Terrorism Articles

This image made from an undated video shows Tarkhan Batirashvili, known as Omar al-Shishani, among a group of Islamic State fighters (AP Photo/militant social media account via AP video).

Syria Jihadi Role Puts Georgia’s Extremists in Spotlight

By Michael Cecire
, , Briefing

The overrepresentation of Chechens from Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge in Syria’s Islamist rebel leadership has reignited interest in the rugged valley bordering Chechnya. But it has also led to fears that Pankisi may be used as a casus belli for Russian intervention into Georgia.

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The Realist Prism

For U.S., Middle East ‘Moderates’ a Fool’s Errand

By Nikolas Gvosdev
, , Column

The elusive unicorns wandering the forests of America’s Middle East policy are the so-called moderates who will battle the extremists on behalf of the West. There is a touching faith in the existence of these moderates. However, finding them has proved to be an impossible challenge. more

Strategic Horizons

Can U.S. Build a Better Iraqi Army the Second Time Around?

By Steven Metz
, , Column

For the U.S., getting out of Iraq required rebuilding the Iraqi army. But the raw material that U.S. military advisers and trainers had to work with was not optimal. To defeat the Islamic State group, the Iraqi army will have to be organized on professional and not sectarian grounds. more

Strategic Horizons

U.S. Strategy for Defeating the Islamic State Group Won't Work

By Steven Metz
, , Column

President Barack Obama’s strategy for dealing with the Islamic State group appeals to a weary nation, but it is unlikely to work because it violates two cardinal rules of strategy: The resources are not commensurate with the objectives, and the coalition’s objectives are not in sync. more

Boko Haram, Corruption Purges Put Cameroon on Edge

By Alex Thurston
, , Briefing

Alongside the political risks of President Paul Biya’s desire to stay in power indefinitely, two short-term problems stoke anxiety in Cameroon: the potential for destructive escalation in the fight with Boko Haram, and the ambiguous effects of an aggressive anti-corruption campaign. more

Waiting for Disruption: The Western Sahara Stalemate

By Jacob Mundy
, , Feature

The Western Sahara conflict is fast approaching its 40th anniversary with no end in sight. A web of geopolitical interests keeps the conflict in a permanent state of limbo. Therein lies the paradox: The peace process now exists to contain the conflict, but only a crisis will save Western Sahara. more

Global Insider

Peace With the PKK High Priority for Erdogan Presidency

By The Editors
, , Trend Lines

In an email interview, Mehmet Ümit Necef, associate professor at the Centre for Contemporary Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Southern Denmark, discussed the prospect of peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) under the Erdogan presidency. more

Strategic Horizons

The Price of Defeating the Islamic State

By Steven Metz
, , Column

Destroying the Islamic State would be a very good thing. The danger is that American political leaders and strategic thinkers will reprise their tradition of overestimating U.S. power and underestimating the costs of destroying a fanatical transnational terrorist organization. more

Special Report

Zero Solutions: Challenges Mount for Erdogan's Turkey

By The Editors
, , Report

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s shift from the prime ministership to the presidency symbolizes a deeper shift for Turkey. While Erdogan has made progress towards peace with the Kurdish minority, he faces criticism for an increasingly autocratic ruling style, and Turkey’s international relations are under strain.

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Al-Shabab: A Close Look at East Africa's Deadliest Radicals

By Peter Dörrie
, , Feature

More than any other organization, Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahedeen, widely known as al-Shabab, has left its mark on the recent history of Somalia. Political and radical Islam have a long history in the country, but no group has survived longer than al-Shabab, and no group has emerged stronger from challenges and setbacks. Today, the group has emerged from an existential crisis and looks stronger than it has in years. Though al-Shabab is often referred to as simply a “terrorist group,” the term does not accurately describe the range of the group’s activities.

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In Training Partner Militaries, U.S. Should Not Rush to ‘Do Something’ in Africa

By Michelle Sieff
, , Briefing

As African heads of state gather in Washington this week for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the continent’s overall security progress shouldn’t obscure its ongoing challenges, including violent Islamist extremism. With the shift in U.S. counterterrorism strategy from direct to indirect action—training partner or indigenous troops—U.S. policymakers and the military must confront critical strategic and practical issues. more