Syrian Rebel Use of Social Media

Image by amnestylondon/Flickr.

The Syrian rebels and their support networks use social media for a variety of purposes including self-promotion, fundraising, directing attacks, and exchanging tactics. While the rebels would still be able to operate in the absence of social media, their financing and combat capabilities would be diminished, as would the influence of some high-profile rebel leaders.


Social media plays a central role in the fundraising efforts of both rebel groups and of Gulf-based private funders such as the Kuwaiti Haia al-Shaabiya l-Daam al-Shaab al-Suri (The Popular Commission to Support the Syrian People). This financial network is run by two young Kuwaiti religious sheikhs, named Hajaj al-Ajmi and Irshid al-Hajri. During a late-May 2012 interview, al-Ajmi discussed his efforts to arm and fund Syrian rebel groups, both in the Free Syrian Army and the Salafist Ahrar al-Sham network. Al-Ajmi emphasized the power of Twitter where, at the time, he had over 42,000 followers, many of whom retweet his religious guidance and appeals for funds. Today, al-Aljmi boasts over 120,000 Twitter followers who receive his tweets encouraging donations.


International Peacekeeping in Africa: Conference Roundup

Burundi peacekeepers preparing for the next rotation to Somalia. Photo: US Army Africa/flickr

On 23-24 November, colleagues from our parent organization, the Center for Security Studies (CSS), hosted a two-day conference entitled International Peacekeeping in Africa: Actors and Missions.  The event brought together an assortment of academics and practitioners to discuss a broader range of issues than the conference’s title suggests. And since the majority of the sessions were by-invitation only, today we would like to present a series of brief podcasts that summarize some of the research topics raised and discussed at the conference.


India, Japan and the US Step on the Gas

Obama and  Singh participate at Hyderabad House, New Delhi.
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh participate in a bilateral meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2010.

The third trilateral dialogue between India, Japan and the United States was held in New Delhi on 29 October 2012. This series of dialogues began on 19 December 2011 in Washington DC, with a second held in Tokyo on 23 April 2012. The Indian delegation at the New Delhi meeting was led by the Joint Secretary for East Asia in India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Gautam Bambawale, the Japanese delegation by the Deputy Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kenji Hiramatsu, and the US delegation by Robert Blake, the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia.

The three countries discussed a wide variety of issues from the prospects of cooperation between the three countries in Myanmar, Africa and Afghanistan, as well as ways and means to pool their resources in the fight against piracy.


2012 Advanced Distributed Learning Working Group Meeting: Introducing Learning Solutions for Today’s Mobile World

Editors Note: In order to inform our readers about some of the existing and new technologies that are available for mobile and e-based learning, today we feature a brief report from the ISN’s Training and ADL Competence Center.

From 6-8 November 2012, the Partnership for Peace Consortium’s Advanced Distributed Learning Working Group (ADL WG) staged its annual meeting in Vienna, Austria. The event – hosted by the Austrian National Defence Academy and organized by the International Relations and Security Network (ISN) and Partnership for Peace Consortium (PfPC) – primarily focused on mobile learning opportunities, although it also concentrated on other IT-based learning technologies, methods, tools and future standards. What follows is a brief overview of some of the key issues and developments covered during the meeting.

November 6:  Introducing Tools to Support Mobile Learning

ADL WG meetings traditionally begin by introducing new tools and methods that are ready for immediate use. This year, 35 ADL professionals learnt about the specific challenges of mobile learning and received  hands-on training for a range of tools. They included:


Colombia and the Philippines: Worlds Apart but on the Same Path to Peace


Colombian Paratroops
Colombian Paratroops. Photo by Ronald Dueñas/Flickr.

In addition to their love for telenovelas, as well as their cuisine and religion borne out of a shared Spanish heritage, Colombia and the Philippines now have one more thing in common. This [month], both countries took another step toward peace with their respective armed groups, which could lead to the end of internal conflicts that are among the oldest in the world. On October 15, the Philippines entered into a peace accord with the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Two days later, Colombia’s government began peace talks in Oslo with the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Each of these presents a unique opportunity for civil society to sustain peace by fostering trust and accountability over issues such as land rights, delivery of social services, political participation at the local and national level, and tolerance for other people’s beliefs.