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Trending Events Issue 18

The Role of Armies, Proxies, Individual Terrorism and the US Presidential Elections

31 October 2016

Latest FARAS periodical issue throws light on regional trends.

The widening debate over the role of Arab armies, shifts in the roles of proxies in conflict zones, the return of al-Qaeda to the front of global jihadist landscape, the shifts in energy alliances in Eastern Mediterranean, as well as the threat of insider attacks in security institutions, are all among the trends featured in the 18th issue of Trending Events, the bi-monthly academic journal of the Abu Dhabi-based Future for Advanced Research & Studies (FARAS).

Role of Arab Armies

In the opening editorial titled "Armies: Why is there a focus on Armed Forces in Arab Countries?", Dr. Mohamed Abdelsalam, Director of FARAS, proposed a critical approach towards relating issues such as the military-civilian relationship, reforms in the security sector, foreign military intervention as well as the future of Arab armies. Special emphasis was placed on the issues of these armies from domestic and regional perspectives taking into account special conditions in concerned countries, the central roles of armies in propping up national economies at a time of crisis as well as countering internal and external threats.

In Future Study titled “Proxies: Dual Employment of Non-State Actors in Conflicts across the World”, Researcher in African Affairs at Al-Ahram Foundation, Dr. Khalid Hanafi argues that the roles of proxy forces are no longer limited to indirect intervention in wars, but have expanded into peaceful domains to carry out missions such as easing and settling conflicts, and peace-building in conflict zones. The contrasting context, he argues, feature diverse types of proxies and their roles, their relationship with their sponsors, and the limits of their loyalty and independence. The reliance on proxies is viewed as part of involved states' adaptability to regional and international transformations to reduce the cost of the intervention.

Fate of Regional Blocs

The Future Opinion segment offers answers to a range of regionally challenging and controversial questions. “What is the Fate of the Perceived Idea of Regional Blocs?” is one question addressed by Dr. Ahmed Yousef, Professor of Political Science at Cairo University, analyzing the general implications of Brexit with a focus on its repercussions on the Arab region.

The question of “Whether Liberal Democracy Suffered a Setback?” was addressed by Dr. Bahaa Makkawi, Associate Professor of Sociology and Head of the Department of Political Science at Bahrain's Applied Science University, providing an analysis of prospects and indicators of this regress across the world.

“Will Turkey Achieve Stability?” was addressed in the opinion piece penned by Turkish Professor Dr. Nurşin Ateşoğlu Güney, Chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Yildiz Technical University in Istanbul, Turkey, and Vice President of and Security and Nuclear Energy Fellow at the Wise Men Center for Strategic Studies (BILGESAM). Her article focuses on the repercussions of the June 15 failed coup attempt on the domestic situation as well as Turkey's approaches to security and military threats.

Professor Kamal Bin Younis, Director of Arab African Strategic Studies Forum, discussed the issues and challenges facing the Tunisian model of political transition citing indicators of failures, security, economic and social challenges facing the state as well as opportunities that can be seized to support transition in the country, in an article titled “What are the Problems Facing the Tunisian Model?”

Declining Language of Dialogue

In the Future Analysis section, Samuel Greene, Assistant Professor at National Defense College, UAE and A.J. Notle, Researcher at the Catholic University of America, addressed the rising trends of the degeneration of political dialogue language in an article named “Moral Breakdown: Repercussions of the Deteriorating Political Dialogue Language in the US Elections”. They explain the reasons for the phenomenon being, deterioration of political sophistication and statesmanship, eroding social capital and widening social class divisions in the United States.

Samuel Marrero, Executive Officer at the Near East South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies, a U.S. Department of Defense institution, wrote an analysis titled “ISIS Retreat: Indicators Revealing al-Qaeda at returning to the forefront of the Global Extremism Landscape.” The author stresses that ISIS decreasing control over its key strongholds in Syria and Iraq does not mean the elimination of the group. ISIS, he argues, will concentrate its presence in alternative centers to expand regionally. Persisting factors that helped the group expand include political instability, social disappointment and the breakdown of some states in the Middle East. Marrero also cites indicators of al-Qaeda's fresh return and expansion within the landscape of global extremism.

Turkish researcher in international development and politics, Serhat Cubukcuoglu, discusses the topic of “Orderism: Preliminary Signs of a Russian ideology challenging Western democracy.” The foundations of this ideology, he says, include, for instance, prioritization of stability over democratization, the view that Western democracy led to inequality, chaos and instability and an inclination to focus on religious and conservative values to counter secularism.

Researcher in international relations, Dr. Yusra Al-Sharqawi, puts the focus of her analysis on divisions in American society to address the topic of “Racial tensions: The Widening Protests of African Americans in the United States.” Increasing racism of US police, escalating protests against police violence and the underlying reasons of a sense of inequality among African Americans in the US were also addressed in the analysis.

Dr. William Gueraiche, Associate Professor, and Chair of the Department of International Relations at the American University in the Emirates wrote on “War Images: the Media Coverage in Asymmetrical Conflicts.” The article focuses on the emerging trends of asymmetrical media wars, political utilization of pictures in light of the states' loss of control over the flow of information, and the armed non-state actors' use of cyberspace and social networking sites to manipulate information, attract the attention of media, as well as carry out the missions of promotion, recruitment and funding.

In the security studies section of this issue, the topic of “Insider Threats: Internal Breaches in US Security Agencies” was addressed by Hussam Ibrahim, Head of the International Studies Program at FARAS, where he focuses on US policies to prevent these breaches and in particular the procedures for issuing security clearances.           

Tamer Badawi, a Researcher in political economics, discusses the “Gas Conflict: Shifts in Energy Alliances in the Eastern Mediterranean,” and argues that these changes are linked to Turkey’s reconciliation with Israel, and the agreement between Russia and Turkey over the TurkStream natural gas pipeline project, which will supply Russian markets. The article also discusses Russia's increasing military presence in the Mediterranean, the rapprochement between Greece and Cyprus, in addition to the increasing discoveries of gas reserves in the Mediterranean.

Among the economic topics of the new issue of FARAS' periodical, the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Delta Research Center, Dr. Ahmed R. El-Safty, and Head of Economic and Social Studies Unit at Delta Research Center, Mohammed El-Sanousi, analyze the “Outsourcing Reform: the Increasing Role of Consultancies in the Arab region”, and elaborate on the increasing profits of the firms operating in the government sector, the growing role of global consultancies in proposing visions for economic reforms as well as future strategies for economic development and diversification of the sources of national income of the client states.

Mona Mustafa Mohammad, Researcher at FARAS, addressed “Privacy Breaches: Repercussions of Augmented Reality Applications.” Her elaborate analysis asserts that the widespread use of these applications and the increasing availability of images, information and electronic content in the real world environment of users, have led to integration between reality and the virtual. The widespread of these technologies led to its usage in the fields of military training, printing, education, technical support, personal assistance and air navigation. She further argues that escalating security threats, espionage, and cyber beaches are among the applications’ negative implications.

The Workshops segment covers key trends addressed by the latest FARAS workshops and seminars. Topics include Non-traditional Threats: How to Protect Critical Infrastructure from Cyber Breaches, Threats to Stability: Security Challenges and Prospects in Algeria and Features of Hybrid Warfare from the Reality of International Experiences.

In another supplement, How Does the Other World Think?, the Academy Fellow at Chatham House, Nikolay Kozhanov, presents an analysis of the ”Coming Danger: Russian Pre-emptive Policies to Counter Foreign Fighters”, while Associate Professor of International Relations at Jahangirnagar University in Bangladesh, Shahab Enam Khan, discusses the “Hague Tribunal's Ruling: A New Phase of Conflict in the South China Sea.”

Santo Wool Shaul, Director of the Kush Center for Research and African Studies, presents an analysis of ”Influential Powers: African Efforts to Enhance the Role of the Continent in International Politics”, while Doctoral Student in political science at the University of Granada, José González, writes an analysis on “Multilatinas: Prospects of Latin Companies' Global Expansion”.

International trade features in the State of the World section of the journal, where Adviser at the Al-Siyassa Al Dawliya magazine of Al-Ahram Foundation, Karen Aboul Kheir, discusses “Endangered Globalization: Future of Global Trade amid the Escalating Indigence in Western Societies.”

In the State of the Middle East section, Marwa Sobhi, an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University, places a focus on “Profound Shifts: Erdogan's Domestic and Foreign policies in the wake of the Failed Coup.”

The Future Concepts supplement offers analysis of the theoretical concepts and frameworks associated with the rising phenomenon of lone wolf terrorism. The Executive Editor-in-Chief of Trending Events periodical, Shady Abdelwhab, analyses "Individual Terrorism: Definition, Patterns, and Main Features,” while Ali Baker, a researcher at Al-Siyassa Al-Dawliya magazine of the Al-Ahram Foundation, focusses on "Possible Jihad: Reasons Terrorist Organizations Resort to Unorganized Terrorism."

In the same supplement, Head of Societal Transformations Program at FARAS, Hala Elhefnawy, discusses the topic of “Black Widow: The Use of Jihadist Women in Terrorist Attacks”, while Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University, Mohammed Abdallah Younes, discusses “Lone Wolf: The Main Approaches to Counter the Phenomenon of Lone Wolves.”

"The 45th President: Exceptional Elections in the History of the United States" is the title of the Future Report supplement of the latest issue of FARAS journal where the editor offers an elaborate analysis titled, “The American Dilemma: Seven Domestic and Foreign Challenges Facing the next President.” Furthermore, Assistant Professor at Cairo University's Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Raghda El-Bahi discusses the topic of "Complicated Process: How US President is Elected?" While Amr Abdul Ati, a Doctoral Student in US Affairs and Associate Editor of Al-Siyassa Al-Dawliya magazine elaborates on "Trump Vs. Hillary: Who is the Next US President?" to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of presidential candidates, sources of fundraising for campaigns and advocacy groups supporting candidates.

Assistant Professor of Political Science at Assiut University, Ahmed El-Shoura Abu Zeid, discusses “National Priorities: Domestic Issues Featured in Presidential Candidates' Programs”, while Professor of International Relations at Cairo University's Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Dr. Riham Bahi, analyses the topic “Coming Challenges: the Middle East in Candidates' Foreign Policy Programs.”

The Future Report supplement also presents an infographic illustrating the electoral process in the United States, the changing results of polls as well as funding for election campaigns.