Monday, March 30, 2015

Dark Waters- A Churning Global Political Rightwing Wave



A confluence of events is brewing which could result in a dramatic political make-over in the US and Europe with global implications. The upcoming 2016 US presidential elections are a wide-open free-for-all between probably Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and any one of several GOP candidates. Despite the GOP’s relentless and unending delusional commentaries on all topics, as the old adage goes, “If you say it often enough people will think it’s true.” And because Ms. Clinton is not universally liked amongst Democrat registered voters, the Republicans have an excellent chance of snagging critical votes, enough to install a closet hardliner or even a moderate who can be ‘turned’ into one. Should the GOP capture the highest office, it would mean the stark possibility of a massive rollback of laws created to protect US citizens from corporate and governmental malfeasance and converting the country into a de facto fascist-lite country with highly restrictive democratic choices.

A similar trend is emerging through Europe particularly France where center-left and rightwing candidates like Nicolas Sarkozy and Marie Le Pen, respectively, have grained enormous ground for the 2017 spring president elections. The heinous attack on the Charlie Hebdo office by radical militants and the heated issue of immigration and lack of social integration of first and second generation European-born citizens of Muslim backgrounds fuel this trend. A newly elected Republican US president will give powerful political and psychological impetus to the right-leaning candidates of other democratic countries. Even if rightwing candidates fail to secure the highest office, they will certainly have a powerful influence on their respective country’s domestic and international policy matters.

The forerunner and poster boy of the 21st century autocrat operating under democratic law is none other than Russia’s Vladimir Putin. He and his oligarch minions rule the country like an autocrat under the guise of a democracy whose laws are not worth the paper they’re written on. This Putin leadership model might be emulated by any future rightwing western head of state.

Coming full circle, Putin has proven with disturbing effectiveness how outrageous propaganda can be successful.  Recent Russian propaganda has followed the lead of earlier Republican propaganda tactics whose screaming lies have convinced more than enough highly educated people of their point of view despite hard and plentiful evidence to the contrary. Additionally American right-wingers evoke religion with the same ferocity as the Mideast militants they abhor. Their political diatribes, often with strong religious undercurrents, are a ruse to justify diluting the freedoms of its own citizens with draconian laws which makes them prisoners in their own countries.

In the past robust and prosperous economies kept the darker political forces in the dungeon. However the additional component of terrorism in these home countries give the perception on that only the right can deliver a “law & order” policy to halt future attacks. As proven it doesn’t. The USS Cole and 9/11 attacks occurred under the Republican watch.

This additional control will be enhanced and enforced by the increasingly insidious role of mega-corporations. Not only do these corporations have overwhelming economic influence, they have security and “crowd control” roles via in-house or outsourced private security firms. This makes CEOs de facto warlords renting out “guns for hire” who are not subject to the same laws as government security. They’re essentially a ‘shadow army’ where “the normal rules don’t apply” and persecution against civil rights violations is an expensive lost cause.

This is not a doomsday scenario rather a critical historical shift in the definition and real-life operation of democracy in which a loosely aligned cabal of hardliners worldwide are creating autocratic policies under the protection of democratic laws.


Copyright Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC 2015.  All rights reserved.


Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC is a NYC-based global advisory service and think tank with connections at the highest levels specializing in international investment, political and security risk assessments. International business is increasingly complex featuring a highly mobile professional class in all corners of the globe. We provide you the tools to successfully negotiate cross-culturally in your global business endeavors. Tell us about your challenges.  We'll get on the "Short List".

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Struggles at Tikrit – Iraq’s Okinawa



The Battle of Tikrit has evolved into a nasty stalemate between the determined 1,000 ISIS fighters and 20,000 mostly Iranian led Shiite militia.  It’s Iran’s worst nightmare because it’s reputation has been severely damaged by being unable to led an overwhelmingly numerically superior force with sufficient equipment and firepower to defeat a terrorist group. Tactically ISIS has brilliantly retreated into denser, more easily defended areas of Tikrit. Urban battles always results in high casualties, particularly with IED devices everywhere. The advancing forces must advance slowly building by building, block by block, an arduously time-consuming affair. By the geographical nature of the urban battlefield, a small, determined group of defenders can hold out for an extended period against a numerically superior force, particularly if they are intimately familiar with the urban terrain.

Iran has already provided two face-saving excuses as to why they’ve failed to secure the remaining urban sectors. Firstly, Iran claims that they’re waiting for the arrival of Sunni Arab fighters as part of a collaborative final push to placate the mostly Sunni-populated Tikrit residents so it does not appear as an invasion or sectarian revenge. This wasn’t an issue when the Shiites were making rapid advances on the city outskirts and in their initial push into the city proper. Such a strategy to include Sunni fighters should have been put in place well before the invasion attempt.

Secondly, Iran claimed that they want to give the Tikrit citizenry time to evacuate or reconsider using different tactics to minimize civilian casualties. Historically a populated urban area is better defended than one which is sparsely populated. But according to reports, most of the city is almost bereft of civilians.

With respect to long-term strategy, ISIS may be using Tikrit the same way Imperial Japan used Okinawa in WW II, essentially as a protracted battle which it will inevitably lose for the purposes of slowing down, the invading forces while building up defenses elsewhere. For Imperial Japan it was the mainland itself. For ISIS it’s Mosul.

The biggest fear no one has dared mention is that there’s a risk during the current U.S. air strikes that an America air crew member could be captured by ISIS. If the air crew member should suffer a similar fate as the Jordanian pilot, the US government may feel compelled to send ground troops, even in a limited capacity, perhaps in the form of Special Forces, to satisfy the public’s demand for revenge. And unfortunately that’s what ISIS may be aiming for.

Tikrit will inevitably fall because there are no reinforcements arriving to relieve the ISIS fighters. Even should Mosul be recaptured sometime in the future, because of the maelstrom in many Mideast and African regions such as Libya, Yemen and Nigeria, there exists a plethora of “job opportunities” for ISIS militants enamored with lost causes.


Copyright Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC 2015.  All rights reserved.

Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC is a NYC-based global advisory service and think tank with connections at the highest levels specializing in international investment, political and security risk assessments. International business is increasingly complex featuring a highly mobile professional class in all corners of the globe. We provide you the tools to successfully negotiate cross-culturally in your global business endeavors. Tell us about your challenges.  We'll get on the "Short List".

Available for speaking engagements and workshops. Contact us at:

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

ISIS’ Foreign Fighters – Paper Tigers?



As ISIS comes under increasingly heavy military pressure by both the American and Iranian backed forces, there are more reports of defections of ISIS’ foreign fighters. Those who successfully defect have report of low morale and an adventure that didn’t pan out as advertised. Then again war never is whether with a militant group or a sovereign country fighting even for a just cause – like survival. And then there are reports that those who unsuccessfully defected and were summarily executed. Of course such punishment is quite harsh but most militaries have a stipulation that deserters can be executed.

Various western news services estimate that ISIS’ manpower consists of 20,000 Iraqi and Syrian fighters and 18,000 foreigners from 90 countries. Because of differing pay scales ($800/month for foreigners and $400/month for indigenous fighters) and other perks, the inevitable tensions and fissures have appeared. Additionally, there seems to be doubt as to the actual fighting performance of the foreigners.

Firstly, the indigenous fighters live in countries that have been in a state of unending war for decades thus their combat experience, whether in an army or non-sovereign group, have “been there, done that.” A breakdown of military experience amongst the foreign fighters is sketchy but certainly those from Chechnya are battle hardened. The initial land grabs by ISIS had minor skirmishes against poorly defended areas that gave the illusion that warfare wasn’t so terrible.

Nonetheless, as in any military force, it has never been psychologically or scientifically predicted which soldiers will perform well in combat or not. Some are paper tigers, others are ferocious felines. With respect to ISIS’ foreign fighters with little combat experience upon arrival, there are certainly a number that welcome this hardship and were under no illusions when signing up. And more often than not, non-indigenous soldiers can fight just as hard, even harder than their indigenous counterparts because they are genuine true believers and want to prove that they are worthy of respect.

The idea that ISIS could collapse with mass defections of disillusioned foreign fighters may be grossly overstated. Even those who are ambivalent about continuing the fight may continue to press on ferociously because their backs are against the wall – sometimes literally – facing a firing squad if their attempt to defect fails. For them there is no tomorrow which makes them very dangerous people. The worst that would happen should they succeed in defecting and attempting to return to their home countries is arrest and jail time.  The ultimate test of ISIS’ foreign fighters will be revealed with the upcoming battle for Mosul.


Copyright Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC 2015.  All rights reserved.


Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC is a NYC-based global advisory service and think tank with connections at the highest levels specializing in international investment, political and security risk assessments. International business is increasingly complex featuring a highly mobile professional class in all corners of the globe. We provide you the tools to successfully negotiate cross-culturally in your global business endeavors. Tell us about your challenges.  We'll get on the "Short List".

Available for speaking engagements and workshops. Contact us at:

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ISIS’ Crumbling Credibility



ISIS could very well be facing an ‘inconvenient truth’ about itself, the crumbling credibility of its so-called military might, fighting ability and more importantly, refusing to face the Iranian backed Shiite militia face-to-face in Tikrit, an important urban area. ISIS’ so-called earlier military victories were the capture of huge swaths of territory. In The initial huge land grabs by ISIS encountered minor resistance against lightly defended, poorly-equipped, disorganized opposition and dispirited Iraqi army troops.

After months of egging on potential sophisticated adversaries, ISIS is learning why it should have been careful what it wished for with respect to facing well-equipped and highly motivated Shiite militias. These Shiite militia forces are essentially (disposing of the diplomatic niceties) a group of bad-ass fighting troops in a tough neighborhood, themselves not necessarily nice guys, in battle for power.

Beyond the current glowing news reports of the imminent defeat of ISIS at Tikrit, the nagging question is what class and component of ISIS fighters were defending Tikrit and are they representative of those defending a large urban area in Mosul? Were these indigenous war veterans, foreign fighters and what class of officers was leading them? How does this defeat impact the morale of the Mosul defenders: the leadership, indigenous and foreign?  Perhaps this was a genuine military victory for the Shiite militias.  Then again it could have been a tactical retreat by ISIS to defend a more difficult target in Mosul as a method of consolidation. ISIS’ credibility is on the cusp because a collapse in Mosul will mean its demise as a powerful menace in the region.

The demise of ISIS will not mean the demise of other militant groups in the region. Rather it will simply serve as a playbook for future militant groups on why they should maintain a lower profile and eschew overly ambitious territorial expansionism. Future militant groups will continue to capture the minds of the disenchanted, anti-western youth worldwide through more sophisticated propaganda through social media. This tactic supports a diffuse leadership in which there are few if any hard military targets. This new model makes recruitment even easier as malcontents can safely remain in the comfort of their home countries relatively safer than in the Middle East, North Africa or sub-Sahara Africa.

This, of course, makes life possibly more difficult for law enforcement because of still reasonably decent privacy protection laws. Nonetheless those laws are rapidly fraying every year after each threat as governments try justifying new legal surveillance methods to protect society. More frightening are privacy laws that are deliberately broken with the courts failing to duly punish law enforcement, especially against targets that were found to be innocent.

 Copyright Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC 2015.  All rights reserved.

Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC is a NYC-based global advisory service and think tank with connections at the highest levels. International business is increasingly complex featuring a highly mobile professional class in all corners of the globe. We provide you the tools to successfully negotiate cross-culturally in your global business endeavors. Tell us about your challenges.  We'll get you on the "Short List".

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Terrorism’s New Tactic – The Press Release



Militants are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their use of disinformation, misinformation and propaganda as another tool of war in their attempt to intimate the global community and goad the democratic nations into reacting in non-democratic ways to ‘protect’ their citizenry. Just recently news reports indicated that Boko Haram, the militant group in Nigeria, has sworn an alliance with ISIS. No additional specifics were provided however just the mere mention of an alliance, if there is indeed one, stirs the worst nightmare scenario that ISIS’ capabilities are almost omnipotent. Already the Middle East and African continent have turned into a maelstrom in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Nigeria with many warring factions battling for control.

Nonetheless, even if s confirmed that there is an official alliance between ISIS and Boko Haram, it would be more of a paper tiger. As mentioned, albeit rather deeply, by several international experts in those news reports, Boko Haram is a Nigeria-specific militant group seeking to carve a caliphate in the northeastern region. The objective of ISIS is expansionist and seeks to conquer more territory in the Middle East across sovereign borders. However ISIS’ operational capability to continue this expansion has reached its zenith because of current limited resources.

Psychologically this press release gives the impression that ISIS is everywhere and that Boko Haram is far more dangerous that its actual capabilities.

Critical information that wasn’t mentioned in those articles was as follows:

ISIS


  1. ISIS is continues to be exceptionally well-funded despite some recent financial degradation by anti-ISIS forces and the west. The plunging oil prices and destruction or capture of several oilfields has reduced ISIS oil revenue from $1-$2 million daily to $300,000, still an impressive income.
  2. Funds from extortion and kidnappings have been reduced.
  3. According to the US State Department and other highly respected non-governmental sources indicate that ISIS has a financial ‘war chest’ of between $400 million and $500 million enough to continue recruiting and paying new fighters and purchasing arms and supplies.
  4. ISIS’ enemies are technologically formidable: the American-backed Iraqi army, Iranian-backed Shiite militias, and Kurdish forces the former receiving intense air support and satellite intel.


Boko Haram


  1. Boko Haram is operating on a shoestring budget using captured Nigerian army weapons and equipment to continue their fight. Unless they capture the oilfields in the south or ISIS provides them with generous funding and materiel, Boko Haram will remain merely a regional threat.
  2. There are few, if any, foreign fighters in their ranks, thus all the militants are regional.  Nonetheless their military force is not as homogeneous as it may appear.
  3. Boko Haram’s only enemy within Nigeria’s borders is the large yet feeble and vulnerable Nigerian army that is riddled with informants. The African coalition to combat Boko Haram has severe political fissures thus its effectiveness is only battle-specific.
  4. Essentially, with respect as a threatening terrorist group, Boko Haram, is nothing more than some run-of-the-mill watch company that wins a contract to have a well-known designer company stamp their logo on their watches. The performance of the watch remains the same yet its prestige is enhanced dramatically.


The more insidious component of this de facto militant press release in that western governments may use this as ‘proof’ that the terrorism threat has been elevated and that more draconian legal and law enforcement measures are required to protect its citizenry. In other words civil rights may be compromised even further even if there’s an attack by a lone wolf who claims allegiance to any of those groups and who is later to be found that he has no connection whatsoever.

Copyright Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC 2015.  All rights reserved.

Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC is a NYC-based global advisory service and think tank with connections at the highest levels specializing in international investment, political and security risk assessments. International business is increasingly complex featuring a highly mobile professional class in all corners of the globe. We provide you the tools to successfully negotiate cross-culturally in your global business endeavors. Tell us about your challenges.  We'll get on the "Short List".

Available for speaking engagements and workshops. Contact us at:

http://www.indobrazilian.com