Blogs Spring 2017


Is Hamza Bin Laden Following in His Father’s Footsteps?
By Daniel Levin

Six weeks after U.S. special forces killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011, Ayman al-Zawahiri was appointed the new Emir, or leader, of al-Qaeda. Six years later, the Egyptian still holds the same position at the helm of the organization. However, many experts believe that Osama had been grooming one of his sons, Hamza, to replace him as the leader of al-Qaeda. Hamza has recently garnered attention in the news, adding substance to these claims. Hamza’s appearances in al-Qaeda propaganda videos combined with declassified documents… Read More


Rebuilding Eurasia: Vladimir Putin’s Post-Soviet Union
By Justin Tomczyk

Of all the objectives of Vladimir Putin’s resurgent Russia, none are as critical as the restoration of the Russian sphere of influence. The dissolution of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact a quarter-century ago lead to the rapid erosion of Russia’s relevance on the world’s stage. Since then China, India, and other emerging powers have competed to define an increasingly multipolar world. While beset by demographic crises and economic turmoil, the Russian Federation continues to punch well above its weight and keep western policymakers on their toes… Read More


The Bilal Badr Group: Ain el Hilwe’s Recurring Threat

By: Caleb Weiss

Lebanon’s Ain el Hilwe Palestinian refugee camp in the country’s south has long been a hotbed of extremist activity and general lawlessness. As per the 1969 Cairo agreement between Lebanon and Yassir Arafat, Lebanese security forces cannot enter Palestinian refugee camps. This means that Palestinian forces are responsible for their own security inside the camps. However, due to rivalries between different factions for either political or religious reasons, this means that security has often been tenuous at best… Read More


Cyber Warfare: An Emerging Battlefield
By Chris Szul

According to NATO, cyber-attacks range back to 1988 with the Morris worm attacking US computers; however, it wasn’t until 2006 that the US saw a resurgence in cyber-attacks[1]. In 2009, an attack was launched on Israel’s internet infrastructure during military operations. In 2010, Stuxnet was released on Iranian nuclear centrifuges to hinder the nation’s nuclear program. In 2014, a United States utilities control system was hacked into… Read More


Developments in Ukraine
By Christopher Chappell

Ever since Crimea was annexed in 2014, the nation of Ukraine has been locked in a state of war between the government in Kiev and Russian-backed separatists in the east. Where the second Minsk agreement achieved a tense faux-peace, recent events have shattered the status quo and the war in Ukraine was reignited. The new phase in the war began with Russian artillery and rockets hitting government forces as well as an accompanying advance of separatist troops… Read More


Time of Uncertainty for International Politics
By Chase Bloch

The global balance of power has been shifting away from the West ever since the end of the Cold War, but few predicted that 2016 would see such a drastic increase in the rate of this shift. Before 2016, Russia was seen as a continual nuisance to western powers, but their activities were thought to be limited to just outside their own (Ukraine), or their ally’s (Syria), borders. There were very few people who anticipated that Russia’s misinformation and cyber campaigns would affect elections throughout Western Europe, and even play a role in the most important election in the world… Read More


Newly-Minted Relations between the United States and Cuba at Risk
By: Robin Wilson

The relationship between Cuba and the United States has been thawing, but there is uncertainty as to whether the Trump administration will strengthen ties with Cuba or act to reverse the relations forged by President Obama. It is unclear as to whether previous measures, such as travel restrictions, will be put back into place, or if President Trump will go the opposite route and end the embargo placed upon Cuba. Cuba has shown to be receptive to growing relations with America… Read More


US Defense Policy in Yemen
By: Madison Johnston

The Arab Spring hit Yemen in 2011, but the protests against the government, separatists within the nation, and the rise of Islamic extremism have dragged the country into an Arab Winter. Anti-government sentiments grew in 2011 partially because Ali Abdullah Saleh had been President for more than thirty years. In response to calls for resignation and removal from office, Saleh’s Vice President, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, was the only candidate in the election of 2012. This seemingly rigged election did not satisfy citizens hoping for political change in Yemen… Read More


Iranian-backed terror groups in Bahrain: Part One
By: Caleb Weiss

As part of the wider Arab Spring that encompassed much of the Middle East and North Africa in 2011, protests also spread to the small island Kingdom of Bahrain. The country is predominantly Shia, however, the ruling Al Khalifa family is Sunni and a strong ally of Saudi Arabia. Starting in February 2011, massive protests hit the monarchy in the capital Manama. Almost as quickly as the demonstrations began, a brutal crackdown of protesters was initiated by the state… Read More


Iranian-backed terror groups in Bahrain: Part Two
By: Caleb Weiss

In the first part of this series, I briefly discussed the background in which Iranian-backed Shia militias exist in the island country of Bahrain. Arising from the brutal crackdown of protests during the Arab Spring, these groups have perpetrated several bombings and killings around the Kingdom. While the bombings have thus far been sporadic and relatively minor, this series explores the potential for this threat to expand… Read More