Thursday, March 21, 2013

'Defining the Threat' Briefing Series Launch

Photo by Henry E. Plimack
The U.S. faces many threats and challenges in the world today. 
Despite the testimony of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stating that the core al Qaeda group in Pakistan has been significantly weakened, the broader al Qaeda network continues to pose a direct threat to U.S. national security. 
The Iranian regime is also engaged in efforts to undermine the United States and is pursuing a full-spectrum strategy to influence events in Syria. 
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) have partnered with the Reserve Officers Association (ROA) to provide a series of educational briefings on threats facing the United States today. ISW and AEIâs Critical Threats Project current research portfolios focus broadly on the threats from Iran and from the al Qaeda network, as well as up-to-date assessments on regional conflicts such as the Syrian civil war.
The launch event for the Defining the Threat series will cover the threat from al Qaeda and its associated movements and from Iran, two of the most serious challenges to American national security. Lunch will be served.
Frederick W. Kagandirector of AEI's Critical Threats Project
Kimberly Kaganpresident of the Institute for the Study of War
Katherine Zimmermansenior analyst, Critical Threats Project
Sasha Gordonanalyst, Critical Threats Project
Maseh Zarifdeputy director, Critical Threats Project
Will Fultonanalyst, Critical Threats Project

Agenda

Overview and Regional Context | Frederick W. Kagan and Kimberly Kagan
Photo by Henry E. Plimack
The research teams from the Institute for the Study of War and AEIâs Critical Threats Project track developments in the western Muslim world because that area contains the most important states and groups actively working to attack American interests. Two over-arching regional phenomena increase instability in the region and create conditions propitious to the growth of enemy groups: the Sunni-Shiâa sectarian conflict and the proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Al Qaeda and Associated Movements | Katherine Zimmerman

Photo by Henry E. Plimack
The al Qaeda network extends beyond the core group and its named affiliates. Understanding the relationships between al Qaeda, its affiliates, and associated movements is key to developing a strategy that will eventually lead to the defeat of al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula | Sasha Gordon
Photo by Henry E. Plimack
The Yemen-based al Qaeda affiliate poses the greatest direct threat to the United States out of the al Qaeda network. It remains capable of pursuing international attacks even when under limited pressure. It is not clear that the current strategy to combat AQAP will be effective in the long term.

The Iranian Nuclear Program | Maseh Zarif
Photo by Henry E. Plimack

Iran is at the threshold of a robust nuclear weapons capability and has made significant progress in mastering the most difficult element of that capability. Increasing sanctions, negotiations, and policy declarations have not altered the overall trajectory of Iranâs nuclear drive.

Iranian Strategy and Operations in Syria | Will Fulton
Photo by Henry E. Plimack

Iran has implemented a full-spectrum strategy in Syria, including diplomatic, financial, intelligence, and military components. The depth of Iranian involvement in Syria suggests that the regime does not feel it is facing an immediate internal or external threat.

Future Event
April 18, 2013