United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ appeal in March for a global cease-fire amid the coronavirus pandemic made no impression on the Taliban. Through April, the militant group’s commanders seemed generally dismissive of the risks posed by COVID-19 as they ramped up their annual spring offensive. The disease had yet to make much inroads into Afghanistan and Pakistan at the time. Many Taliban members happily promoted the idea that true believers had nothing to fear, and that the pandemic was only a problem for the decadent West. Accordingly, Taliban officials continued meeting each other normally and, during Ramadan in May, many […]
It is too soon to tell how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect international security. Whether it will provide opportunities for prolonged peace or create conditions for new rivalries and disputes depends on how long the pandemic lasts, how the world moves forward from bungled initial responses and how quickly countries recover from the virus’s societal and economic fallout. But already, the pandemic is exposing and accelerating trends that have made the world more vulnerable to international conflict. That may be surprising, since before the outbreak, most statistics indicated that, on the whole, the world had never been better. People were […]
France announced earlier this month that its armed forces had killed Abdelmalek Droukdel, the emir of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, during a June 3 military operation in northern Mali. The operation, carried out by French troops with the help of intelligence and surveillance aircraft provided by the United States, represents a rare, quantifiable victory for France and its counterterrorism partners in the region as they struggle to contain a bloody insurgency by jihadist groups. A veteran of Algeria’s brutal civil war in the 1990s, Droukdel’s rise and fall in many ways mirrors the fortunes of the organization […]
In early May, a high-speed boat pulled alongside the Rio Mitong, a Panama-flagged cargo vessel, just off the coast of Equatorial Guinea. Using ladders to board the ship, a group of assailants kidnapped two crew members, taking them back to the shore, where they subsequently held them for ransom. Another ship was reportedly attacked that same night, elsewhere in the Gulf of Guinea. These attacks are just two among many recent incidents in this vast and strategically significant body of water, where armed robbery, piracy and kidnappings at sea have escalated in recent years. Though piracy overall has decreased globally, […]
In the early weeks of 2020, the signs pointed to progress in Myanmar’s convoluted effort to finally end 70 years of ethnic strife in its border areas. On Jan. 8, representatives from the government and the 10 ethnic armies that are party to a 2015 cease-fire deal convened in the capital, Naypyidaw, where they reached an eight-point agreement on the next steps to continue implementing that cease-fire. They also vowed to meet for a fourth national peace conference by the end of April, to build on three earlier summits held between 2016 and 2018. That fourth summit would have signaled […]
As Mozambique enters the third month of its lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19, fighting between government troops and a shadowy Islamist militia has escalated significantly in the northernmost province of Cabo Delgado. According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, a global monitoring group, insurgents have stepped up attacks in 2020, with more than 100 “violent events” this year, the precise term ACLED uses based on its methodology—an increase of 300 percent over the same period last year. In roughly 90 of those incidents, militants attacked civilians, resulting in more than 200 reported fatalities, including one […]
With ISIS Resurgent, Can Iraq’s New Government Avoid a Repeat of the Past?
BAGHDAD—The Islamic State is stepping up its attacks in Iraq, fulfilling the expectations of many analysts that the extremist group would mount a comeback after the Iraqi government declared victory over it in 2017. While the Islamic State has yet to show the same capabilities it had at its peak in 2013 and 2014, when it gained control of several provinces and population centers—including Mosul, one of Iraq’s largest cities—the tempo of attacks has been increasing for over six months. This coincides with a period of domestic unrest due to widespread anti-government protests. The U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State […]