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In the wake of the recent acts of terror in France, much of the post-Paris analyses and assessments have focused on the vulnerability of the European continent to "home grown" terror. Although such a focus on the vulnerability of the European states is well-founded, there is an added dimension of insecurity, rooted in the expanding "battlespace" of terrorism.

More specifically, this expanded battlespace of terror consist of three dimensions. First, the emergence of new training grounds in Yemen and other remote areas offered havens for paramilitary training and expertise.  Offering a more advanced arena for direct combat experience, Iraq and Syria served as a second dimension to this battlespace, with an added value as a recruitment destination for a wave of newly minted fighters.

But is the

In the wake of the recent acts of terror in France, much of the post-Paris analyses and assessments have focused on the vulnerability of the European continent to "homegrown" terror. Although such a focus on the vulnerability of the European states is well-founded, there is an added dimension of insecurity, rooted in the expanding "battlespace" of terrorism.

More specifically, this expanded battlespace of terror consist of three dimensions. First, the emergence of new training grounds in Yemen and other remote areas offering havens for paramilitary training and expertise. Offering a more advanced arena for direct combat experience, Iraq and Syria serve as a second dimension to this battlespace, with an added value as a recruitment destination for a wave of newly minted fighters.

But it is the third dimension of this new, expanded battlespace that most closely demonstrates the ramifications of the Paris attacks. As a fresh challenge, this third dimension stems from the return of veterans and alumni, as graduates passing through the two earlier stages or dimensions.

New cartography of terror

In terms of this new cartography of terror, it is not Europe that is most vulnerable, however. Rather, it is the more remote regions that are most insecure, exacerbated by repressive authoritarian regimes offering more of an opportunity for entrenched insurgency to take root.

Although the low-intensity nature of these latent insurgencies have continued to impede Russian attempts to pacify and placate local grievances, the past several years have been marked by a fairly fragile, yet manageable period of control.

And the most vivid example is the Caucasus. Despite the apparent "stabilisation" of Chechnya and other earlier rounds of war in the North Caucasus, the lingering and restive insurgencies have festered for some time.

Although the low-intensity nature of these latent insurgencies have continued to impede Russian attempts to pacify and placate local grievances, the past several years have been marked by a fairly fragile, yet manageable period of control.

Yet, the recent events in Paris suggest a change, and will likely trigger a renewed cycle of violence and terrorism in the Caucasus.

The key difference for the Caucasus is defined by another underestimated element of the significance of the recent terrorism in France. 

The incidents in France have much wider ramifications for one essential reason: an intense competition for resources, recruits and results playing out between ISIL and the offshoots of al-Qaeda.

In this battle for supremacy and stewardship of global terror, there is a new focus on regaining prestige and position by resurgent al-Qaeda remnants. 

Battling for resources

In the North Caucasus, this battle for power and prestige broke out even before the recent attacks, as a group of six key insurgent leaders abruptly pledged allegiance to ISIL in December.

Listening Post - Lead - Charlie Hebdo and the media

This break from their local al-Qaeda-affiliated leadership by three key Chechen and three Dagestani leaders marked a new level of fragmentation and division, also reflecting a sense of frustration with earlier tactics and past operational strategy.

This is most likely to spur an immediate upsurge in terror in the North Caucasus, as the al-Qaeda offshoots will seek to respond to their loss of prestige and standing by reaffirming their own radical credentials in an expected new round of attacks.

At the same time, while ISIL may further seek to protect its own new-found gains on the ground, a post-Paris crackdown by Russian forces and/or a new cycle of repression and retribution by local Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov may only result in a fresh wave of recruits for both sides of the terror competition.

Yet, this danger is not limited to the North Caucasus. With hundreds of Azerbaijanis fighting in Syria, and an undetermined number of fighters from Kazakhstan and other countries in Central Asia, the geographic expansion of this new "battlespace" of terror may be even wider and deeper than expected.   

Richard Giragosian is the founding director of the Regional Studies Centre, an independent think tank in Yerevan, Armenia.

Source: Al Jazeera