Thursday, 23 November 2017
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There is often a temptation to talk about tribes in the Middle East as an eternal, unchanging reality, and to understand their socio-political presence as an intractable, necessary evil. In the sprialling civil wars of Yemen and Libya, there is little to challenge this position, writes Charlie Pratt. The chaos visited on both countries has enabled tribes to strengthen themselves as key military actors, controlling access to territory and resources for large portion of the South and East of both countries. Each seem eternal. This appearance matters, not just because it is a depressing indicator of the near total regression of the state in these countries, but because tribes as small, regional-local competitive social constructs now define the future trajectory of Middle Eastern geo-political security. By extension, that means European security too.

Two weeks ago, two top Republican advisers on the military to the Trump campaign talked to reporters from Defense News to provide some insight into what a Trump election might mean for defense and Trump's plans for the Pentagon. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been widely mentioned as the leading candidate to become secretary of defense. Rep. Randy Forbes of Virginia, chairman of the House Seapower Subcommittee, will be out of a job in January, having been defeated in his primary election. But Forbes is widely respected for his knowledge of naval affairs and could be a contender to become secretary of the Navy. Highlights from the interviews are on the next page

In a failed attempt to capture Paris attacker Saleh Abdesalem, investigators in Belgium seized about 10 hours of video footage of the residence of an executive who worked at a nearby nuclear power facility. Belgian experts were able to say with confidence that the footage was taken by a clandestine, unmanned fixed camera hidden in a wooded area near the executive's home, but off his property.

Later investigation after the Brussels bombings determined that the surveillance had been conducted by one or both of Brussels suicide bombers, Khalid and Ibrahim Bakraoui. Some analysts believe the video footage must have been part of pre-operational surveillance for a planned attempt to place the executive under duress in a "tiger kidnapping" scenario to force him to give the terrorists access to the facility or to radioactive materials.

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