Tag Archives: Conflict & Security

Will al Qaeda and violent extremism win as airstrikes continue in Yemen?



Yemen why we should care

This morning at least 29 people died when an IDP camp for Yemenis who had fled from their homes due to conflict was hit by an airstrike.

The Houthis blame the Saudi-Arabian led gulf coalition. President Hadi’s administration blamed Houthi fighters. Meanwhile, the airstrikes against Houthi bases which began wednesday after the Houthis  proceeded toward Aden have continued, with some commentators saying  a proxy war is being played out between the region’s and world’s powers.

We know who are the inevitable losers of this latest conflict- ordinary Yemeni people, many of whom are already impoverished. And there is already a winner emerging: violent extremist group al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, and potentially also ISIS.

Continue reading Will al Qaeda and violent extremism win as airstrikes continue in Yemen?

Women: Healthier, Better Educated, but Not Safe from Violence

 Co-Authored with guest blogger Alys Willman.


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women: Healthier, Better Educated, but Not Safe from Violence


On International Women’s Day, as we reflect on progress toward gender equality, there is cause for some celebration. In several important ways, women’s lives are changing for the better. There have no doubt been gains in women’s empowerment - such as increasing life expectancy, declining fertility rates and a growing number of girls enrolled in primary school.

But in many other ways women around the world remain vulnerable in a fundamental way- to the risk of violence and abuse.

  • Up to 70 per cent of women experience violence in their lifetime, according to country data available.
  • More than 1 in 3 women around the world have been subject to violence- including non-partner sexual violence and violence and committed in their own homes, by people they know.
  • Women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria .

Despite all our gains, women worldwide are still vulnerable to being attacked, raped, brutalized, abused, trafficked and killed. The subjugation and humiliation of women goes on.

Continue reading Women: Healthier, Better Educated, but Not Safe from Violence

Death of ISIS Hostage Kayla Jean Meull

This week, we received the unfortunate news of Kayla Jean Meull’s death. It’s the fourth murder of a U.S. hostage by the hands of ISIS.  The three others, journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid worker Peter Kassig, were beheaded by the group last year. There have, of course, been others– Jordanian military pilot, First Lt. Muath al-Kasasbeh and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, among others.

For those who work in conflict zones, each of these casualties has been unnerving and Kayla Jean Muell’s shouldn’t be any different. But, to me, it feels different.  For me, Kayla’s death is a wake-up call—a reminder of the increasing number of attacks on humanitarian workers, with 296 workers killed or kidnapped in 2013, compared to 94 in 2003.  It’s a reminder that we cannot become immunized by the ever increasing twitter feed, live stream, You Tube showings of the horrific methods employed by the Islamic State on U.S. and other hostages.

Kayla Jean Muell spent a year and a half as a prisoner of the Islamic State and died at the early age of 26. According to statements made by Mueller’s family, she had been working with Support to Life and Danish Relief Council, two aid organizations working on the Turkey-Syrian border with Syrian refugees and felt this was her calling.

There will be others like Kayla Jean Muell. With attacks against aid workers in fragile states, where such violence is predominately driven by civil conflict (Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, Pakistan, among others), there will certainly be others. The statistics assure us that. But for today, we remember Kayla Jean Muell as a person, not a statistic, and her will—as told by her parents—to make a difference.


Where to now? Twists in the Yemen takeover

Co-authored with Danya Greenfield, former Deputy Director, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, Atlantic Council.  

We provide an overview of the rapidly-evolving situation in Yemen following the Houthi rebel takeover of government last week. We look at what this means for the US counter-terrorism strategy and how Yemen’s allies can continue to support the country through this latest political crisis.

Continue reading Where to now? Twists in the Yemen takeover

Why we should care about Yemen (and its not all about Al Qaeda )



You may have noticed Yemen in the news lately. One of the Charlie Hebdo attackers was trained there, and Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the attack. In the last few days, the actions of the Ansarullah group- also known as the Houthi rebels- that took Sana’a in September 2014, culminated with  the capture and resignation of President Hadi amid Houthi demands for constitutional amendments and greater power-sharing.

Yemen’s future is, again, uncertain.

Whilst only a small country, this oft-ailing state is important – and not only because of Al Qaeda’s presence. Instead of heeding the calls to throw-in the towel or send in the troops, here is why (and how) we should continue to care about Yemen:

Look out also for our forthcoming interview on Yemen’s future with Danya Greenfield, Deputy Director of the Rafiq Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council.

Continue reading Why we should care about Yemen (and its not all about Al Qaeda )


In the spirit of Martin Luther King Day, Two Views is highlighting 5 activists working to secure equal rights and social justice around the world.  Here is our list of 5 tireless advocates who have dared to speak up in the hope of making our lives better:

  1. Fatima Jibrell

 0702jibrellIn a country that lacked a central government for nearly two decades, the fate of Somalia’s environment  would seem nearly futile.  Fatima Jibrell, however, persevered  as an environmental activist working to empower local communities to conserve and  manage their natural resources.  In the wake of Somalia’s 1991 civil war, she co-founded the non-profit organization Adeso (previously called the Horn of Africa Relief and Develop Organization). In recognition of her advocacy of community-driven environmental consciousness, Jibrell was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2002 and the National Geographic/Buffet Award for Leadership in African Conservation in 2007.  Most recently in November 2014, she became Somalia’s first Champion of the Earth, the United Nations top environment award.

  1. Emily Stanger

In 2012, emilyForbes Magazine named Emily Stanger to its Top 30 Under 30 list.  Since then, Stanger has been working in Liberia and Sierra Leone to enhance economic opportunities for women in West Africa.  In early 2014, when many were fleeing Sierra Leone during the peak of the Ebola outbreak, Emily redirected her efforts and became an advisor in the Office of the President in Sierra Leone to combat the rapid spread of the ebola virus. One of Stanger’s many contributions to organizing Sierra Leone’s ebola response was spearheading the transformation of a local hotline into a high capacity call center that answered and responded to more than 2,000 ebola-related calls daily. Stanger continues to work tirelessly with the hope that Sierra Leone will be ebola-free in the very near future.


Charlie Hebdo & our right to think and say what we want. Four off-the-mark commentaries

Charlie Hebdo attack opens a Can of Worms, by Jason Crislip The comparison of President Obama to Hitler by Rep. Randy Weber (R) of Texas….Rupert Murdoch’s (unsurprising) comments on the responsibility of ‘all Muslims’….. and Steven Emerson’s ‘leading expert’ blooper on Birmingham being an only-Muslim town….  There’s been quite a bit of “wish I hadn’t said that” in the recent commentary on the Charlie Hebdo attack.

The quest for real insights, a healthy public debate and the spirit of ‘leaving no angle uncovered’ means we’ve seen some less-than-well-thought-out commentary. Regardless, its important to remember that freedom of expression and opinion is a human right- that particularly today – needs to be protected and promoted, but also considered alongside our responsibilities to protect the rights of minority and marginalized groups.

In the spirit of healthy debate, here are four of the most interesting commentaries in the mainstream media on the Charlie Hebdo attack that we believe are”off-the-mark”. We explain why:

1.“We need to talk about virgins in heaven” is the title of this opinion piece published in The Huffington Post, UK edition.
Can we please add name-calling to the list of things we need to talk about, Mr. Sturgis?

Continue reading Charlie Hebdo & our right to think and say what we want. Four off-the-mark commentaries