RUSI in the News: 25 January 2016

US Presidential Elections

Listen to RUSI Director General discuss the primaries and US foreign policy on BBC Radio 4’s the World this Weekend (at 24:30s) 

Afghanistan and China

Raffaello Pantucci, a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute in London, said Beijing’s greater willingness to lead on the Afghan issue was partly in recognition of a reduced Western role.

Pantucci said instability in Afghanistan would pose a major threat to President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) “One Belt, One Road” initiative even though the route had diverted around Afghanistan.

He said the biggest challenge was that either the Afghan government or the Taliban was not “coherent enough” to bring everyone in.“China has a fairly limited track record in such negotiations and to assume they will be able to learn and resolve the problems in Afghanistan that have stumped most, seems optimistic,” he said.

Raffaello Pantucci in the South China Morning Post

The Iranian Nuclear Deal

“The Rouhani administration is counting on sanctions relief resulting in economic improvements, and if possible, before next month’s parliamentary elections,” said Timothy Stafford, a research analyst at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

“However, there is a danger that it will over-promise and under-deliver. International businesses will think very carefully about the risks of returning to the Iranian market, and even if they do, it will take a long time for the economic benefits of increased trade and investment to be felt,” he said.

“In addition, it is still possible that some of the nuclear-related sanctions that are being lifted will be reimposed for other reasons in the coming months. That is how the US has decided to respond to the ballistic missile tests Iran conducted late last year.”

Timothy Stafford in The Guardian

‘It was a very smart move by the Iranians to announce this trip right after the implementation of the [nuclear deal]… We are already seeing the trickle down effect of the Implementation phase.’

Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi on Al Jazeera English’s Inside Story

See also Aaron Stein discuss the deal on Huffington Post Live

Syria peace talks

"If Iran loses Syria, it loses by far its biggest ally in the Middle East. If Russia loses Syria, it's a big geopolitical blow at a time when it's facing isolation."

Shashank Joshi on AFPDeutche Welle and others

Tackling Daesh/ISIS

‘Bank systems aimed at spotting terrorist finance are most likely to be alerted when they spot a match between a suspicious name listed in a bank blacklist and a customer name, says Tom Keatinge, director for the Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute. However, he says this system is prone to false positives….“It is crucial to spot the individuals with the funds prepared to move them to a group or use them to buy bombs,” says Keatinge. “That means improved and deeper intelligence about funders and their businesses. By the time the money has reached the war zone it is too late.”

Tom Keatinge in Financial Director

Terror attacks in Europe

Raffaello Pantucci of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London said the planning behind the video “specifically highlights how this was a plot that was directed by core IS.”

AFP and Manila Times

Libya and ISIS

‘Many questions remain to be answered about any U.S. involvement in a country that has been embroiled in factional fighting since U.S.-led airstrikes four years ago helped to topple the regime of Moammar Gadhafi, who was captured and slain by rebels. "What is the strategy?" asked Shashank Joshi, a security analyst with the Royal United Services Institute in London. "One-off degradation? Is there a ground component? Who provides the forces? "There are lots of unanswered questions."

Shashank Joshi in Stars and Stripes

RUSI Whitehall Paper: Indian Power Projection: Ambition, Arms and Influence

‘The motives and details of India’s strategic posture are discussed in Joshi’s admirably lucid pamphlet. The author, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, notes that the Indian elite is “embracing new and more ambitious tasks for the country’s military”. Joshi argues that India’s “threat perception” remains dominated “by the allied nuclear powers of Pakistan to the northwest and China to the north”. But, over the coming years, Joshi sees India joining the small group of nations – including the US, Britain, France, Russia and, increasingly, China – that are willing and able to “project power”, outside their own regions.’

Gideon Rachman, Financial Times

Also reviewed in The Diplomat

Is another Egyptian uprising on the way?
Op-Ed by H A Hellyer in the Canadian Globe and Mail

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