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February 1-7, 2024 | Issue 5 - CENTCOM and PACOM

Agathe Labadi, Gabriel Helupka, Martina Sclaverano, Megan Khalife

Alya Fathia Fitri, Editor; Elena Alice Rossetti, Senior Editor

Indonesian Presidential Candidate Prabowo Subianto[1]

Date: February 1, 2024

Location: Indonesia

Parties involved: Indonesian President Joko Widodo; Indonesian presidential election candidate and current Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto; Subianto’s vice presidential candidate and Widodo’s son Gibran Rakabuming Raka; ​​Indonesia presidential election candidates; Indonesia; Indonesian politicians; Solidarity Party chairman and Widodo’s second son Kaesang Pangarep; Indonesian political party Solidarity Party; Indonesian news outlets; Indonesian citizens; Indonesian pro-democracy activists

The eventIndonesian news outlets and citizens accuse Widodo of interfering with upcoming presidential elections, fostering ethical concerns regarding his conduct. Widodo has not openly expressed any preference for the three candidates, but he appeared publicly with Subianto. Subianto is the frontrunner for the February 14 elections, running with Raka as his vice presidential candidate.[2] News outlets report concerns of nepotism following Raka´s appointment as potential vice president, especially after Pangarep became chairman of the Indonesia Solidarity Party.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • There is a roughly even chance that nepotism concerns will cause protests against Raka’s candidacy. Media outlets will likely increase negative publicity of Raka’s political career citing Pangarep as an example, with citizens likely concluding that Raka’s appointment as vice president would be unlawful. Citizens have a roughly even chance of causing disruptions at the Solidarity Party's events and electoral rallies in favor of Subianto and Raka. There is a roughly even chance that pro-democracy activists will organize demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience in front of Widodo and Raka’s properties, likely aiming to push Widodo to state his neutrality and promote voting for opposition parties.

  • Subianto will very likely exploit Widodo’s influence to win the presidential election, while almost certainly seeking to enhance his legitimacy as a candidate despite the alleged violation of electoral laws. Subianto will very likely focus on the incumbent president’s endorsement, almost certainly aiming to draw support from Widodo’s party during his campaign. This narrative will likely prompt voters to ignore the accusations, as Subianto will likely use Widodo’s support to prove his eligibility for the presidency. To secure his voting base, Subianto will almost certainly use targeted messages, speeches, and policy promises designed to resonate with citizens and simultaneously look for internal support among Widodo’s party.

  • There is a roughly even chance Widodo will depict Raka’s vice presidential candidacy as the beginning of his presidential legacy, likely using Rakas’s campaign to boost his name among voters. Raka’s potential election as vice president will likely maintain Widodo’s political influence after his term, fostering additional concerns of nepotism and dynasty-building from his critics. Widodo will very likely face direct criticism from political rivals, accusing him of favoring and fostering Raka’s campaign to disrupt established democratic norms.

Date: February 4, 2024

Location: Al-Omar, Deir al Zor, Syria

Parties involved: Islamic Resistance in Iraq; Iran; Iranian government; US; US military; Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; Syria; Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF); Kurdish militants; Russian troops located in Syria; Syrian civilians; Iraqi civilians; Egypt; Lebanon; Jordan

The event: The Islamic Resistance in Iraq launched a drone attack on an American base in Syria, killing six Kurdish SDF fighters. The SDF fighters were on the American base as part of a commando academy. The Iranian government-backed Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack. The drone attack came after a series of bombings by the US on Iran-backed militant groups that operate in Syria and Iraq.[4]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The Assad regime will very likely deny involvement in the drone attack, almost certainly engaging in asymmetrical tactics like continued support of Iranian-backed militias to avoid direct military confrontation with the US. Russian troops will likely supplement Syrian asymmetrical tactics through increased air strikes on rebel groups, as Assad’s forces will almost certainly hit persistently rebel groups seeking to destabilize the regime. Anti-US and anti-rebel rhetoric will almost certainly increase in the Syrian government's public statements, condemning rebels as aggression against the regime and reaffirming resistance against domestic and foreign interferences.

  • The US will very likely improve drone detection and prevention technologies on its bases in the Middle East. The US military will very likely strengthen its surveillance systems and anti-drone technology for early threat detection and neutralization with anti-drone jammers, drone detection radars, and radio-frequency (RF) signal analyzers. A multifaceted strategic response will very likely include strengthening integrated air defense systems and Counter-UAV Systems (C-UAS), enhancing cybersecurity measures, and investing in research and development of ​artificial intelligence (AI) in anti-drone and surveillance systems. Training the US and SDF military personnel to respond to adversaries’ drone strikes and foster intelligence and expertise sharing will very likely contribute to the US tactical approach against drone threats.

  • Iran-backed groups will likely continue targeting US troops and Kurdish allies’ bases to discourage further US involvement in regional disputes, very likely endangering civilians. Drone and retaliatory strikes will very likely increase in the region, likely forcing civilians from Syria and Iraq to flee. Neighboring countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan will very likely increase border control and humanitarian assistance to displaced people, likely becoming overwhelmed with the refugee influx due to the multiple conflicts in the region.

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[2] Indonesia leader accused of bias, interference in presidential election, Reuters, February 2024, 

[3] Ahead of Indonesia’s elections, critics slam Jokowi for nepotism and ‘dynastic politics, CNBC, November 2023, 

[4] Six US-backed Kurdish fighters killed in drone attack on US base in Syria, Reuters, February 2024, 


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