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Showing posts from July 18, 2014

Gaza Situation Report

By George Friedman

The current confrontation in Gaza began June 12 after three Israeli teenagers disappeared in the West Bank the month before. Israel announced the disappearance June 13, shortly thereafter placing blame on Hamas for the kidnappings. On June 14, Hamas fired three rockets into the Hof Ashkelon region. This was followed by Israeli attacks on Palestinians in the Jerusalem region. On July 8, the Israelis announced Operation Protective Edge and began calling up reservists. Hamas launched a longer-range rocket at Tel Aviv. Israel then increased its airstrikes against targets in Gaza.

At this point, it would appear that Israel has deployed sufficient force to be ready to conduct an incursion into Gaza. However, Israel has not done so yet. The conflict has consisted of airstrikes and some special operations forces raids by Israel and rocket launches by Hamas against targets in Israel.

From a purely military standpoint, the issue has been Hamas's search for a deterrent to Isr…

Development Banks' Relative Capital Bases

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The sixth BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit began July 14 in Brazil. The three-day summit is expected to produce finalized plans for a new financial institution to be known as the BRICS Development Bank and a currency pool to be known as the Contingency Reserve Arrangement. The bank will start lending in 2016 with an initial capital base of $50 billion ($10 billion will come from each member), with plans to increase the capitalization to $100 billion over the next five years.

The institutions are part of a larger plan by non-Western developing countries to build lending mechanisms with fewer conditions than those imposed by multilateral Western institutions. It also represents an effort to insulate from future crises in the Western-led financial system, which will continue to dominate the world's financial markets, BRICS' efforts notwithstanding. Within the new BRICS mechanism itself, China will dominate because its economy and financia…

Rebels' Options Are Limited in the Battle for Aleppo

Rubble of buildings after a reported regime airstrike July 14 in Aleppo.(BARAA AL-HALABI/AFP/Getty Images)


The enduring and often back-and-forth battle for Aleppo is entering another phase yet again. The rebels entrenched in the city have already allocated forces to counter recent loyalist advances in the east, and they may also be pushed to reinforce their position against Islamic State militants encroaching from the north, potentially stretching their resources dangerously thin. If Aleppo falls to the loyalists, the momentum of the Syrian conflict will shift significantly in favor of the regime.


Loyalist forces continue to make notable gains in the ongoing offensive, having captured the villages of Kafr al-Saghir and Moqbila in the past 10 days, and they continue to advance on the rebel-held infantry academy. Ever since the loyalists reached the Aleppo central prison in late May, the regime has increasingly been able to threaten important roads running from the Turkish …

Accusations Fly Over Civilian Plane Downed in Ukraine


At 4:21 p.m. local time Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, a Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur carrying 295 people, crashed near the town of Shakhtyorsk, in Ukraine's Donetsk province. The plane was reportedly flying at its cruising altitude of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet) and following its regular flight path when it crashed. The flight crashed about 32 kilometers (20 miles) away from the Russian border.

Based on altitude of flight, only medium- to long-range surface-to-air missiles could have shot down the civilian aircraft. Several different variants of this air defense system capable of engaging planes at the reported altitude are deployed in both Ukraine and Russia. Ukrainian officials suggested that a Buk SA-17, a road-mobile system, was used in the incident and have blamed pro-Russian rebels for shooting down the aircraft. However, pro-Russian separatists have refuted the allegations, arguing that they only possess man-portable air-defense systems and do n…

Ukraine Says Audio Shows Pro-Russia Rebels Were Behind the Crash

A person stands in the wreckage of the Malyasian Airlines plane downed in eastern Ukraine on July 17.(DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)


Editor's note: The full transcript referenced in this analysis is posted below. The translation from Ukrainian to English was made by Stratfor and is unofficial.

According to an unconfirmed audio intercept by the Security Service of Ukraine, a pro-Russia rebel group based in Chernukhino, Luhansk province, is responsible for the July 17 Malaysia Airlines plane crash. The village of Chornukhino is some 19 kilometers (about 12 miles) from the crash site, within the rebel-controlled territories of eastern Ukraine.

The audio recording is allegedly of a phone call initiated by Igor Bezler, described by the Ukrainian report as a Russian military intelligence officer and leading commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic. At 4:40 p.m. local time, 20 minutes after the plane crashed, he is recorded talking with someone the Security…

Israel Begins Ground Incursion into Gaza

An Israeli army flare lights up the sky above the Gaza Strip on July 17.(JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared an intensification of Operation Protective Edge on July 17, and Israeli ground forces are now reportedly moving into the Gaza Strip. The start of a ground operation does not necessarily mean this will evolve into a large-scale ground war. Palestinian attempts to infiltrate Israel earlier in the morning, local time, by tunnel are a possible trigger for the current ground incursion. Such an incursion could take the form of a push into Gaza along the border areas to destroy existing tunnel networks and Hamas positions. Indeed, we have seen limited Israeli ground incursions in the last two major Gaza battles.

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If the current statements are taken at face value, the operation will include the perimeter of the Gaza Strip where tunnels and launching sites have proved to be a threat to Israel. However, conducting ground op…