India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already scored his first diplomatic coup by receiving the heads of state of all the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, including Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, at his swearing-in ceremony Monday. Although Sharif took some time to accept the invitation, the fact that he finally came, in spite of reservations expressed in various quarters in Pakistan, shows that he is willing to stand up to the hard-liners in the Pakistani establishment in an effort to normalize relations with India. For his part, Modi may be better positioned than his predecessor […]

The confirmation process last week for David Barron, a former Obama administration lawyer nominated to the federal judiciary, reopened a debate about the justification for what has come to be known as the U.S. “targeted killing” program. But as the politics of the issue heat up, the administration and its critics seem to be relying on different interpretations of the terminology at the heart of the debate, and their underlying disagreement speaks to broader questions about the future of the American war on terror. For many critics of the administration’s approach to counterterrorism, the term “targeted killing” has come to […]

The mass kidnapping of schoolgirls by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram put an unwelcome spotlight on Nigeria. Though the attention is new, Nigeria’s security and governance deficits are not, with implications for the country’s domestic politics and regional influence. The United States and international partners have a role to play in assisting Nigeria, particularly in terms of improving security, but ultimately it is how Nigeria rises to the challenges it faces that will determine the course of its future. This special report reviews those challenges, and the responses to them, through recently published articles. Domestic Politics Nigeria’s Fault Lines […]

A recent wave of violence in China attributed to members of the Uighur ethnic group, including a knife attack at the Kunming railway station in March that left 29 dead and an explosion at the Urumqi railway station in late April that killed 3, has brought international attention to China’s domestic security policies. China’s northwestern province of Xinjiang has been the scene of simmering ethnic and separatist tensions between the province’s mainly Muslim Uighur majority and the Han Chinese. As the China analyst Kendrick Kuo wrote in WPR in March, the source of the conflict is disputed, with Chinese authorities […]

A year ago this week, President Barack Obama spoke at the National Defense University, where he laid out a vision for how the United States would—slowly—move away from the paradigm of war in confronting the threat posed by terrorism. Every war America has fought, Obama reminded us, has come to an end. So must the war footing, if not the struggle, against global terrorism. What’s happened since then? The State Department’s annual assessment of terrorist networks says terrorist attacks on Americans have continued to decline, with just 16 U.S. citizen fatalities last year. U.S. drone strikes targeting terrorists have also […]

As the U.S. considers how to help Nigeria rescue some 276 schoolgirls kidnapped by the militant group Boko Haram a month ago, domestic political attention is turning to the question of what the U.S. could have done ahead of time. In particular, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has come under fire for declining to add Boko Haram to the State Department’s list of designated foreign terrorist organizations, or FTO list. The implication is that the U.S. had an opportunity to prevent the kidnapping, and that the FTO list would have helped. Secretary of State John Kerry did eventually add […]

France’s announcement that it will reorganize its deployment of thousands of troops across the Sahel region of Africa came as a blow to early hopes that security could be swiftly restored in northern Mali after last year’s Operation Serval. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves le Drian said on May 8 that despite assurances in 2013 that his country’s military intervention in Mali would be over in a matter of months, 1,000 French troops will now remain in the country, down from what are thought to be about 1,600 French troops at present. A further 3,000 will be based in three other […]

Over the course of the past year, there has been a cascade of African-led initiatives to increase security cooperation in the Sahel and Maghreb regions. While such initiatives are a function of the enduring imperative for states there to develop a more robust regional response to counter nonstate transnational threats, such as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and other violent extremist organizations, Sahel and Maghreb states may yet struggle to let go of some of the baggage that had impeded previous regional cooperation efforts. Prior to the 2012-2013 Mali crisis, mistrust among regional partners had hampered efforts to convince […]

Now that we’ve all taken our #BringBackOurGirls pictures, we can spend some time examining what the appalling tragedy in Nigeria, and the attention paid to it, explains about some 21st century realities. Doing so just might help other young women and communities, as well as our security. But first we might have to relinquish some tightly held ideas about who these girls are and what we can do for them. Who are these girls of “ours”? They are Muslims who live in an area so poor, so neglected by Nigeria’s government and so bypassed by its oil wealth, that high […]

More than three weeks have passed since members of the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram burst into a girls’ school in the northeast of the country and kidnapped hundreds of girls. It took at least two of those weeks before international attention turned to the crisis, and even longer for the Nigerian government to sharpen its response and accept help rescuing the girls. Among the many questions surrounding the attack, one of the most puzzling is why Nigeria failed to react effectively for so long. By the time Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan at last spoke publicly about the kidnapping, the […]