Seventy years ago yesterday, the Royal Navy battlecruiser the HMS Hood was destroyed by the German battleship the Bismarck, striking the British national security apparatus with panic. Although the Hood was 20 years old when it faced off against the Bismarck, it was still one of the largest, fastest and most powerful warships in the world. It was also the most visible symbol of British naval power, having conducted many “show the flag” cruises during the interwar period. The loss of the Hood inspired an intense, emotional desire for vengeance on the part of the Royal Navy, as well as […]
China is calling for the international community to help fight what it calls a homegrown terrorist problem in mostly Muslim Xinjiang. The Chinese government accuses the region’s Uighur minority population of seeking independence through violence, while the Uighurs blame Beijing for suppressing their culture and religion.
Much has been written about the potential impact that the demise of Osama bin Laden and the possible disintegration of al-Qaida will have on U.S. foreign policy, beginning with the question of whether this will trigger a more rapid disengagement from Afghanistan. But bin Laden’s death could also change the foreign policy calculus of other states, notably Russia, which for the past 10 years has promulgated its own version of the global war on terror as a central organizing principle for international affairs. Even before the Sept. 11 attacks, Moscow had already seen bin Laden as a threat to the […]
India’s policy of continued engagement with Pakistan took a blow in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s killing in Abbottabad, barely 100 yards from the gates of a Pakistani military academy. Islamabad’s alleged role in shielding bin Laden — and perhaps other terrorist organizations that pose a direct threat to India — has driven calls to modify New Delhi’s outreach initiative toward its South Asian neighbor. It has also resurrected the question dogging Indian policymakers since the 2008 Mumbai massacre: Should India continue to engage with Pakistan even though Islamabad cultivates terrorist groups as a strategic option and harbors some […]
If the death of Osama bin Laden marks the beginning of the end of the “global war on terrorism,” as Michael Cohen argued in a WPR briefing this week, it will have profound consequences for U.S. national security policy. For the last decade, the fight against international terrorism, as personified by bin Laden, was one of the central organizing principles of American foreign and defense policies. Preventing another Sept. 11 was the rationale for the military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as for a whole host of programs in dozens of countries around the world, ranging from security […]
DENPASAR, Indonesia — With Indonesia experiencing an escalation of terrorist violence, local analysts have focused on trying to determine who is behind each of the recent attacks. Assessing the nature and affiliation of the groups responsible is certainly important. But the current situation may be the result of several converging trends that suggest Indonesia must confront some of its persistent demons if it wants to contain terrorism. In its latest report, entitled “Indonesian Jihadism: Small Groups, Big Plans,” the International Crisis Group (ICG) outlined how homegrown terrorism in Indonesia has lately taken on a new form, with small cells operating […]
With the debate raging over whether the Obama administration should release Osama bin Laden’s long-form death certificate, it seems like a good moment to point out that from an intelligence standpoint, we already know way too much about the operation that led to bin Laden’s death. The administration, which so successfully managed to maintain operational secrecy leading up to the mission, seems to have given no thought to the value of secrecy in its aftermath. The most obvious example is the revelation that, in addition to killing bin Laden, U.S. forces also made off with loads of valuable hard drives […]
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must have winced when he heard Hamas’ reaction to the killing of Osama bin Laden. For years the PA has worked to clean up its image, from that of the fatigue-clad, pistol-packing Yasser Arafat to one of a mainstream, diplomatically palatable would-be country ready to join the international community. But just days after Abbas’ Fatah reached a reconciliation agreement with its rival Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ top man in Gaza, praised bin Laden as a “martyr” and an “Arab holy warrior.” Making matters worse, Haniyeh condemned the United States for killing the head of al-Qaida […]
As details of the successful raid against Osama bin Laden’s Abbotabad compound come to light, it is becoming clear that the assault was the most important, and probably the most successful, operation in the history of U.S. special operations forces. Instead of Air Force bombs or Navy missiles, President Barack Obama opted for the special skills and capabilities of a Navy SEAL team to eliminate the al-Qaida leader. The reason is simple: A bomb or missile might have more easily killed bin Laden, but only special forces could confirm his death, recover his body and capture a trove of materials […]
The United States and Pakistan have sustained a decades-old partnership on the strength of a Cold War alliance and a set of narrow but shared vital interests. However, the relationship has undergone profound changes as a result of the Afghan War, which on one hand has forced the two countries into an awkward but necessary embrace, and on the other exposed deep and potentially irreconcilable differences. At the core of this rift is Pakistan’s duplicitous regional strategy, whereby Islamabad provides critical logistics and intelligence support to America while aiding or turning a blind eye to its extremist enemies. For years […]
The killing of Osama bin Laden in a comfortable neighborhood not far from Pakistan’s capital has again illustrated the fundamentally ambiguous nature of the security relationship between Washington and Islamabad. In the past, Pakistani authorities have played a key role in capturing or killing al-Qaida leaders, mainly because many of the most prominent international terrorists are located on their territory. This has led to suspicions that some terrorists enjoy the support of influential Pakistanis. Bin Laden appears to have had similar protection, an impression reinforced by the fact that his enormous compound was a stone’s throw from Pakistani military facilities […]
Not surprisingly, people in the Taliban-controlled areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border have turned out — some of their own volition, many under duress — to mourn Osama bin Laden’s death and to threaten the United States and its allies. Yet, as a Pew survey documented, the idolization once lavished upon bin Laden seems to have waned in recent years among Muslim polities. The sociopolitical change now being sought by Middle Eastern masses protesting their countries’ secular and religious autocracies is a far cry from the caliphate that bin Laden envisioned. Islamist militant groups like Hamas in Gaza have condemned the […]
The pro-democracy uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East have moved crisis-ridden Pakistan out of the global spotlight. This is unfortunate, because Pakistan’s timid democratic resurgence faces a variety of obstacles, and its stability is more uncertain than ever before. To expect that Pakistan may soon experience a similar democratic transformation is not only excessively optimistic, but also ignores recent history: Pakistan exhausted its own “Arab Street” moment in 2007, when Gen. Pervez Musharraf was forced to resign following demonstrations by a diverse and vibrant civil society movement led by Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. That was […]
The world’s most notorious manhunt in recent history is over, as Washington confirms it has eliminated its number one terrorist. This spot by the Russian government-owned Russia Today features commentary by Ahmed Quraishi, Senior Research Fellow with the Pakistan-based think-tank International Analyst Network. Quraishi argues Osama bin Laden’s death has provided the U.S. with a way to save face and withdraw from Afghanistan.