Is a Terrorist Attack Imminent in South Africa?

People waving the South African flag. Image: Dan H/Flickr

This article was originally published by ISS Africa on 18 September, 2015.

On Tuesday 8 September, the United States (US) Diplomatic Mission to South Africa issued a rare security message entitled Terrorist Threat to US Interest in South Africa. The alert warns citizens about a potential attack on US interests and facilities, and advises US citizens in the country to be vigilant and take appropriate steps to enhance personal security.

The alert came as a surprise to many South Africans and was met with mixed reactions. Some questioned the credibility of the information and the feasibility of a potential attack on the continent’s most advanced liberal democracy, which has been relatively stable since 1994. Conspiracy theories have also emerged, describing the alert as part of a strategy to destabilise South Africa and weaken its economy by creating panic. » More

Militant Attack and Support Zones in Afghanistan: April – September 2015 (Institute for the Study of War)

Attack and support zones of ISIS, Taliban and other militants in Afghanistan (click for detailed view). Map: Evan Sterling/Institute for the Study of War

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

Taliban elements and other militant groups are conducting operations across Afghanistan, including spectacular attacks against major population centers and U.S. bases. The Haqqa­ni Network, a Taliban aligned-group, continues to pressure the ANSF and NATO forces with spectacular attacks in Kabul and Khost. Taliban elements are also conducting numerous ground assaults to seize district centers, especially in northern and southern Afghanistan. These campaigns comprised the 2015 warm weather from April 2015- September 2015. There have been several notable developments following the announcement of the death of Mullah Omar onJuly 29. First, Taliban militants have claimed control of two district cen­ters in Helmand on August II and August 26. Second, ISIS’s Wilayat Khorasan have claimed control of seven district centers in Nangarhar over the course of July and September. Third, Taliban infighting has escalated as different factions compete and express varying positions on who should lead the Taliban movement. » More

Buhari’s Make or Break Strategy against Boko Haram

Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria. Image: U.S. Institute of Peace/Flickr

This article was originally published by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) on 4 September, 2015.

On 5 September 2015, Muhammadu Buhari will mark the first 100 days of his presidency. As expectations are high, particularly regarding his strategy and actions against Boko Haram, these first 100 days are a useful indicator of what is to come.

As Michael Watkins puts it in the Harvard Business Review, ‘what new leaders do in their early days has a disproportionate impact on all that follows’.

While this is not his first time at Nigeria’s helm, this former major general faces far different challenges than during his first tenure as military head of state from 1983 to 1985. » More

After Palmyra, What Can the World Do to Protect Cultural Treasures?

Lion in the garden of Palmyra Archeological Museum. Image: Mappo/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by The Conversation on 2 September, 2015.

There has been much public condemnation of the destruction of the Temple of Bel at Palmyra by Islamic State (IS), as well as the wider devastation being inflicted on the cultural heritage of Syria and Iraq by both IS and its opponents in Syria’s civil war.

Both Syria and Iraq are party to all relevant treaties protecting cultural heritage, but this has not stopped the rampant violations. This implies that the problem doesn’t lie with inadequate laws, but rather with compliance and enforcement. » More

Is the Islamic State Winning or Losing?

Jihadist waving the flag of the Islamic State. Image: Alatele fr/Flickr

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 1 September, 2015.

A little over a year ago, thousands of Yazidi refugees huddled at the top of Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq. They faced extermination at the hands of the Islamic State, or ISIL, and their plight was grave enough to trigger the United States to launch a humanitarian rescue mission to deliver food and protect the refugees. The United States military started dropping food to the refugees on August 7 and on August 8 started dropping bombs on Islamic State fighters.

August 2014 was a watershed month in the battle against ISIL. It represented the moment that ISIL burst into American national consciousness. It was also the month that ISIL first beheaded American captives, and the month that the group reached its greatest territorial expansion as its forces invaded parts of Iraqi Kurdistan and appeared to threaten Baghdad. » More

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