A warning does not exist if it is not delivered. This is a key lesson highlighted by the famous expert in warning Cynthia Grabo, who worked as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. government from 1942 to 1980 (Anticipating Surprise: Analysis for Strategic Warning, Editor’s Preface). Similarly, a foresight product such as scenarios, for example, …
(This article is a fully updated version of the original article published in November 2011 under the title “Creating a Foresight and Warning Model: Mapping a Dynamic Network (I)”). Mapping risk and uncertainty is the second step of a proper process to correctly anticipate and manage risks and uncertainties. This stage starts with building a model, which, once completed, will describe and explain the issue or question at hand, while allowing for anticipation or foresight. In other words, with the end of the first step, you have selected a risk, an uncertainty, or a series of risks and uncertainties, or an issue of concern, with its proper time frame and scope, for example, what are the risks and uncertainties to … Read more
[Fully rewritten version v3] To exist, risk and foresight products as well as warnings must be delivered to those who must act upon them, the customers, clients or users. These anticipation analyses must also be actionable, which means that they need to include the right information necessary to see action taken. Yet, if you deliver … Read more
This article focuses on the evolution of the balance of forces on the battlefield, notably for the Kurds, mainly in Syria but also in Iraq, one of the multiple layers of interactions that must be considered around the battle of Raqqa against the Islamic State. It is part of a series aiming at deciphering the various factors at work that will shape the outcome of the battle of Raqqa and thus impact the future. Such factors must be considered for scenarios as well as monitored for warning, notably by being included in corresponding mapping. The offensive against the Islamic State is progressing in the governorate of Raqqa. However, the outcome will not only be a more or less rapid victory against a … Read more
The world has entered a period where uncertainty rules and where surprises abound.
Focusing on 2016, the two major surprises usually singled out are the Brexit or the vote leading to the exit of the U.K. from the European Union, then the election of U.S. President Trump against favourite Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Even though a short-term focus could let us believe that the turmoil only or mainly hits “the West”, political and geopolitical surprises and uncertainties have multiplied worldwide, starting at least with the shock of the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008 and responses to it (see end note for some major instances*).
What is thus happening? How are we to tackle the uncertainty? Are these surprises related or discrete independent events that it would be wrong to link or try to understand together?
We shall start here with the 2016 surprises and related ongoing uncertainty, i.e. the Brexit and the U.S. Trump Presidency, and focus more particularly on the contradictions and questions that arise when we compare the two phenomena. We shall seek a framework for and elements of understanding, which can then be used in the development of scenarios for the future.
This article is the second of a two-parts of a series seeking to identify the impacts of the current and most probably forthcoming terrorist attacks by the Islamic State and other jihadist groups, and focuses on major socio-psychological consequences. It follows a first article, which started outlining a framework for impact assessment out of our current understanding of the economic consequences of terrorism, which notably pointed out the need to use mapping as methodology if the complex and cascading characters of these impacts are to be properly assessed. The larger aim of the series is notably to understand if businesses should or not neglect these aggressions and related geopolitical uncertainties, while finding out ways to foresee these risks so as to best design answers (see Helene Lavoix, “Businesses and Geopolitics: Caught up in the Whirlwinds? (1)”, The Red (Team) Analysis Society, 17 Oct 2016)
To find out which could be the psychological impacts of the ongoing string of terrorist attacks, we
Since the Islamic State declared a Khilafah on 29 June 2014, it carried out, worldwide, 6 attacks or series of attacks in 2014, which killed 2 and wounded 12 people, 23 in 2015, which killed 1020 and wounded more than 2171, 36 in 2016, which killed more than 1455 and wounded more than 3505 and so far 3 in 2017, which killed more than 109 and wounded more than 169 people, assuming all attacks are known and referenced as such (Wikipedia “List of terrorist incidents linked to ISIL“). As a whole, we thus faced 68 attacks, during which more than 2586 people lost their lives and more than 5857 were injured. Prospects for the near future look no less grim as reminded … Read more
At the latest 2 June 2016 OPEC summit, Saudi Arabia and Iran failed to reach an agreement on oil production level (e.g. Terry Macalister, The Guardian, 2 June 2016). Different needs as well as tensions between the two countries are at stake. Yet, a few analysts have also underscored a slight improvement in the relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran (Liam Halligan, “Opec is very much alive as Saudis learn to tread softly“, 4 June 2016). What should we thus expect? Should we trust that a warming of the relationships is indeed underway, or should we expect a potential stiffening of positions considering the current offensive led by Shia governments in Syria and Iraq (e.g. Alex MacDonald, “Sunni fighters say militias, not army, should liberate Fallujah … Read more
Early 2016 has witnessed a succession of dramatic developments that have inflamed the already contentious Iran-Saudi relationship, bringing it to the forefront of global governmental and media attention. These have included: Riyadh’s decision to break diplomatic relations with Tehran at the beginning of the year, the accelerated decline of the price of oil deeply affecting both countries’ economies, the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal leading to Iran’s reinsertion into the global economic system, and a reversal of fortune in the Syrian civil war with Iranian and Russian-supported regime forces scoring major advances against the Saudi-backed opposition. We shall survey these developments (deferring, however, discussion of the fast changing situation in Syria to a later post) with the aim of … Read more
This post is the fourth of our temporal observatory project (Tempobs) and related series focused on the future of the relationships between Saudi Arabia and Iran and aiming at improving the handling of time-related issues in strategic foresight and warning, risk, or more broadly anticipatory analysis. It answers and builds upon Dr Warren Fishbein’s (hereinafter Warren) previous article (Mindfully Mapping a Middle Eastern Morass – Saudi Arabia and Iran), as we designed the series as a dialogue where we progressively build the understanding related to the foresight issue by mapping the corresponding conceptual network, continuously scan the relevant literature and news, which will allow us, finally, to assess the future, to use Warren’s apt presentation of the work involved. Here we shall present the new tool (best on desktops … Read more