Showing posts tagged as "Terrorism"

Showing posts tagged Terrorism

12 Sep
U.S. Pins Hope on Syrian Rebels With Loyalties All Over the Map | BEN HUBBARD, ERIC SCHMITT and MARK MAZZETTI
BEIRUT, Lebanon — President Obama’s determination to train Syrian rebels to serve as ground troops against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria leaves the United States dependent on a diverse group riven by infighting, with no shared leadership and with hard-line Islamists as its most effective fighters.
After more than three years of civil war, there are hundreds of militias fighting President Bashar al-Assad — and one another. Among them, even the more secular forces have turned to Islamists for support and weapons over the years, and the remaining moderate rebels often fight alongside extremists like the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.
“You are not going to find this neat, clean, secular rebel group that respects human rights and that is waiting and ready because they don’t exist,” said Aron Lund, a Syria analyst who edits the Syria in Crisis blog for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It is a very dirty war and you have to deal with what is on offer.”
FULL ARTICLE (The New York Times)
Photo: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Liesl Marelli/The National Guard/flickr

U.S. Pins Hope on Syrian Rebels With Loyalties All Over the Map | BEN HUBBARD, ERIC SCHMITT and MARK MAZZETTI

BEIRUT, Lebanon — President Obama’s determination to train Syrian rebels to serve as ground troops against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria leaves the United States dependent on a diverse group riven by infighting, with no shared leadership and with hard-line Islamists as its most effective fighters.

After more than three years of civil war, there are hundreds of militias fighting President Bashar al-Assad — and one another. Among them, even the more secular forces have turned to Islamists for support and weapons over the years, and the remaining moderate rebels often fight alongside extremists like the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.

“You are not going to find this neat, clean, secular rebel group that respects human rights and that is waiting and ready because they don’t exist,” said Aron Lund, a Syria analyst who edits the Syria in Crisis blog for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It is a very dirty war and you have to deal with what is on offer.”

FULL ARTICLE (The New York Times)

Photo: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Liesl Marelli/The National Guard/flickr

11 Sep
Obama promises a long and limited war on Islamic State | Tony Karon
President Barack Obama used the broadest of brushstrokes on Wednesday night to describe his “comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State insurgency, providing few details and skirting discussion of key dilemmas facing any such plan.
The United States will lead a “broad coalition,” Obama said, but its war plan “will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.” Instead, the campaign would rely on U.S. air power and support for “partner forces on the ground” to put the Islamic State (IS) to flight. The U.S. would supply intelligence, weapons and logistics and training. But it would be up to those forces to drive out the IS.
It was telling that the example he cited as the model for confronting the IS was the approach “we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.” That comparison underscores the message that “ultimately” is the operative word in Obama’s promise to “ultimately destroy” the IS. In both Yemen and Somalia, America’s enemy remains very much intact and active, and the U.S. approach has thus far succeeded in managing and containing the threat, but not in destroying it.
FULL ARTICLE (Al Jazeera America)
Photo: Bill Ingalls/NASA via NASA HQ Photo/flickr

Obama promises a long and limited war on Islamic State | Tony Karon

President Barack Obama used the broadest of brushstrokes on Wednesday night to describe his “comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State insurgency, providing few details and skirting discussion of key dilemmas facing any such plan.

The United States will lead a “broad coalition,” Obama said, but its war plan “will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.” Instead, the campaign would rely on U.S. air power and support for “partner forces on the ground” to put the Islamic State (IS) to flight. The U.S. would supply intelligence, weapons and logistics and training. But it would be up to those forces to drive out the IS.

It was telling that the example he cited as the model for confronting the IS was the approach “we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.” That comparison underscores the message that “ultimately” is the operative word in Obama’s promise to “ultimately destroy” the IS. In both Yemen and Somalia, America’s enemy remains very much intact and active, and the U.S. approach has thus far succeeded in managing and containing the threat, but not in destroying it.

FULL ARTICLE (Al Jazeera America)

Photo: Bill Ingalls/NASA via NASA HQ Photo/flickr

28 Aug
EXPERT VIEWS: Is Islamic State a flash in the pan? | Alex Whiting
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Is Islamic State a flash in the pan, or is it here for the long term? What impact is its expansion in Iraq having on the war in Syria, and the region as a whole?
Thomson Reuters Foundation asked three experts for their views: Nigel Inkster is director of transnational threats and political risk at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, chair of the World Economic Forum’s committee on terrorism, and former director for operations and intelligence at MI6; Noah Bonsey is International Crisis Group’s senior analyst on Syria, based in Lebanon; and Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a distinguished senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute, and a student at Oxford University.
Islamic State (IS) was formerly called ISIS. It took control of key Iraqi cities like Mosul and Fallujah as part of a broad coalition of groups earlier this year, but it went it alone when it expanded into Kurdistan.
FULL ARTICLE (Thomson Reuters Foundation)
Photo: maps.bpl.org/flickr

EXPERT VIEWS: Is Islamic State a flash in the pan? | Alex Whiting

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Is Islamic State a flash in the pan, or is it here for the long term? What impact is its expansion in Iraq having on the war in Syria, and the region as a whole?

Thomson Reuters Foundation asked three experts for their views: Nigel Inkster is director of transnational threats and political risk at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, chair of the World Economic Forum’s committee on terrorism, and former director for operations and intelligence at MI6; Noah Bonsey is International Crisis Group’s senior analyst on Syria, based in Lebanon; and Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a distinguished senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute, and a student at Oxford University.

Islamic State (IS) was formerly called ISIS. It took control of key Iraqi cities like Mosul and Fallujah as part of a broad coalition of groups earlier this year, but it went it alone when it expanded into Kurdistan.

FULL ARTICLE (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

Photo: maps.bpl.org/flickr

27 Aug
Libya’s Crisis: A Shattered Airport, Two Parliaments, Many Factions | Leila Fadel
As Libya has descended into chaos, it has split into two broad camps. On one side is Libya Dawn, an Islamist-backed umbrella group; on the other is a renegade general, Khalifa Hifter, who is based in the eastern part of the country along with his allies.
As this power struggle has escalated, it is no longer just an internal Libyan conflict. It is now being fought regionally, with parallels to other battles playing out in North Africa and the Middle East.
U.S. officials say Egypt and the United Arab Emirates carried out secret airstrikes in recent days directed against the Islamist factions, which was first reported in The New York Times. This direct involvement in the Libyan fighting came as a surprise, though both of these countries have staked out positions opposing Islamist groups in their own countries and abroad.
"We see in the battle that is being fought out in Libya between these two broad coalitions is a battle that is already being fought out regionally," says Claudia Gazzini, a Libya researcher at the International Crisis Group.
FULL ARTICLE (NPR)
Photo: Nasser Nouri/flickr

Libya’s Crisis: A Shattered Airport, Two Parliaments, Many Factions | Leila Fadel

As Libya has descended into chaos, it has split into two broad camps. On one side is Libya Dawn, an Islamist-backed umbrella group; on the other is a renegade general, Khalifa Hifter, who is based in the eastern part of the country along with his allies.

As this power struggle has escalated, it is no longer just an internal Libyan conflict. It is now being fought regionally, with parallels to other battles playing out in North Africa and the Middle East.

U.S. officials say Egypt and the United Arab Emirates carried out secret airstrikes in recent days directed against the Islamist factions, which was first reported in The New York Times. This direct involvement in the Libyan fighting came as a surprise, though both of these countries have staked out positions opposing Islamist groups in their own countries and abroad.

"We see in the battle that is being fought out in Libya between these two broad coalitions is a battle that is already being fought out regionally," says Claudia Gazzini, a Libya researcher at the International Crisis Group.

FULL ARTICLE (NPR)

Photo: Nasser Nouri/flickr

Afghan forces battle for control of symbolic Kunduz province | MIRWAIS HAROONI
(Reuters) - Afghan security forces are battling the Taliban for control of the northern province of Kunduz, where insurgents are threatening to overrun the capital and terrorising residents who have fled to nearby districts.
The battle for Kunduz, as politicians wrangle amid a deadlocked presidential election in the capital, has special significance for people on both sides: it was the Taliban’s last stronghold before the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance drove them out in 2001.
The fighting in Kunduz reflects a broader trend of insurgent attacks across the country involving hundreds of fighters at a time.
Most Western troops are due to leave Afghanistan after 13 years of fighting, leaving a security vacuum some fear the Taliban could quickly fill as Afghan security forces grapple with maintaining law and order on their own.
FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)
Photo: NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/flickr

Afghan forces battle for control of symbolic Kunduz province | MIRWAIS HAROONI

(Reuters) - Afghan security forces are battling the Taliban for control of the northern province of Kunduz, where insurgents are threatening to overrun the capital and terrorising residents who have fled to nearby districts.

The battle for Kunduz, as politicians wrangle amid a deadlocked presidential election in the capital, has special significance for people on both sides: it was the Taliban’s last stronghold before the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance drove them out in 2001.

The fighting in Kunduz reflects a broader trend of insurgent attacks across the country involving hundreds of fighters at a time.

Most Western troops are due to leave Afghanistan after 13 years of fighting, leaving a security vacuum some fear the Taliban could quickly fill as Afghan security forces grapple with maintaining law and order on their own.

FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)

Photo: NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/flickr

20 Aug
Al-Shabab: A Close Look at East Africa’s Deadliest Radicals | Peter Dörrie
More than any other organization, Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahedeen, widely known as al-Shabab, has left its mark on the recent history of Somalia. Political and radical Islam have a long history in the country, but no group has survived longer than al-Shabab, and no group has emerged stronger from challenges and setbacks.
More than any other actor involved in the two-decade-old Somali conflict, al-Shabab has demonstrated its ability to adapt. Today, the group has emerged from an existential crisis and looks stronger than it has in years. Though al-Shabab is often referred to as simply a “terrorist group,” the term does not accurately describe the range of the group’s activities. As perhaps the most important spoiler on Somalia’s way toward peace, al-Shabab’s current situation warrants an assessment.
FULL ARTICLE (World Politics Review)
Photo: Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Africa/flickr

Al-Shabab: A Close Look at East Africa’s Deadliest Radicals | Peter Dörrie

More than any other organization, Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahedeen, widely known as al-Shabab, has left its mark on the recent history of Somalia. Political and radical Islam have a long history in the country, but no group has survived longer than al-Shabab, and no group has emerged stronger from challenges and setbacks.

More than any other actor involved in the two-decade-old Somali conflict, al-Shabab has demonstrated its ability to adapt. Today, the group has emerged from an existential crisis and looks stronger than it has in years. Though al-Shabab is often referred to as simply a “terrorist group,” the term does not accurately describe the range of the group’s activities. As perhaps the most important spoiler on Somalia’s way toward peace, al-Shabab’s current situation warrants an assessment.

FULL ARTICLE (World Politics Review)

Photo: Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Africa/flickr

27 Jun
Fear Grips Nigeria Capital After Attack in City Centre | AFP
Abuja:  A bombing blamed on Boko Haram in the heart of Nigeria’s capital raised fears on Thursday of a worsening Islamist insurgency, with the security forces struggling to prevent attacks in remote villages and near the seat of government.
Wednesday’s blast, which killed at least 21 people, shook the crowded Emab Plaza in downtown Abuja during the afternoon rush as shoppers were buying groceries an hour ahead of the country’s World Cup match against Argentina.
The explosions struck “a very prominent street and it sends a very loud message”, said Nnamdi Obasi, Nigeria researcher at the International Crisis Group. “The message is that everywhere in the city is vulnerable.” cited as causes of the tragedy.
FULL ARTICLE (Agence France-Presse)
Photo: theglobalpanorama/flickr

Fear Grips Nigeria Capital After Attack in City Centre | AFP

Abuja:  A bombing blamed on Boko Haram in the heart of Nigeria’s capital raised fears on Thursday of a worsening Islamist insurgency, with the security forces struggling to prevent attacks in remote villages and near the seat of government.

Wednesday’s blast, which killed at least 21 people, shook the crowded Emab Plaza in downtown Abuja during the afternoon rush as shoppers were buying groceries an hour ahead of the country’s World Cup match against Argentina.

The explosions struck “a very prominent street and it sends a very loud message”, said Nnamdi Obasi, Nigeria researcher at the International Crisis Group. “The message is that everywhere in the city is vulnerable.” cited as causes of the tragedy.

FULL ARTICLE (Agence France-Presse)

Photo: theglobalpanorama/flickr

23 Jun
Iraq’s House of Cards: The Primary Mission | Robin Wright
On Friday, a new report by the International Crisis Group, an independent research and policy institute, bluntly warned of both the political and military challenges in Iraq. Under Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the report declared, “Parliament has been rendered toothless, independent state agencies shorn of their powers. Ministries, to an unprecedented extent, have become bastions of nepotism and other forms of corruption; the severely politicized judiciary represents anything but the ‘rule of law,’ with even the Supreme Court doing the government’s bidding.”
This week, as the jihadi juggernaut solidifies its control over almost a third of the country in a Sunni proto-state, a token American team of Special Forces will embed in Iraq to assess and advise Iraq’s disintegrating military. Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry is conferring with regional leaders about ways to prevent a geostrategic prize from imploding into a failed state. He, too, is expected in Baghdad. 
The primary American mission is to help rebuild the house of cards that is the Iraqi government—a political challenge almost as daunting as devising a strategy to beat back the alienated Sunni (and other) forces in the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The goal is to prevent Iraq from becoming another Lebanon, where sectarian tensions over a power-sharing formula dragged on in a fifteen-year civil war (despite repeated American diplomatic interventions and attempts to rebuild the national Army).
FULL ARTICLE (The New Yorker)
Photo: United States Forces-Iraq/flickr

Iraq’s House of Cards: The Primary Mission | Robin Wright

On Friday, a new report by the International Crisis Group, an independent research and policy institute, bluntly warned of both the political and military challenges in Iraq. Under Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the report declared, “Parliament has been rendered toothless, independent state agencies shorn of their powers. Ministries, to an unprecedented extent, have become bastions of nepotism and other forms of corruption; the severely politicized judiciary represents anything but the ‘rule of law,’ with even the Supreme Court doing the government’s bidding.”

This week, as the jihadi juggernaut solidifies its control over almost a third of the country in a Sunni proto-state, a token American team of Special Forces will embed in Iraq to assess and advise Iraq’s disintegrating military. Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry is conferring with regional leaders about ways to prevent a geostrategic prize from imploding into a failed state. He, too, is expected in Baghdad. 

The primary American mission is to help rebuild the house of cards that is the Iraqi government—a political challenge almost as daunting as devising a strategy to beat back the alienated Sunni (and other) forces in the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The goal is to prevent Iraq from becoming another Lebanon, where sectarian tensions over a power-sharing formula dragged on in a fifteen-year civil war (despite repeated American diplomatic interventions and attempts to rebuild the national Army).

FULL ARTICLE (The New Yorker)

Photo: United States Forces-Iraq/flickr

4 Jun
Turkey Blacklists Al Qaeda-Linked Syrian Rebel Group In Sign Of Growing Concern Over Extremists | Sophia Jones
A year and a half after the United States designated the al Qaeda-linked Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra a terrorist organization, Turkey has followed suit, signaling what experts say is a shift in its approach to the Syrian civil war.
The country’s Official Gazette said in a statement that Turkey will now freeze any assets linked to the group. Turkey, which backs the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad and hosts more than 700,000 Syrian refugees, has been accused of aiding extremist Islamist militants and failing to stop them from crossing the border to join the fight against Assad. The change in policy, experts say, shows that the country wants to put a stop to those claims and is increasingly concerned about the rise of extremists.
“Significant shifts have been underway behind the scenes in recent months within a number of key opposition-supporting states, including Turkey, which have had as their focus the adoption of a dual-track policy of bolstering moderate rebels and isolating extremists,” said Charles Lister, a Syria analyst and visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center.
FULL ARTICLE (Huffington Post)
Photo: Asitimes/flickr

Turkey Blacklists Al Qaeda-Linked Syrian Rebel Group In Sign Of Growing Concern Over Extremists | Sophia Jones

A year and a half after the United States designated the al Qaeda-linked Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra a terrorist organization, Turkey has followed suit, signaling what experts say is a shift in its approach to the Syrian civil war.

The country’s Official Gazette said in a statement that Turkey will now freeze any assets linked to the group. Turkey, which backs the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad and hosts more than 700,000 Syrian refugees, has been accused of aiding extremist Islamist militants and failing to stop them from crossing the border to join the fight against Assad. The change in policy, experts say, shows that the country wants to put a stop to those claims and is increasingly concerned about the rise of extremists.

“Significant shifts have been underway behind the scenes in recent months within a number of key opposition-supporting states, including Turkey, which have had as their focus the adoption of a dual-track policy of bolstering moderate rebels and isolating extremists,” said Charles Lister, a Syria analyst and visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center.

FULL ARTICLE (Huffington Post)

Photo: Asitimes/flickr

3 Jun
How Obama Thinks About Counterterrorism | David Rohde
In a foreign-policy address last week, President Obama gave his clearest outline yet of his counterterrorism strategy. Al-Qaeda splinter groups remain the largest threat to the United States, he said, but Washington must respond to it in a new way: by training local security forces, not deploying American ground troops.
“We have to develop a strategy that matches this diffuse threat—one that expands our reach without sending forces that stretch our military too thin, or stir up local resentments,” Obama said. “We need partners to fight terrorists alongside us.”
But critics say America’s past efforts to train local security forces have had mixed results. Washington has a poor track record of applying the long-term resources, funding, and attention needed to carry out such efforts successfully. In Libya, training by U.S. Special Forces soldiers was suspended after a local militia stole a cache of American-provided weapons. In Mali, American-trained military officers carried out a coup. And in Afghanistan, the United States failed to mount a major training effort until nine years after the fall of the Taliban.
FULL ARTICLE (The Atlantic)
Photo: cmccain202dc/flickr

How Obama Thinks About Counterterrorism | David Rohde

In a foreign-policy address last week, President Obama gave his clearest outline yet of his counterterrorism strategy. Al-Qaeda splinter groups remain the largest threat to the United States, he said, but Washington must respond to it in a new way: by training local security forces, not deploying American ground troops.

“We have to develop a strategy that matches this diffuse threat—one that expands our reach without sending forces that stretch our military too thin, or stir up local resentments,” Obama said. “We need partners to fight terrorists alongside us.”

But critics say America’s past efforts to train local security forces have had mixed results. Washington has a poor track record of applying the long-term resources, funding, and attention needed to carry out such efforts successfully. In Libya, training by U.S. Special Forces soldiers was suspended after a local militia stole a cache of American-provided weapons. In Mali, American-trained military officers carried out a coup. And in Afghanistan, the United States failed to mount a major training effort until nine years after the fall of the Taliban.

FULL ARTICLE (The Atlantic)

Photo: cmccain202dc/flickr