide-and-rule”, Iran and its proxies are valuable pawns against America and its regional allies. And an isolated Iran increasingly needs…(read more)

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DECEMBER 2019

Specialist CSi Analytic Reports on the Commonwealth of Independent States from December 2019.

DECEMBER 2019
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Dr. Victor Madeira

Kyiv and Moscow have conditionally agreed to a five-year natural gas transit deal. Ukraine (and the mediating European Union (EU)) had wanted 7–10 years but Russia offered 1–3. Subject to political approval of yet-unknown terms, both sides will sign a contract before the current one ends on 31 December. Commercial interests guided Moscow’s apparent concessions, certainly. But their intended audience was…(read more)

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Dr. Tracey German, King’s College London 

 

As 2019 draws to a close, anti-government protests in Georgia continue apace. In mid- December a protest group, Shame, released a foul-smelling chemical in parliament as legislators were deliberating a series of lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court. Claiming responsibility for the attack in a Facebook post, the group used the hashtag #Systemstinks. A number of Georgia’s international partners have expressed concern about the political turmoil, warning that the country is at risk of…(read more)

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‘Apple Law’ Bans Won’t Help Russian Consumers, Businesses
Dr. Victor Madeira

 

Vladimir Putin has signed a bill banning the sale of electronic devices unless they have pre- installed (so far unspecified) Russian software. Expected to become law on 01 July 2020, this would benefit consumers and help local companies compete with foreign ones, say officials. But Apple—which does not pre-install third-party software—has joined Russian voices in criticising the step. It is the latest toward a Kremlin aim of ‘sovereign internet’, increasingly free of western technology…(read more)

 

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NOVEMBER 2019

Specialist CSi Analytic Reports on the Commonwealth of Independent States from November 2019.

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No Russian Internet ‘Kill-Switch’ Anytime Soon 

Dr. Victor Madeira

 

The Russian Federation’s new ‘sovereign internet’ law came into effect on 01 November. Officials describe it simply as measures to centralise control of and isolate the Russian Internet (RuNet) in unspecified national emergencies, e.g. external cyber-attack, whilst allowing websites and services hosted in Russia to keep working. But the so-called ‘kill-switch law’ currently faces technical and financial obstacles to full implementation. This means the new legislation, at least in the near term, is more about… (read more)

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Russia ‘Embarrassed’ Twice in a Week by CN Media  

Dr. Victor Madeira

In early November, Chinese media unusually embarrassed Russia – twice in a week. First, SINA reported that in July 2018, Syria seized an unexploded, cutting-edge Israeli-U.S. missile interceptor from the ‘David’s Sling’ system and gave it to Russia. Days later, Eastday.com quoted a leading Chinese strategist who claimed NATO could occupy Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad (formerly Königsberg) in just two days, but Moscow would then widen the conflict by striking several European capitals. Russian media carried both reports, raising questions about their source, timing, and aims, though...(read more)

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Uzbekistan Flirts With China, Russia

Dr. Tracey German, King’s College London

 

After years of pursuing a cautious balancing act in terms of its relations with regional and international powers, Uzbekistan has intensified relations with China and Russia since 2016. Lying at the geographical heart of Central Asia, Uzbekistan presents significant opportunity for those wishing to trade across the entire region. However, there is the risk of geopolitical competition between the principal regional powers of Russia and China, as both have increased their… (read more)

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Reports

CSi combines practitioner experience, academic insight, and analytic rigor to craft bespoke reports focused on regional dynamics, business sectors, future risks, and burgeoning opportunities.  Click on the reports below for an example of the types of products CSi experts develop for international business and government clients.

 

NOVEMBER 2019

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North Africa Regional Overview

Cambridge Security Initiative Report on the recent popular protests in North Africa have sparked concerns about a new round of the ‘Arab Spring.’ This report explores the importance of popular protests and the future of tensions in the region.

ISI Updates

ASzWoj Conference 2019

ISI co-convenors Professor Michael Goodman and Dr David Gioe provided several lectures at the Polish War Studies University in Warsaw, Poland. They spoke about topics across the field of Intelligence Studies, including the best practices for teaching intelligence and information warfare. 

Search #ASzWojConference2019 for further information

 

February 2020 Events

The following information has been supplied by the KCL Intelligence and Security Research Group- a CSi Partner  

For further information on KISG events please click here

 

EVENTS 
Study Group on Intelligence

Hosted by King’s College London
Friday 21st February 2020
Bush House, London, UK

 

10.00: Gather at KCL for coffee

10.30: Panel on ‘Cold War Diplomacy and Intelligence in the Global South’

‘Soviet and Eastern European Intelligence in Africa: the Case of Czechoslovak Relations with Amilcar Cabral’
Dr Natasha Telepneva

‘Soviet Disinformation in Cold War India: The ‘Freeman Telegram’ and the KGB’
Dr Paul McGarr 

‘Reflections of a Diplomat: Cold War Angola and Nicaragua’
Tim Willasey-Wilsey

13.00: Panel on ‘US and UK Experience with Government Contractors – a Mixed Legacy?’

‘Outsourcing US Intelligence: Contractors and Government Accountability’
Dr Damien van Puyvelde

‘”This venture might be privatised” – Outsourcing British Counter-Insurgency during the Late Cold War Period’
Phil Miller

If you wish to attend RSVP as soon as possible. There is a £10 fee for attendance on the day. 

Registration details are available here

 

‘Enigma Codebreaking: What Really Happened’ with Dermot Turing

Hosted by the International Spy Museum
Thursday 13th February 2020
L’Enfant Plaza, Washington DC, USA

 

December 1932. In the bathroom of a Belgian hotel, a French spymaster photographs secret documents – operating instructions of the cipher machine, Enigma. A few weeks later a mathematician in Warsaw begins to decipher the coded communications of the Third Reich and lay the foundations for the code-breaking operation at Bletchley Park.

Dermot Turing draws on recently declassified archives for his new book X, Y & Z which tells the story of the cooperation between France, Britain, and Poland—cover name ‘X, Y & Z’. Join Turing as he sheds light on how Enigma was broken and celebrates the early work of the Polish codebreakers which was essential to his uncle Alan Turing’s famous cryptologic efforts during WWII.

More details here

 

 

 ‘The Future of Intelligence Analysis’ with Joseph Gartin

Hosted by the Intelligence Studies Project
Thursday 13th February 2020
University of Texas, Austin, USA

Joseph Gartin is a national security professional with more than 30 years of experience in the US Intelligence Community. He recently retired from the CIA as deputy associate director for talent and chief learning officer, overseeing learning and development programs for its global workforce. His previous assignments include dean of the Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis, vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council and director of the President’s Daily Briefing. He began his intelligence career in 1986 at the predecessor to the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, focusing on East Asian militaries.

More details here

 

 ‘Gray Day: My Undercover Mission to Expose America’s First Cyber Spy’ with Eric O’Neill

Hosted by the Institute of World Politics
Friday 21st February 2020
16th Street Northwest, Washington DC, USA

Eric O’Neill was only twenty-six when he was tapped for the case of a lifetime: a one-on-one undercover investigation of the FBI’s top target, a man suspected of spying for the Russians for nearly two decades. With zero training in face-to-face investigation, Eric found himself in a windowless, high-security office in the newly formed Information Assurance Section, tasked officially with helping the FBI secure its outdated computer system against hackers and spies -and unofficially with collecting evidence against his new boss, Robert Hanssen.

More details here

 

 ‘To Catch a Spy: The Art of Counterintelligence’ with James Olson

Hosted by the Institute of World Politics
Friday 28th February 2020
16th Street Northwest, Washington DC, USA

When the Soviet Union dissolved in December of 1991, many academics, media commentators, and even senior government officials declared that the Cold War was over and that we were in a new era of Pax Americana. Jim Olson was not one of those who was deluded by the changing currents of international affairs. 

Professor Olson in his new book To Catch a Spy: The Art of Counterintelligence demonstrates the devastating success of hostile intelligence services against all elements of the U.S. government. He was a Career officer in the Directorate of Operations of the Central Intelligence Agency, serving mostly overseas in clandestine operations. He served as Chief of Counterintelligence at CIA Headquarters.

More details here

 

 

Cambridge Intelligence Seminar

Friday 14th February 2020
‘Counter-Disinformation and the Tools of the Intelligence Trade’
Gill Bennett

Friday 28th February 2020
‘Managing complicity: British intelligence liaison and human rights since 9/11’
Thomas Maguire

Friday 6th March 2020
‘Belarus between East and West’
Neil Kent

 

All Cambridge meetings take place in Corpus Christi College McCrum Lecture Theatre (entry through ‘The Eagle’ archway, Benet Street) and commence promptly at 5.30 pm.

 

CONFERENCES
‘Legally Immoral Activity: Testing the Limits of Intelligence Collection’

11-12th February 2020
Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Are there limits to intelligence collection in support of national security? Where, if at all, does a free and open society provide the limits of surveillance with civil liberties? Civil liberties are a founding tenet of democracy, but at what cost? How does a country balance collective security with individual rights? Recently, a Federal Court ordered Apple to help the FBI unlock the cellphone of a terrorist, but company officials would oppose that order, citing concerns over the privacy rights of all Americans.

This 2-day inter-disciplinary conference will examine the legal, ethical, social, economic, historical and political aspects of the United States government’s ability to protect its citizens in an era that warfare has no societal or personal boundaries.

More details here

Conference on ‘Accessing Historical Records on Intelligence and International Affairs’
24 April 2020

Hosted by the Canadian Foreign Intelligence History Project (CFIHP)

Ottawa, Canada

Accessing Historical Records on Intelligence and International Affairs is presented by CFIHP with the support of the North American Society for Intelligence History. It will be an opportunity for historians, archivists and government officials to share ideas on accessing historical government records on intelligence, international affairs and defence, and to learn more about recent developments in the Access to Information process in Canada.

Pre-registration is required. Participants cannot register at the event. More details here and registration link here

 

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