Showing posts tagged as "united states"
Showing posts tagged united states
Crisis Group President Jean-Marie Guéhenno discusses Syria and the UN on the BBC.
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
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
Somalia’s Shebab wounded but dangerous, unpredictable | Agence France-Presse
The US missiles that smashed into Somalia’s Islamist chief this week ended the life of the one of the world’s most wanted men, but not the danger of his Shebab insurgents, analysts warn.
Ahmed Abdi Godane, declared dead by the United States after an air strike earlier this week, was a ruthless kingpin of Al-Qaeda’s main African affiliate.
As he had purged potential rivals, there is no clear leader for the fighters, although the Shebab have survived before: Godane himself took power after the last Shebab chief was also slain in a US missile strike in 2008.
"Removing him will significantly weaken the Shebab, at least in the short term," said Cedric Barnes of the International Crisis Group.
FULL ARTICLE (AFP)
Photo: UN PHOTO/STUART PRICE/flickr
West widens contacts with Syria’s Kurds but suspicion remains | TOM PERRY
(Reuters) - The fight against Islamic State could at last win Syria’s Kurds the Western help they have sought, but they must first clarify their relationship to President Bashar al-Assad and reassure Turkey that they won’t cause trouble on its border.
The United States has entered the war against Islamic State fighters in Iraq with air strikes, but is still trying to decide a strategy for fighting the group on the other side of the frontier in Syria.
In Iraq, Kurds are one of the main Western allies against Islamic State. But in Syria, where Kurdish militia have carved out a swathe of northern territory and repeatedly battled against Islamic State during a three-and-a-half year civil war, Kurds have yet to win the West’s acceptance as partners.
FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)
Photo: Chris De Bruyn/flickr
U.S. cracks down on Somalia militants with strike on Shabab leader | W.J. HENNIGAN
A U.S. airstrike intended to kill the leader of Somalia’s Al Qaeda-affiliated Shabab group illustrated the Pentagon’s determination to take down militants responsible for a wave of bombings and suicide attacks throughout the Horn of Africa.
The Pentagon on Tuesday did not confirm whether the operation — which took place late Monday — killed Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, 37. But the special-forces strike against a militant encampment in the town of Barawe, south of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, was seen by U.S. officials as a setback for the Islamic militant group, which has struggled in recent years with leadership disputes, military defeats and questions about its direction.
"We are assessing the results right now," said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby. "We certainly believe that we hit what we were aiming at."
FULL ARTICLE (LA Times)
Photo: DoD Photo by Glenn Fawcett/flickr
Barack Obama looks to Muslim countries for help in crushing Isis | Ian Black
Barack Obama has called for a “broad-based international coalition” to “degrade and destroy” Islamic State (Isis) after the beheading of the American journalist Steven Sotloff. But it is not clear which countries would take part in such a grouping and, crucially, whether its mission would be limited to Iraq or include fighting the jihadis in their Syrian strongholds.
In Washington and London, government officials say they had long known that their nationals were being held hostage by the extremist group, so the latest killing, plus the now explicit threat to murder a UK captive, will not change their fundamental calculations.
Talk of building a coalition to tackle Isis has been in the diplomatic air for the past two weeks, but Obama gave deeper insight into his thinking on Wednesday: “The question is going to be making sure we have the right strategy but also making sure that we have got the international will to do it,” the president said. “What we have got to make sure is that we are organising the Arab world, the Middle East, the Muslim world, along with the international community to isolate this cancer.”
FULL ARTICLE (The Guardian)
Photo: Christopher Dilts for Obama for America/flickr
Afghan turmoil threatens NATO’s ‘mission accomplished’ plans | ADRIAN CROFT AND MIRWAIS HAROONI
(Reuters) - NATO will declare “mission accomplished” this week as it winds down more than a decade of operations in Afghanistan but departing combat troops look likely to leave behind political turmoil and an emboldened insurgency.
The embattled country is also suffering a sharp economic slowdown.
NATO had hoped its summit in Wales on Thursday and Friday would herald a smooth handover of security at the end of this year from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to Afghan forces. It then plans to cut back its role to a smaller mission to train and advise Afghan troops.
The 28-nation alliance had also hoped to celebrate Afghanistan’s first democratic transfer of power by inviting a new president to share the spotlight with U.S. President Barack Obama and the other 27 allied leaders.
Instead, NATO diplomats privately admit that the backdrop to the summit is the “worst case scenario”.
FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)
Photo: U.S. Navy Photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW) Jeremy L. Wood via Chuck Holton/flickr
IS back in business | Peter Harling
The so-called Islamic State (IS) — the jihadist movement also known as ISIL or ISIS and by the derogatory acronym Da’ish in Arabic — now controls much of northeast Syria and northwest Iraq (1). In a region beset with so much confusion, it appears uniquely determined and self-assured. Despite its name, it is in no sense a new state, since it rejects the concept of borders and largely does without institutions. Yet IS tells us much about the Middle East — and especially about its genuine states — as well as about western foreign policy.
IS is an aggressive movement with a surprisingly clear identity, given its origins and the fact that it is made up of volunteers from many different places. It began in Iraq where, following the 2003 US invasion, a handful of former mujahideen from the Afghan war established a local Al-Qaida franchise. Very quickly their ideology parted company from that of Al-Qaida central: they focused on enemies close at hand rather than less accessible ones, such as the United States or Israel. Increasingly ignoring the US occupier, they instigated a sectarian war between Sunni and Shia, and then descended into fratricidal conflict, using extreme violence against supposed traitors and apostates in their own Sunni camp. The ensuing self-destruction, between 2007 and 2008, reduced the movement to a few diehards entrenched in the Iraqi desert.
FULL ARTICLE (Le Monde Diplomatique - English Edition)
Photo: U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vanessa Valentine/Flickr