Who Killed Giovanni Lo Porto?

The death of Giovanni Lo Porto, the Italian aid worker killed in a drone strike in Pakistan last January, had the potential for becoming a diplomatic incident–or at least to cause some tension between the US and Italy. This is especially true in light of the modality by which the incident has been disclosed, and Read more about Who Killed Giovanni Lo Porto?[…]

ISIS’ Expedition Into Central Asia: A Spoiler or Boon for the Taliban?

Al-Qaeda concerned itself with establishing the “base conditions” for the Caliphate through its various franchised affiliates (i.e. AQIS, AQAP, AQIM, etc.). Other Islamist movements speak about establishing an Islamic State but are essentially national Islamist movements (such as the Chechen Islamists, Palestinian Hamas, Hezbollah in Lebanon and various Ansar al-Sharia franchises); these groups are pan-Islamist Read more about ISIS’ Expedition Into Central Asia: A Spoiler or Boon for the Taliban?[…]

CIA Drone Campaign Demonstrates Need for Greater Intelligence Oversight, Accountability

A year ago SISMEC pointed out that, although most of the victims of U.S. drone strikes have ostensibly been “militants,” the White House definition of “militant” is extremely vague (generally, any fighting-aged male). Moreover, the purpose of the program isn’t to target any and all possible combatants, but instead to eliminate high-value targets from international terror Read more about CIA Drone Campaign Demonstrates Need for Greater Intelligence Oversight, Accountability[…]

Why Mideast Elections Are Overrated and Often Counterproductive

In his 1997 piece “Was a Democracy Just a Moment?” Robert Kaplan predicted that like Christianity, democracy would not create a more moral or peaceful world, but rather, a more complex one. Right now the erstwhile young democracies of Pakistan and Afghanistan are finding this out the hard way. In Pakistan, the past three months Read more about Why Mideast Elections Are Overrated and Often Counterproductive[…]

Using Non-State Actors to Undermine a Non-State: China, the Taliban and ISIS

A rift may be opening up between jihadist groups in Pakistan that do the bidding of Pakistan’s ISI and want to launch attacks in the Indian Sub-Continent and those bitterly opposed to the ISI who wish to avenge the perceived humiliation of Muslims in China, Central Asia and Myanmar. Included in this latter category is Read more about Using Non-State Actors to Undermine a Non-State: China, the Taliban and ISIS[…]

Barbarians at the Gate: ISIS, Al-Qaeda and India

On September 3rd, Ayman al Zawahiri, the leader of Al Qaeda Central (AQC) announced the establishment of a new branch: al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). Zawahiri, often described as “long on words and short on charm”  delivered a characteristically ambling and inchoate message. He explained how the new group was the “blessed result”  of Read more about Barbarians at the Gate: ISIS, Al-Qaeda and India[…]

Droning on about UAVs: A Metacriticism

“Before we can talk about what is ‘effective’ we have to talk about what the goal is of using military force at all. Is it to make Americans safer? Is it to keep Afghanis, Pakistanis or Yemenis safe? What’s the goal?  The question of being ‘effective’ – if you’re asking do drones work to kill Read more about Droning on about UAVs: A Metacriticism[…]

The Syrian Conflict – An Unnatural Resource

Participation in the Syrian Conflict, albeit token, provides the Tehrik-i-Taliban with important symbolic and material resources. Crisis creates opportunity. The chronic instability, governance vacuums, and bitter fighting characterizing large swaths of Syria has provided some Islamist militant groups a highly-public platform to reap the spoils of conflict. The participation of groups like the Islamic State of Read more about The Syrian Conflict – An Unnatural Resource[…]

The Problem with Pakistan: Drones or Delusions?

The Drone Smokescreen On October 23, 2013, President Obama hosted a meeting with the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in order to discuss a bilateral relationship greatly strained by the killing of Osama Bin Laden on Pakistani soil. Subsequent to the U.S. Navy Seal raid in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011, the U.S. suspended $800 Read more about The Problem with Pakistan: Drones or Delusions?[…]

Hearts for Sale! A Buyer’s Guide to Winning in Afghanistan (Excerpt)

A beloved and well-respected Afghan civil society leader, Dr. Mohammad Saeed Niazi once said, “The hearts of the people are for sale—but not for money.” Genuine caring, respect, and service “buy” hearts; and those hearts freely offer the legitimacy governments embroiled in counterinsurgency so crave. Dr. Niazi’s words suggest that neither the secret to earning Read more about Hearts for Sale! A Buyer’s Guide to Winning in Afghanistan (Excerpt)[…]

That Haven-Hopping Al-Qaeda Finds a Viable Landing Pad in the Sinai

What the vacuous security situation means for Egypt, her neighbors, and the U.S. As U.S. drone strikes and targeted killings in states like Pakistan and Yemen continue to make life for terrorists there less and less sustainable, the ethereal group of Islamic Salafists who self-identify as al-Qaeda seem to be adapting to this new brand Read more about That Haven-Hopping Al-Qaeda Finds a Viable Landing Pad in the Sinai[…]

New Hosts of Drone Bowl III?

Reaping Ungovernability in North Africa In the previous edition of the bulletin SISMEC pondered Western involvement in trying to deny al-Qaeda a safe haven in North Africa, wondering if we might see another invasion. It seems that we were provided an answer this week as Niger gave approval for the establishment of a US drone Read more about New Hosts of Drone Bowl III?[…]

Blowback nothing?

Colin Owens Christopher Swift’s article “Strikes in Yemen Aren’t Pushing People to Al Qaeda” (July 2012) draws conclusions about the expanded U.S./Yemen drone program in Yemen, including signature strikes, based on interviews concerning a different and limited Yemen campaign. While the article argues that al-Qaeda recruitment in Yemen is largely driven by economics, and that Read more about Blowback nothing?[…]

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not?

Winners and Losers in the Pakistani Political Sweepstakes It is often said in Pakistan that the only way for a government to survive in is to please all of the real powers in that country – Allah (i.e. the religious establishment), the Army, and America. That was much simpler in the days when the Army Read more about Who’s Hot and Who’s Not?[…]

US-Pakistani Relations: We still agree on drones.

US-Pakistani Relations: Raymond Davis gets between frenemies While the Raymond Davis incarceration appeared to stress US–Pakistani relations, a look at US drone attacks conducted on Pakistani soil after his arrest tells a very different story. Attacks stopped abruptly with Davis’ capture on January 27 but the drone hiatus lasted less than half the period of Read more about US-Pakistani Relations: We still agree on drones.[…]