The self-declared Republic of Somaliland – a de facto independent state formed from Somalia’s north-western regions – is often described as an island of stability in a sea of conflict. Much of the security enjoyed by its estimated 3.5 million people is attributed to a “hybrid” governance system marrying traditional authority with modern Western style democratic governance.
But Somaliland’s main donors have expressed concern over recent developments that beg the question whether its mixed political arrangements are robust enough. Claire Elder and Cedric Barnes from the International Crisis Group’s Horn of Africa Project discuss why a decision by the so-called Guurti – the Upper House of Elders – worries Somaliland’s international partners and risks causing a dangerous political and clan polarisation.
BAGHDAD— Speaking from a base besieged by Islamic State fighters, a police lieutenant in Anbar province painted a grim picture of the Iraqi government‘s faltering hold on this restive western region. Surrounded on all sides, he expects the jihadi group to be within firing range any day now.
Sitting just to the west of Hit, a small town along a key highway connecting the city of Haditha to Anbar’s provincial capital of Ramadi, al-Asad is the largest military base in Anbar and one of just two that remain in government control. Last week, after first attacking the eastern edge of Hit with suicide bombers, Islamic State militants overran the town. The United Nations says the ensuing clashes displaced more than 180,000 people. Read the rest of this entry »
Convergent and dual-use technologies could match or surpass the capabilities of existing nuclear and conventional arsenals within the next 20 years. For Robert McCreight, the dangers these technologies pose must be taken seriously, especially since states are almost sure to use them.
By Robert McCreight for ISN
As the complexity of advanced technologies continues to increase, hard questions need to be asked about the possibility of dual-use risks that could jeopardize the stability and security of the planet. States with weapons systems that are already highly developed could gain significant advantages from the advent of novel weaponry. Indeed, it is not inconceivable that in 15-20 years advanced dual-use technologies could match, nullify or surpass the capabilities of existing nuclear and conventional arsenals. What implications does this have for international security? Read the rest of this entry »
The 2003 Iraq war was triggered by a carefully orchestrated campaign of disinformation about Saddam Hussein’s alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. As pressures mount on President Obama to save Iraq’s all-Shia minority government against an onslaught of extremist Sunni guerrillas, past murky history is worth recalling.
It was dinnertime at the Vice President’s house on Massachusetts Avenue eleven months before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The discussion centered on the need to get rid of Saddam Hussein‘s Sunni dictatorship in Iraq and replace it with a democratic government. This, in turn, would trigger democratic changes in Israel’s last hostile neighbor — Syria.On March 26, 1979, Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and President Jimmy Carter signed the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab nation. And on Oct 26, 1994, the late King Hussein of Jordan became the 2nd Arab leader to sign peace with Israel, putting behind them 46 years of hostility.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction never came up once at VP Cheney’s dinner. An invasion, the participants agreed, would be designed to trigger a democratic process in Iraq, thus completing a peaceful Arab circle around Israel. Read the rest of this entry »
Iraq is on a precipice from which it may never recover. The fall of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, to forces ostensibly from the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), may simply be the tip of the iceberg. What has happened in Iraq increasingly appears not simply to be a binary struggle between government and insurgent, but rather a more complicated problem that may be impossible to fully unravel.
I drove from Tikrit through Beiji to Mosul earlier this year, and into Syria along the same roads ISIS and other insurgents now use. Even then, government control over Mosul was tenuous. Iraqi soldiers at checkpoints on the outskirts of town urged me and my driver to reconsider my trip because Mosul was not safe; they relented only because a local vouched for me. After all, while Tikrit was home to former President Saddam Hussein and his immediate entourage, Mosul was the hometown of much of Saddam Hussein’s officer corps. It still is. As I continued on to the Syrian border, a special security agent at a checkpoint separated me from my taxi driver and another man accompanying us to ensure that I was there of my own free will. A senior security official in Baghdad subsequently told me that was standard protocol. It also reflects, however, the lawlessness of that area. Read the rest of this entry »
Over the last week or so, multiple stories in the news have been asking why the media is ignoring the kidnapping of more than 200 girls (some reports say as many as 276) by Boko Haram, an extremist anti-Western group in Nigeria. Yet there have been literally hundreds of Facebook posts, thousands of tweets, and dozens of stories in the media about what is going on. It took a week or two — longer than it should have, yes, considering the horror of what has been perpetrated — but in the end, this case has gotten more attention than any single case of girls abducted in armed conflict in recent memory, possibly ever. People are paying attention.
As that becomes evident, all the outcry over “why aren’t we paying attention” starts to look like it’s part of a deeper public distress: Why have we not paid attention in the past when thousands of girls — and boys — have been abducted in armed conflict? Why aren’t we paying attention, right now, to the girls caught in human trafficking webs or sold into early marriages or held in captivity as “wives” by armed groups? Why are we only now outraged? And will this outrage sustain itself as situations like this one unendingly arise? Will any amount of anger lead to any concrete solution? Read the rest of this entry »
Fresh from a victory over the rebel troops of the Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23) in the unsettled but resource-rich Nord-Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Congolese army has launched an offensive against the self-described “Islamists” of the Allied Democratic Forces–National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU) who have operated in that region since 2004.  After several years of dormancy, ADF-NALU renewed operations in July 2013 with a wave of raids, kidnappings, massacres of civilians and attacks on security forces and UN peacekeepers. The once poorly-armed ADF-NALU militants appear to be newly supplied with machine-guns, mortars and rockets to replace their previous reliance on machetes and knives. According to the UN, M23’s defeat was followed by large-scale surrenders by thousands of members of various militant groups in the Nord-Kivu region, but few of these came from ADF-NALU (IRIN, January 27).
The operation against ADF-NALU was intended to begin in December 2013 but was delayed after the intended leader of the campaign, Colonel Mamadou Moustafa Ndala, was killed by a rocket in an ambush originally attributed to ADF-NALU fighters in early January (Uganda Radio Network, February 1). Read the rest of this entry »