After Zarb-e-Azb: Now What?

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Image: UK Department for International Development/Flickr

This article was originally published by the Stimson Center on 14 August, 2015.

Pakistan’s ongoing military operation in North Waziristan, a stronghold of Al Qai’da and Islamist militants, is nearing its end. However, as the Pakistan Army races towards declaring this mission complete, a number of issues of immediate consequence to Pakistan, the region, and the United States remain unaddressed. To succeed in the long run, the mission needs to be part of a larger counter-insurgency campaign that must address political and social considerations, as well as the regional and global exigencies. » More

ISIS-Linked Regional Activity (Institute for the Study of War)

Regional activity of ISIS in July 2015 (click for detailed view). Image: Institute for the Study of War

This report was originally published by the Institute for the Study of War on 7 August, 2015.

Reports that the U.S. is considering establishing forward bases to counter ISIS’s affiliates in Libya and Afghanistan reflect the increasing regional capability and momentum of the group in the Near Abroad. ISIS will likely gain new support in Afghanistan and possibly globally due to the death of the Taliban’s leader, Mullah Omar. ISIS is also expanding operations in Yemen, Libya and Egypt, which may provoke direct conflict between ISIS and al Qaeda. ISIS will likely intensify regional operations, possibly within Turkey, as it faces pressure within Syria and Iraq from Turkey and other anti-ISIS forces. ISIS will also likely attempt to open other border crossings between ISIS’s interior and Near Abroad positions. » More

Could a Long-Term Solution to Boko Haram Come from the World Bank?

Muhammadu Buhari, president of Nigeria. Image: Chatham House/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the Institute for Security Studies on 7 August 2015.

When it comes to the fight against Boko Haram, Nigeria’s new president Muhammadu Buhari has been busy. He has finally got the Multinational Joint Task Force up and running, which combines troops from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria into one regional force: a necessary weapon against what has always been a regional rather than national problem.

He has worked to repair frayed relations with regional leaders like Idriss Déby of Chad and, more recently, Cameroon’s Paul Biya. His visit to Cameroon in July culminated in an agreement to allow troops from both countries to engage in ‘hot pursuit’ across borders, which will make it harder for militants to skip across national boundaries to evade capture. » More

What’s Eating Turkey? Ankara and the Islamic State

Protesters expressing their solidarity with the victims of the Suruc terror attack. Image: Voice Of America/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 30 July, 2015.

On July 20, Turkey suffered one of its deadliest suicide bombing attacks in recent memory, which claimed more than 30 lives. While the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has not yet claimed responsibility, all signs point toward them as the culprits. The location, timing, and the identity of the victims were just too specific to think otherwise.

The setting of this grisly attack was the town of Suruc, the pathway to the Syrian town of Kobane, where ISIL lost a long and bloody battle to the YPG (People’s Protection Units), which enjoyed American air support. The timing was also distinctive. The suicide attack took place the day after Syrian Kurds and their sympathizers in Turkey celebrated the third anniversary of the “Rojava [Western Kurdistan] Revolution” of 2012,when the PYD (Democratic Unity Party) formally declared its intention to govern and defend Kurdish-populated areas in Syria in the wake of the withdrawal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces from these enclaves. » More

Combatting Terrorism: Soft Power Approaches

Bedouin protest over the recent terrorist attacks in 2006. Image: John Barker/Flickr

This article was originally published on 20 July 2015 by The Strategist, a blog run by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

Over a decade of securitised transnational approaches to combatting terrorist activity and propaganda have shown that such approaches are ineffective on their own. Sometimes, these ‘hard power’ measures can actually damage efforts to roll back the appeal and participation in violent extremism.

While such steps may be justified in domestic contexts where threats are critical or imminent, failure to accompany these with robust ‘soft power’ initiatives will prove fatal in the longer-term. If we are to succeed in countering violent extremism, these are some key strategies to invest in: » More

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