Want to Fight Terrorism? Think Globally, Act Locally

by Khalid Mustafa Medani | published August 4, 2008

Militant Islam is under global scrutiny for clues to conditions that foster its rise, and to strategies for reversing that growth. But the key is not in Islamic doctrine, US foreign policy or formal ties to various nations, as many analysts have asserted. It lies at the community level, with clan and local leaders.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, jihadists remain a minority in Muslim countries. Yet armed militants and suicide bombers continue to wreak havoc worldwide and militant recruitment shows no sign of abating. The reason is found where most recruitment occurs: ungoverned areas of failing or repressive states where public resources are stolen, wasted or otherwise not used for productive social ends.

Human Rights Watch Goes to War

by Mouin Rabbani | published February 1, 2009

The Middle East has always been a difficult challenge for Western human rights organizations, particularly those seeking influence or funding in the United States. The pressure to go soft on US allies is in some respects reminiscent of Washington’s special pleading for Latin American terror regimes in the 1970s and 1980s. In the case of Israel such organizations also face a powerful and influential domestic constituency, which often extends to senior echelons of such organizations, for whom forthright condemnation of Israel is anathema.

Fort Hood Shootings: Again We Will Be Judged for Acts We Didn't Commit

by Moustafa Bayoumi | published November 6, 2009

So much is still unknown about the shooting at Fort Hood Army base and the motives of the alleged shooter, Nidal Malik Hasan, but still I have that same queasy feeling in my stomach that I've had before: this will not be good for Muslims.

First things first. Major Nidal Malik Hasan is in custody. We should judge him fairly and, if he is found guilty, punish him accordingly.

The same is true for Sergeant John M Russell. In May 2009 Russell shot and killed five of his comrades at a combat stress clinic in a US Army base in Iraq. Before that, Sergeant Joseph Bozicevich killed two American soldiers at his base just outside Baghdad in September 2008. What do these incidents point to?

More Troops Won't Do It

by Chris Toensing | published November 13, 2009

For the past two months, President Barack Obama has been weighing Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s request to send an additional 40,000 troops to Afghanistan to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat” al-Qaeda. That same effort, according to Obama, entails ensuring that the Taliban can’t regain control of the country. But a military strategy alone won’t beat al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Achieving lasting stability in Afghanistan will require national political reconciliation, the establishment of a functioning, accountable political system, and a credible government. In this respect, the outcome of Afghanistan’s presidential election, marred by cheating, was a step in the wrong direction.

A New Conversation Peace

by Chris Toensing | published April 9, 2010

Iyad Allawi, the not terribly popular interim premier of post-Saddam Iraq, is in a position to form a government again because he won over the Sunni Arabs residing north and west of Baghdad in the March 7 elections. The vote, while it did not “shove political sectarianism in Iraq toward the grave,” as Allawi would have it, rekindled the hopes of many that “nationalist” sentiment has asserted itself over communal loyalty.

The Reawakened Specter of Iraqi Civil War

by Michael Wahid Hanna | published April 17, 2009

April has already been a cruel month in Iraq. A spate of bombings aimed at Shi‘i civilians in Baghdad has raised fears that the grim sectarian logic that led the capital to civil war in 2005-2007 will reassert itself. On April 6, a string of six car bombs killed at least 37 people; the next day, shortly after President Barack Obama landed in Baghdad, another car bomb killed eight; and on the morrow, still another bomb blew up close to the historic Shi‘i shrine in Kadhimiyya just northwest of the capital’s central districts, taking an additional seven civilian lives.

Pakistan’s Troubled “Paradise on Earth”

by Kamran Asdar Ali | published April 29, 2009

Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in areas of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP) as the army has launched ground operations and air raids to “eliminate and expel” the Islamist militant groups commonly known as the Tehreek-e Taliban or the Taliban in Pakistan (TIP). The targeted districts border Swat, a well-watered mountain vale described as “paradise on earth” in Pakistani tourist brochures, where the provincial government tried to placate the Taliban by agreeing to implement Islamic law (sharia). The February agreement, the Nizam-e Adal regulation, was approved by the lower house of the Pakistani parliament on April 12 and signed into law soon afterward by the president, Asif Zardari.

The Collateral Damage of Lebanese Sovereignty

by Jim Quilty | published June 18, 2007

Residents of Lebanon might be forgiven for wanting to forget the last 12 months. The month-long Israeli onslaught in the summer of 2006, economic stasis, sectarian street violence, political deadlock and assassinations—most recently that of Future Movement deputy Walid ‘Idu, who perished along with ten others in a June 13 car bomb explosion—have weighed heavily upon the country. It is as if the dismembered corpse of the 1975-1990 civil war—assumed to be safely buried—has been exhumed and reassembled, all the more grotesque. Since May 20, the Palestinians in Lebanon, too, have been made to relive past nightmares.

Dangerous Liaisons

Pakistan, India and Lashkar-e Taiba

by Graham Usher | published December 31, 2008

The day after Christmas, the wires buzzed with reports that Pakistan was moving 20,000 troops from its western border with Afghanistan to locations near the eastern border with India. The redeployment, said Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Qureshi, came in response to “certain developments” on the Indian side of the boundary, one reportedly being that New Delhi might be considering military strikes on militant bases inside Pakistan. Pakistani security officials stressed that these moves were “minimum defensive measures”: No soldiers had been taken away from the theater of counterinsurgency operations against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, only from “snowbound areas” where the army sits idle.