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Analysis: The West Moves Discreetly in Libya

in Analysis

Stratfor // Heightened security measures point to special forces activity in BenghaziSatellite imagery confirms the arrival of French special operations forces to Benina air base near Benghazi, Libya. The base, which is under the control of Gen. Khalifa Hifter's forces, was rumored to host as many as 180 French soldiers in February, but this has been neither confirmed nor denied.

In the imagery Stratfor obtained, experts at AllSource Analysis identified enhanced security measures around certain compounds in the air base, including raised barriers at security perimeters and foliage removal to improve observation and provide fields of fire to forces securing the facilities.

While the imagery does not clearly confirm the forces' nationality, security measures such as these are typical precautions that Western forces take when deploying to conflict areas.

Analysis: Russia's Evolving Role in the Caucasus

in Analysis

Maxim Shipenkov/AFP/Getty Images // Russian President Vladimir Putin talks with Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian, the leader of Russia's most loyal ally in the Caucasus.Summary

Recent developments in the Caucasus suggest that subtle but important shifts are occurring, especially when it comes to Russia's role in the region. A flurry of diplomatic activity has transpired over the past few weeks, with Russian officials participating in negotiations over a wide variety of issues, including natural gas exports to Georgia, weapons sales to Armenia, and broader political and security ties with Azerbaijan.

This accelerated diplomatic bustle comes at a time when other players, such as Turkey and the West, have begun to more actively challenge Moscow's dominance in the region. Moreover, Russia's evolving position in the Caucasus will likely be an important indicator for the future of larger conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

Analysis: Borders in a Borderless World

in Analysis

 Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times // Greek Fence Forces Migrants to SeaPhilip Bobbitt (Stratfor) — Twenty-seven years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, 25 years after the adoption of the Schengen Convention and 26 years after the publication of Kenichi Ohmae's The Borderless World, borders are back.

And this is true not only in Europe, where an acute crisis in Syria may be thought responsible for this development, but also in the United States, where the soaring political success of Donald Trump began with his promise to build a wall to stop migration into the United States.

Why did so many think that borders are going away? And why should we be surprised that they have never left? The answer has to do with how we thought about and in part misunderstood the consequences of globalization. This freighted word has given birth to two opposing ideas.

In Depth: Energy Prices and Crisis Risks

in In Depth

Reuters/Marco Bello // A woman walks past empty shelves at a drugstore in Caracas, Venezuela.Robert Kahn testified before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, describing the crisis risks generated by persistently low oil and gas prices. He argued that the risks are especially acute for energy exporters such as Venezuela and Nigeria, and that such countries need sizable policy adjustments in the immediate future.

The following is the statement prepared by Robert Kahn, the Steven A. Tananbaum Senior Fellow for International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations before the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, 2nd Session, 114th Congress.

Hearing on Economic and Geopolitical Implications of Low Oil and Gas Prices

In Depth: The Moral Cost of the Kill Box

in In Depth

AP/Vadim Ghirda // Smoke rises from the Syrian city of Kobani following an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in November of 2014.Scott Beauchamp (The Atlantic) — In laymen’s terms, “kill boxes” sound like torture devices. In military jargon, they are almost incomprehensible; as defined in the Department of Defense Dictionary, they are “a three-dimensional area reference that enables timely, effective coordination and control and facilitates rapid attacks.”

But despite their ominous name and complicated technical definition, kill boxes are actually relatively simple in concept: They are three-dimensional cubes of space on a battlefield in which members and allies of the United States military are completely free to open fire.

According to the DoD, “there is no formal kill-box doctrine or tactics, techniques or procedures.” They require a sophisticated web of logistical, bureaucratic, and technological expertise to implement.

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