Archive for the ‘International Conflict, Terrorism & Security’ Category

12
Jan

ERIC ROSAND is Director of The Prevention Project: Organizing Against Violent Extremism and former Senior Counterterrorism Official at the U.S. Department of State.

The United Nations is not only imperfect, it is also misunderstood. Somewhat predictably, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans unleashed a torrent of criticism against the UN Security Council’s adoption of a resolution [1] on December 23 condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. To express his disapproval, Trump described the institution as “just a club for people to get together, talk, and have a good time [2]” and went on to suggest that “if it is causing problems rather than solving them … it will be a waste of time and money [3] if it doesn’t start living up to its potential.” Several U.S. lawmakers [4] have since demanded that the United States restrict its funding for the global body over the Security Council vote and former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin even went as far as to call on the United States to leave the UN.

The United Nations’ failures, of course, are well known. Less known is what it gets right, and on this score even Trump should find much to love in the institution. Indeed, if his administration hopes to, as he says, work with all “freedom loving partners [5]” to eradicate terrorism, he will need the UN, warts [6] and all.

In the post–9/11 era—and often at the behest of U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama—the UN has played a central role in globalizing the fight against terrorism and strengthening international cooperation and capacities to defeat al Qaeda, the Islamic State (ISIS), and other terrorist groups. Less than three weeks after 9/11, Bush relied on the UN Security Council to require [7] all countries to reboot or upgrade their counterterrorism laws. As a result, dozens of nations put in place new legal measures to crack down on terrorists and their financiers. Obama likewise went to the UN when he sought [8] to tighten sanctions against and cut off financial flows to ISIS and to push the White House agenda to counter violent extremism around the world [9]. Critical U.S. partners, including China, India, and Russia, and Muslim-majority countries ranging from Egypt to Indonesia, now generally insist that all nonmilitary counterterrorism measures (such as the tightening of border controls, investigating and prosecuting terrorists, or countering radicalization at home) be grounded in some way on the UN counterterrorism framework that evolved rapidly after 9/11. This framework is seen as being in compliance with international law and therefore carries broad global legitimacy, in large part because it is derived from the UN Charter itself. Read more…

www.foreignaffairs.com

10 Jan. 2017

26
Oct

A thundercloud, heavy and dark gray. That is what it looks like from a distance. But the closer you get to Mosul from the south, the bigger and darker this cloud becomes. Instead of floating in the sky, it grows out of the ground, ultimately becoming a towering, opaque wall that swallowing entire villages, making them disappear into the darkness.

 Driving to Mosul is a drive into the apocalypse. Or at least that’s what it feels like, with the gigantic clouds of smoke coming from burning oil wells, reservoirs and ditches — laid out by Islamic State over the last two years and now set alight one after the other. Although it would normally be a sunny midday in fall, the military jeeps coming from the other direction have their lights on.

The dark curtain is meant to keep the attackers’ jets and helicopters at bay; the smoke irritates the throat and causes headaches. An armada of over 30,000 soldiers and fighters from at least a half-dozen countries began a major offensive against the de-facto capital of the “caliphate” in northern Iraq last Monday. It is not only the biggest coalition to have assembled in the fight against Islamic State (IS), it is also the least predictable. Read more…

 

http://www.spiegel.de/; By Christopher Reuter; Oct. 22nd

18
Oct

In Washington’s ongoing debate about the cause of the continuing chaos in the Middle East, President George W. Bush stands condemned for the 2003 intervention that pushed Iraq into civil war, while President Obama stands condemned for the nonintervention that worsened Syria’s civil war. In Libya, meanwhile, Washington’s partial intervention also failed to bring peace, while too few Americans are even aware of their country’s role in the conflict afflicting Yemen.

Without trying to defend or absolve U.S. policy, then, it is worth stepping back to ask what shared historical experiences might have left these four countries — Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen — particularly at risk of violent collapse. The following maps help highlight how, at various points over the past century, historical circumstances conspired, in an often self-reinforcing way, to bolster the stability of some states in the region while undermining that of others.

1. Century-old states are more stable today

Countries whose political or geographic precedents stretch back over a century are more stable today. Turkey, Egypt, Iran, and, to some extent, the ruling dynasties of what are now Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, all, in one form or another, trace their current political structures to the late 19th century, before European colonialism took root in the region. Consequently, they were more likely to have the resources to maintain some independence in the face of European imperialism, or at least negotiate a less disruptive form of colonial rule.

 

Read more…

26
Aug

However tempting it is to keep writing about Donald Trump, I’m going to move on to less bizarre topics. Last week I participated in a panel at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on the implications of the Brexit vote (along with Leslie Vinjamuri of the University of London and Barry Posen and Francis Gavin of MIT). Their comments got me thinking— and not for the first time — about where the world is headed these days.

It’s easy to understand why people think the current world order is rapidly unraveling. Despite steady reductions in global poverty, the continued absence of great power war, and mind-boggling advances in science and technology, world politics doesn’t look nearly as promising as it did a couple of decades ago. It’s still possible to offer an upbeat view of the foreign policy agenda — as Joe Biden recently did — but the vice president is not exactly the most objective judge. He thinks the next president will be able to build on the Obama administration’s successes, but a more candid evaluation would conclude that the next president — whoever it might be — is going to face some serious challenges. Read more…

 

  • By Stephen M. Walt
  • August 21, 2016
  • Stephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.

 

23
Aug

The month of August always brings its share of seasonal distractions: last-minute vacations, the Olympic games in Rio, warm days that distract us from less calm parts of the world.

But those summer indulgences can sometimes divert our attention from serious problems. In this case, that means rising tensions in a part of the world that not only drives the global economy but is bringing some of the world’s most powerful nations closer towards outright conflict—a conflict that would make the Islamic State, Ukraine, and even the unending civil war in Syria seem small by comparison.

What am I talking about? The seemingly endless dance of danger between China and the United States over the South China Sea, a body of water that carries over $5.3 trillion in seaborne trade ($1.2 trillion of American goods, by the way).

And for those who have been watching this slowly brewing crisis, it appears the stage is being set for a crisis, one that could come later in the summer and early fall thanks to a combination of factors. Read more…

Harry J. Kazianis is a senior fellow for defense policy at the Center for the National Interest and senior editor at the National Interest Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter: @grecianformula.

Aug. 17th, www.foreignpolicy.org

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