Discontinuity in Russian Strategic Culture? A Case Study of Mission Command Practice

Author:Dmitry (Dima) Adamsky - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 49 - Published: February 2020


  • Empirical evidence suggests that, parallel to the cultural continuity manifested in the main characteristics of Russian conduct in its operation in Syria, a departure from strategic tradition might have emerged on the tactical level: the emergence of a mission-command culture.
  • If the symptoms are the harbinger of a cultural change, this would be a novelty and deviation from earlier Russian strategic tradition. The categorical answer to this question is beyond the scope of this piece, but we offer competing explanations for this conceivable eventuality.
  • The literature on this subject differentiates between three different shifts in strategic culture: incremental and slow cultural transformation; rapid and fundamental change occurring during a short period of time; and a cultural change in which the overall strategic culture remains intact, but the strategic community deliberately and rapidly adopts new norms and practices. The characteristics of change shown in Russian conduct in the operation in Syria suggest that it is closer to the third, ideal type of shift.

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Continuity in Russian Strategic Culture: A Case Study of Moscow’s Syrian Campaign

Author:Dmitry (Dima) Adamsky - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 48 - Published: February 2020


  • The paper argues that Russian strategic-operational conduct in Syria demonstrates more continuity than change in the traditional Russian approach to military operations and strategy.
  • The paper claims that this continuity presents itself in the following cultural traits: (1) a holistic approach to strategy and   operations; (2) recklessness and disconnect between words and deeds; (3) a mix   of messianic–pragmatic considerations;   (4) an integral strategic management style; and (5) operational creativeness.
  • The paper also suggests that change might be evolving on the tactical-operational level with the emergence of a mission   command culture.

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Russian Lessons from the Syrian Operation and the Culture of Military Innovation

Author:Dmitry (Dima) Adamsky - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 47 - Published: February 2020


  • The Russian operation in Syria, which started in 2015, has become a main reference for understanding the changing character of war, and one of the main drivers transforming Russian military theory,   concepts of operations, organizational structures, and force build-up.
  • Russian lessons pertaining to the changing character of war and implications for the theory of victory fall into three categories: new type of warfare, new type of enemy, and the main implications for   operational art.
  • The notions of “Reconnaissance Strike Complex/Contour” - a combined arms system of systems which links together intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, command and control,   and precision standoff fires - have become a recurrent theme in Russian force build-up. Most military modernization efforts have been grouped around refining the intelligence, command and control,   and fire capabilities of the reconnaissance strike complex.
  • The Syrian campaign has offered an unprecedented experience in conducting an expeditionary operation. The lessons learned from this experience have given light to a novel concept—the “strategy of   limited action.” This strategy is an evolution of the sort of long-range power projection operations by a limited but self-sufficient grouping of combined arms forces.

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Spetsnaz: Operational Intelligence, Political Warfare, and Battlefield Role

Author: Mark Galeotti - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 46 - Published: February 2020


  • Russia’s Spetsnaz [Special Designation] forces are light infantry forces that are largely configured for reconnaissance, counterinsurgency, and power-projection missions, more comparable to the U.S.   75th Ranger Regiment or the British 16th Air Assault Brigade than to true special forces. Russia’s Special Operations Forces Command, however, is a genuine special forces unit.
  • Spetsnaz missions vary from battlefield reconnaissance and behind-the-lines sabotage to training guerrillas and, increasingly, supporting allied regimes against insurgencies and protests. They have     played a significant role in all recent deployments, including in Crimea, the Donbas, and Syria.
  • Spetsnaz forces are especially geared toward “political warfare” operations, reflecting Moscow’s particular interest in integrating conventional military missions with covert “active measures.”

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The Law Enforcement Agencies: Russian Domestic Security and International Implications

Author: Mark Galeotti - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 45 - Published: January 2020


  • Russia’s law enforcement agencies operate within a system that puts primacy on the interests of the state rather than the execution of the laws. Although there are many personnel in the various agencies who may regret this, and might even support change, there is currently no sign of any serious internal resistance to the status quo.
  • A central tenet of Russian policy is that domestic unrest is fomented, or at the very least supported, by hostile foreign powers—especially the United States. As a result, the connections between Russia’s domestic law enforcement and external security are especially strong.
  • A dominant generation of securocrats—whose ideological belief is that Russia is under attack, which predisposes them to securitizing everything from street protest to investigative reporting—are beginning to be challenged by a rising cohort of technocrats. Ambitious and morally flexible, these technocrats are not interested in challenging existing policy, but their essentially nonideological nature means that they could more easily adapt to a less authoritarian and isolationist policy in the future

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The Presidential Administration: The Command and Control Nexus of Putin’s Russia

Author: Mark Galeotti - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 44 - Published: February 2020


  • The Russian political system is a diffuse and informal one, but the closest thing to a true command-and-control nexus for President Vladimir Putin, including non-military interference abroad, is the Presidential Executive Office of Russia, also known as the Presidential Administration (AP, Administratsiya Prezidenta).
  • The office performs crucial roles as the main gatekeeper to Putin, his primary source of information, and the president’s voice in terms of not only public discourse and presentation but also the setting of goals and the establishment of limits within the executive.
  • This is a secretive institution, so it is hard to be certain of its organizational code and culture. However, while it appears fully committed to Putin’s current geopolitical campaign and convinced that Russia faces an existential political and cultural challenge from the West, it is able (and required) to see the big picture and, as a result, is more risk-averse than the Russian intelligence community and perhaps even the military.


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The Grom-2019 Exercise Illuminated the Risks of Nuclear Renaissance in Russian Strategic Culture

Author: Pavel K. Baev - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 43 - Published: January 2020


Russian strategic culture has transformed quickly in various and not always coherent directions. One of the increasingly prominent traits is the greater reliance on nuclear capabilities as an instrument of policy. The breakdown of many key elements of the arms control system underpins and intensifies this Russian reenergizing of nuclear deterrence. Russia’s Grom-2019 strategic exercise in October 2019, unprecedented in its scale and complexity, illuminated some alarming features in this nuclear renaissance:

  • Russian leadership not only accepts the possibility of but also seeks to prevail in a large-scale nuclear war involving multiple exchanges of various strikes.
  • The modernization of Russia’s nuclear arsenal is not yet complete and—because new weapon systems are mixed with old ones—the compatibility of various capabilities is uncertain.
  • High-intensity exploitation and exercising of all available assets and testing of new prototypes progressively increases the probability of accidents, which could be blamed on a “hostile external interference.”
  • Russian command tends to perceive its readiness to manage the high risks of accidents and brinksmanship as an important strategic advantage over the risk-averse United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  • The heaviest concentration of nuclear assets and the highest intensity of nuclear-related activities will continue to be found in the Arctic theater.

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Russian Foreign Policy Narratives

Author: Dmitry Gorenburg - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 42 - Published: November 2019


  • This Marshall Center Security Insight provides a summary of a project that examined Russian foreign policy positions by analyzing statements made and interviews given by Russian government officials. The analysis found a set of ten narratives frequently used by officials discussing Russian foreign policy. In this policy brief, we describe each of the narratives and provide some recent examples of their use.
  • The narratives described in this brief include Russia as the center of a distinct Eurasian civilization, Russia as a bastion of traditional values, Russophobia, whataboutism, fraternalism with Russia’s near abroad, ties with Soviet-era allies, outside intervention in sovereign affairs, Russia as a proponent of stability in the world, Russia as a proponent of multipolarity in the world, and the promotion of international structures in which Russia plays a leading role.
  • The most frequently used narratives included outside intervention in sovereign affairs, whataboutism, the promotion of international structures in which Russia plays a leading role, and Russophobia.
  • Although the foreign policy narratives of Russian officials are designed to twist reality in ways that promote and justify foreign policy decisions to both domestic and foreign audiences, one common thread tying these narratives together is that all of them have an element of truth at their core.

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Russia’s Security Council: Where Policy, Personality, and Process Meet

Author: Mark Galeotti - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 41 - Published: October 2019


  • The Security Council, an autonomous element of the wider Russian Presidential Administration, is the central body responsible for managing the formulation and execution of security-related policies.
  • It has a variety of roles both formal and informal, as well as considerable influence—not least because of the trust Russian President Vladimir Putin places in its veteran secretary, Nikolai Patrushev. However, it does not have direct authority over the security agencies and ministries, and it is often more a broker of consensus than anything else.
  • As a structure, it can best be characterized as a conservative renovator: Its leadership is committed to preserving Russia’s existing strategic culture and operational code but also appreciates the need for technical reform to preserve the fundamentals.

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New Perspectives on the Black Sea Theater in Russian Strategic Culture

Author: Pavel K. Baev - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 40 - Published: September 2019

sipaper40Most cases of Russia’s direct use of military force—including two wars in Chechnya in 1999 and 2004, and the August 2008 war with Georgia—happened in the wider Black Sea region. The configuration of this theater has changed significantly with the Russian annexation of Crimea in spring 2014, the ensuing combat operations in eastern Ukraine, and even more drastically with the military intervention in Syria in autumn 2015. Russian strategic culture is still internalizing these new changes, and has acquired some new features.

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Living in Different Worlds: The European Union and Russian Political War

Author: Mark Galeotti - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 39 - Published: September 2019

sipaper39Russia is waging a political war campaign of active measures intended to divide, distract, and dismay European states.

The institutions of the European Union (EU) have made very patchy and often reluctant responses to this campaign, in part as a result of a lack of consensus among member states.

A primary issue, though, is the dramatically different strategic cultures and operational codes of the EU and Russia.

The EU faces a campaign of Russian active measures—covert political subversion—that has been called “hybrid warfare” but is probably best understood as opportunistic political warfare. The aim is to divide, distract, and dismay the Europeans such that they cannot or will not resist Moscow’s wider political agenda. Against this campaign, in the words of an admittedly Euroskeptic British security official, “the EU is nowhere, simply nowhere.

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Perspectives from the Arctic as a Strategic Space: Geopolitics of the Northern Flank

Authors: Michelle Angeline Miller and Andreas Hildenbrand - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 38 - Published: July 2019

sipaper38The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies and the Swedish Defense University hosted a conference on the “Arctic as a Strategic Space” bringing together Arctic experts and security practitioners from nations representing Europe’s Northern Flank, Germany, Canada, and the United States. The intent of the conference was to provide a forum for strategists, academics, and military professionals to identify, assess and discuss regional security challenges.

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Russian Strategic Decision-Making in a Nordic Crisis

Author: Dmitry Gorenburg - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 37 - Published: July 2019

rsi gorenburg 37This policy brief, the second in a series that addresses how Russian strategic culture can explain Russian foreign policy behavior, examines how Russian strategic culture operates in the distinct geographic and geopolitical environment of the Nordic region. The Nordic region is presented as a case study to generate conclusions with regard to the drivers of Russian strategic behavior, especially the factors that incentivize or constrain risk-taking.



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Strategic Culture and Geography: Russia’s Southern Seas after Crimea

Author: David Lewis - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 36 - Published: July 2019

rsi lewis 36Geography plays an important role in strategic culture, by placing enduring objective constraints on military and defense policy and influencing the way that political and military elites view the world.

Although Western attention has been focused on Russian activity in the Baltic region and Eastern Europe, Russian strategy has been more preoccupied with the geography of Russia’s southern border. An important role in this southern strategy is played by Russia’s three southern seas—the Caspian, Azov, and Black seas—as interconnected maritime platforms for Russia’s wider power projection.


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Russia’s Naval Strategy in the Mediterranean

Author: Dmitry Gorenburg - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 35 - Published: July 2019

sec insights gorenbug july 2019Russia’s strategy in the Mediterranean is focused on three key goals: taking advantage of the Mediterranean’s geographical position to improve Russia’s security, using Russia’s position in the Mediterranean to increase Russia’s status as an alternative world power to the United States, and providing support for the Syrian regime.


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Strategic Culture and Russia’s “Pivot to the East”: Russia, China and “Greater Eurasia”

Author: David Lewis - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 34 - Published: July 2019

sec insights lewis july 2019Putin’s “Pivot to the East,” announced during his 2012 election campaign, is far from Russia’s first attempt to reorient its foreign policy toward Asia. Historically, Russia’s strategic culture has been shaped by the tension between its relationship with Europe and numerous attempts to balance its European orientation with new initiatives in Asia.1


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The Impacts of the Syrian Intervention on Russian Strategic Culture

Author: Pavel K. Baev - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 33 - Published: July 2019

sec insights impact of the syrian baev june 2019Russian political leadership and military command have gained much experience from launching and waging the military intervention into the Syrian war and tend to see this experiment in projecting power as successful. The political and military lessons learned in this enterprise are quite different, so the transformation of Russian strategic culture driven by this learning is far from coherent.


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Shifts in Russian Military Build-Up in the Arctic Driven by the Interactions with China

Author: Pavel K. Baev - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 32 - Published: June 2019

sec insights baev june 2019Active measures—covert political operations ranging from disinformation campaigns to staging insurrections—have a long and inglorious tradition in Russia and reflect a permanent wartime mentality, something dating back to the Soviet era and even tsarist Russia.

A strategic culture whose participants see the world full of secret threats and an operational culture whose adherents regard the best defense as offense have ensured that both have become central aspects of modern Russia’s geopolitical struggle with the West.

Active measures are not solely the preserve of the intelligence services, but of other actors as well, and these actors are expected to generate their own initiatives aimed at furthering the Kremlin’s disruptive agenda.


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Active Measures: Russia’s Covert Geopolitical Operations

Author: Mark Galeotti - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 31 - Published: May 2019

sec insights galeottiActive measures—covert political operations ranging from disinformation campaigns to staging insurrections—have a long and inglorious tradition in Russia and reflect a permanent wartime mentality, something dating back to the Soviet era and even tsarist Russia.

A strategic culture whose participants see the world full of secret threats and an operational culture whose adherents regard the best defense as offense have ensured that both have become central aspects of modern Russia’s geopolitical struggle with the West.

Active measures are not solely the preserve of the intelligence services, but of other actors as well, and these actors are expected to generate their own initiatives aimed at furthering the Kremlin’s disruptive agenda.


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The Intelligence and Security Services and Strategic Decision-Making

Author: Mark Galeotti - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 30 - Published: May 2019

sec insights galeottiThe intelligence and security communities have a disproportionate influence in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, exerted not only through their institutional roles within the system but also through their social and political authority.

They share certain common assumptions about the world—notably that it is essentially hostile and dominated by zero-sum competition—but also are deeply divided along generational, factional, personal, and ideological lines.

In broad terms, the strength of the agencies contributes to several key policy tendencies: a combination of strategic caution and tactical risk-taking, multitrack approaches driven by individual and institutional initiative, and an essentially isolated and covert decision-making mechanism that makes it difficult for alternative views to be considered.


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Russia’s “Strategic Deterrence” in Ukraine

Author: David Lewis - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 29 - Published: April 2019

sec insights lewislIn current Russian usage, “strategic deterrence” is the use of both military and non-military means to prevent strategic gains by an opponent. It combines military means short of the use of force, such as an aggressive military build-up, with non-military tactics, including diplomacy, peace negotiations, information warfare, and political tactics.

This strategy has allowed Russia to consolidate control of the Crimean peninsula, the Donbas region, and the Kerch Strait with only limited use of regular military forces.


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The Interplay of Bureaucratic, War-Fighting, and Arms-Parading Traits in Russian Military-Strategic Culture

Author: Pavel K. Baev - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 28 - Published: April 2019

sipaper23A key element in the Russian strategic culture is its military culture, which, however, lacks coherence and has been evolving through the interplay of three main traits: bureaucratic, war-fighting, and arms-parading.

The conflict in the Donbas region and the country’s military intervention in Syria gave a boost to the war-fighting trait, but the escalation of confrontation with the West and work on the 2027 State Armament program (SAP-2027) have increased the influence of the bureaucracy. Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin’s frequent boasts about new weapons systems have exemplified the arms-parading trait.


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The Baltic States as Targets and Levers: The Role of the Region in Russian Strategy

Author: Mark Galeotti - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 27 - Published: April 2019

sipaper23Before the worsening of Russia-Western relations in 2014, the Russian speakers of Narva, Estonia, and Riga, Latvia, in particular, were willing to leverage their sense of being excluded and neglected in the name of mobilizing constituencies for political impact. However, they show no enthusiasm now for exchanging membership of prosperous, democratic European states for Kremlin rule.

Furthermore, Moscow appears to understand how unwelcome and dangerous direct intervention would be, over and above bringing Russia into direct conflict with NATO. As one recently retired Russian general staff officer noted, when asked about the state of contingency planning for such operations, “the trouble with the Baltic States is that they are full of Balts”; in other words, in his eyes, a feisty, contrary people who have already shown the will and capacity to resist under overwhelming odds.


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Russian Strategic Guidelines and Threat Assessments for the Arctic

Author: Pavel K. Baev - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 26 - Published: April 2019

sipaper23Russia has declared its commitment to international cooperation in the Arctic, but it has invested massively in the modernization of its nuclear arsenal concentrated on the Kola Peninsula and has consolidated its military positions in the Barents region and along the Northern Sea Route.


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Russian Strategic Culture in a Baltic Crisis

Author: Dmitry Gorenburg - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 25 - Published: March 2019

sipaper23This policy brief addresses how Russian strategic culture operates in the distinct geographic and geopolitical environment of the Baltic region. This analysis is based on a model of Russian decision-making in crisis situations that describes Russian leaders as prospect theory players who take greater risks to prevent anticipated defeats than they do to pursue potential opportunities. They seek to prevent foreign policy defeats that could translate into a loss of power in the region, a loss of great power status, or, in some cases, translate into political defeats at home.


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Emerging Challenges in Arctic Security and Recommendations for the Future: Perspectives from the European Security Seminar North 19-05

Authors: Rachael Gosnell and Andreas Hildenbrand - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 24 - Published: March 2019

sipaper23The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies hosted mid-level and senior security practitioners, policymakers, and academics from thirteen countries throughout Europe, North America, and Asia for the second iteration of the European Security Seminar – North (ESS-N).

This seminar, ESS-N 19-05, was held from 4-8 February 2019 and provided an opportunity for participants to discuss emerging challenges and opportunities in the Arctic region and further assessed the impact on security. Participants then developed strategic recommendations to address the security challenges of the Arctic region.


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Demographic Change and Youth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

Authors: Prof. Dr. Ralf Roloff, Nicolas Fulghum, Henrik Simon, and Nicolas Reising - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 23 - Published: August 2018

sipaper23Demographic change in the MENA region is often referred to either as a ticking time bomb or an opportunity to harvest the demographic dividend. The challenge, it thus seems, is to identify the risks associated with a rapidly changing demographic environment and the influence this has on regional economies, labor markets, societies, and political systems.

Eventually, European security could also be in jeopardy due to phenomena like migration, radicalization, and terrorism.

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The Trump Administration and the Balkans


Author: Matthew Rhodes - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 22 - Published:January 2018

Security Insights 22Amidst warnings of rising instability in the Balkans, the Trump administration's initial "business as usual plus" policy toward the region has surprised some observers. The most promising path for building on this approach now lies in coordinated action with Germany, the European ally with greatest concurrent influence and interest.


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Economic Security in the Eastern Partnership

Author: Valbona Zeneli - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 21 - Published:September 2017

sipaper21This paper explores the dire economic situation in the countries that make up the Eastern Partnership, which is a joint initiative involving the European Union, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. Building economic resilience is imperative and requires a multidimensional and regional approach. It is crucial to strengthen the rule of law in the EaP countries. To foster economic development, it is imperative to create a friendly business environment through simplification of procedures, judiciary reforms, and an effective fight against corruption.

Effective rule of law is necessary to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), which is crucial for sustainable development in the region. The European Union integration process is the most important driver for serous economic and political reforms in the region. Membership in the EU may seem distant, but the EU instruments for support in structural reforms, infrastructure projects, and good governance are crucial. Finally, regional economic cooperation through the promotion of free trade agreements or regional infrastructural projects is imperative to boost the regional economy.

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Crisis Response and Crisis Prevention on Europe’s Southern Flank: Challenges and Opportunities

Author(s): Valentina Caracci and Ralf Roloff - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 20 - Published: August 2015


The European southern flank has been experiencing multi-faceted and unprecedented security threats stemming from its neighboring regions. Within and outside Europe, joint efforts and a sense of solidarity alternate with waves of parochialism and fragmentation, which just add fuel to the fire and further stoke the crisis, preventing the resolution of external conflicts. The European Security Seminar – South addressed the challenges and the opportunities of crisis management in southern Europe and contributed to build a common understanding of the current security environment and a joint strategical approach among the countries of the region. The first part of this report provides an analysis of the challenges the southern flank is currently facing, by focusing in particular on migration, terrorism and maritime security. What emerges from the analysis is that all these issues overlaps and interlinks, creating a tangle of challenges which has then to be tackled both individually (by providing tailored responses) and collectively (through a joint, whole-of government response). Building on such premise, the second part deals with joint ownership as a crucial element for any crisis response: successful strategies are the ones which combine customized solutions with a non-invasive external support. Lastly, a series of policy recommendations is provided to practically embrace the concept of shared responsibility among partner countries. The bottom line is that The Euro-Atlantic community as well as the countries of MENA and Sahel should combine realistic assessments and achievable aims with idealistic aspirations and sensitivity to each other’s differences.

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Macedonia Revisited

Authors: Bekim Maksuti and Sebastian von Münchow - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 19 - Published: May 2017

sipaper19Macedonia may not be ready to join the key transatlantic institutions immediately, but all parties need to consider the next steps carefully.

As a first priority, the next election must determine who shall lead the country into a more prosperous future. Secondly, local and regional players must behave in a more honest and transparent manner in order to facilitate negotiations and progress.

Finally, the government in Skopje and the Brussels-based institutions face challenges and opportunities at the same time. The momentum is on Skopje’s side, as is its geostrategic relevance, as long as the migration crisis is on-going. Nevertheless, on the internal front, the country needs to quickly form a government.

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A Secure Brexit? UK Security and Defense and the Decision to Leave the European Union

Authors: James K. Wither - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 18 - Published: May 2017

sipaper19The Brexit vote in June 2016 surprised political establishments in the United Kingdom (UK) and the rest of the European Union (EU) and was a severe blow to Western cohesion in the face of growing common political challenges.

As Britain and the EU begin difficult negotiations to determine their future relationship, defense and security will be one of the key topics for discussion. This article outlines the defense and security context for Brexit and analyzes claims made by the British government that there will continuity in defense and security policy post Brexit.

Specific topics for examination include the UK's defense relationship with the EU, counterterrorism intelligence and security terrorism cooperation, UK defense funding challenges and the impact of possible Scottish independence arising from the Brexit process.

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Foreign Fighters and Regional Security in Central Asia

Authors: Gregory Gleason and Roger Kangas - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 17 - Published: April 2017

sipaper15Political insurgents seek to overthrow nation-states in the Middle East with the goal of creating a supra-national empire. With the aim of expanding territorial control, these political extremists have used violence, brutality, and coercion unseen in the modern world. The use of such unprecedented and unexpected barbaric methods of expansion initially met with little organized resistance. In June 2014, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi proclaimed the establishment of an “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” which came to be known by its acronym Da’esh. As the world became aware of the true nature of this cruel and sadistic political movement, Middle Eastern states and foreign partners organized to repel and destroy the insurgents. Resistance to Da’esh is not yet well coordinated and focused but it is determined.

Da’esh fighters will lose battles and territory in Syria and Iraq. This does not mean, however, the war will necessarily terminate with an unconditional surrender of the insurgency. Da’esh’s defeat can be expected to result in death, fragmentation, and destruction of the main forces yet may also result in the dispersion of thousands of battle-hardened extremists who escape capture or destruction.

Some of these fighters may seek to join other forces still operating in other parts of Syria, Libya, Afghanistan or elsewhere. The fragmentation of Da’esh may also result in the return of fighters and ideological zealots to their countries of origin, including the countries of Central Asia. In “Foreign Fighters and Regional Security in Central Asia,” Gregory Gleason and Roger Kangas examine the factors behind the dynamics of the insurgency and offer perspectives on international cooperation to address these issues. Gleason and Kangas analyze tactical issues combatting the immediate threats as well as long-term strategic issues involved in promoting a just and resilient post-ISIL normalization.

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Hybrid Threats and Strengthening Resilience on Europe’s Eastern Flank

Authors: Pál Dunay and Ralf Roloff - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 16 - Published: March 2017

sipaper16Between 23-27 January 2017, the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, brought together sixty civilian and military mid- to senior level security policy practitioners and experts from 26 countries in order to collaborate on the second European Security Seminar-East (ESS-E). The group’s task was to explore how to address the hybrid threats and contribute to making the West, as redefined since the end of the East-West conflict, more resilient against them. However, the definition of the prospects had to be based on an accurate and realistic assessment of the security situation and the concerns that are associated with the security challenges emerging in Europe’s east.

The meeting was held at a turbulent and somewhat unpredictable time, during the week after the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, a few months after the Brexit referendum and a week before the renewed intensification of hostilities in the south-east of Ukraine between the Ukrainian armed forces, the separatists and those that back the latter. As the seminar addressed potential responses to hybrid threats, including building resilience to counter them, it faced the challenge of working with ill-defined categories and overcoming disagreements as far as their meaning and interpretation.


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Foreign Terrorist Fighters: German Islamists in Syria and Iraq and What Can be Done about Them

Author: Daniel H. Heinke - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 15 - Published: September 2016

sipaper15Though the numbers of European Foreign Terrorist Fighters in Syria (and, to a lesser extent, in Iraq) appear to be declining, there is still a constant influx of new recruits for Jihadist factions in this cross-border civil war, most notably the so-called Islamic State (IS). Islamists have tried to recruit German-speaking Muslims in the past, but in recent years their efforts have increased in both quantity and quality. While there had been some individuals involved in conflicts in the Muslim world earlier–including support of the Taliban in Afghanistan, participation in the post-Yugoslav civil war in Bosnia,and, to a lesser extent, in Chechnya, Yemen, and Somalia – the war in Syria provided a whole new theater of conflict that has attracted radicalized Muslims from Germany ona previously unseen scale. The official current estimate is that more than 850 persons left Germany for Syria or Iraq because of Islamist motivations, although it is not possible to verify that all of these individuals did indeed reach the region. About one-third of those who departed to join IS is known to beor assumed to be back in Germany. More than seventy of those have experienced armed combat with the Islamic State or at least undergone some sort of military training.

About 140 Islamists from Germany are presumed to have been killed in the conflict. In order to both effectively counter future departures of foreign terrorist fighters and to develop a strategy on how to deal with the returnees, it is necessary to compile and analyze the available data on the individuals who have departed thus far, including known factors that influenced the radicalization process. The German security authorities, i.e. the police and domestic intelligence agencies of both the Länder (states) and on the federal level, collected and aggregated information about 677 individuals who had departed Germany to travel to Syria or Iraq before 30 June 2015. This analysis was jointly conducted by the Bundeskriminalamt (the Federal Criminal Police Agency), the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (the Federal Domestic Intelligence Service), and the Hessisches Informations- und Kompetenzzentrum gegen Extremismus (Hessian Center for Information and Expertise on Extremism). The analysis was released on 4 December 2015 by the Ständige Konferenz der Innenminister und -senatoren der Länder (Permanent Conference of Ministers of the Interior of the Länder).This edition of Security Insights highlights some of themost important findings in terms of data available, sheds some light on the factors involved in radicalization, andbriefly outlines the main approaches used to counter this threat in Germany.

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Euro-Atlantic Security: A Pre-Warsaw Assessment

Authors: Matthew Rhodes and Michal Kořan - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 14 - Published: June 2016

sipaper15The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of the Czech Republic, the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, and the Prague Institute for International Relations co-organized an international conference, “Euro-Atlantic Security: A Pre-Warsaw Assessment,” at the MFA in Prague 29 February - 1 March 2016. Over sixty officials and scholars from the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, the United Kingdom, and the United States analyzed their nations’ shared security outlook in the lead up to NATO’s July summit in Warsaw.

This paper draws freely on discussions at the conference in an attempt to capture and extend their major points. The crises of the past two years have accelerated NATO’s political and military adaptation as a twenty-first century alliance. Still, in the face of a fraying international order, a united Euro-Atlantic community must seize the opportunity of Warsaw to transition from reactive coping to more proactive shaping of its security environment.

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Revisiting Convergence: Adapting Europe’s Security Strategy to Emerging Challenges

Authors: Jürgen Storbeck & Sebastian von Münchow - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 13 - Published: March 2016

sipaper13Europe is now facing security challenges that only a few security practitioners, researchers, academics, and politicians would have predicted a decade and a half ago when terrorist attacks convulsed the U.S. and Europe. Many of the European Union’s security policy concerns relate to instability found in countries in the region’s immediate vicinity. Civil wars have erupted in Syria, Iraq, and Libya, causing immense suffering for the general populace in these states. Asymmetrical conflicts as well as corrupt executive and judicial branches in these countries have led to fragile or failed states. The subsequent lack of functioning governmental structures has facilitated the convergence of organized crime and terror in the Middle East as well as in other countries of the African continent. There, terrorist groups have increasingly adjusted their operations and now use methods long associated with organized crime. That is the case of Al-Shaabab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq. The latter, with a reported budget of two billion U.S. dollars - including a $250 million surplus - and a comprehensive bureaucracy that allows for a wide range of revenue streams, stands out as a model of diversified and selffinancing business, built on a number of coopted revenue streams, including some that are drawn from illegal or criminal sources. Money, however, is also the Achilles’ heel of terrorist organizations, therefore countering the financing of terrorism should be at the core of any strategy in the fight against terrorism.

This paper sets out to explore to what extent and under what premises new forms of terrorism may converge with organized criminal structures and activities. Sources and dynamics of terrorism funding, where the phenomenon of convergence stands out, are specifically examined.

The discussion highlights the necessity of establishing an overarching European framework to counter terrorism. This framework should identify a set of priorities Europe has to address in order to combat transnational organized crime and international terrorism. Particular attention should be dedicated to developing specific measures to counter terrorist use of criminal activity as a source of revenue.

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The New Dynamic in the East: Conflicts, Vulnerability, and (Dis)Order

Authors: Graeme P. Herd & Ralf Roloff - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 12 - Published: January 2016

sipaper12Between 11-15 January 2016, the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, a German-American partnership, brought together fifty-eight military and civilian mid- to senior level security policy practitioners and experts from twenty-eight countries in order to collaborate on our first European Security Seminar East (ESS-E). The group’s task was to explore how best to relate to the Russian Federation in the future. Participants were divided into five working groups that addressed: 1) instruments of national power; 2) protracted conflicts; 3) transnational organized crime, political corruption, and undermining political institutions; 4) economic integration and disintegration; and 5) energy security.

The working group sessions were designed to generate three outputs; in particular, we made explicit the assumptions that underpinned strategic choices. First, possible alternative Euro-Atlantic strategic postures towards Russia and shared neighbors were identified and evaluated. Second, we sought to highlight - through discussions with representatives of Russia’s neighbors - the range of strategic thinking (preferences, attitudes, ideas, and expectations) and to explore how to mitigate frictions between states with differing strategic postures and national security priorities. Third, we wished to inform international policies by generating timely and useful strategic analysis. This edition of Security Insights is the result of these deliberations.

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Baltic and Central European Security After the Ukraine Crisis

Authors: Dr. Matthew Rhodes and Ms. Ruta Buneviciute - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 11 - Published: April 2015

sipaper11The Seimas (parliament) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania and the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies co-organized an international conference on “Baltic and Central European Security” in Vilnius, Lithuania 19-20 November 2014. Over sixty officials and scholars from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, and the United States analyzed the impact of the Ukraine crisis and renewed tension with Russia on regional and Euroatlantic security.

This paper draws freely on discussions at the Vilnius conference in an attempt to capture and extend their major points. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has profoundly challenged international order. The Euroatlantic community retains a significant edge in both present power and future prospects relative to Russia, but it will need to remain united in implementing agreed policy responses as well as develop effective means of countering Russian hybrid warfare. While Germany and the United States must continue to offer leadership in these tasks, geography gives Baltic, Central European, and Nordic countries a particular stake and role in their achievement.

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International Marketing: An Imperative for Southeast Europe

Authors: Michael Czinkota & Valbona Zeneli - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 10 - Published: January 2014

sipaper10International marketing consists of the activity, institutions, and processes across national borders that create, communicate, deliver, and exchange offerings that have value for stakeholders and society. International marketing has forms ranging from export-import trade to licensing, joint ventures, wholly owned subsidiaries, turnkey operations, and management contracts.

The focus is on stakeholders and society, whose present positions are to be improved.

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The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: A Historic Deal?

Author: Valbona Zeneli - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 9 - Published: August 2013

sipaper15The daily news about America’s strategic shift towards Asia and the political narrative on the deep economic crisis of the euro zone has misleadingly suggested that Europe is becoming less and less important in the eyes of the U.S. and that transatlantic ties are weakening. Many scholars and policy analysts argue about the real challenges Europe will be facing in light of these changing transatlantic relations. It seems that conventional wisdom is being guided only by press headlines. A couple of important points have been missed here.

During the June 2013 G-8 Summit in Northern Ireland, the United States and European Union (EU) announced plans to open negotiations on a long sought deal to create a unique market between the world’s two strongest economic regions. This joint endeavor, which leaders on both sides of the Atlantic hope will conclude in a final agreement by the end of 2014, is part of the development agenda for creating growth and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic by boosting trade and investment.

Despite continuing economic turbulence on both sides of the Atlantic and new rising global powers, the transatlantic relationship is already the world’s largest, accounting for half of the global economic output. The visionary deal would deepen the U.S.-EU bilateral relationship, assert trade policy leadership, and advance a rules-based system for global economic governance.

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Democracy and the Transatlantic Community: The Role of Central Europe

Authors: Matthew Rhodes and Michal Baranowski - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 8 - Published: August 2013

sipaper8The Warsaw office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies (GCMC), and the Transatlantic Academy (TA) jointly organized an international conference on “Democracy and the Future of the Transatlantic Community” in Warsaw, Poland on 21 May 2013. The event’s timing and location reflected a new wave of concern with democracy’s health (as articulated in TA’s in-depth research report, “The Democratic Disconnect,” released earlier the same month), reflection by the GMF and GCMC on the title topics prompted by milestone anniversaries of their foundings (forty and twenty years, respectively), and the intensified activism in this area by Poland and other countries in Central Europe (as exemplified by the establishment of the new European Endowment for Democracy).

This paper draws freely on discussions at the Warsaw conference in an attempt to capture and extend their major points. The scale of present problems does not doom democracy’s future. Though there are no quick fixes, well-focused efforts can yet revitalize the transatlantic community’s internal politics as well as its external support for democratic development.

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The Global Shift of Power and Its Impact on Europe

Author: Sven Bernhard Gareis - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 7 - Published: November 2012

sipaper7President Barack Obama announced in November 2011 that U.S. security interests would shift to the Asia-Pacific region, bringing to an end the short period of a unipolar world order united under American patronage, if such a thing indeed ever existed. Emerging powers such as China and India have become more determined in the pursuit of their political and economic interests and more self-assertive in claiming a dominant role in the international system. The United States, one the other hand, as the incumbent world power, has had to pool its strengths to maintain its status and has increasingly had to rely on regional partners and alliances to live up to its role. Weakened by two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that it could never win and groaning under an enormous debt burden, the U.S. now must set strategic priorities. “America’s Pacifi c Century,” a term used in recent speeches and articles by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other U.S. officials, is actually not an expression of strength and self-confidence, but rather a term that makes clear that the U.S recognizes that is no longer able to exert its political infl uence to the same degree in all regions of the world.

For Europe, this shift of U.S. interests towards the Pacific does not come as a surprise, but it does have an enormous impact. For a long time, the “old continent” had been in the comfortable position of a consumer of security that was essentially guaranteed by the United States. Europe had been able to enjoy a substantial peace dividend when its armed forces were reduced drastically after the end of the East-West conflict. Today, however, the challenge for Europe will be to take on much more responsibility and become the primary guarantor of its own security. For Europe, as a global commercial and trading power, the Asia-Pacific region is of greatest importance, however thus far Europe’s political role in the area has been a minor one. If Europe does not wish to become a mere spectator in a world dominated by the U.S. and China, it will have to underpin its economic interests with stronger political engagement.

In view of these facts, this paper will attempt to present a European view of the global power shifts and the resulting “rebalancing” of U.S. security interests, and then address the challenges that Europe will face in the context of changing transatlantic relations. The focus of the following remarks will be on the rise of China as well as the reactions of the United States. For a stringent analysis of these current developments, it seems appropriate to first make some brief comments on the defi ning concepts of power in the globalized world.

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2012 - A Make or Break Year for Serbia and Kosovo?

Authors: Dr. Matthew Rhodes and Dr. Valbona Zeneli - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 6 - Published: May 2012

sipaper6Instead of the hoped for turn to normalization, 2011 saw escalated tensions over Kosovo. Agreement on Kosovo’s participation in regional fora and Serbia’s formal advance to EU candidacy in early 2012 have revived a cautious sense of optimism, but unresolved underlying issues and approaching political contests leave the prospects for further progress uncertain. Warnings of precipices and powder kegs are overdone in the Balkans, but 2012 is shaping up as a potentially decisive year for international policy in the region.

Despite the Euro-Atlantic community’s current internal challenges, integration into that community’s formal structures remains the best path for Balkan security and development. It is also a prerequisite for realizing the vision of a stable, democratic, and prosperous united Europe. The United States, European Union, and the countries involved in this process must use the coming months to avoid long-term setbacks to those goals.

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Afghanistan’s Neighbors and Post-Conflict Stabilization

Authors: Gregory Gleason and Timothy A. Krambs - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 5 - Published: March 2012

sipaper5Successful war strategies conclude with successful peace strategies. Afghanistan’s transition from armed conflict to a stable, secure, and developing society depends on its capacity to overcome a fundamental conundrum: economic development cannot take place in the absence of a secure environment; at the same time, a secure environment cannot long be sustained without progress in economic development. Overcoming this fundamental challenge will define Afghanistan’s success in the years ahead. The drawdown of the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) is a phased aspect of the transition to national authority and the stabilization of Afghanistan. International coalition troops are scheduled to be reduced in number at the same time as Afghan security forces assume responsibility for the country’s security.

During the transitional period, Afghanistan will continue to be heavily dependent upon foreign partners. Although the relationship with Pakistan will likely continue to be troubled for the foreseeable future, Afghanistan must endeavor to build and maintain stable and secure relations with as many of its neighboring countries as possible. Afghanistan also will need continued international assistance to protect itself from foreign threats and also from insurgents acting within its borders and from abroad. Afghanistan’s relations with its neighbors will continue to be a high priority. The modern world requires secure borders, but it does not require closed borders. In the 21st century, international trade, international investment, and the cross-border movement of ideas, people, goods, and services are necessary components of both economic and political development in any country. In landlocked Afghanistan, relations with neighboring countries define in many respects the interactions with the outside world as a whole.

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NATO Enlargement – Approaching a Standstill

Author: Dr. Raphael Biermann - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 4 - Published: December 2009

sipaper4Zbigniew Brzezinski coined the term “double enlargement” in the 1990s, i.e. the expansion of mission and membership, to capture the new raison d’être of the North Atlantic Alliance in the post-Cold War era. It envisaged Eastern enlargement as one of the two main purposes of NATO following the demise of the Warsaw Pact; the other was crisis response.

In recent years, cracks have appeared in both tracks, leading many critics on both sides of the Atlantic to doubt NATO’s continuing relevance as the premier Euro-Atlantic security institution. While the fissures in the mission track, such as the national caveats in Afghanistan, are widely debated, those in the enlargement track are just surfacing. The discord during the Bucharest Summit of April 2008 surrounding the future enlargement strategy, which centered on whether to grant a Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Georgia and Ukraine and whether to extend an invitation to Macedonia in the face of Greece’s veto, did not bode well for the debates to come. The divergent lessons of the Georgian war of August 2008 regarding future enlargement to the Caucasus have brought the issue to the fore. Wisely, it was removed from the table when the Heads of State and Government met in Kehl and Strasbourg last May.

This article argues that enlargement no longer runs on its own steam. Instead, the Alliance is approaching a standstill in both geographic dimensions of enlargement, the East (Georgia, Ukraine) and the South East (Balkans). NATO will either opt for a de facto suspension of enlargement for an indefinite time to come, or it will face divisive internal debates over the quality of the next candidates and the timing of pre-accession steps. This imminent fork in the road calls for a serious review of the fundamentals of NATO enlargement and for innovative proposals to manage the time ahead. The crafting of the new Strategic Concept presents an opportune moment to address these challenges. The goal should be to design a future pre-accession strategy that is consensual within the Alliance, while reassuring to our partners and friends. In the end, devising different categories of associate membership, similar to that of the Western European Union, though leaving open the option of moving from one category to another, might be the least costly way out.

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Uzbekistan Charts a New "Uzbek Path"

Author: Gregory Gleason - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 3 - Published: November 2008

sipaper15The announcement the Uzbek government has withdrawn from participation in the Eurasian Economic Community exemplifies the reliance upon what has come to be known as the “Uzbek Path”. Uzbekistan has a long tradition of independence in policy and orientation, having pursued economic and foreign policies often at odds with its Central Asian neighbors and with Russia. But the withdrawal from participation in the foremost economic cooperation organization in the former Soviet region, the Eurasian Economic Community (EAEC), is important because it represents a significant fissure in the solidarity among the former Soviet states so energetically promoted by the Russian government.

The EAEC Secretariat in Moscow was informed in mid-October 2008 by a diplomatic note from the Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Affairs of its decision to “suspend” participation in the EAEC. The Uzbek decision was not publicly discussed until the EAEC Secretariat acknowledged the diplomatic note on November 12, 2008. At the same time, a letter from Uzbek President Islam Karimov was sent to all the heads of state of the other EAEC countries—Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan—informing them of Uzbekistan’s decision. Russian foreign officials were slow to acknowledge this unwelcome Uzbek decision. Russia in the years following the initiation of the EAEC agreement in October 2000, had invested a great deal of effort into sponsoring economic integration among the EAEC states. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a November 17, 2008 press interview acknowledged the Uzbek move, noting that Russia would respect Uzbekistan’s right to make independent judgments but felt that the decision was not in Russia’s best interests.

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Kosovo: Adjusting to a New Reality

Author: Dragan Lozancic - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 2 - Published: July 2008

sipaper2The “last episode” of the former Yugoslavia’s dissolution is how United Nations (UN) Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari described his proposal of “supervised independence” for Kosovo, adding it would finally set the region on a new path to peace, stability and prosperity. Kosovo has been administered by a civilian UN mission (UNMIK) under Security Council Resolution 1244 following NATO intervention in 1999 to halt Belgrade’s brutal repression of ethnic Albanians. International involvement transformed Serbia’s sovereignty over Kosovo to a vaguely nominal title.

Russia’s opposition to Ahtisaari’s comprehensive proposal and the consequent failure to reach an agreement in a final round of talks under a United States (US)-European Union (EU)-Russia “Troika” format led Kosovo’s predominantly Albanian government to declare independence, after protracted consultations, in February and adopt a new constitution in June 2008, both rejected by Belgrade and most Kosovo Serbs. Yet, taken together, these events have set Kosovo on an irrevocable path and represent a new, decisive moment in Kosovo’s conflict-riddled history, perhaps just as difficult and no less uncertain than ever before.

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The Assault on Aid Workers: A New Pattern in Terrorism

Author: Christopher C. Harmon - MC Series: Security Insights, Number 1 - Published: January 2008

sipaper1As 2008 opened, it appears that terrorism confirmed a favorite pattern of recent years: attacks on aid workers and humanitarian professionals.

John Granville, who with his Sudanese driver was shot dead on January first in Khartoum, worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development. The London Times and the BBC note this happened amidst increasing concerns about the United Nations’ assuming control of peace operations in Darfur. The shooting also happened near the United Nations compound—and observers recall Al Qaeda threats of attacks against U.N. forces in the Sudan. For A.I.D. officials, moreover, there would have been immediate memories of October 2002 when their colleague Lawrence Foley was shot to death in Jordan by two Al Qaeda men.


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