ISIS security risk in Iraq after the territorial defeat of the group

ISIS security risk in Iraq after the territorial defeat of the group

Marc Simms is an occasional blogger for Proelium Law LLP. Marc holds a MLitt in Terrorism Studies and a Masters in International Relations, both from St Andrews. His particular interests are in emerging international security issues, unconventional warfare and terrorism.

An assessment of the likely impacts on businesses and foreign workers

With the liberation of Rawa on Friday November 17th, ISIS lost its last town in Iraq and so it’s entire occupied territory within the country.  While ISIS almost certainly still operates in unpopulated land in Anbar, northern Diyala and Niveneh governorates, this victory marks the defeat of ISIS as a territorial based insurgent organisation in the country.

This is not an unknown situation for ISIS, who previously operated as a terrorist group before the opportunities of the Syrian civil war allowed them to form their ‘state’, but it will undoubtedly impact on and effect the way in which they operate and the kind of threat they pose going forwards.

After the ‘Islamic State of Iraq’: How ISIS regrouped

The best guide to how ISIS will act in this situation is how they previously acted in similar circumstances.

In 2006, the Anbar tribes who had previously been cooperating with Al-Qaeda’s Iraqi branch dramatically broke ranks with the group. Forming a coalition calling themselves the Sons of Iraq, among many other names, these groups were funded and backed by the US military to fight with coalition forces against Al-Qaeda, with considerable success.  By 2008, when the Iraqi government took over control funding for the groups, Al-Qaeda’s capabilities had been significantly degraded, to the point that CIA Director Michael Hayden confidently predicted that the group was “on the verge of strategic defeat.”

Instead, as we saw, the group retreated to remote desert areas within Iraq and regrouped under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who ascended to leadership of the group in 2010.  With this, the group consolidated their position, obtained new forms of funding and significantly increased their attacks against Shiites in the country.  In 2012, the first major move by ISIS was its “Breaking The Walls” campaign, a sustained prison-break venture combined with attacks on the judiciary, security services and supporters of the Iraqi government in those areas which it had previously controlled.

Taking advantage of the chaos in Syria

A year before the Breaking The Walls campaign was launched, sometime in the summer of 2011, al-Baghdadi sent a number of operates to Syria.  Led by Abu Muhammed al-Julani, these became the nucleus of the “Nusra Front”, the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.  When Raqqa fell to the Syrian opposition in 2013, having its soldiers on the ground and being able to bring additional manpower over the Iraqi border meant that ISIS were able to seize control of Raqqa and use it as a logistical and military base.

From here on in, ISIS is able to use its advantageous position straddling the border between Iraq and Syria to deploy its insurgents to either theatre as required.  Thus having secured a position in Syria, ISIS then brought its operatives back over into Iraq to conduct the “Soldier’s Harvest” campaign, which targeted Iraqi security forces in preparation for their 2014 territorial campaign, where they ended up taking Fallujah at the start of 2014 and then Mosul later in the summer.

Events over the border will impact on Iraq’s security

From this, it should be clear that the security situation in Iraq is going to be at least partially determined by the conditions in Syria and especially along the border area.  While on the ground the SDF and Syrian Army have done much to capture cities from the group, contributing to the complete collapse of their territory in the country, the continuing violence from the civil war and partial collapse of the Syrian state will provide opportunities for ISIS to re-establish themselves in the country.  If this does happen, there will undoubtedly be knock-on effects from this on the Iraqi side of the border.

 

Even putting aside for the moment the question of the settlement of the Syrian civil war, the border region between the two countries is sparsely populated and the perfect territory to maintain a “safe haven” for a terrorist group.  Without some form of significant and ongoing security commitment from both countries in their respective regions, it is extremely likely that remnants of ISIS will try to regroup in these areas, though with its Iraqi origins it may find it easier to do so there than it will in Syria.

 

A question of funding

At its height, ISIS was an incredibly well-financed group.  Its gains from illicit oil smuggling were estimated to have netted the group over $2.4 billion in 2015 alone.  In addition to this, it was also able to finance its operations through looting banks and levying taxes on the population in the cities it controlled.

However, with the loss of its territory, it has also lost its two main income streams simultaneously.  While this may not matter in the short term – as the costs of operation for the group will inevitably decrease due to defecting fighters and no need to maintain conquered territories any more – it inevitably will need to find new sources of revenue if it wishes to continue as an organisation.

Businesses and NGO’s are advised to be wary

It has been theorised that ISIS will step up its kidnapping attempts to support itself.  This was a vital source of early income for the group, and it seems very likely it will turn to this again, targeting prominent local families in areas where the group still has some influence, or else looking to kidnap foreigners and business executives for ransom.  Businesses and NGOs operating in more isolated areas of northern and eastern Iraq should be especially wary of the possibility of kidnapping attempts.

ISIS is also likely to turn to other traditional, organised-crime adjacent methods of raising funds to finance itself, such as antiquities smuggling and extortion rackets, again the latter more likely in areas where it still has some level of local control or influence.  Extortion will likely be targeted against smaller Iraqi businesses, but this will of course impact on anyone they themselves are doing business with, and should also be a consideration for companies operating in the aforementioned areas of Iraq that ISIS previously controlled.

Terrorist attacks and broader strategy

The broader question of whether ISIS will seek to try and rebuild its caliphate or else try to pursue a more terrorist-centred strategy is not knowable at this time.

However, based on its past behaviour, it seems extremely likely that ISIS will undertake certain kinds of violence regardless of its future direction.  Firstly, the extremely sectarian nature of ISIS means that it will continue to try and target Iraqi Shiites, and to a lesser extent other religious minorities in the country.  Attacking Shiites, however, will pay the most potential dividends, in that it will help stoke the kind of sectarian tensions that helped ISIS flourish previously, and indeed still exist now, as well as hopefully provoking a response from the Shiite-based militias that have fought ISIS, and are now occupying Sunni-majority cities.  Shiite mosques and shrines are a likely target, as are prominent local Shiite personalities, especially those involved in politics.

Private Military Contractors and Reconstruction workers may be at risk

This will also figure into their larger military strategy, as attacking the militias will deprive the Iraqi government of a secondary security force.  Much as with its campaign of assassinations against the Sons of Iraq, this will remove groups who could potentially lead any fight back against the group or provide security at a local level.  It is also likely that ISIS would also seek to target foreign soldiers, private military contractors and even foreign workers brought in for reconstruction efforts.  The latter two may also be targeted as part of the kidnapping for ransom approach mentioned previously.

After its defeats, ISIS may also feel like it has ‘something to prove’ with regard to its branding and reputation.  As such, it seems likely that ISIS will attempt to carry out acts of “spectacular” terrorism within Iraq – large scale attacks to prove that they are still a force to be reckoned with, and will not be going away anytime soon.  The precise nature of such attacks are hard to predict ahead of time, but it should be assumed that there is a potential high risk of a terrorist incident taking place in Baghdad or other cities in northern Iraq, despite the currently decreasing casualty and incident numbers.  As insurgent warfare morphs into terrorist violence, it will inevitably become much less constant, but also less predictable.

 

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Read our latest news & articles

ISIS security risk in Iraq after the territorial defeat of the group

With the liberation of Rawa on Friday November 17th, ISIS lost its last town in Iraq and so it’s entire occupied territory within the country. While ISIS almost certainly still operates in unpopulated land in Anbar, northern Diyala and Niveneh governorates, this victory marks the defeat of ISIS as a territorial based insurgent organisation in the country.

read more

Proelium Law LLP

Proelium Law LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales No.OC411568.

Proelium Law LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority No. 629608 (www.sra.org.uk)

VAT Registration No. 242 4002 59.

© www.proeliumlaw.com

Web Design by Tim Mitchell Design | Web Consultancy by John Griffin, Up Marketing Co

PROELIUM LAW COUNTRY ASSESSMENT – 17/01/20178

PROELIUM LAW COUNTRY ASSESSMENT – 17/01/20178

The Proelium Law weekly country assessment for the use of our clients, colleagues and contacts is now released.  Focusing on Iraq/Syria, Libya and Afghanistan/Pakistan this report will be updated weekly on a Wednesday.

On 15 January 2018, a twin suicide attacks killed 38 and wounded 105 in crowded Tayran Square [Baghdad], undermining security in the capital. While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, it bore the characteristics of ISIS demonstrating their ability to undermine security in the capital. It is likely such attacks will increase in the wake of elections this year.”

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If you’d like further information, or to discuss working with us, you can get in touch via our Contact Us page

Read our latest news & articles

ISIS security risk in Iraq after the territorial defeat of the group

With the liberation of Rawa on Friday November 17th, ISIS lost its last town in Iraq and so it’s entire occupied territory within the country. While ISIS almost certainly still operates in unpopulated land in Anbar, northern Diyala and Niveneh governorates, this victory marks the defeat of ISIS as a territorial based insurgent organisation in the country.

read more

Proelium Law LLP

Proelium Law LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales No.OC411568.

Proelium Law LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority No. 629608 (www.sra.org.uk)

VAT Registration No. 242 4002 59.

© www.proeliumlaw.com

Web Design by Tim Mitchell Design | Web Consultancy by John Griffin, Up Marketing Co

Proelium Law launches a presence in Iraq

Proelium Law launches a presence in Iraq

An interview with Adrian Powell, partner and head of Proelium Law, Iraq.

Q. Why has Proelium Law decided to launch a presence in Iraq?

Adrian: “The origins of the firm Proelium Law are from Iraq. When I was there in the early 1990’s and working for a large security company as a legal advisor, it struck me that there was a need for a law firm specialising in the legal issues arising from operating in such high-risk jurisdictions.

The clients we have since attracted repeatedly prove my initial thoughts right. Our experience of having worked in country; our knowledge of Iraqi business practice and customs, combined with our knowledge of local and international law ensures we are uniquely placed to provide highly relevant and effective advice.  So, having launched Proelium Law in London in 2015, from where we initially provided our Iraq-specific services, it was a natural development to now have an Iraq-based presence.”

Q. Is there a Proelium Law Iraq office?

Adrian: “Not as yet. For now, we operate from the Baghdad offices of our Iraq consultant, Dr Wadhah Al Safi from where we provide legal services Iraq-wide.

I am however visiting Iraq this January [2018] to investigate the opportunities available for a dedicated Proelium Law office – so watch this space!”

Q. What do Proelium Law’s Iraq legal services comprise?

Adrian: “In conjunction with Dr Wadhah, we provide mainly commercial, corporate and litigation advice.”

Q. Tell me about Dr Wadhah Al Safi – what experience does he have in dealing with the legal affairs of companies doing business in Iraq?

Adrian:Dr. Wadhah is an Iraq national, and is a qualified lawyer and experienced legal practitioner. He specialises in commercial legal matters relating to international companies operating and registered in Iraq. He also has expertise in Intellectual Property and is licensed to register trademarks in Iraq by the Iraq Supreme Judicial Council and by the Companies Registration Department at the Ministry of Trade.”

“In addition, his background as a geologist means that he is well-versed with the oil sector, so can ably assist extractives clients already operating in, or seeking to do business in Iraq. He speaks both his native Arabic language and also fluent English.”

Q. What experience do you have in providing legal services to businesses and individuals operating in Iraq?

Adrian: “My experience is broad and varied. Initially, I was the legal advisor for a large private security company which encompassed the full scope of commercial activities in Baghdad.

My role also had a criminal law aspect to it, and encompassed a lot of international law. I held a similar role when I was the team leader for a project for the Iraq Ministry of Foreign affairs which dealt with international negotiations.“

Q. Where can clients find broader legal advice, if required?

Adrian: “We have a close relationship with Top 100 UK-based law firm, Harrison Clark Rickerbys, who provide a full range of legal advisory services including employment law, real estate and legal advice for individuals from their 7 UK offices. Many of their clients operate internationally, and therefore they are used to operating across different time zones and jurisdictions.”

Q. What is the nature of your clients’ business interests?

Adrian: “Most of our current clients are involved in Private security. However, we also have a growing client based in the development and extractives sector. We hope to support the insurance industry in due course. Our principal focus will be on international companies at first.”

Q. What do you charge for legal services – are they equivalent to other Iraq-based legal services – or should we expect UK-based pricing?

Adrian: “Iraq prices for legal services are high. Consequently, there can be a reluctance for businesses to take legal advice. A lack of correct advice can lead to all sorts of potential issues. As we have a low cost-base, we offer our Iraq legal services at UK prices, ensuring that they are accessible to all, including small to medium-sized businesses.”

Q. Do you have any ‘added value’ services planned, such as seminars etc?

Adrian: “Once we’ve established ourselves, we will be giving thought to providing additional free or low-cost services to clients and contacts, such as seminars, training and networking opportunities. We have a similar provision at our London office, and our clients find this highly beneficial.

As well as potentially running our own seminars and training sessions, we will be getting out and about to meet business owners and managers, including attending Iraq-based expos such as those relating to the oil and gas industry. We’re also looking forward to Dubai 2020 which will be a tremendous event, attracting many from within the industries to which we serve.”

“One of our ‘added value’ tools, however, is our Legal Risk Map. It aims to help businesses quickly identify legal risks, and comprises a review of an organisation’s legal health, revising how well the legal infrastructure covers the business across 11 themes, such as corporate structures, policies, commercial contracts, duty of care, use of weapons and insurance. It has proved a highly popular not least because the initial process is completely free and without obligation.”

Finally, why would clients wish to use Proelium Law’s services in Iraq?

Adrian: “We aren’t a UK law firm that simply employs local lawyers, we are a London law firm that sends its London lawyers to Iraq.

We are the foremost UK legal authority on hostile environments – that we actually work in these places contributes significantly to our ability to provide the very best advice.”

“Our experience of having worked in country; our knowledge of Iraqi business practice and customs, combined with our knowledge of local and international law ensures we are uniquely placed to provide highly relevant and effective advice”. 

For further information, and for a no obligation discussion, please contact Adrian Powell, apowell@proeliumlaw.com

Office: +44 (0) 20 3875 7422

Mobile +44 (0) 7725 329437

E-mail: law@proeliumlaw.com

Connect with us:

Twitter: @proeliumlaw

LinkedIn: Proelium Law LLP

 

Need advice?

If you’d like further information, or to discuss working with us, you can get in touch via our Contact Us page

Read our latest news & articles

ISIS security risk in Iraq after the territorial defeat of the group

With the liberation of Rawa on Friday November 17th, ISIS lost its last town in Iraq and so it’s entire occupied territory within the country. While ISIS almost certainly still operates in unpopulated land in Anbar, northern Diyala and Niveneh governorates, this victory marks the defeat of ISIS as a territorial based insurgent organisation in the country.

read more

Proelium Law LLP

Proelium Law LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales No.OC411568.

Proelium Law LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority No. 629608 (www.sra.org.uk)

VAT Registration No. 242 4002 59.

© www.proeliumlaw.com

Web Design by Tim Mitchell Design | Web Consultancy by John Griffin, Up Marketing Co

Cambodian opposition leader arrest bodes poorly for 2018 election

Cambodian opposition leader arrest bodes poorly for 2018 election

Marc Simms is an occasional blogger for Proelium Law LLP. Marc holds a MLitt in Terrorism Studies and a Masters in International Relations, both from St Andrews. His particular interests are in emerging international security issues, unconventional warfare and terrorism.

Kem Sokha, the leader of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, was arrested on Sunday September 3rd and has been charged with treason.  Specifically, the charges are that he has been conspiring with the United States to overthrow the government of Cambodia.

The UN’s human rights high commissioner, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said he was “seriously concerned” about Kem Sokha’s arrest, which was carried out “with no respect for due process guarantees, including respect for (Kem Sokha’s) parliamentary immunity”.

Cambodia is due to hold elections in 2018 and the arrest is widely seen as politically motivated, and part of a broader pattern of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s authoritarian approach and desire to remain in power.

A strongman in power

Cambodia has been de facto ruled by the Cambodian People’s Party since 1979, when the Vietnamese invasion toppled the Khmer Rouge regime and established the People’s Republic of Kampuchea in its place.  Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander who defected to Vietnam, had originally served the new regime as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, becoming Prime Minister after the death of Chan Sy in 1984.

Cambodia operated as a one-party state until 1993 (though in an effective state of civil war with the Khmer Rouge, propped up by the Vietnamese military) when, in its first contested parliamentary elections since 1958, the Cambodian People’s Party lost to the royalist FUNCINPEC.  However, Hun Sen refused to step down, instead staying on as “co-Prime Minister” with Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the FUNCINPEC leader.  This arrangement lasted until the 1997 “Cambodian Coup”, where military forces loyal to Hun Sen ousted the Prince and those forces loyal to him.  Hun Sen’s seizure of power was confirmed in a questionable election held the next year, where he resumed the post of Prime Minister.

In 2013, the opposition CNRP disputed the election, claiming there had been voting irregularities and fraud, claims which were lent weight by the EU and US expressing concern about the vote.  The CNRP chose to boycott the opening of Parliament and instead organised protests in Phnom Penh, leading to civil unrest and violence in the capital, along with arrests of CNRP MPs, including Mu Socha, one of the protest leaders.

A new political crisis in the making

Hun Sen and the Cambodian leadership do not appear to be prepared to relinquish their grip on power, despite the aftermath of the previous election.  If anything, they appear to be doubling down on heavy-handed repression, stripping the previous opposition leader Sam Rainsy of his parliamentary seat and issuing a warrant for his arrest on charges of criminal defamation, after Rainsy accused the Cambodian People’s Party of corruption and Hun Sen of involvement in the murder of a union leader.

The Cambodian Daily newspaper has also been forced to close, ostensibly over a tax bill, but more likely as part of a general trend by Hun Sen’s government to crack down on independent media, a campaign which has also seen the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia removed from Cambodian airwaves.  While this measure may have some effect on the organising capabilities of any potential opposition in the countryside, it will have less effect in urban areas where the internet, which is not systematically censored by the government, is more readily available.  It is highly likely therefore, that the fall out from this election will eclipse that of the 2013-14 political unrest.

 

Need advice?

If you’d like further information, or to discuss working with us, you can get in touch via our Contact Us page

Read our latest news & articles

ISIS security risk in Iraq after the territorial defeat of the group

With the liberation of Rawa on Friday November 17th, ISIS lost its last town in Iraq and so it’s entire occupied territory within the country. While ISIS almost certainly still operates in unpopulated land in Anbar, northern Diyala and Niveneh governorates, this victory marks the defeat of ISIS as a territorial based insurgent organisation in the country.

read more

Proelium Law LLP

Proelium Law LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales No.OC411568.

Proelium Law LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority No. 629608 (www.sra.org.uk)

VAT Registration No. 242 4002 59.

© www.proeliumlaw.com

Web Design by Tim Mitchell Design | Web Consultancy by John Griffin, Up Marketing Co

PROELIUM LAW WEEKLY PICINTSUM  – 10/01/2018

PROELIUM LAW WEEKLY PICINTSUM – 10/01/2018

The Proelium Law weekly picture intelligence summaries (PICINTSUMS) for the use of our clients, colleagues and contacts are now released.  Focusing on Iraq/Syria, Libya and Afghanistan/Pakistan these reports will be updated weekly on a Wednesday.

‘The US will provide a total of $150million in 2018, providing $265.3million since 2015. Increasingly attention is turning to restructuring of both Iraq and Syria as the threat from ISIS nears an irreducible minimum. Restructuring will bring economic benefit to the nations surrounding Iraq and Syria and relieve pressure caused by millions of refugees and internally displaced persons.’

Need advice?

If you’d like further information, or to discuss working with us, you can get in touch via our Contact Us page

Read our latest news & articles

ISIS security risk in Iraq after the territorial defeat of the group

With the liberation of Rawa on Friday November 17th, ISIS lost its last town in Iraq and so it’s entire occupied territory within the country. While ISIS almost certainly still operates in unpopulated land in Anbar, northern Diyala and Niveneh governorates, this victory marks the defeat of ISIS as a territorial based insurgent organisation in the country.

read more

Proelium Law LLP

Proelium Law LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales No.OC411568.

Proelium Law LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority No. 629608 (www.sra.org.uk)

VAT Registration No. 242 4002 59.

© www.proeliumlaw.com

Web Design by Tim Mitchell Design | Web Consultancy by John Griffin, Up Marketing Co

Counter-Terrorism overhaul in the UK

Counter-Terrorism overhaul in the UK

Marc Simms is an occasional blogger for Proelium Law LLP. Marc holds a MLitt in Terrorism Studies and a Masters in International Relations, both from St Andrews. His particular interests are in emerging international security issues, unconventional warfare and terrorism.

Counter-Terrorism policy in the UK is likely to undergo significant reorganisation, based on recent reports from the press, comments by intelligence officials and appointments in Parliament.

Reviews ongoing

In the wake of the London Bridge attacks in June, following on from the Khalid Masood Westminster attack in March and the bombing of a Manchester music concert in May, and allegations that key indicators had been missed or ignored, MI5 and the police pledged to review their practices and processes.

Those reviews have not yet been completed, but there are indications that their outcome will result in changes to how the security services work.

“Every last drop of learning”

Some of these coming changes were alluded to by MI5 Director General Andrew Parker, in a speech he gave on October 17th.  In the speech given in central London, he talked about how MI5 has always “been about innovating to meet the changing threat and shifting technological environment” and how the agency intends to use “the harsh light of hindsight” to combat the current threat situation.

The full speech can be watched here.

“Biggest shake-up since 7/7”

On the 23rd of October, the Evening Standard reported that MI5 and the police would be undergoing their biggest reorganisation since the 7/7 attacks.  According to the report, the main focus of this would be to better identity extremist individuals who are thought to pose no direct security risk but go on to carry out attacks – a key feature of several recent UK and European attacks.

The measures are expected to focus on improving detection of potential activities which may be a precursor to a terrorist attack in relation to such individuals, such as financial transfers, social media activity or the purchase of potential bomb materials, and is also believed to involve a greater focus on right-wing extremists, who have been the subject of several recent intelligence-led police investigations.

ISC appointments decided upon

Another important sign that changes are likely on the way is that the membership of the House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) has finally been decided upon.  With the ISC’s role in regulating the security services, it would form an important part of any restructuring of the intelligence services or how they work and share intelligence.

Until now, there has been what has been described as an “unprecedented delay” in re-establishing the committee since the 2017 general election, despite the number of security incidents since the last meeting of the ISC in April of this year.  It’s not clear what the cause of the delay has been in getting the Prime Minister’s approval for the committee appointments.

 

Need advice?

If you’d like further information, or to discuss working with us, you can get in touch via our Contact Us page

Read our latest news & articles

ISIS security risk in Iraq after the territorial defeat of the group

With the liberation of Rawa on Friday November 17th, ISIS lost its last town in Iraq and so it’s entire occupied territory within the country. While ISIS almost certainly still operates in unpopulated land in Anbar, northern Diyala and Niveneh governorates, this victory marks the defeat of ISIS as a territorial based insurgent organisation in the country.

read more

Proelium Law LLP

Proelium Law LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales No.OC411568.

Proelium Law LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority No. 629608 (www.sra.org.uk)

VAT Registration No. 242 4002 59.

© www.proeliumlaw.com

Web Design by Tim Mitchell Design | Web Consultancy by John Griffin, Up Marketing Co

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