January 2014 Newsletter

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 January 2014 Newsletter
The Jamestown Foundation Leadership: Glen E. Howard, President
At a Glance
Sochi Conference Featuring Mikheil Saakashvili
Save the Date!
Paul Goble’s Look at Sochi
Boko Haram’s Trajectory in 2014

 Behind the Headlines
Featured Publications
In Memory of Alexandros Petersen
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Jamestown Updates
Abdulhakim Bashar (KDP-S) and Hameed Darwish (Progressive) will represent the KNC in Geneva II. Click here to see profiles of Bashar and Darwish.

Central African Republic’s interim president resigned Friday, January 10 under pressure from fellow leaders at a regional summit to end the violence in his country. Click here to read more about Michel Djotodia.

Youths are increasingly being forced to join the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, showing that the group has less support from adult Nigerians but also remains more powerful than the Nigerian government. Click here to read more about Boko Haram.

Andrew McGregor was cited as saying during the 7th Annual Terrorism Conference that al-Shabaab is undergoing a tactical transformation to ensure its survival. Click here to read more about al-Shabaab

At the 7th Annual Terrorism Conference General James N. Mattis (ret.) said the West is failing to understand al-Qaeda, which has affected the ability to defeat the terror organization. 

Click here to see Michael W.S. Ryan’s book, Decoding Al Qaeda’s Strategy: The Deep Battle Against America in which, by analyzing the work of well-known and obscure al-Qaeda theoreticians, Dr. Ryan finds that jihadist terrorism strategy has more in common with guerrilla strategies than mainstream Islam. In his new book, Dr. Ryan encourages strategists and researchers to devote their attention more to jihadi ideas than to jihadist military operations.
Media Appearances
Remarks by General James N. Mattis (ret.) at the Seventh Annual Terrorism Conference were quoted by All Africa.
The Jamestown Foundation was cited by the Wall Street Journal in an article about the growing trend in Africa of young people being forcibly conscripted into Islamist insurgencies.
Jacob Zenn was cited by Think Africa Press regarding the Islamist militant group Ansaru, which is targeting Western interests in and around northern Nigeria
Analyst Wladimir van Wilgenburg was interviewed by Syria Deeply in an article titled “Are Syrian Kurds Being Left Out in Montreux?”
Mairbek Vatchagaev was quoted by The Wall Street Journal in an article about a potential suicide bomber in Sochi.
Jamestown’s Senior Editor Andrew McGregor was cited by Afrique en Ligne for his assessment of al-Shabaab at the 7th Annual Terrorism Conference.
On January 12, Brian Glyn Williams was interviewed by CNN about the heightened security situation in and around Sochi.
General James N. Mattis (ret.), Bruce Riedel, and David Kilkullen were quoted by World Tribune in an article about al-Qaeda.
Dario Cristiani was quoted by the World Tribune in an article about a campaign that AQIM has launched against Moroccan King Mohammed.
Jamestown Analyst Nicholas A Heras appeared on the nationally syndicated radio program “Background Briefing” to discuss the current situation in Syria. 
In an article for the Huffington Post, Brian Glyn Williams provides insight into the motivations behind the recent twin Volgograd suicide bombings.
Alex Vatanka was quoted by International Business Times in an articles about Iran’s accusation that Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, masterminded the late November 2013 bomb attack on the Iranian Embassy in Beirut that killed more than two dozen people and wounded 150.
Former President of Georgia to Speak at Jamestown Conference on February 14


On February 14, 2014, The Jamestown Foundation will hold a conference on Russia and the North Caucasus After the Sochi Olympics in the Root Room at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The conference will feature keynote speaker Mikheil Saakashvili, the former President of the Republic of Georgia. Speakers at the conference will focus their discussion on the impact of the Sochi Olympics on the future of Russia and on the North Caucasus as well as the radicalization of jihadists in the North Caucasus.

Click here to register for the event

Jamestown Plans Fourth China Defense and Security Conference

On Tuesday, March 25 The Jamestown Foundation will host the Fourth Annual China Defense and Security Conference at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C. The event will feature Jamestown Board Member, Admiral Timothy J. Keating as well as experts on Chinese foreign relations and strategy, maritime territorial disputes, and Chinese military reform and reorganization. 

More information and registration details are coming soon!

The Long Shadow of the Sochi Games
By Paul Goble

Many people in Russia and the West are now ready to declare the Sochi Olympiad a success if there are no terrorist actions: a lowering of the bar of expectations and an approach that ignores the ways in which the Sochi Games are changing the region, the Russian Federation and East-West relations. 

First, the Sochi Games have energized the Circassian national movement in ways that almost nothing else could. They have strengthened the ties of the diaspora and those who live in the homeland, they have reinforced the view in both places that a united and independent Circassia is not only necessary but entirely possible and within a remarkably short time. The Games have also attracted attention to and raised expectations among other peoples in the North Caucasus. Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely to deploy massive force to try to put these genies back in the bottle, but as is often the case, this Russian effort is likely to resemble throwing water at a grease fire: it will only spread resistance to Moscow’s rule. 

Second, the Kremlin’s enormous spending on the games and the massive corruption there has sparked a discussion across the Russian Federation about what Moscow is not spending money on: the lives and welfare of the Russian people. At every stop along the Olympic torch route, people have asked why so much money should be wasted on Sochi when their basic needs are going unmet. If the Russian opposition can tap into such attitudes, it will gain support and be able to change the course of political rhetoric. Again, Putin will resist, but this genie too is out of the bottle. 

And third, all the attention to the corruption, violation of human rights, and suppression of other basic freedoms in and around Sochi in advance of the games has undermined what Washington called “the reset” and reminded Europeans and Americans that Russia, at least under Putin, has changed less than many had hoped and assumed. Relations between the West and Moscow over critical issues like Ukraine are now going to be approached with more caution and less enthusiasm. That is not a new cold war as the proponents of U.S.-Russian partnership in both Russia and the West say; it is simply a return to a more realistic assessment of what Russia is about.

Consequently, even if the Olympics go off without a hitch – something that is unlikely although all people of good will hope that there will not be any violence – the Sochi Olympiad has given Putin a black eye rather than the boost he hoped for. And more to the point, it has put in play larger forces that may already justify calling the years ahead “the post-Sochi period.”

Boko Haram’s Trajectory in 2014
By Jacob Zenn
Boko Haram is currently able to operate throughout Borno State in northern Nigeria and is carrying out mass casualty attacks to deter civilians from cooperating with the Nigerian security forces during the second phase of the State of Emergency offensive against Boko Haram safe havens. Boko Haram operations in Cameroon are now coordinated with Ansaru. Ansaru’s leadership has trained with AQIM and al-Shabaab and communicates with al-Qaeda affiliates in Pakistan. Ansaru militants have also scouted targets in Lagos and could threaten the Christian population and energy facilities in southern Nigeria if Ansaru rebuilds its financial and operational networks to AQIM in the Sahel, which were broken during the French-led intervention in Mali in 2013. Recent evidence emerging from hostage-takings suggests that Boko Haram may be latching on to Ansaru’s desert warfare and kidnapping expertise and that Ansaru began receiving funds from AQIM ransoms in late 2013. With the Nigerian presidential elections set for 2015, increasing conflict in neighboring Cameroon and the Central African Republic, and rebuilt networks between Nigerian and foreign militants, 2014 will be a critical year in Nigeria.
Behind the Headlines
Al-Shabaab Loses Key Commander
On January 27, al-Shabaab commander Ahmed Mohamed Amey (a.k.a. Isku Dhuuq) was killed in a U.S. air strike in a remote area near Barawe, Somalia. According to security sources, Amey was close to al-Shabaab’s leader Ahmed Abdi Godane. A former Islamist militant who defected in 2009 said that Amey advised Godane “on matters regarding the Amniyet (al-Shabaab’s secret service) and masterminding suicide bomb attacks.”
To learn more about al-Shabaab, check out the Quarterly Special Report where we focus on the various militants who are guiding the al-Qaeda-aligned militant organization that aims to impose Shari’a in Somalia.
Crisis in Ukraine
A day after Prime Minister Mykola Azarov submitted his resignation, Former Ukrainian President Leonid M. Kravchuk warned, on January 29, that Ukraine is “on the brink of civil war.” At the same time, Russia indicated that the $2 billion in financial aid it committed to Ukraine has been halted. Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev said the aid will be provided when “we know what economic policies the new government will implement, who will be working there, and what rules they will follow.”
What started as a pro-European protest of the government’s dismissal of an Association Agreement with the EU, is rapidly devolving into violence that neither side can control. The protests that erupted two months ago have grown more radical since January in response to the passage of draconian anti-protest laws signed by President Viktor Yanukovych. However, the escalating political crisis recently forced the parliament to repeal those laws on January 28 and prompted Azarov to resign. The Ukrainian government and opposition parties are currently in talks to defuse the situation, but they are unlikely to reach an agreement in the near future.
Featured Publications
Conflict in South Sudan: A Militant Leadership Monitor Special Report

In this Militant Leadership Monitor Quarterly Special Report (QSR) on the conflict in South Sudan, we focus on the civil wars, border disputes and rivalries between ethnic groups that have resulted in over half a century of violence in the country. The QSR begins with an overview by Andrew McGregor of South Sudan’s turbulent history, leading up to and following the country’s independence from Sudan. He highlights political and ethnic conflicts that maintain instability in South Sudan, as well as the lack of effort to diversify the nation’s economy, which remains dependent on oil for 98 percent of government revenue.

The following articles examine the themes raised in the introduction and are arranged in order of publication. The QSR also includes profiles of South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit, General Gabriel Tang, Colonel Gatluak Gai and David Yau Yau. The QSR concludes with a timeline, which highlights various political and tribal conflicts that have taken place in South Sudan.

Click here to purchase this report

To learn more about al-Shabaab, check out the QSR where we focus on the various militants who are guiding the al-Qaeda-aligned militant organization that aims to imose Shari’a in Somalia.

Jamestown Mourns the Loss of Analyst Alexandros Petersen

The Jamestown Foundation is deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic death of Dr. Alexandros Petersen in a bomb blast that occurred mid-January in Kabul, Afghanistan. Alexandros had recently moved to Afghanistan to take up a new position as a professor at American University in Kabul. He had worked at various think tanks in Washington, D.C., and was widely respected and admired.

A prolific writer and traveler to an area of the world he referred to as part of the World Island—in reference to the geopolitical theory of Sir Halford Mackinder—Alexandros found time to write regularly for Jamestown, and to speak at our energy conferences on the geopolitics of the South Caucasus and Central Asia. We remain grateful for his collegiality as well as his generosity with his time and insights, which contributed to Jamestown’s research and analysis on Eurasia. In many ways, Alexandros typified Jamestown’s ideals, combining regional expertise with on-the-ground knowledge based upon his travels to areas of the world that often go ignored in the mainstream media.

Alexandros was deeply interested in the geopolitics of the Caucasus and Central Asia, which he wrote about in his book The World Island: Eurasian Geopolitics and the Fate of the West.  He had a deep fondness for Central Asia, and was in the process of finishing his latest manuscript on China and Central Asia with his fellow co-author Rafaello Pantucci.

Below please find a copy of Alexandros’ bio and a list of articles that he wrote for The Jamestown Foundation.


Alexandros Petersen was a Senior Fellow for Eurasia and Fellow for Transatlantic Energy Security at the Atlantic Council, a Visiting Fellow with the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and provided research for the National Petroleum Council’s Geopolitics and Policy Task Group. 

Dr. Petersen regularly provided analysis to publications such as The Economist, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, National Interest and The Atlantic. He appeared on the BBC, Sky News, CTV and NPR, and taught classes on energy geopolitics at the U.S. Foreign Service Institute, the U.S. National War College and the American University of Central Asia, amongst many others. He received a B.A. in War Studies with First Class Honors from King’s College London and an M.Sc. and Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics.

Articles by Alexandros Petersen:


Click here to read more about Alexandros Petersen at The Washington Post

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