Police officers prevent access to the church where a hostage-taking claimed by ISIS left a priest dead, Normandy, France, July 27, 2016 (AP photo by Francois Mori).

Though only a little more than half over, 2016 has already turned into a tragically bloody year of terrorism. What is concerning is not simply the extent of this violence but the ongoing mutation of terrorism into new forms. This is not unexpected. Terrorism constantly changes as the dark organizations that use it innovate. Terrorists seek to cause fear, anxiety, panic and overreaction. The unknown and unexpected amplifies fear, so once the terrorists’ intended audience adapts to a type or level of violence, they must escalate or find new methods. As is often true in strategy, what works today for […]

Fighters listen to Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah as he speaks via a video link, Beirut, Lebanon, Nov. 11, 2015 (AP photo by Bilal Hussein).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss the potential for conflict between the U.S and Russia, al-Shabab’s resilience, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s response to unrest in Kashmir. For the Report, Nicholas Blanford joins us to talk about the effect of the Syria conflict on Hezbollah’s standing in Lebanon and the region. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant Articles on WPR: The Real Risk of Unintended U.S.-Russia Conflict Why Territorial Losses Don’t Weaken Somalia’s Al-Shabab Modi’s Kashmir Conundrum: Promising Development as Violence Intensifies Will Syria Be Hezbollah’s Proving Ground, or Its […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for a statement on the Munich attack, Berlin, July 23, 2016 (AP photo by Michael Sohn).

Since 2009, the European Union has faced a nonstop string of major crises, from Greece’s debt and Ukraine’s separatist fighting, to the refugee influx and now Brexit. Throughout each one, Germany has found itself leading the EU as it muddles its way to a response. But Germany’s leadership hasn’t always been welcome, and Germany’s own relationship with its role in Europe is complicated. Berlin has always had an important role in the EU, but historically it was the partnership between Germany and France that drove European policy. However, as the eurozone crisis grew into a pressing emergency and France was […]

A Somali soldier after a bomb attack by al-Shabab on a hotel frequented by government officials and business executives, Mogadishu, June 2, 2016 (AP photo by Farah Abdi Warsameh).

Earlier this month, al-Shabab militants targeted a Somali army base near Mogadishu, killing at least five soldiers. It was the latest in a string of attacks going back to December 2014, when about 25 attackers disguised in Somali army uniforms penetrated the heavily fortified airport of Mogadishu, the main base for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), wounding four. The attacks highlight how, despite being pushed out of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, in 2011 and having suffered a steady loss of territorial control since, al-Shabab continues to be the main obstacle to Somalia’s political transition. It has also emerged as […]

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during the third day of the Republican National Convention, Cleveland, July 20, 2016. (AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite).

Last week I spent four days in Cleveland listening to speakers at the Republican Party’s national convention describe an America I don’t recognize. According to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and dozens of other convention speakers, the United States is beset by threats from all directions: murderous illegal immigrants crossing the border in droves; Syrian refugees intent on coming to this country to kill Americans; and terrorists hiding in the shadows ready to strike at a moment’s notice, to name just a few. Of course, virtually none of this is true. But to paraphrase an old saw, if the convention […]

Relatives and comrades pray as they surround the Hezbollah flag-draped coffins of Shiite fighters who were killed in Syria, Nabatiyeh, Lebanon, Oct. 27, 2015 (AP photo by Mohammed Zaatari).

As Hezbollah prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of a month-long war with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the militant, Iran-backed Shiite organization is facing some of the toughest challenges in its three decades of existence. Hezbollah is mired in a protracted war in neighboring Syria, where its fighters are battling to defend the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The conflict is estimated to have taken the lives of more Hezbollah fighters in four years than in the entire period of resisting Israel’s occupation of south Lebanon between 1982 and 2000. Hezbollah is struggling to maintain morale among its […]

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention, Cleveland, July 21, 2016 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

Despite a historically unprecedented degree of national security, many Americans are worried about defeat at the hands of a motley group of violent extremists, particularly the so-called Islamic State. This climate of fear has been building steadily since the 9/11 attacks on the United States, which taught many political leaders as well as much of the military and intelligence community that it was safer to overinflate threats than to underestimate them. People are rarely ever held accountable for dire warnings that prove to be wrong, but they often are for failing to prevent an attack. The result, as Michael Cohen […]

Family members, colleagues and friends of the victims of the terrorist attack gather for a memorial ceremony at the Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, June 30, 2016 (AP photo by Emrah Gurel).

Over the past several weeks a new theme about America and the world has emerged: Everything, everywhere, is coming apart. Multiple terrorist attacks in France compete for headlines against a daily drumbeat of bombings claimed by the so-called Islamic State in Turkey, Iraq and Bangladesh. A failed military coup has raised questions about Turkey’s democratic credentials and stability. And in the United States, a race-baiting populist has just become the Republican presidential nominee, at a time when it seems to be open season on black men and police officers in the streets of America’s cities. For someone like me, who […]

Unemployed protestors take to the streets, Tunis, Tunisia, Jan. 22, 2016 (AP photo by Riadh Dridi).

Tunisia is often and rightly lauded for the progress it has made since the popular uprising that toppled longtime strongman Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. But social inequality and regional asymmetries are undermining Tunisia’s democratic transition and deepening the chasm between a restless and rebellious periphery and an eastern Mediterranean coast that fears and misunderstands the bitter resentment of border communities. These unaddressed challenges are also making it harder to secure the country from internal upheaval and terrorism. Aggrieved youths increasingly express their anger in fiery protests and street violence. This radical projection of grievances risks feeding a […]

People gather at a new memorial in a seaside park on the Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France, July 18, 2016 (AP photo by Claude Paris).

The July 14 massacre in Nice, in which a Tunisian-born man living in France, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, drove a truck through densely packed crowds celebrating Bastille Day along the waterfront, came just one week after a parliamentary committee called for an overhaul of the French intelligence services. That call followed an investigation by a nonpartisan parliamentary commission into the response to the two attacks France suffered in 2015: first at the offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket that killed 17 in January; and subsequently at a number of sites in and around Paris, including the Bataclan […]

The empty beach next to the famed Promenade des Anglais, scene of the truck attack, Nice, France, July 15, 2016 (AP photo by Sinan Baykent).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss the recent ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the Philippines’ case against China over the two sides’ conflicting South China Sea claims, as well as China’s role and influence in South Sudan. For the Report, Judah Grunstein talks about the recent terrorist attack in Nice and the security situation in France. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant Articles on WPR: Understanding Tribunal’s Rejection of Beijing’s South China Sea Claims A Reluctant China May Be the Last Hope for South Sudan France Takes […]

Iraqi security forces advance during the fight against Islamic State militants, Fallujah, Iraq, June 15, 2016 (AP photo by Anmar Khalil).

In the summer of 2014, the Obama administration found itself between a rock and a hard place. The Islamic State had just swept through northern Iraq, decimating the American-trained Iraqi army left to keep the peace after the U.S. withdrawal. Islamic State foot soldiers executed Iraqi troops and commandeered their American weapons, growing stronger and better equipped as they passed through each town. The U.S. had few options to counter the Islamic State’s rise. Having just vacated Iraq in 2010, any thoughts of a massive military deployment returning to the Middle East to win back Sunni “hearts and minds” would […]

Iraqi security forces and civilians gather at the scene of a deadly suicide car bomb attack, Baghdad, Iraq, June 9, 2016 (AP photo by Hadi Mizban).

When facing an adversary, the U.S. military always searches for what Carl von Clausewitz, the great 19th-century Prussian theorist of war, called the “center of gravity.” Clausewitz used the term to refer to the primary source of a combatant’s power and strength, which can take many forms, including control over a strategically valuable territory or key command-and-control center, like a capital city; or something more amorphous, like public support for the government or alliance cohesion. Today’s military strategists believe that the most effective way to defeat any enemy is to identify its center of gravity, and then destroy or control […]

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Jakarta, Nov. 12, 2015 (AP photo by Darren Whiteside).

Last month, officials from Indonesia and Australia met in Sydney, where they agreed to increase counterterrorism cooperation and information-sharing in response to the growing threat from the so-called Islamic State. In an email interview, Greta Nabbs-Keller, the manager of Indonesia programs at the University of Queensland’s international development unit, discusses the current state of Australia-Indonesia relations. WPR: How have ties with Indonesia evolved under the administration of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and to what extent have the two sides been able to move past recent tensions over Australia’s asylum policy and Indonesia’s execution of Australian drug smugglers? Greta Nabbs-Keller: […]

Malian Tuareg soldiers during a visit by Mali's army chief of staff, Kidal, Mali,  July 27, 2013 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

June 20 marked the one-year anniversary of the landmark peace deal struck in Algiers between the government of Mali and separatist Tuareg rebel fighters. In 2012, the fighters, joined by Islamist militias allied with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), led an uprising against the central government, claiming an independent northern state called Azawad. The Algerian-brokered deal was a bid to put an end to the cycle of rebellions that have tormented northern Mali since the 1960s. The agreement also sought to bring sustainable peace more generally to Mali, a former beacon of democracy. This, according to the agreement, known […]

Pro-Seleka Muslim residents barricade the bridge at the entrance of Bambari, Central African Republic, May 22, 2014 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

There has been a resurgence of violence in the chronically unstable and impoverished Central African Republic (CAR), as regional and international efforts to push back against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) continue to fall short, and ongoing tensions between Muslim and Christian militia groups rage. CAR has experienced episodic violence for decades, but instability deepened in March 2013, when a predominantly Muslim rebel coalition known as the Seleka seized power, overthrowing former President Francois Bozize. That precipitated a bloody war between Seleka fighters and the mainly Christian “anti-balaka” militias, fought along religious and intercommunal lines. Since then, approximately 6,000 people […]