RUSI in the News: 4-10 January 2016

Listen to RUSI Director-General Dr Karin von Hippel serving as a guest on the BBC World Service's Weekend programme.

Op-eds and Analysis by RUSI Experts

Nuclear test reveals as much about North Korea’s intentions as it does its capabilities

‘It may take days or even weeks to receive proper indications about the true nature of the nuclear test conducted, and the international community will need to prepare for prolonged period in which its imply not possible to confirm or deny North Korea’ assertion that a hydrogen device was tested successfully.

It is important to recognise the significance in itself of North Korea pursuing a nuclear weapons programme – whether hydrogen or not.’

Emil Dall and Timothy Stafford on  6 January 2016

-- SEE ALSO: RUSI Video - The North Korean H-Bomb Test

Is a Pan-African Police Force the Answer to Rising Militancy?

‘The creation of a police cooperation body adds a new dimension to institutions that seek to enhance peace and security within the continent, not least because it brings together the two groups of police chiefs for a joint purpose.’

Sasha Jesperson in Newsweek, 9 January 2016

Pathankot attack: India-Pakistan peace talks derailed?

‘While a single incident within India could be written off as the work of autonomous jihadist "spoilers", concurrent attacks in Afghanistan and India are harder to interpret as such. At the same time, it is difficult to see how Pakistan's army could have planned an attack, if it wanted to, in the two weeks since Mr Modi travelled to Lahore, or even in the month since a fleeting Modi-Sharif meeting in Paris.’

Shashank Joshi on BBC News 7 January

Group with ‘hate in their hearts’ gains traction

‘Politicians all over the UK and Europe must not allow that to continue. The lack of real leadership has led to the likes of Pegida, and it will only be by exhibiting true leadership that will lead to the end of prejudice in Europe.’

 HA Hellyer in The National  7 January 2016

Why ISIS Cannot be Negotiated With

‘If ISIS remains true to its principles, that’s also the reason the world can accept nothing less than the group’s full defeat.’

HA Hellyer in The Atlantic 10 January 2016

Quoted in the media

FactCheck: how dangerous is North Korea?

‘“Clearly, the North Koreans are not interested in nuclear non-proliferation. They are prepared to run the risk of sanctions. They are pursuing it to the extent that even when the Chinese want them to stop, they don’t.’

Timothy Stafford on Channel 4 News online

Lack of Options on North Korea Presses China to Shift Policy

‘There are two main loopholes in the current system, said Andrea Berger, deputy director of the proliferation and nuclear policy program at the Royal United Services Institute.

"North Korea is still allowed to buy small arms and light weapons, which they have the ability to manufacture themselves and can use to reverse engineer," Berger said. The UN’s blacklist doesn’t target non-North Koreans that North Korean authorities have enlisted overseas "to open bank accounts for them and give them access to those bank accounts," she said.’

Andrea Berger in Bloomberg News

Russian GRU military spy chief dies

Mr Sutyagin, of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), told the BBC that the FSB got its social analysis of Ukraine wrong in 2013-2014.

"Unlike them the GRU didn't try to predict the social situation. The GRU's duty was to prepare gangs, and the job of the Spetsnaz [special forces], controlled by the GRU, was to prepare an insurgency," he said.

Igor Sutyagin on BBC News

No easy options for West to dislodge IS from Libya: analysts

‘IS has clearly established a foothold in Libya, and it's a matter of growing concern for the United Kingdom and other NATO countries, so it (military intervention) is certainly possible,’ Malcolm Chalmers of the London-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think-tank said. ‘The question is what the scale and nature of an intervention might be, and that will depend very much on how the threat develops over the next month.’

-Professor Malcolm Chalmers for  AFP in the Daily Mail 

International intervention in Libya precarious 

‘According to Malcolm Chalmers of the London-based Riyal United Services Institute (RUSI) think-tank, ISIL has clearly established a foothold in Libya, and it’s a matter of growing concern for the United Kingdom and other NATO countries, so military intervention is certainly possible.’

-Professor Malcolm Chalmers in The Gulf Times

Saudi Arabia Cuts Ties With Iran Amid Fallout From Cleric’s Execution

“This is a very disturbing escalation,” said Michael Stephens, an analyst at the Royal United Services Institute, a research center based in London. “It has enormous consequences for the people of the region, and the tensions between the two sides are going to mean that instability across the region will continue.”

Michael Stephens in the New York Times 

Also in Boston Globe/New York Times

Qatar condemns attack on Saudi embassy in Tehran

Speaking to Doha News, he said: “Qatar is in a difficult position, because its relationship to Saudi Arabia is intimate, and its diplomatic allegiance is to the GCC which was primarily set up as a security architecture to deter Iran.”

He continued: “However Qatar’s critical national interests are intertwined with Iran in the form of the shared North Dome/South Pars gas field, and shared maritime boundaries. As such any escalation in tensions is difficult for the Qataris to manage.”

Michael Stephens in the Doha News 

Also in: Gawker

Middle of nowhere? Obama’s Middle East legacy

However Shashank Joshi, of the Royal United Services Institute, believes that many of the grumblings against the President are “extreme, crude, and opportunistic”. While Obama has made mistakes over Iran, Joshi says we should remember that “he negotiated with Iran as part of a six-nation bloc.” Further, the deal with Iran “will have a largely positive legacy” because Iran will remain “one year away from being able to make enough fissile material for a bomb,” which is “enough time to detect and stop it, using diplomatic or military means.”

Shashank Joshi in Jewish News Online

Abu Rumaysah's associates divided over whether he is Isis man in mask

Raffaello Pantucci, director of international security studies at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), said: “To me the picture is very confusing. His sister has just come out and said she thinks it’s him, and then no it isn’t. But actually family aren’t always as reliable as we think. There have been families in the past who think they have identified their children in these videos and it’s turned out to be wrong. It’s very difficult to tell. These are unreliable.”

Raffaello Pantucci in The Guardian 

Also in International Business Times, Huffington Post

Islamic State: David Cameron labels latest video 'desperate', intelligence agencies to use voice recognition to identify masked man

Dr Afzal Ashraf, a fellow with the Royal United Services Institute in London, said the odds are against IS. "They have no courage to confront the West, they have no capability to confront the West," Dr Ashraf said. "It takes no courage to kill a man whose hands are bound and shoot him in the back of the head."

Afzal Ashraf in ABC News Australia 

New Jihadi John is a DEAD MAN WALKING: How MI6 'already knows who ISIS killer is'

Senior research fellow Margaret Gilmore said: "It is inevitable that he will be identified - and quickly. Security services may already have an ID, but they're not necessarily going to jump up and down and tell us. "The moment he opened his mouth, family, friends and people who knew him in the UK will have stepped forward. "It's unlikely that they will all have stayed quiet. If it was a friend of yours you would absolutely recognise that voice immediately."

Margaret Gilmore in The Express

Airstrikes reduce Islamic State oil revenue

Reports from the region  indicate shortages of cooking fuel and other oil products in Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria, and Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, said Tom Keatinge, an analyst at the Royal United Services Institute, a British think-tank…Keatinge said there are reports the militants are preventing people from leaving territory it controls to avoid losing that tax revenue.

Tom Keatinge in USA Today

Co-op Bank shuts down account belonging to Palestinian NGO Friends of Al-Aqsa ‘without explanation’

“Unfortunately for a lot of charities, at some point banks say, we are not making money out of banking NGOs so we are going to close these accounts,” Keatinge said.

Tom Keatinge in The Independent 

China’s Dilemma over Land and Sea Routes

‘But China’s emphasis on connectivity as a key goal of the New Silk Road runs the risk of over-emphasising railway development as an end goal, since only a few high-value goods are cost-effective to transport by rail, warns a paper by the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies.’

RUSI Workshop Paper in the Asia Sentinel


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