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Showing posts from July 16, 2014

Nigeria: Examining Boko Haram


Editor's Note: This is the second installment in a three-part series on militant activity in Nigeria.

The geopolitics of Nigeria engenders the use of regional militias, which wage insurgencies in part to help their patrons earn political and economic power and prestige. Nigeria's most infamous militia, at least for now, is Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group that recently made headlines when it kidnapped some 200 young girls. Despite all the calls for retribution from the West, Boko Haram remains as strong as ever, its strength owed to its robust support network, structure, capabilities and regional reach.


Boko Haram has a well-defined organizational structure based on a fluid number of cells and hierarchical layers. It draws support from sympathetic Islamists in northern Nigeria; northern state institutions, including the government and security forces; and the Kanuri ethnic group, which accounts for roughly 4 percent of the country's population. Cross-stat…

Amid Spy Row, Germany Seeks a More Independent Foreign Policy

An American flag flies in front of the Brandenburg Gate, near the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, on July 7.(Adam Berry/Getty Images)


On July 13, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met to calm tensions between the United States and Germany brought about by alleged U.S. espionage in Germany. The allegations spawned weeks of friction at a time when Germany had begun reshaping its foreign policy, seeking a balance between its military and political ties with the United States and its trade and energy ties with Russia.

Two and a half decades after reunification, Germany is starting to develop a more independent foreign policy, an idea that the country's leaders are finding has electoral merit. While a formal break between Germany and the United States cannot be expected, Berlin will choose how to challenge the White House selectively in the coming years.


On the surface, the recent tensions between Germany and the United States ap…

Egypt Proposes a Problematic Cease-Fire

A missile is launched by an Iron Dome battery in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod on July 15.DAVID BUIMOVITCH/AFP/Getty Images


A short-term cease-fire proposed by Egypt, accepted by Israel on July 15 and so far rejected by Gaza’s main Palestinian factions is already on shaky ground. The Israeli Cabinet voted in favor of the cease-fire but is now threatening to reconsider after a fresh barrage of rockets was launched from Gaza.

Egypt's proposed cease-fire calls upon Israeli and Palestinian delegations to arrive in Cairo within 48 hours to discuss terms for a more lasting truce. The proposal issues a vague call for border crossings into Gaza to be reopened once the security situation is stabilized. Hamas is looking for firmer guarantees on the release of prisoners and the lifting of the Gaza blockade, while Israel is trying to move the cease-fire talks toward a negotiated plan that forces Hamas to give up its rocket arsenal. In the hours since the proposal, Hamas’s m…

Mediator Proliferation Complicates Gaza Negotiations

The Hamas administration building after it was hit by an overnight Israeli airstrike on July 16 in Gaza City.THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images


After rejecting a seemingly rushed Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire early July 15, Hamas' political and military leadership has since been deliberating the terms it wants to propose for a fresh cease-fire initiative. Egypt is not, however, the only mediator in this round of Gaza hostilities. Qatar and Turkey are trying to usurp Egypt's role and increase their own leverage in the region by presenting themselves as the superior conduit between Gaza militant factions and Israel and the United States.

Stratfor has received indications that the Qatari leadership is already in consultations with Hamas over a fresh cease-fire proposal. Following the Egyptian military coup that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood -- the parent organization of Hamas -- from power, the Hamas leadership is deeply distrustful of Cairo and has already expressed its out…