Friday, 12 July 2013

Geopolitical Snapshot - 12.07.13

The security and political situation in the Middle East has dominated many commentators
The international narrative has focussed on two most abundant covered states - Egypt and Syria. The former being the more documented of the two. Nevertheless, the shockwaves across the Middle Eastern region has been the centre spot for Geopolitical Compass this week. In other areas, Portugal's Anibal Cavaco Silva has tried to glue national unity in proposing a cross-party agreement to support austerity measures. In another Portuguese speaking nation, Brazil, nationwide union-strikes have led to clashes between police forces and protesters. Geopolitical Snapshot seeks to summarize the weeks events and comprehensively forecast the implications of the week.

Egypt and the Greater Middle East 

Egypt's ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood have sent a aura of apprehension across the greater-region. The Muslim Brotherhood's similarity with the Justice and Development in Turkey in as much that they are both criticized for undemocratic attitudes in the political sphere. That said, the Justice and Development party represent a post-Islamist movement in the region and whilst they have Islamic roots, they are seen as incorporating a hybrid of secularism and Islamism. For Saudi Arabia, this represents an opportunity to suppress Republican-style Islam in the region. Whilst on the surface Saudi Arabia would welcome Islamic theocracies in the region, the type of theocracy is a critical factor for Saudi Arabia. Riyadh is primarily interested in preserving the absolute monarchy. Nevertheless, the source of Egypt's social discontent lies primarily with its inability to fulfil the needs of its population. The Egyptian minister of supplies stated that the country has as much as two months supply of wheat left - which will only add fuel to the fire.


On July 12, a senior commander of the Free Syria Army was killed by al-Qaeda fighters. This event highlights the fractionalization between the rebellion force and will demoralize the fighters in the region. The emergence of a tripartite war will fall into the hands of the pro-regime forces, especially as the rebels plan to abandon the key strategic town of Homs which will see the coastal towns of the pro-regime link up and reorganize. The rebels will seek to consolidate their presence in the north where it will seek to resupply for the forthcoming defense ahead -- but with the killing of a senior commander of the rebel force, a war of two adversaries will undermine the rebel's efforts to repel the pro-regime forces.


In light of Islamic holiday season of Ramadan, a wave of attacks have swept the country. In particular, the Anbar province west of Baghdad. Whilst no group has claimed responsibility for these attacks, this falls into the Islamic State of Iaq and the Levant's hands. The destabilization of the Anbar province, which borders with Syria, provides a vital waypoint for Sunni, takfiri fighters to enter the fight in Syria. al-Qaeda Iraq's strategy is regional-centric, particularly in light last month when the leader of the organization, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, defied Ayman al Zawahiri - the leader of the core entity of al-Qaeda. The transnational call for jihad has been echoed far and wide to as Indonesia. Santoso, leader of the East Indonesia Mujahideen recently called for a regional-wide jihad, who, has been responsible for recent attacks on security personnel and civilians.


Splitting from the focus in the Middle East, a more notable point of contention is Portugal's economic contraction and rising unemployment. For the past two years it has kept political stability relatively calm but in this last fortnight, political instability is rising. This has thrown criticism as to Lisbon's ability to end their dependence on external aid despite their austerity measures. The cumulation of these austerity measures, unemployment to 17.6pc (in May) particularly among the youth population has lit the spark for public protest and social unrest. In spite of this, last year saw foreign investment, in particular China which, at the time, may be the source of optimism in Portugal's declining situation but the results are still yet to be demonstrated.

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