Al Shabaab, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, is attempting to push back an effort by Somali government and local forces to oust the group from positions in central Somalia. Somali forces, with US support, have removed al Shabaab from several strongholds in central and south-central Somalia. READ MORE >>
An escalating insurgency in Pakistan is straining relations between the Pakistani government and the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has increased attacks in Pakistan since November 2022. READ MORE >>
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China’s latest reported upgrades and apparent additions to its submarine-launched and land-based strategic nuclear-armed missile forces should significantly boost their capabilities but will likely also pose added challenges on the arms control front.
The People's Liberation Army's modernisation programme has seen the commissioning of some impressive military platforms and systems since 2021, but progress in institutional reform and restructuring is less obvious and China's leaders do not yet have complete confidence in their military's war-fighting capabilities.
The world is always changing, but some changes are more important than others. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will likely be remembered as the start of a new era in geoeconomics. The uncertainty and tit-for-tat measures kicked off an energy crisis. And the war renewed focus on the growing divide between the West and a nascent revisionist bloc led by China and Russia. It is difficult to see a path back to the status quo ante bellum, but several major trends that will define the next decade have become clear. They include deglobalization, stagflation and the bursting of the tech bubble.
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The new commander is Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov; and the prior war commander, Gen. Sergei Surovikin, is now one of three deputies under Gerasimov in the new role. “Surovikin has been widely praised” by Russian ultranationalists “for his championing of a more realistic approach” to the invasion and occupation of Ukraine. But “As a now deputy commander, his authority and influence is almost certainly hugely reduced,” the Brits say.
Wonk reax: Russia-watcher Mark Galeotti of the UK-based Royal United Services Institute said the new moves provide “Confirmation, if we needed it, that there will be serious offensives coming,” likely in the spring; “and that even Putin recognises that poor coordination has been an issue” for his invading forces. For Gerasimov, the new posting “is a kind of demotion, or at least the most poisoned of chalices,” Galeotti said. Success in the war is “now on him, and I suspect Putin has unrealistic expectations again.”
However, Galeotti cautioned, “In many ways, I don't think Moscow's strategy hinges anyway on battlefield victory; it's more about politics.” That is to say, Putin seems most intent “demonstrating to the West that Russia is in this for the long haul, and hoping that we will lose the will and unity to continue to support Kyiv,” according to Galeotti—who predicted “Putin will be disappointed, but he has to believe [that Ukraine’s supporters will peel away over time]; it’s his only real shot at some kind of victory.”
Wonk reax #2: “With Gerasimov in charge, if this is indeed permanent, I think the [possibility] of the Russians asking their tired force to do something that it cannot handle rises exponentially,” said Dara Massicot of the Washington-based RAND Corporation. “With this change, I view this as a power struggle that has resolved in favor of Shoygu/Gerasimov,” who have years of experience inside the Kremlin. After all, Massicot writes, “Seniors in Moscow are clingingly fiercely to the status quo and also [the] Soviet past. [It’s] important to keep in mind that they default to looking inwards and backwards even when it [leads] them to poor outcomes.”