Notes de recherche / Research papers

Dans un format court (entre 5 et 15 pages), les notes de recherche présentent les travaux de l'IRSEM et proposent des éléments d'analyse et de compréhension de grands enjeux stratégiques.


 Visuel RP 141

  • Note de recherche n°141 - 2024
    "Big words, small deeds Russia and China in the Arctic"
    Auteur : Lukas B. Wahden
    Russia’s war against Ukraine has had a significant impact on the Arctic. Relations between Russia and the Arctic NATO states have deteriorated, the western Arctic states have ceased most institutional cooperation with Moscow, and the Arctic Council is paralysed. At the same time, climate change is changing the natural environment of the region. This has made it easier to extract and transport Arctic resources by sea. New Arctic shipping lanes are opening up, which is attracting military and naval powers to the High North. Russia has long focused on expanding its Arctic cooperation with China, especially in its attempts to reduce the impact of Western sanctions. Following its occupation of Crimea in 2014, Moscow could rely on Chinese investors to prop up its Arctic companies. However, since 2022, investments by Chinese partners have fallen short of Russia’s expectations. Military cooperation between Russia and China in the region has also been scarce. In light of China’s reticence to become more involved in its Arctic economy, Moscow has tried to diversify the range of its non-Arctic regional partners.

  • Note de recherche n°140 - 2024
    "The Korean defense industry enters the European security theater an analysis of Korea-Poland arms deals"
    Auteur : Wooyeal Paik
    Over the past couple of years Korea and Poland have been advancing a large arms deal framework, worth approximately 60 billion USD, across the field including, but not limited to, main battle tanks, self-propelled howitzers, light fighter jets and multi-launch rocket systems. This is an unprecedented defense industrial cooperation to connect, if not integrate, their respective regions in the Euro-Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific. Such a bold move surprises many in both regions as well as Russia and other major powers. Why and how did they confirm this intriguing defense industrial cooperation, which has significant implications for security alignment? What are the pros and cons of the ongoing interaction for these two geographically distant security partners? What are the strategic consequences and implications for Korea, Poland, and other major stakeholders? This paper provides a set of preliminary assessments of these issues.


  • Note de recherche n°139 - 2023
    "Nato and the war in Ukraine: limited role but reinforced legitimacy?"
    Auteur : Amélie Zima
    This analysis proposes a new reading of NATO’s role, based on what appears to be a paradox: while the Alliance is playing a very limited role in this war, its attractiveness and legitimacy have been greatly enhanced since the outbreak of war in February 2022. Furthermore, NATO seems to be at the heart of the conflict which is taking place on the organization’s eastern flank, it opposes two countries with partnership programs with the organization, namely Russia and Ukraine; and one of the Russian government’s main misleading narratives is to accuse NATO of being responsible for this conflict because of its enlargement policy. Indeed, NATO’s role is limited to a deterrent posture, which means that it is implementing policies to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of member states. However, the Alliance’s attractiveness and legitimacy have been greatly enhanced since the outbreak of the conflict, as evidenced by the willingness of two neutral countries, Finland and Sweden, to join NATO. The European Union, on the other hand, has not benefited from this renewed legitimacy, even though it is far more involved in the conflict through its policy of arms supplies to Ukraine (European Peace Facility); through sanctions on Russian individuals and companies; and through aid to Ukrainian refugees. 
  • Research Paper No.138 - 2023
    "Use of reservists in the Ukrainian conflict : between mass and high technology, hard lessons for Western armies"
    Auteur : Lieutenant-colonel Pierre Lemercier and Major Louis-Marie Régnier

    Military lessons of the war in Ukraine are numerous and of great interest to Western armies. They affect all areas of conflict and are diverse and varied. Against this backdrop, this article looks in particular at the use of reservists by the two belligerents and seeks to draw some useful observations for our own defence models. Until the mid 2000s, the Russian and Ukrainian armed forces, both heirs to the Soviet model, had similar structures. Then these structures, and in particular the organisation, training and use of reservists diverged. The conflict that began in 2014 has accentuated these divergences, challenged the models chosen but also shown the importance of using reservists. Since 2014, but especially since 2022, both the Russians and the Ukrainians have had to adapt the way they employ their reservists in order to face the reality of war, with contrasting results. For their part, Western armies have been grappling since the end of the Cold War with the dilemma: mass or high technology? The question of this use of reservists in France and more widely in Western countries is no exception to this issue. First, this study describes the models in place and how they are evolving, then it analyses the use and results obtained by Ukrainian and Russian reservists in the context of the current conflict. Finally, in the light of these observations, this document proposes three main options for Western armies regarding the organisation and the use of their reservists.

  • Research Paper No.137 - 2023
    "The agreement to normalize Saudi-Iranian diplomatic relations was signed in Beijing: mixed perspectives" 
    Author: Fatiha DAZI-HÉNI, Carine PINA, Wendy RAMADAN-ALBAN

    On March 10, 2023, Saudi Arabia and Iran announced that they had signed an agreement to resume their diplomatic relations. This agreement was concluded under the aegis of China – a resounding event that is bound to trigger a variety of political and economic upheavals in a strategic region that holds 40% of the world’s fossil fuel reserves. It also points to a transformation of the international system, with regional players increasing their autonomy and China playing a growing role on the international political stage. What assessments can be made about this new rapprochement between the region’s “two best enemies”? What does this situation say about Beijing’s evolving regional and international expectations? The present study shows that this tripartite agreement is of major importance to a variety of players in the region. Thus, it has been well received on an international level. This agreement is also the manifestation of the three protagonists’ shared economic interests. It points to a significant change in the political and strategic regional order.

  • Research Paper No.135 - 2023
    "China’s international police and judicial cooperation" 
    Author: Carine Pina

    In the fall of 2022, a Spanish NGO published a series of reports denouncing extra-territorial police practices by China. This raises the following question: does China implement international police and law inforcement cooperation? It appears that the People’s Republic of China – through its Ministry of Public Security – is extensively developing this type of cooperation, be it through institutional frameworks or by utilizing a variety of tools. Police and judicial cooperation is viewed as a “creative involvement” that allows Beijing to pursue both diplomatic and security-related objectives.

  • Research Paper No. 132 - 2023

    Author : Maxime Ricard
    How did military dominance come about in Mali following the coups of 2020 and 2021? What shifts has the situation brought about in terms of civil-military relations? What effects have these political changes had on the economies of violence in the Sahel region? Beyond the reality of Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta’s regime, we are seeing the results of the nation’s disillusionment at play, following the unfulfilled promises of the post-1991 democratic opening. Ten years after the 2012 coup, the rule of violence has been sustained by (counter)insurgency logics and has since escalated. This state of affairs helps us understand the population’s support for the coups in 2020 and 2021, based on the nation’s desire for a Mali Kura, a new Mali. The Mali Fanga, a war-waging narrative upheld by the military transitional government and which is presumed effective, explains the rationale underlying Mali’s response to its various crises. The current results of this approach boil down to the strengthening of authoritarianism, an exacerbation of the economies of violence and a strategic shift that counts on the unpopularity of France’s presence in the Sahel. After being waged for ten years, the “war on terror” in the Sahel region has had lasting effects and has only worsened the rule of violence. In a context marked by one-upmanship, the Malian transitional government and its martial approach are receiving support from Wagner, a Russian private military company. Thus, Mali’s current trajectory raises questions concerning the country’s socio-political order, the future of conflict resolution and the configuration of power in the long run.

  • Research Paper No. 131 - 2023

    Author : Amélie ZIMA
    This paper analyzes the limits and assets of conventional deterrence by taking NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in the Baltic States and Poland as a case study. This research, based on a qualitative survey conducted at NATO headquarters, focuses on several aspects of the eFP: 1) the choice of a multinational format for this activity, which presents the challenge of interoperability; 2) the different roles of the battlegroups that are not limited to deterrence; 3) developments since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. This paper shows that despite reservations about the heterogenous implementation of the eFP, NATO’s deterrence activity has received an overwhelming amount of support from several players: Central and Eastern European member states, which are thus leaving their status as second-tier members and seeing their security concerns considered, and partners who, as demonstrated by the accession process of Sweden and Finland, are looking for NATO’s protection.


  • Research Paper No. 127 - 2022

    Author : Marjorie VANBAELINGHEM and Alice ORTEGA
    Japan is currently the fifth largest conventional military power in the world, and yet it has no armed forces, since the Japanese Self-Defence Forces (JSDF), created after World War II, cannot be considered as such. This paper looks at this paradox from the perspective of the relationship of these forces to Japanese society and the way in which their image affects defence policy in Japan. To do so, we go back to the origins of the JSDF’s status and consider their characteristics and the current limits to their development. We also look at how their image, missions and prerogatives are out of step with the geostrategic context of 2022. The image of the JSDF in the eyes of the Japanese population proves to be the key to understanding the permanence of this paradoxical status. We thus analyze how this image is constructed through public opinion, official communication policy and the influence of external actors, such as the American armed forces.


  • Joint Policy Paper - 2022

    Author : Collin KOH
    This paper surveys the reactions amongst ASEAN member states following the announcement of AUKUS. By “reactions”, this paper argues, one needs to look beyond the obvious rhetoric – such as those evinced by Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur immediately after the deal was publicized. Beyond rhetoric, “reactions” also encompass the less apparent policy actions which may subtly reflect the sentiments of ASEAN capitals to AUKUS. Such policy actions as the aforementioned elevation of ASEAN-Australia relations to one of comprehensive security partnership are arguably more decisive than mere open press statements or random remarks by ASEAN political elites and policy planners. Of course, this paper would not stop at surveying those reactions but attempts to underline the strategic rationale. It argues that Southeast Asian perceptions towards evolving geopolitical uncertainties in the region, including concerns over the rise and growing assertiveness of China, could have shaped sentiments towards AUKUS, manifested not only in words but through more tangible, albeit less obvious, policy actions.


  • Research Paper No. 126 - 2022

    Author : Celine THAM
    While “fake news” as a phenomenon is not new, today’s digital media age has made the need to address it considerably more urgent. Its political impact, potential to compromise the integrity of electoral processes, and ability to cause real world harm have driven governments across the globe to take notice. The trend towards legislation as a countermeasure is unmistakable, with many new pieces of regulation targeting the creation, distribution and manipulation of false and harmful information being enacted in the last four years, and many more still being drafted and considered. This note maps and compares the regulatory frameworks for addressing false and/or harmful information in five jurisdictions in the Asia-Pacific – Australia, India, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan. Its aim is to demonstrate the diversity of regulatory strategies which have been implemented or are under consideration, and in doing so, act as a discussion starter on governance of the digital space, where the circulation of ideas could better inform the fight against false and harmful information, which spreads not just within but across national borders.


  • Research Paper No. 125 - 2022

    Author : Alain ALEXIS
    By proposing the establishment of a European Defence Fund, the European Commission has, for the first time since 1957, decided to mobilise Community resources to support the development of the capabilities necessary for guaranteeing Europe’s security and developing its strategic autonomy. This initiative, launched prior to the invasion of Ukraine, takes on a new dimension in light of the war in Europe and the decision taken by the Member States at the European Council in Versailles to develop their defence capacity. It is also clear that this strengthening of European capacity is contributing to global security within NATO. The provisions of the European Defence Fund are fully consistent with this imperative: they allow companies located in Europe but controlled by third countries to benefit from Community support subject to certain conditions. They are also consistent with the Union’s security interests. The results of the calls for proposals for the first two years of the Fund demonstrate that the participation of companies controlled by third countries is indeed possible but their participation must be carefully verified by the Commission.


  • Research Paper No. 124 - 2022

    Author : Earl WANG
    This research paper explores how the European Union (EU) has been reacting to the rise of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The paper presents the finding that since 2016 there have been discernible changes in the EU’s perception of China and its approach to the country, which is with growing assertiveness and even aggressiveness at times. The EU has been building up more tangible means to withstand the challenges posed by China. The EU-China – A Strategic Outlook document published in March 2019 is identified as the moment of the EU’s concrete paradigm shift towards Beijing.


  • Research Paper No. 123 - 2022

    Author : Florian OPILLARD
    Since the 1980’s, a worldwide urbanization process has lead to the drastic rise in both the number of metropolises and their spatial imprint. Along with their generalization, inequalities and low intensity violence have both intensified. In some contexts such as Brazil or Mexico, their extent questions the traditional divide between a conventional and external use of military forces and their intervention in so called “internal wars”. Far from being a passive context of engagement, metropolises have become both epicenters of social violence, warfare targets and leveling environments for the military. Drawing from its experience in urban battles in recent years and flowing several regular armies, the French military has incorporated urban combat into its doctrines in an attempt to avoid the tactical trap metropolises represent. This research paper delineates these evolutions as well as their implications for military functions in several countries.


  • Research Paper No. 122 - 2022

    Author : Col. Stéphan SAMARAN
    The events that took place in Kazakhstan during the first two weeks of January came like a bolt out of the blue. The surprise was three-fold: first, the rapid transformation of peaceful demonstrations into violent riots; then the forceful regain of control by President Tokayev; and lastly, the unprecedented and effective intervention of a military contingent of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. The end of the unrest is synonymous with reconstruction, reforms and consolidation of national unity.


  • Research Paper No. 120 - 2022
    Author : Emmanuel DREYFUS
    Recent Russian military operations in Syria and in the Nagorno-Karabakh region illustrate the growing importance of population-centric approaches in Russia’s military interventions. Compared to previous military operations conducted by Moscow since 1991, the Syrian campaign launched in 2015 reveals an apparent paradox. Following a first phase mostly characterized by kinetic operations, including the bombing of civilian areas and infrastructures, the second phase of Moscow’s intervention features a central humanitarian dimension. Such dimension also lies at the very heart of the Russian peacekeeping mission deployed in the Nagorno-Karabakh region since November 2020. These developments, that fit in the pursuit of a “winning hearts and minds strategy”, echo a rising awareness within the Russian military science towards the role of civilian populations in armed conflicts.



  • Research Paper No. 114 - 2021
    Author : Camille BRUGIER
    For several years, and especially since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, some Chinese diplomats, commonly called “wolf warriors” by Western media, have adopted a warlike tone in the media and on social networks. While this new practice, heavily criticized by Western and Asian public opinion, reinforces the perception of China as a threat, this paper questions the motives of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in perpetuating such a policy. The paradox is that the real target of China’s foreign policy are the Chinese themselves, at home or abroad. In line with previous Chinese leaders, the main purpose of this domestically oriented foreign policy is to legitimize the CCP in the eyes of its own citizens. Thus, “wolf warrior” diplomacy does not affect the objectives of Chinese foreign policy. Three elements support this hypothesis: the visibility of the “wolf warriors” in China, the subtle references to the “century of humiliation” and finally the instrumentalization of the cultural divide to alienate democratic regimes.

  • Research Paper No. 113 - 2021
    Author : Flavien BOURRAT
    In the Maghreb and Middle-East – amid a strategically tense and unsteady regional context – nation building has either come back or emerged as a central and structuring factor of the functioning of States and societies. The phenomenon, which has been amplified by the uprisings of the last decade in the Arabic world and in Iran, is revealing the new precedence now given to the national framework when conducting domestic and foreign affairs as well as the rejection of both foreign interference and transnational utopias. This global return to the national level triggers enquiries as to what its dynamics are but also as to the contradictions and oppositions it encounters as events and crises stir the whole region. It brings out the tensions between state nationalism and international islamism, the hardships several countries face in the process of becoming viable Nation-States but also hints at a potential return to one or several regional hegemons.

  • Research Paper No. 112 - 2021
    Author : Romain DOUILLARD
    Human shields embody the increasing thinning of the line between civilians and soldiers in asymmetrical wars. They have become key actors of the international strategic landscape in conflicts between States and renegade or terrorist groups. Their use raises a set of strategic, political, legal and ethical problems among the armies that have to face them.

  • Research Paper No. 111 - 2021
    Author : Lucie BÉRAUD-SUDREAU

    The Covid-19 health and related economic crises did not leave any sector of the economy unharmed. Although it may not be the first in line, the defence industry has also been impacted. This paper explores the various impacts of the Covid-19 on the defence industry in Europe, both on the short and long-term dimensions. After exploring the immediate and longer-term impacts of the crisis for the defence industry, the paper concludes by discussing whether the crisis could be an opportunity for further European armament cooperation. This IRSEM publication is based on Dr Béraud-Sudreau’s personal research and does not relate to the SIPRI databases or annual data launches.


  •  Research Paper No. 110 - 2021
    Author : Amélie FÉREY and Anne-Laure MAHÉ  
    The signing of a joint statement between the United States, Sudan, and Israel on October 23, 2020, appears to usher in a new era in the relations between Tel-Aviv and Khartoum: one of normalization. However, the tangible policies and developments to which this term refers remain vague, especially due to the uncertainty of the Sudanese political situation, as the country began a democratic transition in 2019. What are the consequences and durability of this new iteration of deal diplomacy promoted by Donald Trump? This agreement was made possible by Trump and Netanyahu who – in tandem – were able to capitalize on structural factors making space for a rapprochement between the three states. Its public nature constitutes a break with the covert diplomacy carried out by Israel in the region, and affects the actors involved differently. This publicity stunt diplomacy is sought after by Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu, who are trying to translate these diplomatic successes into domestic political gains. However, it also highlights dissension within the Sudanese political class, some of whom perceive the deal as “blackmail” by the United States in exchange for the country’s removal from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.




  • Research Paper No. 109 - 2020
    Authors : Giovanna DE MAIO and Emmanuel DREYFUS

    During Donald Trump’s presidency, US-Russia relations significantly worsened. On top of the tensions over the Ukrainian and Syrian crises, new ones have emerged in other areas, from arms control to geopolitical power politics in the “Greater Middle East”. Through an analysis of the main drivers of the relations between the US and Russia over the past four years, this paper explores how the US domestic polarization over how to deal with Russia resulted in ineffective sanctions, weakened cooperation on arms control, and ultimately allowed Russia to gain geopolitical room in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and to continue strengthening its ties with China. The first part of this paper retraces the evolution and polarization of the debate on Russia in the United States, while the second discusses how such trends have resulted in sanctions being the main US foreign policy tool towards Russia. After providing an overview of the impact of the standoff with Russia on arms control, this study shows how the US intervention fatigue has given Russia greater room for actions in the MENA region, but also how deteriorating relations between Moscow and Washington ultimately facilitated more solid relations between Moscow and Beijing. Lastly, this paper discusses the main challenges ahead in the bilateral relation in light of Joseph Biden’s recent election as president of the United States.

  • Research Paper No. 108 - 2020
    Author : Cécile FAUCONNET
    This research paper analyses the innovation process occurring in defence companies, from the original perspective of knowledge combinations. It aims at understanding how the specificities of military production influence the architectural knowledge of companies. Using a preliminary statistical study of patent data, we highlight a difference between the practices of civilian and defence companies. More specifically, defence firms are on average proner to explore novel technological combinations and make a greater use of common connections than civilian companies.
  • Research Paper No. 107 - 2020
    Authors : François DELERUE, Édouard JOLLY, Léa MICHELIS, Anne MUXEL, Florian OPILLARD and Angélique PALLE

    The mobilization of armed forces in the management of the health crisis linked to Covid-19 is part of the fight against the pandemic. In Europe, the States requested them mainly for logistical and medical support, but in some countries, they also participated in public security tasks, such as maintenance of order or border control. This note presents an initial overview of the missions they have undertaken among civilian populations by comparing the nature of the interventions carried out, the number of personnel deployed, and the scale of operations in France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and the United States. In recent times, the scope of missions carried out by the armed forces has undeniably widened and they must regularly provide their support and skills in situations of natural, humanitarian and health disasters, in support of civilian resources. The Covid-19 pandemic is a new illustration of this evolution.


  • Research Paper No. 105 - (Translation)
    Author : Camille BOUTRON
    This research paper proposes avenues for reflection on the different discourses mobilized by media accounts of female participation in Islamic terrorism. Based on the attempted attacks by a group of women in Paris and Boussy-Saint-Antoine in September 2016, the author identifies four categories of narratives. The first emphasizes the monstrous and pathological nature of the involvement of women in jihadist organizations. The second interprets this involvement as being motivated by affect and feelings of love. The third considers that jihadist organizations have represented a last resort for women lacking a sense of direction, animated by suicidal thoughts. Finally, the fourth insists on the instrumental dimension of said “female complicity” in a terrorist undertaking. These four categories of narratives have in common that they highlight the irrational and pathological dimension of this women’s commitment in jihadist organizations. In general, they echo “standard narratives” surrounding women involved in acts of political violence in the Western world.


  • Research Paper No. 104 - 2020
    Author : Diana A. A. REISMAN

    The dramatic increase in Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in Europe has heightened EU security concerns. Regulation (EU) 2019/452 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 March 2019 is a response to those concerns. The Regulation is a framework for the coordination of and communication between Member States on the issue of FDI screening. While the Regulation does not require that Member States adopt FDI screening mechanisms or amend existing mechanisms, it enjoins Member States to keep the Union apprised of incoming FDI and provides other Member States and the Commission with the opportunity to raise their concerns regarding specific FDI transactions that may threaten security or public order in the Union. The premise underlying the Regulation is that greater awareness of the security risks in certain incoming FDI will prompt Member States to react—by blocking the incoming FDI and,in the longer term, bolstering their own domestic screening legislation.
    This paper provides an overview of the Regulation and its proposed cooperation mechanisms. It further provides a comparison between the Regulation and the CFIUS framework in the United States. Finally, this paper considers the effectiveness of the Regulation in light of the changed security and economic context brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.


  • Research Paper No. 101 - 2020
    Author : COL Olivier PASSOT

    During the fall of 2019, major demonstrations broke out in the largest Iraqi cities, challenging both the Iraqi government and Iran. Meanwhile, several militias strove to counter the popular movement by heightening tensions against American interests. They conducted a wide range of operations: show of force, repression campaign, harassment of US military camps, etc. They proved extensive irregular warfare capabilities. Gradually, their actions scaled up and ended up prompting a massive reaction from Washington (elimination of General Soleimani). Against any odds, the assassination had favorable consequences for Iran: demonstrations lost their popular support and weakened, while Western military forces started pulling out. This huge strategic benefit may be a hint that these militias have been activated to carry out a sophisticated operation plan. Eventually, they engineered considerable outcomes from a rather weak initial investment. As such, they appear as a powerful tool of strategic leverage that can be activated remotely.



  • Research Paper No. 100 - (Translation)
    Authors : Yvan LLEDO-FERRER, Damien VAN PUYVELDE

    The noticeable growth in the use of assassination as a political tool poses important questions about the role and limits of covert actions in international relations. These operations, located at the high end of the spectrum of capacities of intelligence services, constitute one of the most significant violations both of the national sovereignty of the country where an assassination takes place and of the most fundamental rights of individuals. This note examines six assassinations, sponsored by democratic or authoritarian regimes since 2010, with the goal of improving our understanding of the reasons for their use. Our analysis shows that even though intelligence services cannot always ensure the secrecy of these operations, their covert nature nevertheless provide their sponsors with a form of deniability. The majority of political and diplomatic costs born of the assassinations examined here seem to fade in time and therefore are negligible from the point of view of a political decision-maker. Given these conditions, we conclude that the use of assassination as a political tool is likely to become more widespread in the coming years.


  • Research Paper No. 99 - (Translation)
    Author : Régis GENTÉ

    Russia uses a variety of methods to influence its former Soviet republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Since its conquest of the region in the 19th Century, Russia considers Transcaucasia particularly important for its geopolitical standing. No longer able to persuade or attract South Caucasus populations, Russia’s strategy of influence is largely based on military power (hard power). It struggles to develop its soft power in this region, resorting finally to more coercive methods like exploiting: conflicts in the secessionist regions of Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia; Kremlin-affiliated oligarchs; and energy prices. This traps Russia in a vicious cycle: to retain its influence in the South Caucasus, it becomes increasingly coercive and aggressive, appearing malevolent to local populations. The Kremlin relies on well-known and established strategies in the South Caucasus, making it an important case study in the analysis of Russian foreign policy in general.


  • Research Paper No. 98 - 2020 
    Author : Laure G. DERON
    French and international firms in strategic industries face an increasingly challenging competition from China. In the automobile industry, telecoms or the railway industry, Chinese companies have become major players both at home and abroad. This paper explores the role of industrial standards in the reconfiguration of international market competition in sectors where Europeans have long been dominant. China has stepped up its contribution to the issuance of new technical standards. It is currently working on producing a unified set of technical standards for domestic use by 2035. Given the country’s growing participation in international standardization bodies, this new set of domestic standards may have an international influence. The elaboration of new technical standards is an international endeavor, driven by industrial innovation, and China’s new role in this process is not necessarily a threat to competition.


  • Research Paper No. 97 - (Translation) 
    Author : Elie BARANETS
    Theories of international relations are coherent and systematic representations of the world. As such, they can help us understand the health crisis that we have been facing
    in 2020. The characteristics of the processes that have triggered and continue to accompany the pandemic make it a transnational phenomenon, confirming the perspective of the same name. At all stages of this crisis, the role of the individual is central. Nevertheless, on a closer look, the individual’s capacity of action is in fact rather limited. If the virus does not care about borders, it is not the case for those who carry it. Indeed, they rely on the state to solve this crisis, a state whose behavior coincides with what the realist theorists predict. The priority is thus given to the sovereign action of states, which are focused on their own interests, as they take part in a barely concealed power competition.



  • Research Paper No. 96 - 2020 
    Author : Anne-Laure MAHÉ
    Since August 2019, the Somali federal member state of Jubaland has been at the center of a national and regional crisis pitting the political and military forces of the Jubaland administration against the Federal Government of Somalia, as well as those of Kenya – who supports the Jubaland administration – and Ethiopia. As such, the crisis is potentially disruptive to the precarious regional order in the Horn and has the potential to open a new conflict front in Somalia to the benefit of Al-Shabaab. To understand those recent events, this research paper looks back at the actors and processes that enabled the creation of the state in 2013. The product of a “working misunderstanding” between multiple actors whose divergent interests could not be reconciled in the long term, Jubaland has been a crisis in the making for the past ten years due to a complex set of interacting factors: the failures of the internationally-backed state-building project in Somalia, a federal system whose shortcomings have become increasingly salient President Farmajo’s tenure, the competing strategic interests of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, and lastly the recent extension of the Gulf power competition to the Horn of Africa.


  • Research Paper No. 94 - (Translation) 
    Author : Damien CARRIÈRE
    Composed of six specialised corps under the responsibility of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Central Armed Police Forces in India (CAPF) count in their ranks close to 980,000 men and women. Primarily responsible for border guarding, counter-terrorism, law enforcement, and counterinsurgency, the CAPF have seen their workforce and budget grow over the past twenty years. Particularly active in Kashmir, in the North-East, and in many central states afflicted by a Maoist rebellion, they are deployed wherever the Central State deems it necessary and where state police forces, more often than not understaffed, are overwhelmed. As the armed wing of the State and pillar of India’s domestic security, the CAPF also intervene during natural disasters in order to rescue populations.


  • Research Paper No. 92 - 2020
    Auteur : Cdr Edouard Jonnet
    European Union (EU) blue-water navies face three dilemmas: they must simultaneously defend the northern and southern flanks of the continent, control maritime approaches while deploying outside Europe, and control the whole spectrum of naval operations. At present, responses to these dilemmas are reflected in a profusion of operational cooperation in the framework of NATO, the EU or coalitions, with no coordination other than that of national headquarters. Founded in August 2019, the Coordinated Maritime Presence (CMP) is intended to streamline these naval operations in specific sea areas. Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) was established in December 2017 to find European solutions where national capabilities are insufficient. Three PESCO projects are devoted to logistics, essentially dedicated to land forces. Within these frameworks, European navies must make their voice heard, in order to set up EU Naval Bases (EUNBs) that meet their needs and complement, with this logistical component, the operational logic of the CMP. However, EUNBs are not ends in themselves: their raison d’être lies in their capacity to support naval operations. Overall coherence between the CMP and PESCO projects would then be an essential tool for European sovereignty.


  • Research Paper No. 91 - (Translation) 
    Authors : Flavien BOURRAT, Nawel DJAFFAR
    As throughout the rest of the Arab world, Russia has reinvested in the countries of the Maghreb, with partially new objectives as compared to the past. If Algeria and Libya – favored partners during the Cold War era – remain the primary anchor points for Russian policy in this sub-region, Moscow is now taking care to further extend relations to Morocco and Tunisia. The Maghreb does not, however, represent a fundamental interest for Russia, but rather a source of economic and political opportunities. The security sector remains an important area of cooperation, notably with Algeria, where armament deliveries and officer training predominate. This redeployment is also facilitated by similarity between the views of current authorities and Vladimir Putin’s Russia concerning major regional politico-security issues, which nevertheless does not preclude a certain caution on the part of Maghreb partners regarding defense coordination. Beyond these objectives, Russian reinvestment could have eventual repercussions for sub-Saharan Africa, for which the Maghreb represents the gateway in Moscow’s eyes.


  • Research Paper No. 90 - (Translation) 
    Author : Tiphaine de CHAMPCHESNEL
    On February 7th, 2020, President Emmanuel Macron gave a speech on deterrence. The fundamentals of the doctrine have not changed. However, two usual components of nuclear policy are shifting – at least at the level of political communication. Firstly, the European dimension of deterrence translates into a concrete invitation, extended to partners who would be wishing to do so, to associate in deterrence-related exercises. Secondly, the articulation between conventional and nuclear becomes clarified. A connection is made at the political level, albeit without the creation of a continuum. Overall, as expected, this speech is political, but it also seems to claim to be more. The President of the Republic puts forward a disarmament agenda based on a realist perspective, taking into account the international context. He also develops an ethical thought on nuclear weapons, outlining a balanced path between “a moral absolute with no link to strategic realities” and “cynical return to a lawless power struggle.

  • Research Paper No. 89 - 2020 
    Author : Denis TULL
    The constant deterioration of the security environment in Mali since 2016 has drawn renewed attention to the state of Mali’s armed and security forces, as well as outside assistance to rebuilding them. With over 500 staff and an annual budget of €16 million, the European Union Training Mission (EUTM Mali) is Mali’s largest security force assistance provider in terms of training and advise. This paper outlines seven contextual, political and operational challenges that continue to hamper the impact of security force assistance. Taken together, they underscore the shared responsibilities of both recipients and providers with respect to the modest results of security force assistance.


  • Research Paper No. 88 - 2020 
    Author : Pierre HAROCHE

    The emergence of a bipolar world dominated by US-China competition will be one of the most crucial factors shaping global security in the years to come. This evolution will be particularly challenging for Europe and transatlantic relations. In the event of a US-China confrontation, Europeans would face increasing responsibility because the US would need to focus on the East Asian theatre; in the case of a bipolar détente, the US might want to cooperate increasingly with China, possibly at the expense of the transatlantic partnership. With a view to being better prepared for those risks, Europeans should develop their strategic autonomy, reinforce their economic sovereignty and restore their naval power.


  • Research Paper No. 87 - (Translation) 
    Author : COL Olivier PASSOT
    Hezbollah’s military capabilities never stopped increasing since the Second Lebanon War in summer 2006, when they were already strong enough to hold off the Israeli forces. The militia has accumulated tactical experience in Syria, augmenting its ballistic capacities (precision, range and number of assets), while securing its positions in southern Lebanon. Despite this high threat level, Israeli officials act as if they want to avoid any risk of confrontation. This non-action option is based on a subtle combination of deterrence and containment. For this, the Israelis have a desperate need to know their fiercest enemy although they hardly have any interaction with him. In this regard, they developed an intelligence approach that has become central in their strategy towards Hezbollah. This priority has required huge human and material investments over the past decade. Along came evolutions in military doctrine and technological innovations. In addition, intelligence has outperformed because of Israeli offensive posture, given the high level of tension across the region.




  • Research Paper No. 78 - (Translation) 
    Author : Anne-Laure MAHÉ
    Since the 11th of April 2019 and the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir, Sudan has been engaged in an uncertain and complex political process. Among the many questions that arise, one dominates, that is the nature and extent of current developments. Is there real regime change or simply a transformation of the system to survive the crisis? In order to answer this question, it is necessary to examine the security apparatus since it has taken over the reins of power. The army has emerged as the central actor in this transition along with civilian opposition. This paper analyzes the structure, history and evolution of this apparatus since 1989. During thirty years of authoritarian Islamist power, a policy of counterbalancing was implemented, resulting in the fragmentation and multiplication of security agencies. This policy partly explains the course of the coup and subsequent events, while also presenting specific challenges for the transition in the short and long term, in particular the management of multiple armed actors that may hinder it.


  •  Research Paper No. 77 - 4 September 2019 
    Authors:  Guillaume LASCONJARIAS, Hassan MAGED
    On today’s battlefield, a whole set of new capabilities has appeared. This calls for a mandatory understanding of how much of a potential game-changer Remotely Piloted Systems, commonly known as drones, are or will be. The porous border between civil and military technologies is one key explanation and has contributed to drone proliferation. Their dual character, presenting a new regulatory challenge, allowed for drone technology to be easily accessible on the market notably for non-state actors seeking air-based capabilities. This paper aims to emphasize the emerging threat posed by the use of Remotely Piloted Systems by non-state actors operating in the Levant, essentially but not only in Syria and Iraq. Studying RPS and their military implications help to design future trends in drone warfare. What happens in Syria and Iraq might be helpful to think how France, and generally speaking NATO and EU member states, should deal with this imminent and continually evolving threat, whether on the tactical, operational, or strategic levels, by taking into consideration the rapid proliferation of drone technology and its use by potential adversaries.

  • Research Paper No. 76 (Translation) 
    Authers: Paul CHARON, Carine MONTEIRO DA SILVA

    On July 24th , 2019, China published its tenth Defense White Paper. Far from announcing an evolution of the Chinese military strategy, “China’s National Defense in the New Era” (新时代的中国国防) has two core functions: taking steps toward increased transparency by explaining how China perceives its regional and global environment; and halting the spread of the Chinese threat theory that fuels an increasingly virulent opposition towards China. However, China is struggling to convince on these two points: questionable interpretation of international tensions and partial analysis of the implications, lack of recognition of substantive problems, half-hearted transparency incapable of responding to the concerns of Beijing’s interlocutors. A critical reading of this document makes it possible to identify the main perceptions of the ruling elite.


  • Translation of the reviewed and updated Research Paper No. 75 
    Authors : Fatiha DAZI-HÉNI, Sonia LE GOURIELLEC
    Historically, “Arabia Felix” was a continuum of diverse intertwined influences in the Horn of Africa. This region is at a crossroad for the empire-like appetites and conquest
    endeavors of global powers (China, India, the United States and Europe) and regional ones (Saudi Arabia / United Arab Emirates, allied to Egypt, vs Qatar, allied to Turkey). The Gulf countries have recently been involved in the region – for religious reasons for the Saudis initially (1980s), but later to block the emerging influence of Qatar in the Horn (2000s). The War in Yemen and the political rivalries between the monarchies of the Peninsula, especially when the Gulf Crisis broke out in June 2017, enhanced the region’s strategic interest for Gulf countries. Moreover, those events have had direct consequences on the stability of the countries of the Horn. The purpose of this research paper is to analyze the growing entanglement of Horn/Peninsula/Gulf security issues and economic interests in the Horn of Africa.

  • Research Paper No. 74 (Translation) 
    Author:  Paul-Marie BRIGNOLI
    The countries of the Western Balkans, candidates for membership of the European Union (EU), face multiple challenges. One of these challenges, the subject of this paper, is caused by the authoritarian trends in Serbia and Montenegro. There is a major risk of the emergence of an “illiberal” bloc in South-East Europe. The evolution of the countries’ incumbent regimes raises questions around their commitment to the EU’s values. The most urgent issues include patronage at the highest levels of the state, press freedom and, to a lesser extent, in Serbia’s case, the role of the intelligence services. This paper concludes that it is necessary to relaunch the debate over EU enlargement to the Western Balkans.

  • Research Paper No. 68 (Translation)  

    "SHIITE MILITIAS AND THE STATE IN IRAQ. Between integration an empowerment"
    Authors: Flavien BOURRAT, Alexandre d’ESPINOSE DE LACAILLERIE
    A new type of militia is currently spreading in the Arab world, and in particular in Iraq. While this phenomenon has deep roots, it is the result of the weakening of the central state and the withering of the military and security apparatus. The growth in power of the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces (Hashd Sha’abi), initially intended to be the tip of the spear in the fight against the Islamic State, calls into question their institutional status and remit, even though their mission has been successfully completed. Now the question of their integration or their demobilisation arises. The increasing fear in Iraq, as well as the region as a whole, of the prospect of a permanent parallel Shiite army, serving Iranian interests, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, should be qualified. In reality, the specific attributes of the Iraqi Shiite community and its political and security representation, greatly limit the possibility of these militias being instrumentalised by Tehran.





  • Research Paper No. 67 (Translation)   

    "INTELLIGENCE STUDIES IN FRANCE. History, Structure and Proposals"
    Authers : Jean-Vincent HOLEINDRE, Benjamin OUDET
    Since the September 11 attacks, there has been a threefold legitimization of the intelligence field in France: due to the international context, through contemporary security challenges such as terrorism, organized crime, information manipulation; and the subsequent shift in public policies (leading in particular to the Intelligence Act of July 24th, 2015); and by the changing perception of a public affected by the terrorist threat. This context can encourage the development of intelligence studies, which has so far struggled to establish itself in France. The subject is indeed being considered in an increasing number of works in the humanities and social sciences, especially in history, law and political science. This paper reviews intelligence studies in France, without claiming to establish an exhaustive map of the field. It is organized into three sections: first, a brief history of intelligence studies through the comparison of the Anglo-American world and France. Data on the structure of the field (publications, theses, research networks, internationalization) will then be presented. Finally, ten proposals are made for the development of intelligence studies, particularly in terms of teaching, clearances granted to researchers, and the creation of a specialized journal. We also advocate a rapprochement between academics and professionals, carried out with strict respect for the independence of the spheres and with concern for mutual understanding. In this regard, the role of the State and public authorities is fundamental in overseeing and giving momentum to this rapprochement.

  •  Research Paper No. 66 (Translation)   
    Author : Kevin LIMONIER
    Although the Russian media apparatus is subject to considerable scrutiny in the West, it is much less so in other regions of the world, in particular in Africa. Consequently, at a time when Russia appears to be attempting to regain footing on the continent, it seemed necessary to undertake a preliminary exploration of the role that this country can play in the African information space, with particular focus on the French-speaking countries of Africa. This paper presents the results of a quantitative study of the distribution and propagation of information content produced by the Russian news agencies RT (Russia Today) and Sputnik News. On the basis of the data collected, it has been possible to establish an initial general map of the circulation paths of this content, its relays and the discursive strategies used by the various players involved. In addition to its empirical value as an aid to understanding the real state of Russian implantation in the information space of the French-speaking African world, this paper also aims to highlight the methodological possibilities available, by explaining the methods used here, at the intersection of geopolitics and big data.

  • Research Paper No. 65 (Translation) 
    Author: Maud QUESSARD
    This paper explores the impact of the American midterm elections (“Midterms”) on the orientations of US foreign policy in the lead up to the next presidential election of 2020. In a context defined by extreme polarization, these elections are predominantly expected to reflect the domestic political concerns of the US electorate. The impact of the Midterms on American foreign policy will depend on whether the Democrats win a partial victory (House of Representatives) or total victory in Congress (both the lower house and the Senate). In both cases, the first priority of Democrats will be to reinforce current congressional investigations into the president. Unsettled by domestic policy issues, the president, in the grand tradition of American “imperial” presidencies, would transfer all his attention to international policy issues. For example, he could double down on the hubris of his decisions and the politicization of alliances that have characterized the first two years of his mandate. In this respect, a victory for the Democrats would not necessarily be good news for either America’s allies nor its rival powers.


  • Research Paper No. 64 (Translation) 
    Author: Marianne PÉRON-DOISE
    Southeast Asia lies at the heart of maritime Asia. Its relationship to the sea can be understood through a multitude of issues relating to the securitization of the Straits of Malacca, which is both a bridge and a place of passage between the Indian and the Pacific. Oceans. The rise of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the increasing weight of China in the South China Sea have reinforced its importance. Since the 1990s, the threat posed by maritime piracy has driven Japan to develop new cooperative tools for the region by relying mainly on civil actors such as the Japanese coast guard and the Japanese Foundation. Tokyo has thus become heavily involved in the establishment of the RECAAP (Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery), a regional accord on the fight against piracy, and its eponymous Centre in Singapore in 2006, both constituted innovative steps in the management of maritime security in the Southeast Asian region.
    Seen from Japan, this securitization, in a multilateral context, contributed to the emergence of a vast maritime community. It notably anchored Southeast Asia to external partners such as the United States, India and Australia, anxious to organize themselves in a sustainable manner to protect the rule of law at sea and the freedom of navigation. This research note returns to the genesis of these processes by questioning the place that can be claimed by the new Japanese maritime “narrative” of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” space.

  • Research Paper No. 63 (Translation) 
    Author : Emmanuel DREYFUS
    This research paper offers a snapshot of the privatization of the military in Russia, as revealed in the subtext of the conflict in the Donbass region, followed by the Russian intervention in Syria. Although phenomena such as the Wagner Group may appear at first sight to be innovations, the recourse to non-state groups in combat operations is nothing new for Moscow. A distinction should therefore be drawn between the Russian private military companies that are genuinely comparable to the conventional PMCs existing elsewhere in the world and the armed groups operating more along the lines of “war by proxy” instigated by Moscow. This paper also examines the prospects for private military companies in Russia and the consequences of their possible legalization.

  • Research Paper No. 60 (Translation) 
    "THE PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN IN ARMED CONFLICTS. For a new approach to the active combatant"
    Author: Camille BOUTRON
    This research paper proposes new approaches to considering the female combatant experience. Focusing on the participation of women in non-state armed groups after the Second World War, with particular emphasis on the Latin American experience, the paper discusses two aspects of the subject. First, it formulates the hypothesis of emancipation through armed struggle, examines the various aspects of women’s engagement in armed insurrections in a context of the break-up of colonial empires and the emergence of movements of “national liberation,” and shows that this participation by women is influenced by the emergence of feminist theories during the same period. Second, the paper examines the consequences of the engagement of women in armed conflicts for their overall life journey, posing the question of their reinsertion in civilian life. Generally, the end of conflict is accompanied by the injunction to female combatants to return to their traditional role in the domestic sphere. Finally, the paper situates the analysis of female combatant experience in the context of the study of contemporary armed conflicts.
  • Reserach Paper No. 57 (Translation) 
    Author: Tiphaine de CHAMPCHESNEL
    In the context of a deteriorating security environment, the new American Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) parts ways with the stated intention of reducing the role of nuclear weapons, which dominated the previous NPR and had served as a general guideline for American nuclear policy since the end of the Cold War. The review has been heavily criticized, especially with regards to the new “supplements” proposed for the current non-strategic arsenal. These “supplements” aim to restore deterrence against potential adversaries that have not ruled out recourse to a nuclear option to compensate for disadvantages in conventional forces. However, these supplements have been criticized for lowering the threshold for nuclear use and thus increasing the risk of escalation from a conventional conflict to a nuclear exchange. Beyond this debate, which appears to fall into a historic cleavage between two different American nuclear schools of thought, the question arises about the future of the nuclear order, while the bilateral process of arms control is struggling to survive.

  • Research Paper No. 56 - 2018
    "The European Defence Fund: How the European Commission is Becoming a Defence Actor"
    Author:  Pierre HAROCHE
    The European Defence Fund represents the culmination of the European Commission’s progressive emergence as a defence actor.
    The origins of the European Defence Fund were marked by the Commission’s strong political commitment and activism. Because it has no legal competence in the area of defence, the Commission used its existing economic competences, which has led to a tension between economic and strategic interests in the negotiation.
    In order to be able to manage the European Defence Fund, the Commission will have to strengthen its technical expertise in the area of defence, which will likely lead to bureaucratic rivalry between the Commission and the European Defence Agency and the European External Action Service.
    More generally, the European Defence Fund is part of a new and broader focus on budgetary instruments in European Union defence policy, aimed at strengthening cooperation among member states.
    This note relies on 23 interviews with officials from the Commission, the European Defence Agency (EDA), member states’ national administrations, and the defence industry as well as members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

  • Research Paper No. 53 (Translation) 

    Author: Bénédicte CHÉRON
    For the first time since compulsory national service was suspended in 2001, decided in 1997, the French people have elected a president who proposes re-establishing a form of universal and compulsory service. The announcement by Emmanuel Macron caused a major stir during the election campaign. However, it was only the latest contribution to a long debate on how to mobilise young people for the good of society. It also corresponded to an increasingly apparent political concern for national cohesion and unity. It became explicit during the 2007 election campaign, marked by the memory of the recent 2005 urban riots, and now made omnipresent by the 2015 terrorist attacks. The debate was intended to implement this new national service. However, since the presidential campaign, it has instead revealed public confusion about the pre-2001 national service, as well as the difficulty of identifying the role that the armed forces – now fully professionalised – could play. This paper aims to explore this debate and resituate it in the context of the recurring discussions in French politics since 1997, as well as in the long-term perspective of France’s collective mindset. It will also examine how this idea is taking form at the European level.


  • Research Paper No. 52 (Translation)  

    Authors: Chantal LAVALLÉE, Océane ZUBELDIA
    The massive military potential offered by drones has placed them at the heart of modern militaries. Their incontrovertible strategic benefits have prompted several European states to pursue the joint development of a Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) drone. It is an ambitious challenge, thus cooperative development is necessary to share the substantial investment costs and compete with the United States and Israel. Although military drone cooperation has progressed slowly in Europe, recent civilian drone initiatives may spark new momentum and stimulate civilian-military synergy. In order to manage the risks and take advantage of potential opportunities, there is a new political impulse in Europe to regulate the use and development of civilian drones. The goal is to integrate them into European airspace, with adapted regulations, research funding and a common market that will place Europe in strong position in this highly competitive sector. This research paper seeks to evaluate the nature and scope of current discussions and initiatives concerning the use of civilian and military drones in the European Union.




  • Research Paper No. 49 - 2018 (pdf - 425 Ko)
    "Towards the Prohibition of Nuclear Arms? The Nobel Peace Prize and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)"
    Author : CF Tiphaine DE CHAMPCHESNEL
    The proposition that the use of nuclear arms leads to catastrophic consequences is the basis for their deterring effect. Indeed the horror experienced by the victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings was tangible proof of this. In 2017, the anti-nuclear NGO ICAN (the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons), which has exploited this theme, was rewarded with the receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize, several months after the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The benefits of this Treaty for international peace and security are uncertain. However, it could certainly threaten the advancement of nuclear disarmament.

  • Research paper No. 48 - 2017 (pdf - 426 Ko)
    "Operational Lessons and Cooperation Among Allies: State of Play and Avenues for Improvement"
    Author: Alice PANNIER
    Despite the willingness of countries like France to maintain strategic autonomy across the full spectrum of military capacities, international cooperation has in fact become a prerequisite for the conduct of contemporary Western military operations. On the other hand, the "RETour d’EXPérience" (RETEX), or more generally the identification of lessons ("lessons identified" and "lessons learned" LL) has become an increasingly institutionalized practice in Western defense ministries over the past fifteen years.


  • Research paper No. 46 - 2017 (pdf - 397 Ko)
    "China's Critical Policy Areas on the Eve of the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress"
    Author: Juliette GENEVAZ
    On October 18th 2017, the Chinese leadership is being reshuffled at the 19th national congress of the Chinese Communist Party. Now is the time to assess the first term of President Xi Jinping. During his first five-year mandate, Xi has concentrated political power to a level unseen since Mao Zedong. In the space of five years, the new leader has launched significant political reforms and foreign policy initiatives, with the result of firmly establishing China as a major power on the international stage. This research paper is based on the presentations given during the June 8th, 2017 conference held at IRSEM on the theme “Five years of Xi Jinping: China’s political development.” At the conference, seven international experts coming from top academia and research centers examined a series of policy areas where China’s paramount leader has left his mark. This paper draws on their presentations to explain the critical issues at stake in the upcoming political transition.

  • Research paper No. 45 - 2017 (pdf - 411 Ko)
    "French-German Cooperation in the Sahel : Consequences of and Perspectives for Germany's "Turn to Africa""
    Author: Denis TULL
    Since about 2014, Germany has unexpectedly re-evaluated Africa's place in its foreign and defence policy, particularly in relation to the Sahel countries. While it may seem premature to conclude that Africa is now a top priority in Germany's external relations, this "African turn" nonetheless matters. Not only has it triggered a level of political and military engagement that is spectacular by German standards. It has also ushered in an unprecedented cooperation between France and Germany, unequal partners in the Sahel in terms of past involvement, political outlook and strategic culture that are now tied by converging interests. The research paper describes recent changes in Germany's African policy, which constitute an essential and necessary prerequisite for Franco-German cooperation in the Sahel. This is followed by a discussion of German perceptions of France's African policy, which today are less negative than in the recent past, favouring a rapprochement in terms of security policy, the indirect and direct modalities of which, particularly in Mali, are described subsequently. Finally, the note speculates about the prospects for cooperation in light of the constraints and priorities of the German partner, who, in purely military terms, is unlikely to further up-scale her engagement in the Sahel.

  • Research paper No. 44 - 2017
    "The South China Sea: a Maritime Geography of Latent Conflictuality"
    Author: Marianne PERON-DOISE
    This Research Paper aims to identify the strategic objectives pursued by Beijing in the South China Sea. The hypothesis explored is that the South China Sea constitutes a strategic layer within a global securitisation design. Other than the protection of “near seas” and the Hainan naval bases, there is an imperative to protect the “far seas”, i.e. maritime communication channels. The control of the South China Sea is thus one of the objectives of Xi Jinping’s China, a market power, as a means to conquer naval power. To do this, China uses a modus operandi pertaining to that of a “hybrid war”: historic narratives and revisited policies are put forward, while a preferential use of paramilitary actors such as coastguards, fishing fleets and maritime militias can be observed. Faced with this assertiveness, the growing strategic differential and economic interdependence between Beijing and the South-East Asian states leaves little space for a fairly negotiated solution that could result in constructive cooperations.


  • Research paper No. 42 - 2017 (pdf - 394 Ko)
    "Stability Spectrum: The Battle for Stabilization in the Central African Republic"
    Author: Blandine SIXDENIER
    Foreign military interventions to stabilize war-torn societies or failing states have been conducted throughout history. While the consequences of such operations for the host countries have been well-documented, little research has been conducted on the concept of stability as understood by the intervening state (or organization). France has launched four military interventions in the Central African Republic since it gained its independence in 1960 due to chronic instability. Despite these operations, the Central African Republic has not known a decade of stability and has suffered from multiple rebellions, military coups and violence. This apparent paradox raises the question of what stability means for France and what France has tried to implement in the country. This research paper analyses the dynamics of the French military interventions in the Central African Republic to understand how the concept of stability was constructed. It ultimately concludes that the concept of stability is a spectrum that fluctuates over time in accordance with the interests of the intervening state.

  • Research paper No. 41 - 2017 (pdf - 773 Ko)
    "Oman : National Challenges and Regional Issues in the Post-Sultan Era"
    Author: Fatiha DAZI-HENI
    This Research paper outlines the main national and international issues at stake with the potential succession of Sultan Qaboos, whose health began to decline in 2014. He will be difficult to replace due to his status as the Father of the Nation who brought the country out of the feudal era. He modernized the state and gave it a diplomatic role as a mediator which has become extremely valuable in a region constantly on the brink of tensions and conflicts. In the short term, his successor will be faced with a difficult task due to falling oil prices affecting the economy. In the medium term, the challenge will be to revive a social contract that is running out of steam. However Oman’s diplomatic role as a mediator in the region and an intermediary between Washington and Tehran, along with its strategic positon at a crossroads on the Silk Road play in the country’s favour in getting regional and global players to support the post-Qaboos Sultanate.

  • Research paper No. 40 - 2017 (pdf - 1 Mo)
    "Where is Iran heading with President Rouhani's reelection?"
    Author: Pierre Razoux
    The re-election of President Hassan Rouhani comes against a very tense regional backdrop that brings as many risks as it does opportunities for the Iranian regime. This note decrypts the issues of this re-election firstly by focusing on the immediate regional challenges, and then by analysing the domestic situation (political, economic, and societal), before looking at the real capacities of the Iranian armed forces and at the complexity of the foreign policies of a country at a crossroads, swaying between ideologised Islam and patriotic nationalism.


  • Research Paper No. 33 - 2017 (pdf - 427 ko)
    "Strategic Implications of Donald Trump’s Election"
    Author : Hugo MEIJER
    This paper offers a general outline of Trump’s approach to foreign policy looking at his core beliefs regarding US military posture and interventions, alliances and free trade arrangements and at his “transactional” approach to international politics. It then assesses the potential trajectory of Trump’s foreign policy toward Russia and NATO, in the Middle East and in East Asia. How the United States, under Trump’s presidency, will respond to the security challenges in these regions, and will shape the patterns of cooperation and competition therein, is likely to shape the future prospects of American primacy in world politics.


  • Research Paper No. 32 - 2017 (pdf - 1 Mo) 
    "The U.S. Reserve Component: An Operational Force" 
    Author : LCL Arnaud PLANIOL 
    In the United States, the reserve component has always held a key role in the defence apparatus, although its role has evolved over time. While it was seen for a long time as a strategic reserve for use in the event of major conflicts, after the Vietnam War it became a flexible and responsive opera-tional force working in tandem with active units.




  • Research Paper No. 31 - 2017 (pdf - 983 ko)  
    "The Challenges of China's "Active Defence" strategy" 
    Author : Juliette GENEVAZ
    Xi Jinping’s “Chinese Dream” has a military component: the “Active Defence” strategy. This strategy is implemented through an extremely defensive posture towards China's eastern neighbours, in a context of exacerbated rivalry with the United States.
  • Research Paper No. 30 - 2016 (pdf - 744 ko)  
    "North Korea: the denuclearisation delusion"
    Author : Marianne Péron-Doise
    From the 1990s to 2016, North Korea developed a ballistic and nuclear weapons of mass destruc-tion programme that neither multilateral negotiations under the auspices of the United States and China, nor United Nations Security Council sanctions could restrain.
  • Research Paper No. 28 - 2016 (pdf - 348 ko)  
    "The Challenges of Building the African Peace and Security Architecture"
    Authors : Nicolas Desgrais, Sonia Le Gouriellec 
    The 2013 French White Paper on Defence and National Security states that “support for establishment of a collective security architecture in Africa is a priority of France’s cooperation and development policy”. The non-African stakeholders’ support mechanisms for the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) are a strategically important topic of study, given the extent to which they tend to modify power relationships between the various actors – African and non-African, institutions and states.
  • Research Paper No. 27 - 2016 (pdf - 375 ko) 
    "BREXIT : Strategic consequences"
    Author : Pierre RAZOUX 
    On 23 June 2016, 52% of the British population (with 72% participation) decided to leave the European Union. As the number of analyses mount in terms of the challenges inherent to what some are already referring to as “the 9/11 of European integration”, IRSEM contributes to the debate with this prospective brief...




  • Research Paper No. 26 - 2015 (pdf - 649 ko)
    "Article 44 of the Treaty on European Union: enhancing efficiency in EU operations"
    Author : Major General (RET) Maurice de Langlois, Bénédicte Ara 
    Nonetheless, it must be noted that numerous precisions, specifically legal, must be put forward and approved for the operation’s implementation. Several discussions took place within the Political and Security Committee (PSC) in Brussels in late 2014 and early 2015; these unfortunately yielded no progress. Quite the contrary: certain representatives fought hard to delete the original contents of the article, only to render even less appealing than the regular CSDP planning and implementation process...


  • Research Paper No. 22 - 2015 (pdf - 371 ko)
    "Adaptation in the Air Force. A Case Study of the French Air Force in Afghanistan"
    Author: LCL Jérôme de LESPINOIS 
    The conceptual debate around military adaptation, launched in the 1980s by the work of Barry Posen and Williamson Murray, found new relevance with the engagement of Allied forces in Afghanistan in a counter-insurgency war. Many books have been published on this topic and the subsequent theme of military innovation, notably by Theo Farrell. However, very little research has focused on the action of air forces during the Afghan conflict. This research paper successively broaches the concept of military adaptation in the available scientific literature, then the adaptation of the French Air Force to the counter-insurgency war and, finally, the factors that have encouraged or hindered this adaptation process. This study proposes, in conclusion, a first approach to the characteristics specific to the air forces in the complex process of adaptation to new forms of conflict.

  • Research Note No. 19 - 2015 (pdf - 370 ko)
    "Russia’s rapprochement with China: does strategy triumph over tactics?"
    Author: Céline MARANGÉ
    In the aftermath of Crimea’s annexation, political leaders in Russia were many to call for a reorientation of Russian interests towards Asia.

  • Research Note No. 18 - 2015 (pdf - 670 ko)
    "The strategic threat of weak states: when reality calls theory into question"
    Auteur : Sonia LE GOURIELLEC
    Research that focuses on the failure of a state to fulfil its sovereign duties has met with resounding success since the end of the Cold War and in the aftermath of September 11 2001. One of the main theories proposed is that states deemed weak, or worse, failed, generate conflict. “Most of the security problems of Africa largely hang on the failure of the postcolonial state” (Buzan, Weaver, 2006 : 220).




  • Research Note No. 13 - 2014 (pdf - 682 ko)
    "Which state strategies should be employed in the Arab world to combat jihadism?"
    Author: Under the direction of Flavien Bourrat
    A new order resulting from political and institutional splits
    The modern jihadi movement (or Salafi jihadism) is the most radical expression of what are referred to as the Islamist movements. Ideologically, it is characterized by the rejection of political modernity embodied by the nation-state. In terms of courses of action, it is distinguished by the use of violence.


  • Research Note No. 12 - 2014 (pdf - 750 ko)
    "The NATO 2014 Summit: What Washington expects from Wales"
    Author: Laurie Dundon
    The summit of NATO heads of state in Newport, Wales, over the next days will be a particularly critical one. As always, the agenda is stacked with weighty issues, but this time with both urgent crises and pivotal long-term investment decisions. Ukraine, of course, will be front and center.


  • Research Note No. 10 - 2014 (pdf - 904 ko)
    "The comprehensive approach and the European Union: a case study of the Horn of Africa"
    Author: Général (2S) Maurice de Langlois (dir.)
    La Corne de l’Afrique est une région confrontée à des défis majeurs de sécurité, dont le cas de la Somalie est emblématique. Cette note étudie la mise en œuvre de l’approche globale par l’Union européenne dans cette région, qui se traduit par une combinaison d’actions diplomatiques, humanitaires, économiques et militaires. Si les résultats de l’action de l’UE sont largement positifs, l’auteur détaille les difficultés générées par les problématiques budgétaires, de coordination et de gouvernance. Il formule des recommandations visant à optimiser la mise en œuvre de cette approche globale.

  • Research Note No. 7 - 2014 (pdf - 808 ko)
    "How the evolving political landscape in the Middle East affects Israeli strategic thinking".