PKKistan: Brought to You by American Close Air Support

Parts of the Kurdish autonomous territory (red and blue) in northern Syria. Image: PANONIAN/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 22 June 2015.

Last week, Kurdish forces fighting for the Syria-based Democratic Union Party (PYD) wrested control of the border town of Tel Abyad from the Islamic State. The seizure of the town cut off a key supply line to the Islamic State’s de-facto capital in Raqqa and allowed for the unification of two Kurdish controlled cantons, Kobane and Jazira, between which sits Tel Abyad.

The victory came after the Islamic State nearly defeated PYD forces in Kobane last October, before the dramatic increase in coalition air strikes helped turn the tide of the battle. During the Islamic State’s siege of Kobane, the United States set up a conduit for the PYD to provide targeting data to a military planning office in Erbil, which is then relayed to coalition aircraft. The PYD has since relied heavily on U.S. airpower to aid in their advance and eventual capture of IS-held territory. » More

The Myth of Entangling Alliances

US President Harry Truman signing the North Atlantic Treaty on 24 August, 1949. Image: Abbie Rowe/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 9 June 2015.

For the first 165 years of its history, the United States did not form any alliances besides the one it signed with France during the Revolutionary War. Instead, U.S. leaders followed George Washington’s advice to “steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world,” a recommendation subsequently enshrined in Thomas Jefferson’s inaugural pledge: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.” » More

Peace in an Age of Terrorism: Can the AU Achieve Vision 2020?

The flag of the African Union. Image: wikimedia

This article was originally published by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) on 12 June 2015.

A Solemn Declaration at the 50th anniversary of the African Union (AU) in 2013 outlined the vision to ‘end all wars in Africa by 2020′. However, prospects for ‘silencing the guns’ are fast eroding. With only five years remaining, no significant progress has been made.

The success of Vision 2020 is also crucial for achieving Agenda 2063 – the AU’s ambitious development plan that seeks to transform Africa into a prosperous, integrated, well-governed and peaceful continent by 2063.

Achieving Vision 2020 depends on Africa’s ability to successfully tackle the root causes of conflicts, putting an end to impunity and eradicating piracy, and also whether it manages to combat extremism, armed rebellions, terrorism, transnational organised crime and cybercrime. The AU is yet to roll out a comprehensive plan with targeted deadlines on how to eliminate these issues at various levels. This raises concerns about how serious the organisation is about accomplishing what many would see as an impossible task. » More

Military-wise, There Is No Europe

Image: geralt/Pixabay

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 3 June 2015.

For two decades a wide variety of plans, guidelines and roadmaps have been published and issued on European defense matters. The adoption of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), the creation of the European Union Military Committee and European Union Military Staff, the development of the European Defence Agency, the inception of the European Union Battlegroups, and the implementation of several military crisis management operations from Kosovo to Somalia and Iraq to Guinea-Bissau, are all examples of the process by which European states are trying to facilitate the creation of a new post-Cold War era military dimension to European politics. In other words, these above-mentioned projects have been attempts to form a European-wide approach to security and defense policy. » More

‘Parrhesia’: the Radical Destruction of Impunity

French Philosopher Michel Foucault. Image: thierry ehrmann/Flickr

This article was originally published by OpenSecurity on 26 May 2015 as part of the “States of Impunity” series.

Impunity is not simply a juridical, technical problem, or some sort of loophole in the law that lawyers, politicians, bureaucrats, and activists can close with greater effort. Impunity lies at the heart of a dispositive that encompasses, neutralizes and even recuperates almost all attempts to redress it. We have come to this disturbing realization on the basis of both empirical and theoretical attempts to understand how contemporary legal, political or civil-society practices run the risk, despite their benevolence, of falling into the propagandistic rhetoric, social conformism and bureaucratic indifference that feed impunity. » More

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