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Analysis & Commentary - Romany Shaker

Romany Shaker's Latest Articles

5th October 2018 – FDD's CSIF Policy Brief

U.S. and UN Sanction Libyan Militia Leader Ibrahim Jadran

Romany Shaker

On September 12, the United States and the United Nations sanctioned Libyan militia leader Ibrahim Jadran for his role in spearheading multiple attacks on oil facilities. The move marks the second round of U.S. sanctions – and the first in coordination with the UN – on those responsible for destabilizing Libya by damaging its oil industry. more...

5th October 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

Iran’s Controversial Cultural Attaché Leaves Algeria

Romany Shaker

On September 22, Iran’s cultural attaché in Algeria Amir Mousavi announced he would leave his position after almost four years in the country. The announcement followed accusations by Algerian activists and former officials against the Iranian diplomat over his alleged role in recruiting thousands of Shiite Muslims in Algeria on behalf of Iran. Mousavi’s departure highlights Iran’s persistent and unwelcome attempts to expand its influence in North Africa. more...

14th September 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

Islamic State Attacks Libya’s National Oil Corporation

Romany Shaker

The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for a September 10 shooting attack at the Tripoli headquarters of Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC), which killed at least two employees and wounded 10 others. “Three suicide militants from the soldiers of the caliphate” carried out the assault, the IS-affiliated “Wilayat Libya” said in a statement posted by the Islamic State’s Amaq news agency. more...

7th September 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

U.S. Bright Star Participation and the Push for Egyptian Reform

Romany Shaker

U.S. and Egyptian military forces, beginning Saturday, will participate in a joint exercise in Egypt called “Bright Star 2018.” This is the second time the United States will participate in the joint exercise since the Egyptian military toppled Islamist President Muhammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013. American participation in Bright Star reflects an ongoing effort to balance U.S. engagement with Cairo on security issues without neglecting Washington’s concerns about human rights abuses. more...

16th August 2018 – FDD's CSIF Policy Brief

Iran’s Allies in Iraq Vow to Help Tehran Skirt U.S. Sanctions

Behnam Ben Taleblu, Romany Shaker

Under pressure from pro-Iranian factions, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is backing away from his initial commitment to comply with U.S. sanctions on Iran. Abadi’s reversal illustrates both the weakness of Abadi’s caretaker government and the depth of Tehran’s influence in Iraq. more...

10th August 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

France vs Italy in Libya: The U.S. Should Not Choose Sides

Romany Shaker

After meeting with President Donald Trump on July 30, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that he would organize an autumn conference designed to help stabilize Libya “in agreement with President Trump.” more...

15th June 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

Iraqi Shiite Cleric Sadr Announces Political Alliance with Pro-Iran Coalition

Romany Shaker

This week, Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced a political alliance with Hadi al-Amiri, leader of a pro-Iran coalition linked to powerful Iranian-backed militias. The move represents a change of direction for Sadr, who had been marketing himself as a nationalist who opposes any foreign influence in the country’s domestic affairs. more...

6th June 2018 – The American Interest

Russia and Egypt are Growing Closer

Romany Shaker, Boris Zilberman

As Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi begins his second term, a new chapter in Egyptian-Russian relations is being written. Disappointed by U.S. policy, Cairo has strengthened its ties with Moscow. The new trajectory stems in part from the lack of robust American engagement, which has left an open door for Russia to make inroads at Washington’s expense. more...

22nd May 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

Iranian General Soleimani in Iraq as Post-Election Government Formation Talks Begin

Romany Shaker

Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani visited Baghdad last week to begin building a pro-Tehran coalition following the Iraqi elections held on May 12. more...

14th May 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

Hezbollah and its Allies Win more than Half the Seats in Lebanon’s Parliament

Romany Shaker

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared a “great political and moral victory for the resistance” after his party and its allies secured their first-ever majority in Lebanon’s May 6 parliamentary election, the first in nine years. Hezbollah’s success at the polls helps to cement its dominant position in Lebanese politics while consolidating Iran’s influence over the state’s affairs. more...

4th May 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

Morocco Accuses Iran and Hezbollah of Polisario Front Support

Romany Shaker

In a surprise move, Morocco announced this week it would sever diplomatic ties with Iran over its military support for the Polisario Front, an armed group that seeks to end Morocco’s control over the Western Sahara. more...

13th April 2018 – FDD's Long War Journal

IRGC-controlled Syrian militia declares jihad against US forces in Syria

Romany Shaker

A Syrian militia led by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) declared on April 6 jihad against US and allied forces in Syria. The IRGC is likely to boost its military support to the group as it explores avenues to drive the US out of Syria. more...

5th April 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

Egypt’s Sisi Reelected with 97 Percent of Vote

Romany Shaker

With no serious challenger in the race, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi won a second four-year term last week, winning 21,835,387 votes or 97.08 percent of the total, according to official figures. The State Department said it looked forward to working with Sisi to advance the United States’ strategic partnership with Egypt, yet noted the importance of “encouraging respect for and protection of basic rights and freedoms.” more...

3rd April 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

Erdogan Threatens to Expand War Against U.S. Partners in Syria

Romany Shaker

A bomb blast near the city of Manbij in northern Syria killed one American and one British soldier last week, not far from the front lines that separate Turkish forces from Syrian-Kurdish fighters and their U.S. partners in the anti-Islamic State coalition. The same day, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey has started preparations to eliminate Kurdish forces from three regions near the Syrian-Turkish border, which would entail a major expansion of the anti-Kurdish offensive, known as “Operation Olive Branch,” launched in January. more...

16th March 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

Iraq’s 2018 Budget Deadlock Deepens Tensions Ahead of Elections

Romany Shaker

On March 3, the Iraqi Parliament adopted a budget of about 104 trillion Iraqi dinars ($88 billion) for 2018, the first since the country declared “full victory” over the Islamic State. However, both Kurdish and pro-Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Shiite factions have sharply criticized the new budget. more...

8th March 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

The Islamic State is Far From Finished in Iraq

Romany Shaker

Deadly attacks by the Islamic State are calling into question Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s declaration of a “final victory” over the so-called Caliphate. With national elections set for May, further attacks could threaten Abadi’s bid for a second term while benefiting pro-Iranian forces. more...

23rd February 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

Egypt Launches Massive Anti-terrorism Operation ahead of March Elections

Romany Shaker

In a surprise move, Egypt launched a massive anti-terrorism operation on February 9, covering northern and central Sinai, plus parts of the Nile Delta, the desert areas west of the Nile Valley, as well as the country’s long border with Libya. Egyptian military spokesman Colonel Tamer al-Rifai said “Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018” would involve land, sea, and air forces, yet he did not specify how long the operation would last. more...

31st January 2018 – FDD's Long War Journal

US designates Egypt based HASM and Liwa al-Thawra as terrorist groups

Romany Shaker

The US Department of State announced terrorism designations today against Harakat Sawa’id Misr (HASM) and Liwa al-Thawra, two Islamist groups active in Egypt with suspected ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. more...

29th January 2018 – The National Interest

Iran’s relationship with Qatar could be polarizing

Romany Shaker

Tensions between the Gulf states and Qatar developed into an outright feud last June as a result of Qatar’s drift toward Iran, which led the Saudis and their partners to impose a boycott and cut off air, sea, and land routes to Qatar. Instead of responding positively to a demand that it cut ties with Tehran, Qatar defiantly restored full diplomatic relations with Iran. Now, the battle between Qatar and the quartet of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia has broken out on a new front: Dueling media coverage of the protests in Iran, with Qatar taking the side of the regime and the quartet backing the protesters. more...

26th January 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

National Elections in Iraq Set for May

Romany Shaker

This week, the Iraqi parliament approved Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s proposal to hold national elections on May 12. The announcement follows the breakdown of Abadi’s short-lived electoral alliance with a coalition of parties tied to Iranian-backed Shiite militias. more...