6 January 2024

Israel Signals Self-Reliance for Weapons

Simone Ledeen

Israel’s declaration that it intends to expand its domestic munitions production heralds a new chapter in U.S.-Israel relations, where strategic recalibration meets the challenges of an evolving international arms landscape. Israel’s announcement signifies a dual aim: to diminish U.S. leverage in its military operations and to confront the relentless shortages prevalent in the global market. In the volatile landscape of global munitions sales, the Black Sabbath massacre orchestrated by Hamas has seemingly propelled Israel into a serious reassessment of how much leverage over its military decision-making it is willing to give the United States.

On December 29th with Israel engaged in heavy fighting during clearing operations in Gaza, and a looming regional conflict on the horizon, the Biden White House approved the second emergency transfer of the month for Israel, this one totaling nearly $150 million in military equipment, including critically important 155mm artillery ammunition. In response to Israel’s previous emergency request, the US expedited the delivery of over 13,000 tank shells.

Historically, the United States has been a key supplier of military aid to Israel, offering critical support in times of conflict. However, the increasing acknowledgment within Israel's leadership that this dependence also translates to a degree of subservience in military decision-making seems to have prompted a reevaluation. By cultivating a more self-reliant approach to armaments, Israel aims to reduce its vulnerability to external influences, particularly, the leverage that U.S. armaments confer on its military decisions.

While the alliance is rooted in shared values and common interests, the leverage the U.S. holds through the provision of military aid has, at times, led to complex diplomatic negotiations, acknowledging the occasional divergence in goals between Israel and the U.S. The U.S. imperative is not just to address regional conflicts but to grapple with a global market in flux. The global weapons market is always driven by geopolitical shifts, and now more than ever, an insatiable demand for artillery ammunition as two hot shooting wars are taking place.

Israel’s Mossad chief vows to hunt down Hamas members a day after senior figure killed in strike


The chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service vowed Wednesday that the agency would hunt down every Hamas member involved in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, no matter where they are. His pledge came a day after the deputy head of the Palestinian militant group was killed in a suspected Israeli strike in Beirut.

Israel has refused to comment on reports it carried out the killing, but the remarks by David Barnea appeared to be the strongest indication yet it was behind the blast. He made a comparison to the aftermath of the slayings at the Munich Olympics in 1972, when Mossad agents tracked down and killed Palestinian militants involved in killing Israeli athletes.

Israel was on high alert Wednesday for an escalation with Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah militia after the strike in the Lebanese capital killed Saleh Arouri, the most senior Hamas member slain since the war in Gaza erupted nearly three months ago.

The strike in Hezbollah’s southern Beirut stronghold could cause the low-intensity fighting along the Lebanon border to boil over into all-out war.

In a speech Wednesday evening, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah promised revenge, repeating his group’s statement that “this dangerous crime” of Arouri’s killing will not go “without response and without punishment.” But he left the audience guessing as to when and in what form.

Nasrallah said Hezbollah had so far been careful in its strategic calculus in the conflict, balancing “the need to support Gaza and to take into account Lebanese national interests.” But if the Israelis launch a war on Lebanon, the group is ready for a “fight without limits.”

“They will regret it,” he said. “It will be very, very, very costly.”

Arouri’s killing provided a morale boost for Israelis still reeling from the Oct. 7 attack as the militants continue to put up stiff resistance in Gaza and hold scores of hostages.

Gaza Is Starving

Isaac Chotiner

Last month, a United Nations report on hunger described a catastrophic situation in Gaza, where more than ninety per cent of the population has been facing “acute food insecurity,” and where “virtually all households are skipping meals every day.” Much of Gaza is at risk of famine in the next several months. Parents have been going without food to insure that their kids have at least something to eat; where food is available, moreover, prices have skyrocketed, making it inaccessible even for middle-class families. The report noted, “This is the highest share of people facing high levels of acute food insecurity” ever recorded “for any given area or country.” I recently spoke by phone with Arif Husain, the chief economist at the United Nations World Food Program, which was one of the partner organizations that compiled the report. The W.F.P. also collects data on hunger around the world and delivers food to needy people. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed what the people of Gaza are currently facing, the reasons many cannot access food, and why this crisis is so unprecedented.

Could you describe the food-access situation in Gaza right now?

The bottom line is that, in Gaza, pretty much everybody is hungry at the moment. In the food-security-analysis business, we do something called I.P.C., or Integrated Phase Classification. This is an exercise that has about twenty-three partners, including nineteen U.N. agencies and international N.G.O.s and about four donors. This group analyzes the food-security situation. And, on the basis of that, it presents a report, which is independent. It is not one agency or one entity. There’s a consensus-based analysis. This exercise is done in between forty and fifty countries worldwide that may have a food-security issue, whether it is because of conflict or climate or anything else. What an I.P.C. does in any given location is put people in five different classifications. I.P.C. Phase 1 is that everything is fine; I.P.C. Phase 2 is that people are stressed in terms of their food-security situation; I.P.C. Phase 3 is that people are, in fact, in a food-security crisis; I.P.C. Phase 4 is that people are in food-security emergencies; and the last phase is called the famine, or catastrophe, phase. Now, the same analysis was done for Gaza, which came out in December, and, according to that, pretty much the entire population of 2.2 million people is in a food-security crisis or a worse situation.

Central Asian Jihadi Perspectives on Iran’s ‘Axis of Resistance’

Uran Botobekov

While Iran has effectively mobilized its “Axis of Resistance” throughout the Middle East by sponsoring proxy Shia militant groups, notably Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen, as well as the Sunni Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), to challenge U.S. and Israeli forces and reduce their influence in the region, Tehran faces a threat of its own from the domestic Sunni Deobandi-Jihadi group, Jaish al-Adl.

The enduring historical and intra-religious contradictions between Sunnis and Shias, which have frequently ignited bloody conflicts and overt confrontations in the past, persist vividly in the historical memory of jihadi groups across the Middle East and Central Asia. While Iran may back some Sunni groups, such as PIJ, when convenient to its larger destructive ambition to stoke opposition in the Global South against U.S. hegemony, Tehran nevertheless faces challenges from other Sunni groups like Jaish al-Adl.

The Iranian regime attributes the enduring internal ethnic and religious challenges within the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan from groups like Jaish al-Adl to “the mysterious hand of the West.” In its customary fashion, the regime has once again ascribed Jaish al-Adl attacks to “external enemies of the Iranian Islamic revolution,” ostensibly seeking to exacerbate tensions between the Sunni minority and Shia majority within the country.

Jaish al-Adl Threatens Iran’s Ambitions

On December 15, Jaish al-Adl, an Iranian Sunni militant group, claimed responsibility for an assault on a police station in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan. During the attack, the ethnic Baloch separatist battalion killed 11 security personnel and inflicted injuries upon several others, as reported in a concise statement on its Telegram channel.

The distinctiveness of the recent attack lay in its occurrence amid the renewed Israel-Hamas conflict and Iran’s active undercover guerrilla, diplomatic, and financial efforts to establish a broad “Axis of Resistance.” This envisioned alliance was intended not only to encompass Iran’s network of Shia proxies but also to incorporate Sunni non-state armed and jihadi groups in the Middle East.

The Financial Costs And Security Benefits Of Manila’s Brahmos Missiles – Analysis

Chester Cabalza, Amadeus Quiaoit, and Rhon Ethelbert Ducos

Early in 2024, Manila will take ownership of the Indian Brahmaputra and Russian Moskova or Brahmos missile system, worth $374.96 million. New Delhi’s assurance of timely delivery for the three batteries of the India-Russia made supersonic cruise weaponries and shore-based anti-ship missiles will fortify the Southeast Asian nation’s contested West Philippine Sea, known as one of the world’s longest coastlines.

In 2022, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) confirmed the acquisition of the BrahMos ballistic missiles, officially becoming the first foreign nation to acquire the potent supersonic anti-ship missile, strengthening its naval abilities to safeguard its sovereign claims in the South China Sea. Once delivered in Manila, the Philippines will join the ranks of Indonesia and Vietnam, states that possess sophisticated military hardware in the dynamic region of maritime Southeast Asia.

The archipelagic Philippines faces numerous security challenges in safeguarding its territorial integrity and maritime interests. In recent years, Manila has actively sought to bolster its external defense capabilities, considering the acquisition of BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, a move that signifies a significant leap in its military capability and deterrence capacity toward Chinese aggression and frequent coast guard collisions at sea.

The BrahMos missile system is renowned for its speed, precision, and versatility. Its acquisition by the Philippines holds the promise of enhancing the country’s deterrence against potential threats, particularly in the contested South China Sea, where overlapping territorial claims have sparked strains among several nations.

However, while the efficacy of BrahMos missiles in bolstering defense is undisputed, the financial implications of acquiring and maintaining such a state-of-the-art defense system must be thoroughly examined. The cost associated with procuring and integrating these missiles into the Philippines’ defense infrastructure presents a considerable challenge.

India’s National Geospatial Policy: Analysing progress and charting the future

Y Nithiyanandam And Satyam Kushwaha

As 2023 draws to a close, it is important to reflect on India’s strides in implementing its National Geospatial Policy, introduced on December 28, 2022. The National Geospatial Policy, 2022, is a pivotal initiative designed to advance the geospatial sector in support of national development, economic growth and the evolution of an information-rich economy.

Geospatial technology is an advanced tool for analysing location-based data. It helps us monitor natural resources, plan development and respond to disasters. This technology provides a comprehensive view of Earth through satellite imagery, Global Positioning System (GPS), remote sensing, and Geographic Information System (GIS). It promotes spatial thinking to solve real-world problems and enables informed decisions and actions.

The citizen-centric National Geospatial Policy builds upon the momentum created by the 2021 guidelines for acquiring and producing geospatial data and services, fostering a more liberalised approach to geospatial data handling. It aims to provide a comprehensive framework for the sector’s development, focusing on nurturing geospatial infrastructure, skills, standards, and businesses. The policy emphasises innovation and enhancing national and sub-national systems for managing geospatial information. Continuously governed by the existing guidelines, the policy encourages private sector involvement by improving the ease of doing business in the geospatial arena. It is a visionary roadmap contributing to socio-economic progress, geared towards realising India’s ambition of becoming a five trillion-dollar economy and achieving sustainable development goals. The policy’s people-centric and business-oriented approach is pivotal, especially given the projections that India’s domestic geospatial market could reach Rs 63,000 crores by 2025, aligning with the global market’s expected growth to USD 206.93 billion in 2030.

This year has witnessed some key initiatives under the policy’s umbrella.

Setting up more than 1000 continuously operating reference stations throughout India, which offer centimetre-level real-time positioning, marks a significant achievement. These stations enhance world-class location-based services for various applications, including mapping, food delivery, navigation, and pinpointing prime locations for new retail outlets. Additionally, the development of numerous geospatial data-sharing portals has been a key milestone. Entrepreneurs can now use these portals’ open geospatial data and satellite images to build innovative applicationsthat can help citizens and governance.

Hackers hit Australian state's court recording database

Renju Jose

Hackers accessed the court recordings database in Australia's Victoria state and disrupted the audio-visual in-court technology network, impacting recordings and transcription services, an official said on Tuesday.

Recordings of some court hearings between Nov. 1 and Dec. 21, 2023 may have been stolen, Court Services Victoria CEO Louise Anderson said in a statement. Some hearings before Nov. 1 may also have been affected, she said.

"The potential access is confined to recordings stored on the network. No other court systems or records, including employee or financial data, were accessed," Anderson said.

Hearings in January would proceed after the affected network was isolated and disabled, and court officials were working closely with the government's cyber security experts. Court Services Victoria did not reveal whether it received any ransomware demands.

State-sponsored cyber groups and hackers have stepped up their assault on Australia's critical infrastructure, businesses and homes, a government report released in November 2023 showed, with one attack happening every six minutes.

The cyber intrusion at the court database comes after a hack late last year at DP World Australia, one of the country's largest ports operators, that forced it to suspend operations for three days. Last week, car dealership group Eagers Automotive (APE.AX) said a cyber incident hit its IT systems.

Evolving Urban Landscapes: Urbanisation Dynamics in Tibet and Their Regional Implications

  • China is strategically advancing urbanisation in Tibet to strengthen its control over the region.
  • In recent times, several new urban areas have emerged, although the pace of urbanisation remains relatively slow and is not as rapid as that observed in other parts of China.
  • The article focuses on Tibet's swift urban growth and examines a few driving factors like population and their wider effects.
  • The geospatial data is used to assess the urban extent and visualise the complex terrain.
  • China is strengthening its role in the region with enhanced military and economic ties, plus new air routes between Kathmandu and Lhasa, opening doors for tourism and collaboration.

Over half the world’s population now resides in urban areas, a figure only expected to rise, with estimates suggesting an urban population of 68% by 2050. This phenomenon is most pronounced in Asia and Africa, where nearly 90% of the urban population growth is projected. The rate of urbanisation is a critical metric in assessing a nation's progress, encapsulating various aspects such as economic development (evidenced by increased activity and employment opportunities), infrastructural expansion (including new roads and enhanced public transport systems), social evolution (marked by improvements in education, healthcare, and life quality), demographic shifts (altering population density and household dynamics), global competitiveness (fostered through international trade and investments), and environmental advancements (highlighted by efficient resource use and innovations in energy).

China’s economy had a miserable year. 2024 might be even worse

Laura He

The Chinese economy was expected to recover quickly in 2023 and resume its role as the undisputed engine of global growth. Instead, it stalled to the point where it’s being called a “drag” on world output by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), among others.

Despite its many problems — a property crisis, weak spending and high youth unemployment — most economists think the world’s second largest economy will hit its official growth target of around 5% this year.

But that is still below the 6%-plus annual growth averaged in the decade before the Covid pandemic, and 2024 is increasingly looking ominous, they said. The country may be staring at decades of stagnation thereafter.

“The 2024 challenge for the Chinese economy will not be GDP growth — that will likely be above 4.5%,” said Derek Scissors, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a center-right think tank. “The challenge will be that the only direction from there is down.”

Without major market reforms, the country could be stuck in what economists call “the Middle Income Trap,” he warned, referring to the notion that emerging economies grow quickly out of poverty only to get trapped before they reach high-income status.

For decades since China re-opened to the world in 1978, it was one of the fastest growing major economies on Earth. Between 1991 and 2011, it grew by 10.5% annually. The expansion has slowed during Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s rule, but was still averaging 6.7% in the decade through 2021.

“The second half of the 2020s will … see slowing growth,” Scissors said, citing a correction in the troubled real estate sector coupled with demographic decline.

China's Election Interference in Taiwan Explained

Micah McCartney

As Taiwan prepares for its eighth presidential election since democratization, the island is facing increasingly varied and sophisticated attempts by China to influence the outcome of the contest.

The poll on January 13 will determine who becomes only the fifth directly elected president of the nation of 23 million people since 1996.

Voters will also have a say in which party controls the legislature, shaping the course of the island's two most important relationships: China, which has framed the contest as a choice between peace and war, and the United States, Taiwan's largest security provider and advocate on the world stage.

Joseph Wu, Taiwan's foreign minister, urged international vigilance against Beijing's efforts to interfere in its electoral process. In an interview with The Economist published Wednesday, Wu said Taiwan was on the front line of Chinese authoritarian expansionism.

The following are both conventional and innovative ways China has sought to sway Taiwanese public opinion in the current election cycle.

Economic Warfare

Weaponizing two-way trade across the Taiwan Strait has been one of China's favorite tactics to squeeze Taiwan in recent years.

On December 15, China's Commerce Ministry listed more than 2,000 "trade barriers" it said the Taiwanese government had placed on Chinese products. The ministry has hinted at retaliation, fueling suspicion Beijing was waiting for the right moment to hurt Taipei's ruling Democratic Progressive Party among its traditional support base in the island's agricultural heartland ahead of the elections.

U.S.-China Relations in 2024: Managing Competition without Conflict

Scott Kennedy

From 2018 to 2023, U.S.-China relations were in a linear downward spiral. The trade war, the pandemic, growing technology competition, rising tensions in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, and contrasting approaches to the Russia-Ukraine conflict have collectively fed a sense of fatalism that the countries were heading toward the abyss of outright economic decoupling and a disastrous military conflict.

The summit meeting between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping held in November near San Francisco, just in advance of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week, was the culmination of a year-long process that calmed the waters. The two sides announced a range of deliverables on economic and security issues and tried to convey a sense that they could effectively manage their differences. Although the United States and China are still engaged in a comprehensive contest for power and over setting the global rules of the game, guardrails are gradually being created, and as a result, the likelihood of the most disastrous outcomes has receded. Moreover, even though the chances of a genuine thaw that resolves fundamental differences and leads to greater cooperation are low, there also are underappreciated sources of structural stability that could keep relations from further deteriorating in the coming years. Nevertheless, it will take active diplomacy and some good luck to keep ties from fraying in 2024.

Surpassing Low Expectations

During their four-hour meeting on the Filoli Estate in Woodside, California, both Biden and Xi appeared to stick to their original positions on technology and economic security, Taiwan, Ukraine, human rights, and several other issues. At the same time, they were able to produce a series of deliverables exceeding the expectations of most analysts.

Based on the readouts from the White House and People’s Republic of China (PRC) media (Xinhua, Caixin), it appears that, at a minimum, the two sides agreed to several actions:
  1. Resume military-to-military dialogue through a variety of channels and on a number of specific topics.
  2. Commit to accelerate efforts to expand renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions, including from methane and other greenhouse gases, in accordance with the joint statement issued at Sunnylands just before the bilateral meeting.
  3. Restore and expand cooperation on countering the production and trafficking of fentanyl and other narcotics.
  4. Step up discussions to minimize risks related to artificial intelligence.
  5. Push for more direct flights between the two countries and expand people-to-people exchanges.
  6. Begin consultations aimed at renewing the U.S.-China Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement, which is set to expire in late February 2024.

China unveils new images of next-generation aircraft carrier days before Taiwan election

Namita Singh

Chinese state media have unveiled the latest pictures of the country’s new domestically manufactured aircraft carrier, including next-generation launch tracks.

Yet to be commissioned, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) officially launched Fujian – designated a Type 003 carrier – in June 2022. It commenced testing of its state-of-the-art electromagnetic catapults for launching jet fighters in November last year.

President Xi Jinping has repeatedly called for improvements to the Chinese military’s combat-readiness and technological capabilities to be completed ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in 2027.

Some senior US military officers have said they believe China is preparing to launch a military takeover of Taiwan by that year.

Capable of carrying 80,000 tonnes, the domestically designed and built warship measures approximately 316m in length and can carry 70 aircraft including J-15 fighters and Z-9C anti-submarine helicopters.

Yet to conduct its first sea trials, the aircraft carrier is larger and technologically more advanced than the Shandong, commissioned in 2019, and the Liaoning, which China bought second-hand from Ukraine in 1998 and refitted domestically

On state television late on Tuesday, the Fujian was seen being towed by a smaller vessel with all of the three tracks of its electro-magnetic catapult system visible on its deck.

“In the new year, we will seize every minute, work with determination, and strive for combat readiness as soon as possible,” state television cited a Fujian officer as saying.

Two key military appointments from China’s naval ranks reflects Xi’s territorial ambitions, analysts say

Brad Lendon

When Xi Jinping named Adm. Dong Jun as China’s defense minister last week, it marked the first time a naval officer has been elevated to that position, and analysts say it gives a clear indication of the Chinese leader’s priorities – Taiwan tops among them.

Dong’s experience, both as head of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) as well as operational assignments in the Chinese military’s Eastern and Southern theater commands, gives him an “unprecedented background” in the defense minister position, according to a report from the China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI) at the US Naval War College in Rhode Island.

His resumé “reflects serious joint and naval focus under Xi with growing potential applications to disputed sovereignty claims in the East and South China Seas — none more important than Taiwan,” CMSI analysts Andrew Erickson and Christopher Sharman wrote in their report.

Carl Schuster, a former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center, said Dong “has international, joint and extensive naval experience in the two theaters that have been in the forefront of leader Xi Jinping’s most aggressive assertions of Chinese territorial claims.”

Xi, who has made taking control of Taiwan a cornerstone of his broader goal to “rejuvenate” China to a place of power and stature globally, said last month that the “reunification” of Taiwan with China is “inevitable.”

China’s Communist Party claims Taiwan as its own territory, despite never having controlled it. Chinese officials say they aim for peaceful “reunification” but have not ruled out using force to take control of the island.

China’s military has ramped up diplomatic, economic and military pressure on Taiwan under Xi.

Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Deadly Bombings in Iran

Vivian Yee, Hwaida Saad and Eric Schmitt

The Islamic State claimed responsibility on Thursday for the bombing attack that killed 84 people in Kerman, Iran, a day before, during a memorial procession for Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, according to a post on the extremist group’s official Telegram account.

The extremist group called the attack a “dual martyrdom operation,” and described how two militants approached a ceremony at the tomb of General Suleimani and detonated explosive belts strapped to their bodies “near the grave of the hypocrite leader.”

The general, a widely revered and feared Iranian military officer who was the architect of an Iranian-led and -funded alliance of Shiite groups across the Middle East, was assassinated four years ago in an American drone attack.

The Islamic State, a Sunni Muslim organization, considers its mission to kill apostate Muslims, including Shiites. Iran, a majority-Shiite country, is led by a theocratic government in which Shiite clerics are in charge.

In a statement, the Islamic State identified the two attackers as Omar al-Mowahid and Sayefulla al-Mujahid. The group is composed of local affiliates across the Muslim world, but it did not specify which regional organization was behind the bombings.

The bombing in Iran was the latest bloody episode in the Islamic State’s targeting of Iran, which it considers an irredeemable sectarian foe, one that, along with a U.S.-led coalition, had a hand in defeating the group in Syria and Iraq. It was General Suleimani who built a network of Shiite militias there to repel the group and personally directed efforts to fight it.

The Islamic State, whose affiliate in Afghanistan, ISIS-Khorasan, has repeatedly threatened Iran over what it says is its polytheism and apostasy, has claimed responsibility for several previous attacks on Iran.

U.S. Warns of Potential Military Action Against Houthis

Zeke Miller & Aamer Madhani

The United States and 12 allies issued what amounted to a final warning to Houthi rebels on Wednesday to cease their attacks on vessels in the Red Sea or face potential targeted military action.

The Yemen-based militants have carried out at least 23 attacks in response to the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza since Dec. 19.

A senior Biden administration official declined to detail rules of possible engagement if the attacks continue, but underscored that the Iranian-backed Houthis should “not anticipate another warning” from the U.S. and its allies.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the White House, spoke soon after the countries issued a joint statement earlier Wednesday condemning the attacks and underscoring that international patience was strained.

The statement was signed by the United States, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom. Separately, the U.S. called on the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday to take action against the Houthis and warned their financier Iran that it has a choice to make about continuing to provide support to the rebels.

“Let our message now be clear: we call for the immediate end of these illegal attacks and release of unlawfully detained vessels and crews,” the countries said. “The Houthis will bear the responsibility of the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy, and free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways.”

For weeks, the Houthis have claimed attacks on ships in the Red Sea that they say are either linked to Israel or heading to Israeli ports. They say their attacks aim to end the Israeli air-and-ground offensive in the Gaza Strip that was triggered by the Palestinian militant group Hamas’ Oct.7 attack in southern Israel.

Terrorism Research Initiative (TRI)Perspectives on Terrorism, 2023, v.17, no. 4

Terrorism and Strategic Effect: A Conceptual Framework

Imagined Extremist Communities: The Paradox of the Community-Driven Lone-Actor Terrorist

Right-wing extremist group survival in Finland – a qualitative case analysis of Soldiers of Odin and the Nordic Resistance Movement

Doubling Down on Accountability in Europe: Prosecuting ‘Terrorists’ for Core International 
Crimes and Terrorist Offences Committed in the Context of the Conflict in Syria and Iraq

National Security Dynamics: From Administrative to Preventive Detention in Israel's Counter-terrorism Landscape

The Punishment of the Grave: A Neglected Motivation for Jihad and Martyrdom

Assessing the Nature and Role of Terrorism Risk Models in the Insurance Sector

A Look at the State of Research on [Counter-] Terrorism and Violent Extremism

Examining Ideology, Asymmetry, and Ethnonationalism in the 2023 Israel-Gaza Crisis

Bibliography: Individual and Contextual Factors of Radicalisation

Counter-Terrorism Bookshelf: Eleven Books on Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism-Relate Subjects

Patriot Missile Production Is Headed To Europe


NATO has announced a new plan to help various European nations procure up to 1,000 missiles for the U.S. Patriot air defense system. This speaks to the surge in demand for Patriot amongst the U.S.'s allies and partners as of late, notably spurred by the war in Ukraine. The additional supply of Patriot missiles will help backfill stockpiles transferred to Ukraine, and could even eventually help free up further batches for transfer to the country. It also brings Patriot production to Europe, which has wider implications that could benefit the U.S. and the Patriot program overall.

The production and delivery contract award, revealed today, was issued to COMLOG — a joint venture between RTX, formerly known as Raytheon, manufacturer of the Patriot system, and European missile consortium MBDA Missile Systems Inc. — by NATO's Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA). Valued at up to $5.6 billion, the contract looks to procure the Guidance Enhanced Missile-Tactical (GEM-T) version of the PAC-2 Patriot missile, which is optimized for improved performance against ballistic missiles, as you can read about here.

In addition, the deal also includes the "qualification of updated components, [the] addition of new suppliers, test equipment, and spares to support future sustainment." Details on when the procurement of the missiles will begin, and for how long, have not been specified.

The original Patriot system was introduced to the U.S. Army in 1981, and first became available to those countries for procurement just a few years later. A typical Patriot battery, standing for Phased Array Tracking Radar for Intercept, comprises an AN/MPQ-65 or AN/MPQ-53 radar, and requisite fire control, communications, and other support components, alongside a total of eight trailer-mounted launchers.

The three basic Patriot missile configurations. PAC-2 GEM-T is an upgrade of the GEM. 

In terms of which countries the deal impacts, NATO has noted that it applies to a "coalition of nations" including Germany, the Netherlands, Romania, and Spain.

African Century? Afro-Asian Infrastructure And Transport Corridors – Analysis

Lorenzo Somigli

The world has undergone a profound transformation, and a new geopolitical phase has started. The edges of the Rimland (Ukraine, Balkans, Caucasus, Middle East, Myanmar, western Indian subcontinent, sporadically Central Asia and possibly Korean peninsula) is on fire; something momentous is about to happen.

While Eurasia hindered, African people must be able to seize the opportunity of easing external pressure to enhance their development path. North and South of Africa both do have fairly good infrastructure, while the inland areas are almost completely disconnected. Economic development and social freedom pass through infrastructures and transport networks. The continent’s inner core needs greater integration and infrastructure interconnection. The east-west infrastructural axis must be further enhanced, but every project clashes with the harshness of climatic conditions and geography.

For now, China but also Russia, India, Brazil and GCC players are pursuing significant projects, especially in the Horn of Africa, and further down to Continent’s southeast. In addition to the infrastructure for movement of goods and people, those for energy and water also need to be strengthened—in this case, in the heart of the continent.

The goals of African interconnection projects are:
  1. Socioeconomic integration;
  2. Reduction of the currently enormous geographical distances and travel times;
  3. Guarantee freedom of movement and trade, especially in the east-west axis;
  4. Make every sixteen African countries with no direct access, to connect to the sea and (existing or newly build) ports;
  5. Accompany the development of transnational conurbations, especially in coastal areas;
  6. Creation of a viable African internal market, with a potential market of around 1.4 billion consumers according to the Trade Africa Market’s estimates, through the abolition of customs and tariff barriers;
  7. Make the continent self-sufficient in terms of production, as well as energy, and water.
Main problems are:
  1. Lack of political stability;
  2. Financing difficulties and dependence on external loans;
  3. External interferences;
  4. Adverse climatic conditions;
  5. Geographical adversities.

People are still people, even if they are poor. The expression is a dated one, perhaps even a bit adolescent, yet it accurately portrays the multitude of individuals who live without making history or who should solely dedicate their lives to serving the “luckiest” people. Beyond rhetorical emphasis and values written on paper, it is necessary to establish a path for development. So, infrastructure plays a crucial role in Africa.

SpaceX sues US agency that accused it of firing workers critical of Elon Musk

Daniel Wiessner

SpaceX on Thursday sued a U.S. labor board that had accused the rocket and satellite maker of illegally firing employees who sent a letter to company executives calling CEO Elon Musk "a distraction and embarrassment."

SpaceX in the lawsuit filed in Brownsville, Texas federal court claims the structure of the National Labor Relations Board(NLRB), which issued a complaint against the company on Wednesday, violates the U.S. Constitution.

The NLRB alleges SpaceX violated federal labor law by firing eight workers in 2022 for signing onto the letter, which accused Musk of making sexist comments that went against company policies. That case will be heard by an administrative judge and then a five-member board appointed by the U.S. president. The board's decisions can be appealed in federal court.

But SpaceX in its lawsuit claims that because federal law only allows board members and administrative judges to be removed for cause, and not at will, the NLRB's structure is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit seeks to block the NLRB case from moving forward.

Exclusive: Russian hackers were inside Ukraine telecoms giant for months

Tom Balmforth

Russian hackers were inside Ukrainian telecoms giant Kyivstar's system from at least May last year in a cyberattack that should serve as a "big warning" to the West, Ukraine's cyber spy chief told Reuters.

The hack, one of the most dramatic since Russia's full-scale invasion nearly two years ago, knocked out services provided by Ukraine's biggest telecoms operator for some 24 million users for days from Dec. 12.

In an interview, Illia Vitiuk, head of the Security Service of Ukraine's (SBU) cybersecurity department, disclosed exclusive details about the hack, which he said caused "disastrous" destruction and aimed to land a psychological blow and gather intelligence.

"This attack is a big message, a big warning, not only to Ukraine, but for the whole Western world to understand that no one is actually untouchable," he said. He noted Kyivstar was a wealthy, private company that invested a lot in cybersecurity.

The attack wiped "almost everything", including thousands of virtual servers and PCs, he said, describing it as probably the first example of a destructive cyberattack that "completely destroyed the core of a telecoms operator."

During its investigation, the SBU found the hackers probably attempted to penetrate Kyivstar in March or earlier, he said in a Zoom interview on Dec. 27.

"For now, we can say securely, that they were in the system at least since May 2023," he said. "I cannot say right now, since what time they had ... full access: probably at least since November."

The SBU assessed the hackers would have been able to steal personal information, understand the locations of phones, intercept SMS-messages and perhaps steal Telegram accounts with the level of access they gained, he said.

What Red Sea Disruption Means for Global Supply Chains

Antonia Colibasanu

The Red Sea is a vital waterway for commercial shipping that connects markets in Europe, Asia and Africa. In recent weeks, however, it has been the site of multiple attacks launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in support of Hamas in its war with Israel. The group claims to target only ships leaving from or going to Israel, but others with no clear Israeli connections have been attacked while sailing through the sea. On Dec. 18, the U.S. announced that it would set up a task force to strengthen security in the area. But as Washington calls for more governments to contribute to the effort, the Houthis say the attacks will continue.

The Red Sea is a sort of junction between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea that separates the Arabian Peninsula from the Horn of Africa. It’s connected to the Indian Ocean through the Bab el-Mandeb strait, one of the most critical chokepoints in the world. Three countries occupy the coastline along the strait: Eritrea, Djibouti and Yemen. Djibouti hosts military bases from several foreign countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Saudi Arabia, while Eritrea maintains close ties with China and Russia. (It voted recently against a U.N. resolution to stop the conflict in Ukraine.) Yemen, meanwhile, is engulfed in a brutal, eight-year war between the internationally recognized government, supported by a Saudi-led military coalition, and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

In 2014, Houthi insurgents overthrew Yemen’s government. The following year, the Saudis led a coalition of mainly Gulf Arab states to oust the Houthis – which was ultimately unsuccessful. The country has remained divided ever since, with the Houthis controlling much of the north, the government holding the seat of power from the southern city of Aden, and several other armed factions pursuing their own agendas. Peace negotiations have been held but have so far failed to result in a deal.

Dealing With the Unprecedented Military Threats Facing the United States

Mark B. Schneider

Former Secretary of Defense and former Director of Central Intelligence Robert Gates recently observed in the pages of Foreign Affairs that, “The United States now confronts graver threats to its security than it has in decades, perhaps ever. Never before has it faced four allied antagonists at the same time-Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran-whose collective nuclear arsenal could within a few years be nearly double the size of its own. Not since the Korean War has the United States had to contend with powerful military rivals in both Europe and Asia. And no one alive can remember a time when an adversary had as much economic, scientific, technological, and military power as China does today.” Worse yet, he accurately noted that there was a great deal of similarity between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin with regard to their imperialist agenda and in their conviction that the United States was in decline. Even more significant is that both Xi and Putin have “…already made major miscalculations at home and abroad and seem likely to make even bigger ones in the future,” and these could result in “catastrophic consequences for themselves-and for the United States.”

According to Gates, “The problem…is that at the very moment that events demand a strong and coherent response from the United States, the country cannot provide one. Its fractured political leadership-Republican and Democratic, in the White House and in Congress-has failed to convince enough Americans that developments in China and Russia matter. Political leaders have failed to explain how the threats posed by these countries are interconnected. They have failed to articulate a long-term strategy to ensure that the United States, and democratic values more broadly, will prevail.”

Secretary Gates is hardly an alarmist. Indeed, he has historically played down the Russian threat, and he is ironically at least partially responsible for the situation he so well describes. Gates served as Secretary of Defense in both the George W. Bush and Obama Administrations. During the Bush Administration he attacked “…Next-War-itis—the propensity of much of the defense establishment to be in favor of what might be needed in a future conflict.” This is very much the mentality that resulted in the current crisis situation that Gates accurately assesses. The U.S. military power and the industrial base that supports it has been reduced to the point that the United States has difficulty in supplying a single medium-sized war in Ukraine. Unless the United States takes action, the shortage of munitions problem could continue to deteriorate.

Nato intercept Russian military aircraft more than 300 times in 2023

Harry McNeil

In a year marked by heightened tensions, Nato air forces intercepted Russian military aircraft more than 300 times in 2023, with the majority of incidents unfolding over the Baltic Sea.

The alliance’s ongoing air-policing missions aim to respond to unpredictable manoeuvres by Russian planes approaching Nato airspace, emphasising the role of air defence in the face of evolving security challenges.

The alliance’s air-policing missions, triggered by signs of Russian planes approaching alliance airspace in unconventional manners, show Nato’s commitment to safeguarding its members.

Nato’s eastern flank witnessed a historical pattern of Russian military aircraft operating without transmitting transponder codes or filing flight plans. Despite these encounters, the vast majority were characterised by professionalism, with breaches of Nato airspace remaining infrequent and short-duration.

Acting Nato spokesperson Dylan White emphasised the severity of the security situation in Europe amid Russia’s conflict with Ukraine. White stated: “Nato fighter jets are on duty around the clock, ready to scramble in case of suspicious or unannounced flights near the airspace of our allies. Air policing is an important way in which Nato provides security for our Allies.”

In response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Nato significantly bolstered its air defences along the eastern flank. The reinforcement included additional fighter jets, surveillance flights, and ground-based air defences.

Russian Zala Aero Unveils Izdeliye 55 Kamikaze Drone Invulnerable to Electronic Warfare Systems

On January 2, 2024, the Russian-based ZALA Group unveiled their latest development, the "Izdeliye 55" loitering munition or kamikaze drone for deployment in Ukraine. This new drone is an addition to the renowned Lancet family, notable for its distinctive X-wing aerodynamic design.

The new Russian-made Izdeliye 55 Kamikaze Drone or Loitering Munition Claimed to Be Invulnerable to Electronic Warfare Systems. (Picture source Zala Aero)

Designed for short-range operations, "Izdeliye 55" is set to bolster the capabilities of Russian forces currently deployed in Ukraine. This kamikaze drone, characterized by its four powerful engines, represents a notable evolution in ZALA's line of unmanned systems. Unlike its predecessors, "Izdeliye 55" offers a unique blend of operational simplicity and enhanced safety for its operators.

The drone's operational features are highly advanced, boasting Full HD real-time video feed up to the moment of impact, and allowing operators to choose the most effective angle of approach to the target. Remarkably, the drone is launched from a specialized container, eliminating the need for additional launch equipment. This feature significantly enhances the drone's deployment efficiency in combat scenarios.

One of the most touted attributes of the "Izdeliye 55" is its purported immunity to enemy electronic warfare systems. This capability, if proven effective, could provide a significant tactical advantage in electronic warfare-dominated environments.

The Future We Saw Coming Is Now


As IEEE Spectrum editors, we pride ourselves on spotting promising technologies and following them from the research phase through development and ultimately deployment. In every January issue, we focus on the technologies that are now poised to achieve significant milestones in the new year.

This issue was curated by Senior Editor Samuel K. Moore, our in-house expert on semiconductors. So it’s no surprise that he included a story on Intel’s plan to roll out two momentous chip technologies in the next few months.

For “Intel Hopes to Leapfrog Its Competitors,” Moore directed our editorial intern, Gwendolyn Rak, to report on the risk the chip giant is taking by introducing two technologies at once. We began tracking the first technology, nanosheet transistors, in 2017. By the time we gave all the details in a 2019 feature article, it was clear that this device was destined to be the successor to the FinFET. Moore first spotted the second technology, back-side power delivery, at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting in 2019. Less than two years later, Intel publicly committed to incorporating the tech in 2024.

Speaking of commitment, the U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has played an enormous part in bankrolling some of the fundamental advances that appear in these pages. Many of our readers will be familiar with the robots that Senior Editor Evan Ackerman covered during DARPA’s humanoid challenge almost 10 years ago. Those robots were essentially research projects, but as Ackerman reports in “Year of the Humanoid,” a few companies will start up pilot projects in 2024 to see if this generation of humanoids is ready to roll up its metaphorical sleeves and get down to business.