As he has done for years, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov was the first to announce the latest government operation against rebel militants in Chechnya. Kadyrov stated on his personal Instagram webpage that government forces had killed a group of four bandits in the republic’s Sunzha district, on the administrative border with Ingushetia. According to Kadyrov, the authorities had been conducting a manhunt for some time. Government sources said they had received information that the militants had been ordered by their leader, Beslan Makhauri (Emir Muhammad), to carry out bomb attacks (instagram.com, November 17). The Chechen Republic’s head specified that government forces had started the special operation a week earlier, after the body of a hunter was found. Russia’s Interfax news agency reported on the government forces’ losses in the operation. “Last night on the outskirts of Sernovodskaya, four members of the bandit underground were surrounded. They used arms to resist the police. In the clash, the bandits were eliminated; two police officers were injured” (Interfax, November 17). The Interfax report shows that law enforcement did not simply happen to be located in the area, but were searching for people accused of killing the hunter. Continue reading
CHAHAR DARA, Afghanistan — The last time Afghans in the northern province of Kunduz felt so threatened by the Taliban was in 2009, just before President Obama deployed thousands of troops to push the insurgents back from the outskirts of the province’s capital.
Now the Taliban are back, but the cavalry will not be coming.
With just two months left before the formal end of the 13-year international combat mission, Western officials insist that the Afghan security forces have managed to contain the Taliban’s offensives on their own. But the insurgents’ alarming gains in Kunduz in recent weeks present a different picture. Continue reading
- By September 15, 2014 09:26 BST
When the White House finally invoked the word “war” on 12 September to describe the new US-led campaign against Isis in Iraq and Syria, the already ominous parallels between 1914 and 2014 grew more resonant still, with the 21st-century wrinkle of cyber conflict adding a particularly destabilizing factor to today’s situation.
Pockmarked by crises – Boko Haram, Gaza, Ukraine and MH17, Ebola, Isis – the unquiet summer just concluded seemed all along to be leading up to something.
In 2014, similarly, it was only weeks after Isis militants drove hundreds of thousands of Iraqis from their homes in Mosul and Tikrit, and isolated the minority Yasidis on Mount Sinjar, that President Obama announced “we will degrade and ultimately destroy” Isis. (The Isis beheading videos, starting with James Foley’s execution posted on the Internet on 19 August, were a political accelerant.)
The danger of another World War I, a violent continent-wide contest for territory and regional influence that leaves mass casualties and redraws maps, is low. Isis will not soon steam into New York Harbor, guns blazing. But, beyond the narrow and classically kinetic “war on Isis” newly defined by the Obama administration, there is a fierce below-radar war in cyberspace for economic and political influence, involving numerous players.
With terrible brilliance, Isis, for one, both commits cyber crime and floats cyber propaganda. It boasts both a “backroom” criminal operation, which raises funds, and a front-of-house “daylight” operation devoted to image building.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is seen through a viewfinder as he addresses the media during a joint news conference with Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo (not pictured) in Madrid, June 12, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Susana Vera)
On June 11, NATO ambassadors gathered in an emergency meeting at Turkey’s request to discuss the rapid expansion of radical Sunni Islamist militants in northern Iraq in which they took control of Mosul and Tikrit. That same day, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), an al-Qaeda spin-off group fighting in both Iraq and Syria, seized Turkey’s Mosul consulate, taking the consul general and his 48 staff members hostage. Earlier in the week, ISIS also took 31 Turkish truck drivers hostage.
Summary- Turkey briefed NATO ambassadors regarding the seizure of its Mosul consulate, but it did not ask for any NATO involvement, as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to be engaged directly in the hostage negotiations.
It’s widely agreed that the collapse of Iraq would be a disaster for American interests and security in the Middle East and around the world. It also seems to be widely assumed either that there’s nothing we can now do to avert that disaster, or that our best bet is supporting Iran against al Qaeda. Both assumptions are wrong. It would be irresponsible to embrace a premature fatalism with respect to Iraq. And it would be damaging and counterproductive to accept a transformation of our alliances and relationships in the Middle East to the benefit of the regime in Tehran. There is a third alternative. Continue reading
30 May 2014
With an ongoing insurgency and the pending departure of ISAF forces, will the Afghan Local Police (ALP) have a positive impact the country’s politics and security? Jonathan Goodhand and Aziz Hakimi aren’t optimistic. They worry that the force may fragment into competing militias.
By Jonathan Goodhand and Aziz Hakim for United States Institute of Peace (USIP)
In the context of the Afghan security transition of 2014, when the bulk of foreign military forces are due to withdraw, policy debates have focused on the role and capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Much effort has been devoted to building up and bureaucratizing the means of violence in Afghanistan with a view to establishing a legitimate monopoly over the means of coercion. Yet this has been paralleled by a series of government and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) experiments in arming local defense forces, including local militias under the ALP, to fight the insurgency and provide security at the local level. Frequently, notions of Afghan ownership, local solutions, and cost-effectiveness are invoked to justify such programs. This strategy is not without controversy, however. It has prompted concerns about the efficacy and impact of such interventions on the Afghan state’s capacity to rein in armed groups, impose a monopoly over the means of violence, improve security, balance civil-military relations, enforce the rule of law, create political stability, and end the internal conflict. These debates on the role of irregular forces tend to be driven by agency interests and based on limited or disputed evidence. Continue reading
Though some deride Russia for backward thinking, Putin’s strategy in Ukraine betrays a nuanced understanding of 21st century geopolitics.
BY Peter Pomerantsev MAY 5, 2014
The Kremlin, according to Barack Obama, is stuck in the “old ways,” trapped in Cold War or even 19th century mindsets. But look closer at the Kremlin‘s actions during the crisis in Ukraine and you begin to see a very 21st century mentality, manipulating transnational financial interconnections, spinning global media, and reconfiguring geo-political alliances. Could it be that the West is the one caught up in the “old ways,” while the Kremlin is the geopolitical avant-garde, informed by a dark, subversive reading of globalization?
The Kremlin’s approach might be called “non-linear war,” a term used in a short story written by one of Putin’s closest political advisors, Vladislav Surkov, which was published under his pseudonym, Nathan Dubovitsky, just a few days before the annexation of Crimea. Surkov is credited with inventing the system of “managed democracy” that has dominated Russia in the 21st century, and his new portfolio focuses on foreign policy. This time, he sets his new story in a dystopian future, after the “fifth world war.”
Surkov writes: “It was the first non-linear war. In the primitive wars of the 19th and 20th centuries it was common for just two sides to fight. Two countries, two blocks of allies. Now four coalitions collided. Not two against two, or three against one. All against all.” Continue reading