What Our Analysts Are Reading — 11/25

Navanti’s data collection and analysis are based on networks of on-the-ground researchers from all walks of life: journalists, academics, and humanitarian workers, to name a few. But our analysts also keep abreast of open source reports to inform their work. Below, Navanti analysts have summarized and contextualized the most important articles they read over the past two weeks, and added some insightful recent quotes from researchers. Some of these articles are breaking news items, while others are academic studies published months ago; all will advance the reader’s understanding of current conflict dynamics.

Eastern Europe and the Balkans

Polish authorities arrested two men suspected of plotting anti-Muslim attacks, underscoring the threat far-right extremists continue to pose globally in a post-Christchurch world. — Wiadomosci (Polish)

French President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial and wide-ranging interview on NATO set off a firestorm among leaders in the Balkans and Eastern Europe over the role of the transatlantic alliance. — Balkan Insight

Central Europe’s Roma and Sinti – often overlooked victims of the Holocaust – are increasingly fighting for recognition of their losses at the hands of Nazi Germany. — TIME


A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck northwestern Iran in the early morning of November 7, injuring more than 300 people. Two days later, a magnitude 5.4 earthquake struck southern Iran, some 77 miles west of the port city of Bandar Abbas. Iran is located on major seismic faults and experiences, on average, one earthquake a day. — BBC Persian (Farsi)

During worldwide celebrations to commemorate Baha’i holy days in late October, several Iranian Baha’is were arrested and others sentenced to 5+ years in prison after being held without charges. Additionally, a cemetery belonging to the religious group in Iran’s southern province was destroyed. The Islamic Republic does not recognize the Baha’is and deprives them of rights, including university education and government jobs. — Radio Farda (Farsi)

A halloween party in Tehran was raided and several attendees arrested for celebrating the American holiday. The police chief of Western Tehran described the celebrations as a “symbol of Western culture” and “offensive and frightening to the community.” — ISNA (Farsi)


The Iraqi government has proven unable to stop ongoing protests, which call for governmental reform and an end to corruption, using a carrot and stick approach. Iraq’s top Shi’ite religious authority, Ali Sistani, has sided with the protestors, calling their demands “legitimate” and condemning the government’s use of force in a bid to disperse protests. — Al-Monitor

Moqtada al-Sadr—an influential Shi’ite cleric, politician, and militia leader—praised the ongoing protests and said that they had “achieved victories, most importantly humiliating the corrupt and terrifying them.” Sadr called on Iraq’s politicians to implement radical changes, including changes to electoral laws and the constitution. — Al-Sharq al-Awsat (Arabic)


The co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) political wing, Ilham Ahmed, said on Monday regarding the presence of US forces: “the reasons for them staying in Syria are unclear. Therefore we don’t know whether they will stay a month or two, or a year.” This reflects Washington’s reduced leverage over the SDF following Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring in October. — Al-Sharq al-Awsat (Arabic)

Faced with a possible return of central government control, journalists in northeast Syria must weigh the chance their reporting will expose them to the ire of the infamous state security forces, against the hardship of fleeing the country. — Atlantic Council’s SyriaSource

The US-sanctioned Katerji Group, which previously oversaw the ISIS-Damascus oil trade, and then the SDF-Damascus oil trade, has been expelled from areas of Deir al-Zour province by Iranian-backed militias. But the Katerji Group also won a series of contracts in other government-controlled areas, including the rights to a cement factory in Aleppo, and the rights to develop the oil trade in Damascus. — Eqtsad (Arabic)



While the Riyadh Agreement seems to have calmed tensions between the Republic of Yemen Government and the Southern Transitional Council, renewed discussions of implementing a federal system have sparked competition between different southern states – particularly al-Mahra and Hadramawt. The quick devolution of relations between governorates illuminates how regionalism and local loyalties intersect with Yemen’s conflict and how they may inhibit Yemeni unity moving forward. — Al-Mashad al-Yemeni (Arabic)

Emirati prince and Yemen veteran Sheikh Zayed bin Hamdan al-Nahyan made an appearance at the Riyadh Agreement’s signing, sitting in his wheelchair next to Saudi deputy defense minister Khaled bin Salman. The intense media coverage his appearance garnered praised him as a model Emirati who upheld his national duty, offering insight into how the UAE has used the Yemen conflict to instill notions of national duty and professional military culture back home. — Al-Ain (Arabic)