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Showing posts from July 24, 2014

Hamas Attempts to Expand Its Rocket Campaign Against Israel

Hamas militants fire artillery rockets form south Gaza into Israel, July 19. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


Rockets are at the center of the crisis in Gaza. Despite the Israeli operation to clear Hamas' tunnel networks, which the group uses to move and store its rocket arsenal, Hamas continues to launch artillery rockets. Not only that, but the militants are reducing the weight of their rocket warheads, increasing the range of the projectiles and threatening towns and cities across Israel.

Analysis


Based on information from Israeli defense sources and Stratfor contacts, as well as a careful examination of impact sites, it appears that Hamas is willing to reduce the explosive lethality of its rockets in order to achieve greater range. By removing weight from the warheads of these medium-range rockets, Palestinian militants can increase the rockets' velocity, in turn extending their flight time. This adjustment enables Hamas to more consistently set off rocket sirens across Is…

Ukraine Chronology: Jet Crash Caps Months of Geopolitical Struggle

Alexander Hug (c), Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE's Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, visits the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in separatist-held eastern Ukraine July 18.(DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)

Analysis


Editor's Note: After Ukraine spent years trying to negotiate an association agreement with the European Union, speculation abounded at the end of 2013 that the country was on the verge of stepping out of Russia's shadow and into the European Union's sphere of influence. Kiev seemed to be getting closer to signing the association agreement -- which would have tilted its foreign and security policies, justice and home affairs, and most important, its trade agreements toward Europe. But Russian pressure derailed negotiations at the end of November and then-President Viktor Yanukovich did not sign the agreement at the Eastern Partnership summit held in Vilnius from Nov. 27 to Nov. 29.

Pro-EU demonstrations erupted in Ukraine almost immediately. …

Iraq's Prime Minister May Be Replaced

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki votes in parliamentary elections in April 2014.(ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


Nouri al-Maliki, the only prime minister Baghdad has known since the United States invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein, may soon lose his job as his country struggles to form a government. Like al-Maliki, Iraq's next head of state will almost certainly be beholden to Tehran, even as he manages an insurgency that threatens to tear the country apart.

Analysis


Al-Maliki owes his tenure largely to his ability to placate U.S. and Iranian interests. For eight years he was able to keep his Shiite coalition intact, but his tactics alienated Iraq's once-dominant Sunnis and the Kurds, who were once allied with the Shia. In some ways, his exclusion of the country's minority populations explains why the country is fraying.
Government Formation

There are several factors in Iraq's struggle to form a government. The Kurds have sought more autonomy by assuming c…

Ukraine Update: The Rebels Are on the Defensive

A Ukrainian convoy passes through Konstantinovka in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk province on July 21.(GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


Since a cease-fire expired in early July, Ukrainian security forces have made real gains on the battlefield, siphoning off territory from pro-Russian separatists and forcing them to go on the defensive. With a concert of air power, artillery and thrusts that combine infantry and armor, Ukrainian forces have advanced along three axes. As military operations move farther east toward Russia, however, the operation will face more stubborn and capable resistance -- as long as Russia continues to support the militants.

Analysis
Before the cease-fire went into effect, the Ukrainian military had been surrounding Slovyansk, slowly strangling rebel positions in the city. Farther afoot, they were putting slight pressure on territory to the west of Donetsk city and north of Luhansk city, but the Ukrainian military had lost control over a large portion of its b…

Hamas Attempts to Capitalize on Israel's Air Hub Closure

A passenger aircraft belonging to Israel's El Al national airline sits on the tarmac of Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, July 23.(GIL COHEN MAGEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


The Federal Aviation Administration extended a ban July 23 on U.S. flights to Israel for another 24 hours. The ban was imposed, with Canadian and European airliners following suit, a day earlier after a rocket fell near Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. As the economic cost of Operation Protective Edge grows in Israel, Hamas is seizing the opportunity to declare victory against Israel amid a flurry of cease-fire efforts. The reality is that the victory Hamas has proclaimed is just as elusive as the terms of a cease-fire, locking Israel and Gaza militants into a continuous cycle of warfare.

Analysis


Hamas essentially got lucky with the rocket that landed near the airport. It is unlikely that the group could replicate the attack to turn the conflict into an economic battle of attrition. Art…