Tag Archives: Violent Extremism

Kenya: time for a new approach after al Shabab Garissa attack

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History repeats.

Kenya: 142 civilians dead.

Even writing about it is painful. As parents of the students at Garissa and the public in Kenya are mourning the dead in Easter vigils, they are likely to be feeling a mix of emotions.  One of them is anger.

A growing number of attacks have been perpetrated by al Shabab since 2011 on military targets, security forces, political figures and civilians in Kenya . And despite proclamations to the contrary by top Kenyan politicians, the media is saying that little has changed in the Kenyan government’s response.

But even more worrying than the public anger towards the slow response by the Kenyan security forces to the intelligence and the latest attack, is the growing communal tensions that al Shabab attacks are fueling. Unless the Kenyan government is visible in employing a different approach, the massacre at the university in Garissa and the government response  is likely to stoke the divides even further and contribute to the increasing marginalization of Muslim communities in the country.

 

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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?

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.

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American Sniper. The media takes more than potshots in war

 

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I can’t imagine there was much popcorn munching as cinema-goers in Baghdad sat watching American Sniper.

The film about Chris Kyle and his record assassination of Iraqis opened last weekend in Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt, sparking outrage at the film’s depiction of both Iraqis and the main character. While turnout in those countries was relatively low, the number of Americans who saw the movie- reportedly people who hadn’t visited the cinema in years- is testimony to its popularity here. As one viewer in the United States expressed to me:

“Finally a movie that doesn’t trash our hard work in wars around the world. I ‘m tired of all the films that make America and American soldiers out to be the bad guy”.

Whatever our personal thoughts, the views that are being expressed illustrate  the increasingly instrumental role that the media plays in shaping opinions about war, and in modern warfare itself.

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Charlie Hebdo & our right to 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, and sometimes uninformed, commentary. But let’s not forget that its our right to say what we want. Here are four of the most interesting off-the-mark commentaries in the mainstream media on the Charlie Hebdo attack:

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 say what we want. Four off-the-mark commentaries

Thank you Charlie Hebdo. What we can learn from the debate on the Paris cartoon attack

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One of the few positive things that has come out of the tragic attack and killing of the Charlie Hebdo satire cartoonists in Paris is the depth of the debate that we’re seeing concerning freedom of speech, ethics, inequality and other issues. There are many divergent reactions and opinions out there and, alongside the inevitable vitriol, there’s some very candid reflection.

The attack on Charlie Hebdo is not just about cartoonists and killers, obviously.

This is evident in that the commentary touches upon everything from immigration issues, foreign fighters, capitalism, modernity and societal inequalities to our methods used in the war on terror. These seemingly disparate issues are being linked, disputed, disregarded, and- most importantly- debated.

Here are nine of the best English-language pieces out there on the Charlie Hebdo cartoon Paris attack (and some quotes from them) that are pushing us to think harder, deeper and perhaps even more laterally, about the killings and the entire associated problematic.  Watch out for the expletives!

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The Torture Report: can we come out of the dark?

The investigative report of the Senate Intelligence Committee on the Central Intelligence Agency’s rendition, interrogation and detention practices, also known as the ‘Torture Report’ has been released today. The controversial and much awaited report will likely fuel a heated public debate globally and will undoubtedly have policy implications both domestically and internationally.

We interviewed Major Jason Wright*, who served for 3 years as military defense counsel for Guantanamo Bay detainee and alleged 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

In this exclusive interview, we look at the U.S. interrogation program post 9/11, the methods used, and whether the CIA’s use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ elicited “life- saving intelligence” for the United States. We explore the implications for military commissions and upholding the rule of law, the U.S.’ image overseas and our continued efforts in fighting terror.

Click here to watch a video of the  interview or read a summary  below.

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