Category Archives: Meetings

August 7th Forum (Final Reminder)

THE NEW CALIPHATE (ISIS-IS)

Radical Islam at War with the World

With

John Jandali, Lawrence Martines, and Richard Hobbs

The Ramada     Thursday, August 7   9:00 am

The “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” (ISIS) emerged as an off-shoot of Al Qaeda (which has disavowed it) and has become one of the major jihadist groups fighting government forces in Syria and Iraq. The militant group has secured significant territorial gains in a surprisingly short period of time, as well as seizing enormous caches of money in the regions it has occupied. ISIS, now known as the Islamic State, is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has proven his talents as a battlefield commander, leading ISIS/IS in taking key Iraqi cities such as Mosul.

This session will bring three experts together to discuss the historical origins of ISIS, its relations with Al Qaeda, its current military strengths and financial resources, and its battlefield successes. They will analyze the nature, mode of operation, and ultimate goals of ISIS, its resources and bases of support, and the challenges it poses to existing regimes in the region. The group will also analyze the movement’s ability to gain popular support, particularly in Sunni areas, as well as its stated objectives in the Arab Middle East (and beyond). Attention will also be given to what the rise of ISIS/IS means for the Kurds (significant shift to separate nation?), Israel, and the West. Finally, they will address the question of what the region would like under an ISIS Khalifa regime

Larry Martines is a retired LE executive and CIA contractor who was involved in both domestic and international counter terrorism investigations. He was also a member of a RAND Corporation think tank on International Terrorism and has been published in several CT journals and professional LE magazines. Syrian-born Dr. Jandali received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin and taught at both UNR and Wisconsin. More recently, he has spent many years in the restaurant and entertainment business. Col./Dr. Richard Hobbs is a retired combat infantry officer, professor, and businessman. He has worked, taught, and written in the international arena for over fifty-five years, including assignments at the Pentagon, the State Department, and in global operations in the private sector.

Please join us for what will be a very interesting discussion. A full breakfast will be served ($15 Members, $25 Non-Members, and $10 for students with ID and military personnel in uniform; free for WWII veterans). We recommend that you arrive by 8:30 to enjoy some breakfast, coffee and conversation.

To RSVP, please click here You may also RSVP e-mailing RJ@nationalsecurityforum.org. Just a reminder, after the forum, we will be accepting new and renewal membership applications for the July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015 period. Forms will be available at the forum, though you can also access the application form by clicking here. For your convenience, we accept cash, check and credit card payments for both the breakfast and membership fees.

THE IRANIAN “ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS CORPS”

The National Security Forum presents

THE IRANIAN “ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS CORPS” (IRGC)

 Power and Violence in Iran, Syria & Beyond

 

With Eliot Assoudeh

PhD Candidate, University of Nevada, Reno

The Ramada, Thursday, January 9, at 9:00 am

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) maintains a major role not only in Iran’s politico-military areas, but is a dominant factor in the economy as well. The Revolutionary Guards oversee the Quds force and its activities in neighboring countries, directs the Basij in domestic oppression, conducts religious indoctrination internally, and owns a significant part of the Iranian economy—including the agro, industrial and military sectors.

How powerful is the IRGC in Iranian politics? Can they sabotage the temporary agreement with the West halting the Iranian nuclear weapons program?  It would seem that while the Guards are enormously powerful, and indeed oppose the nuclear agreement, President Rouhani seems to have the overwhelming support of the populace who want relief from the impact of sanctions, from the incessant propaganda, and from the “national fatigue” after eight years of rule by Mahmoud Ahmandinejad. Can the IRGC and its allies continue to hold the “commanding heights”? Can the U.S. influence events in Iran?

Iranian born Eliot Assoudeh is focusing his research as a PhD candidate on the structures of Iranian political, religious and military elites.

Assoudeh will analyze the current role of the IRGC in Iranian society, the economy, intelligence agencies and the politico-military sectors. A key question will also revolve around the relationships between the IRGC and President Rouhani, and more importantly with the Supreme Ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Please join us for what will be a very interesting discussion. A full breakfast will be served ($15 Members, $25 Non-Members, and $5 for students with ID; free for WWII veterans), so recommend you arrive by 8:30 to enjoy some coffee and conversation.

Kindly RSVP on our website by clicking here or you may RSVP by phone (775) 746-3222 or email twcobb@aol.com. We are also now accepting credit cards at the door for your convenience.

 

“Islamic Jihad in Africa” Presentation

PowerPoint of the Presentation on

the “Islamic Jihad in Africa”

NSF participants heard a most riveting and complete presentation on the “Islamic Jihad in Africa: Expanding Threats in the War on Terrorism”. Doctor/Colonel Dick Hobbs and retired Foreign Service officer Ted Morse led the discussion that focused on the co-opting by Al Qaeda of formerly nationalist Islamic movements in Northern and East Africa into the worldwide jihad.

Militant Islam has been active in Africa for several decades.  Much of their terrorist activity was started by smaller national groups fighting for local agendas.  But with the heightened commitment to the worldwide Jihad agenda of establishing the Islamic Caliphate (empire), and pressure on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the international Jihad movement has decentralized and energized the local movements. That has resulted in jihadi strategies, tactics and personnel that are more focused on confronting Western culture, institutions and people, not just local enemies any longer.

Hobbs and Morse pointed out that Islamic insurgencies have developed increasing numbers of followers and militant participants within in the large (est. 400 million) Muslim population on the African continent. They are now joined or led by committed Islamists hardened in other conflicts or recruited (from many countries, including some from the United States) to expand Jihad into regional and international conflicts.

They noted that Al Qaeda central in Pakistan has been weakened by the loss of many leaders, primarily by targeted U.S. drone strikes.  However, the al Qaeda franchises in the Middle East are still operating effectively.  In addition, al Qaeda has increased its contacts and support for groups in Africa which pose a growing threat.
Morse and Hobbs described the extent of expanding militant Islam in Africa and analyzed the extent that this expansion represented a threat to US interests–in Africa, America and the international War on Terrorism.

Both NSF members have extensive experience in this area. Retired Senior Foreign Service Officer and international consultant Ted Morse has 50 years experience in Africa and other international conflict zones, including two tours in Iraq. A specialist on Muslim countries, he has lived and worked in several developing countries with large Muslim populations. Colonel/Dr. Richard Hobbs is a former Middle East Officer, author, and a specialist on Islam and Africa. He is a retired combat infantry officer, professor, and businessman. Hobbs has worked, taught, and written in the international arena for over 50 years, including at the Pentagon, the State Department, and in international operations for a major corporations.

We have attached the Hobbs-Morse PowerPoint presentation for your review.

CLICK HERE

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Final Announcement: December 5th Meeting

Please note that this meeting has been shifted from Dec 4 to Dec 5!

The National Security Forum presents 

Islamic Jihad in Africa:

Expanding Threats in the War on Terrorism

With

Col/Dr Richard Hobbs and Diplomat Ted Morse

The Ramada, Thursday, December 5, at 9:00 am

Al Qaeda is co-opting formerly nationalist Islamic movements in Northern and East Africa into the worldwide jihad. Increasing terrorist conflicts are the result throughout the continent.

Militant Islam has been active in Africa for several decades.  Much of their terrorist activity was started by smaller national groups fighting for local agendas.  But with the heightened commitment to the worldwide Jihad agenda of establishing the Islamic Caliphate (empire), and pressure on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the international Jihad movement has decentralized and energized the local movements. That has resulted in jihadi strategies, tactics and personnel that are more focused on confronting Western culture, institutions and people, not just local enemies any longer.

Islamic insurgencies have developed increasing numbers of followers and militant participants within in the large (est. 400 million) Muslim population on the African continent. They are now joined or led by committed Islamists hardened in other conflicts or recruited (from many countries, including some from the United States) to expand Jihad into regional and international conflicts.

Al Qaeda central in Pakistan has been weakened by the loss of many leaders, primarily by targeted U.S. drone strikes.  However, the al Qaeda franchises in the Middle East are still operating effectively.  In addition, al Qaeda has increased its contacts and support for groups in Africa which pose a growing threat.  Among numerous attacks in Africa are Benghazi, which cost the loss of four Americans, including our ambassador, and the attack on a mall in Nairobi which led to 67 deaths.

Key issues that will be addressed include: What is the extent of expanding militant Islam in Africa? What are the threats they represent to US interests in Africa, America and the international War on Terrorism?  How is the US responding and how should the US respond to these threats?

These topics will be explored by two of our NSF members who have extensive experience in this area. Retired Senior Foreign Service Officer and international consultant Ted Morse has 50 years experience in Africa and other international conflict zones, including two tours in Iraq. A specialist on Muslim countries, he has lived and worked in several developing countries with large Muslim populations. Colonel/Dr. Richard Hobbs is a former Middle East Officer, author, and a specialist on Islam and Africa. He is a retired combat infantry officer, professor, and businessman.  Hobbs has worked, taught, and written in the international arena for over 50 years, including at the Pentagon, the State Department, and in international operations for a major corporation.

Please join us for what will be a very interesting discussion. A full breakfast will be served ($15 Members, $25 Non-Members, and $5 for students with ID; free for WWII veterans), so recommend you arrive by 8:30 to enjoy some coffee and conversation.

Kindly RSVP on our website by clicking here or you may RSVP by phone (775) 746-3222 or email to twcobb@aol.com. We are also now accepting credit cards at the door for your convenience.

 

Summary of October 29th Meeting on North Korea

Summary of October 29th

Meeting on North Korea

Note: This presentation and the question and answer period were “off the record”. Respecting that, what follows is a sanitized version of the in depth and frank exchanges that characterized this NSF session.

The National Security Forum heard a most interesting presentation on “North Korea: How can the US and the world deal with this rogue regime?” The presentation was done by Reno-native Captain Craig Blakely (USN), who is the Division Chief, Northeast Asia JCS Joint Staff, J5 Strategic Plans. Blakely discussed developments in Pyongyang with the assumption of power by Kim Jong-Un and American/UN options in dealing with this rogue state.

Blakely underlined that North Korea represents a major threat not only to stability in Asia but increasingly on a global scale as the regime’s nuclear and missile delivery capabilities increase. Many American administrations as well as various international groupings have attempted to modify North Korean behavior through sanctions and other measures, with little success.

North Korea’s Evolution  

CAPT Blakely briefly reviewed the history of the Koreas following the division of the peninsula after WWII. For a number of years both Koreas remained roughly equal in economic production, until South Korea began overtaking the North following the Korean War. The big leaps occurred beginning in the late 1970s, and by 1982 South Korea had overtaken the North. Now the per capita GDP in the South is 20 times that of the North.

The population in the South is roughly 48 million, double that in the North. Infant mortality in the North is 7 times that in South Korea, life expectancy in the North is 69, but ten years more in the South. While the South spends twice what the North does on the military, expenditures per capita (as a % of GDP) is ten times higher in the North.

While South Korea has a very diverse society and a wide-ranging and entrepreneurial economy, North Korea remains highly stratified with a prosperous elite ruling over a very poor populace. The North Korean economy has stagnated compared to its near-neighbors China, Japan, and the South.

The New leader Kim Jong-Un is only 29 years old, although the North describes him as 30 for some psychological rationale. He is described as young and impulsive, a leader who lacks experience and seems to be very clumsy when dealing with domestic and foreign challenges. While there has been speculation that he is a mere puppet to those behind the scene, it does appear that the young leader is increasingly “in charge”.

Kim Jong-Un seems to be continuing the frustrating “cycle of provocation” of his predecessors. Pyongyang seems to shift rapidly from a desire to engage in meaningful talks to yet another incident that leads the region into conflict.

The critical issue in dealing with the North is its nuclear weapons capabilities and the missile delivery methods it maintains. Pyongyang has conducted a nuclear test and two threatening missile/satellite launches under the new ruler’s reign. The regime appears to have restarted a plutonium reactor. In response, the U.S. has emplaced a ballistic missile defense unit in Guam. To counter a potential North Korean “breakout”, the US maintains an extended deterrence, including a nuclear umbrella with allies South Korea and Japan.

American policy makers have to worry about not only dealing with an aggressive and impulsive North Korea, but also consider the possibility of a sudden collapse of that state.

Many in the audience expressed disappointment in the lack of positive involvement by Beijing in resolving problems in the North. However in the past, while China served as Pyongyang’s’ primary ally in the region and provided extensive humanitarian and food assistance, Beijing seems to have put some distance between itself and the new regime, and appears inclined not to reward Pyongyang’s poor behavior. That is not to say that China has become a responsible participant to the extent it could.

The “6-Party” talks aimed at “denuclearizing” the entire peninsula have been off and on for years. There seems to be no appetite on the part of the U.S. and regional powers to relax the sanctions that are in place. In sum, CAPT Blakely noted that the United States exercises “strategic patience” in dealing with the North, seeking to mitigate potential conflicts that break out while continuing to attempt to promote more positive behavior by the North.

In that strategy, even “civilian diplomats” like Dennis Rodman can play a role!

We have attached CAPT Blakely’s slides used in the presentation for your review:

CLICK HERE