The plight of the Indian freighter MV Asphalt Venture has added a new dimension to India’s fight against piracy in the Indian Ocean. In a first, a spokesperson for pirates based in Harardhere, Somalia, announced last week that they had reached a “consensus” decision to retain seven Indian sailors as hostages — even though the pirates had released the ship itself after receiving the full ransom from its Mumbai-based owners. The move is an attempt to achieve the release of about 120 Somali pirates currently held in Indian prisons following a series of Indian naval actions in the Indian Ocean […]
The wave of violence gripping Iraq intensified Monday when a double suicide car bombing killed at least six people and wounded 20 outside the heavily fortified entrance of Baghdad’s Green Zone. The bombings — likely carried out by Sunni groups linked to al-Qaida — could allow Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to strengthen his hold on power, says J. Edward Conway, a World Politics Review contributor and former U.S. Defense Department analyst covering Iraq. “With the ongoing attacks, he’s basically allowed to play the security card,” Conway told Trend Lines this morning. “Some are worried that al-Maliki is acting more […]
On April 5, the Obama administration delivered a stark evaluation of Pakistan’s counterterrorism campaign to Congress, stating that “there remains no clear path toward defeating the insurgency” (.pdf) festering in the country’s northwestern regions. Over the past decade, militants have killed thousands of Pakistani civilians and wreaked devastation on the country’s fragile economy. And since 2001, 2,575 Pakistani soldiers have been killed in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations. Why, then, have Pakistan’s leaders failed to develop a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy? It is true that Pakistan has made important progress against militancy in recent years. Starting in mid-2009, the army began a […]
One of the worst-case scenarios looming over the West and moderate Muslims in Arab countries is that extremist groups could hijack the current wave of pro-democracy revolutions or otherwise take advantage of the unrest to expand their footprints and strengthen their operational capabilities. Nowhere are those fears better-founded than in Yemen, where conditions have for years made the country a prime candidate to succeed Afghanistan as a base of operations for al-Qaida. While an outcome that benefits al-Qaida is far from assured, there are strong reasons to believe this is a plausible scenario and clear factors that would make such […]
The announcement this week that the United States is effectively pulling its longtime support for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in favor of political transition in Yemen have spawned a fresh wave of reports about the threat of al-Qaida in the country. The country’s political tumult has prompted many Yemeni military troops to abandon their posts, while others have been summoned to the capital, according to the New York Times, which reports that the resulting power vacuum is being filled by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. The extent and true nature of the al-Qaida threat in Yemen, however, continue to […]
In March, Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor who shot and killed two men rumored to be agents of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, was released in return for a $2 million payment to the victims’ families. In an email interview, Shaun Gregory, a professor at Bradford University and director of the Pakistan Security Research Unit there, discussed relations between the CIA and ISI. WPR: What are the main areas of cooperation — and mistrust — between the CIA and ISI? Shaun Gregory: The interests of the CIA and ISI most closely converge around the fight against al-Qaida as well as […]
Scottish politician Alex Salmond has confirmed that prosecutors in Scotland are asking the British Foreign Office for permission to interview former Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa, one of Muammar Gadaffi’s closest confidants who defected to the United Kingdom this week.