Wednesday, 25 November 2015
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You can find the full text of the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 here

In the West Rene Mouawad is not a household name, but in Lebanon he is an iconic symbol of independence and freedom. His love for Lebanon cost him his life.

President Mouawad was killed on Independence Day, Wednesday 22nd November 1989, when a massive bomb exploded as his motorcade drove through West Beirut, writes Nehad Ismail.

Today marks the 26th anniversary of the murder of a man who served as President for 17 days only. The killing came after the concluding of a milestone agreement under the auspices of Saudi Arabia with the backing of the Arab League. Mr. Mouawad had been elected on Nov. 5 at a special session of Parliament held in an area under the control of Syrian troops. The meeting was held to ratify an agreement to shift some of the power held by Christians to Muslims. The Taif Agreement was reached to provide "the basis for the ending of the civil war and the return to political normalcy in Lebanon."

Marking the passing of those who have served this country. Tribiutes by comrades and families welcome (see next page)

Following ISIL's attacks on Paris last Friday,Prime Minister David Cameron is now indicating he wants to revisit the debate on the extension of UK counter-ISIL air strikes to Syria. This would be not least as an important demonstration of solidarity with France, argues a new RUSI report. (Access at
We invite readers to join in the debate on the political and military implications - the utility of force, war aims etc. "Stop the war" is a perfectly valid point of view but will be moderated out for these purposes.
The RUSI report cautions against overstating the benefits of air strikes on their own . It makes clear that operations could end without decisive strategic effect, and that the UK's military campaign 'will need to be calibrated on the assumption that it may have to be sustained over a period of several years.' While the UK's involvement would provide some additional specialist capabilities which the US does not possess, its relative size means that its effort will not be strategically transformative by itself.
Nevertheless, the paper argues, current US and French airstrikes in Syria already contribute to 'important second-order objectives.' These include the protection of Kurdish-majority areas in northern Syria, where 'if MPs accept that the US was right to use force to protect Kobani (with UK non-lethal support), it is hard to see how they can then justify a refusal in principle to authorise UK participation in future comparable operations.
Current air strikes in Syria also 'allow the coalition to attack ISIL's headquarters in Raqqa, the 6th largest Syrian population which had a poipulation of aound quarter of a million, ensuring that it has no safe haven from which to provide logistical and financial support to its operations in Iraq.
The report highlights three substantial military consequences of its analysis :
1. A higher level of air-power commitment, well above that currently deployed, could not be sustained for long without seriously eroding the UK's ability to respond to other demands that may arise in the medium term, be that in the Baltic states, Western Balkans, West Africa or Afghanistan.
2. The UK will need the capability to escalate its military effort in Iraq and Syria at relatively short notice, for short periods and, if necessary, without another parliamentary approval, as and when new opportunities present themselves.
3. If diplomatic efforts to resolve the Syrian war begin to bear fruit, the UK should be prepared to pledge forces in support of a UN-authorised peace-enforcement effort.
Ultimately, the report concludes that 'As long as the involvements of UK forces in Iraq - and, separately, Syria - continue to do some good, they should be continued. While the UK should not rule out the possibility of deepening its involvement in Syria in certain scenarios, however, it may also have to be prepared to walk away from military operations if necessary.' If from a strategic point of view you disagree, we'd be interested to know why.

Members of the international EURODEFENSE network have called upon EU authorities for a pan-European Security and Defence review in the light of recent events, icluding the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris on the evening of 13 November, for they expressed their sympathy and solidarity with the victims.

Discussions centred on the medium term security situation in Europe. While praising significant efforts by the European Union, NATO and Member States in the realm of security and defence cooperation, members stressed :

- the destabilization of States in the eastern and south eastern regions of Europe, i.e. Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan... and to the south of Europe, especially in Syria, Iraq, also in the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. Crises are multiplying, which lead to unacceptable security situations for the indigenous populations as well as creating both migration and refugee problems for Europe.
- EU Member States are prey to an unprecedented migratory crisis, both by size - more than a million people in 2015 - and by complexity, plus refugees as well as economic migrants in great numbers from the Middle East and Africa.
- external insecurity and the destabilization of these States have direct consequences for European internal security including terrorist attacks on European States.
- measures taken by the European States to close their borders have had an immediate effect on their neighbours, such that a State unilaterally opening its borders creates a surge in migrant incursions.
- relations between Europe and Russia have deteriorated, gravely, since the start of the Ukrainian crisis. The unilateral change of borders by Russia is in direct contravention of the mutual agreement in the OSCE context, and a threat on the rule based European security.
- energy resources linked to climatic change also have direct consequences for European security.

EURODEFENSE believes that at this level an extensive analysis of security questions affecting EU states must be conducted, without delay, leading to an overall European security strategy, as the basis of a Security and Defence White Paper. This will serve to cement coherence providing a benchmark for Member States' White Papers.

Members believe that an effective EU depends on solidarity and the clear and present support of an informed public. This implies that European countries must not reason merely in terms of what Europe can give them but also in terms of what they can give Europe. Time has come for further investments in European security and defence.

EURODEFENSE reaffirms its determination to continue to reinforce the goal of an efficient and credible European defence, they have told the Presidents of the European Council, European Commission and European Parliament, and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

EURODEFENSE is a network of Associations from 14 EU Countries. Its President during 2015 is Jacques Santer, who is also President of EURODEFENSE- Luxembourg and an Honorary Prime Minister of that country, and who chaired the conference. in Luxembourg form 12th-14th November

Russia is where the Russians are ... wrong.

As wrong as Serbia is where the Serbians are; together with most of the rest of the world, Russia included, Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia did not agree in the nineties of last century and that resulted in close to almost ten years of armed conflict and tens of thousands of people killed. The International Community, UN, EU, NATO got involved and should have learned. From the failure of the UN – NATO double key over the half success of NATO IFOR/SFOR over the, eventually regime changing, thousand aircraft Kosovo air offensive "Allied Force" to an armistice and an uneasy but, till now, lasting peace with EU involvement.

Or Russia is where Russian speaking people are ... even more wrong.

More wrong, yet not totally uncommon.

Some French speaking Belgians would proclaim that French speaking Belgium is where, in Belgium, French speaking Belgians live: decades of discussions, six institutional reforms, ongoing ... . Violence? Send in the Military? You must be joking, let us have another beer and another discussion.

Summary of an analysis prepared by EuroDefense France (edited by Lt Gen Jean Paul Perruche, President EURODEFENSE-FRANCE)

Recent changes in the context of world security are having a dangerous effect on the defence arrangements of European countries. An increased number of conflicts and threats at Europe's borders at a time when European defence budgets have been dangerously decreasing over more than 20 years now, together with the unavoidable disengagement of the USA, are the main causes.

This uncertain situation should incite the nations of the European Union to mutualise their forces and capabilities, but it is painfully obvious that any political will to do so is sorely lacking at present. Given this situation, a EuroDefence France working group (which reports to a pan-EU conference in Luxembourg this week) stresses the interest of producing a European White Paper on security and defence, emphasising the conditions for its feasibility, identifying the obstacles to be overcome, but also the opportunities to be seized, as well as an outline of such a White Paper's content and the possibilities for its exploitation.

If one thing shows how much the Middle East has changed in the last two years it is the silence around the latest crisis in Israeli-Palestinian relations. Once the unifying cause of the Arab world, the tit-for-tat deaths have raised little more than a murmur, and that mostly focussed on the status of the al-Aqsa mosque, rather than Palestinian blood. Instead, the complex psychological crisis has been played out to the gasps of the international media, and a long, cold silence from those around the interlocked territories. The silence is not just due to the rise of Daesh (ISIL), but in part attributable to the fatigue all those looking in must feel. Whatever else is said about both sides, it is clear that neither has been a realistic partner for peace since the self-sabotage of the Camp David accords in the 2000; to refer to the Shakesperian, those looking in must wish a plague on both their houses.

Trevor Taylor is Professorial Research Fellow in Defence Management at the Royal United Services Institute in London (RUSI). In this guise he oversees RUSI’s work on defence, industry and society. He recently spoke to Nick Watts about some of the defence acquisition questions which will need to be considered during and after the forthcoming Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).
Taylor points out that the Government has signalled no appetite for reduced international political ambition in the 2015 SDSR. He doesn’t expect to see a major change in the amount of funding committed to defence. Ministers have signalled that the MOD will be expected to contribute towards the UK’s economic growth (via exports); if the economy grows, then the 2% GDP spend on defence will be worth more.

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