Countering violent extremism – and drones

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American concern with violent extremism focused on Muslims. Problems of understanding. Killing by drone an easy option, but is it legal? Does it make things worse? In February the White House hosted a three day CVE (“Countering Violent Extremism”) Summit, the centrepiece of dozens of CVE events, briefings, and gatherings in …

America in the Middle East: blind man’s buff

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America in the Middle East: blind man's buffas Washington’s Palestine and Iran assumptions change, it is taking less of a leadership role, and in the prevailing Sunni/Shia conflicts finds itself on both sides. An assessment issued by Stratfor the US consultancy close to the Pentagon and the CIA immediately after the Saudi attack on Yemen ends with the …

Rebuilding Somalia

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Somalia, on the fringe of WAND’s area of interest and mainly of concern to Yemen, has recovered control of most of its territory since 2012 and may be on the way to shedding its "failed state" label. UN representative suggests 2015 may be make or break. Somalia is a member of the Arab League although Somalis do …

Yemen: falling apart

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The Houthis now control most of the north including the capital Sana’a and the port of Hudaida. The Southern Movement, with representatives from the whole of southern region, is demanding independence. Meanwhile refugees flood into Yemen from the Horn of Africa. The Houthi rebellion which began 10 years ago around Sa’da in Northern Yemen is essentially tribal. The Houthis are Zaidi Shia (as are many other northern Yemenis), not the same as the Twelver Shia of Iran, Iraq, Bahrain and the Shia minorities in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. …

Somalia – light at the end of the tunnel?

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Somalia, the archetypal failed state, is still suffering but may be on the mend. The Islamic militants of al-Shabab have suffered another military setback with the fall of Barawe, their "capital" and main remaining port, to a combination of Somali and African forces (without military intervention from the international community, except …

FGM

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The UK House of Commons home affairs committee has published a report on female genital mutilation (), sometimes known as female circumcision. The report mainly concerns the problem in Britain where there are said to be up to 170,000 victims, mostly or entirely among immigrants from countries where it is prevalent; it has been illegal for 29 years …

American attitudes: a view from William Polk

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As Washington takes a first tentative step towards re-involvement in Iraq (inserting 300 "military advisers") and Republicans in Congress call for airstrikes and use of special forces we depart from our usual pattern and circulate below an analysis, longer than our usual items and centring on America. For this we are grateful …

Obama, the military and the Middle East

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President Obama's speech at West Point on 28 May did not offer a new Obama doctrine. That was no bad thing, but has earned him some bad press; the article from the Toronto Globe and Star below describes it as "more like a sad attempt by a diminished leader to rationalize his …

America’s role

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America's role Today's posting, for which we thank Conflicts Forum, departs from our usual practice is two ways: it is very long, and it is primarily about America rather than the Middle East. The thesis is, however critically important for an understanding of the Middle East. It is that the USA enjoys greater security than any power in world history, …

Somalia: fragile progress

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Geographically on the periphery of WAND’s area of interest, Somalia is a member of the Arab League and important to its neighbours in Arabia as an arena for al-Qa’ida linked activity. The Security Council was told yesterday 30 October that there was promise of a new Somalia emerging from decades of violence and instability, but the promise remains …