The latest assault in Mumbai has brought fresh tensions to fragile India-Pakistan relations at a time when the Pakistani government had made unprecedented friendly overtures toward its traditional rival. The attacks — which at latest count claimed more than 170 lives, while injuring over three hundred — took place just three days after Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari proposed a “no first nuclear strike” policy with India. According to early news reports, one of the captured attackers revealed under questioning that he was from Pakistan’s Punjab province, belonged to the banned extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and had been trained in […]

The terrorist carnage in Mumbai resulting in more than 170 deaths draws attention to the role of Pakistan, which India instinctively accuses of responsibility. The fedayeen-type attack singled out Americans and Jews as targets, which smacks of an al-Qaida game plan. Delhi initially distinguished between terrorist groups in Pakistan and the Pakistani authorities as such, but that distinction is getting blurred. Islamabad stubbornly rejects imputations of involvement. Reflexes are hardening on both sides. In the competitive environment of domestic politics as India heads for general elections in the next six months, it will be suicidal for the ruling party to […]

KAMPALA, Uganda — When I got off the small plane chartered by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) that had whisked me from Kampala, Uganda, to a small town on the border with eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, I had less than half a day to conduct interviews, take photos, and file content for major Western news agencies. I looked around at what had become typical sights: women carrying everything they own on their backs, children with nothing to do, lounging men glancing suspiciously at the influx of journalists, and everyone visibly tired. Tired of running, tired of violence, tired […]

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia — Malaysia has followed through on promises to deport illegal immigrants, sending more than 10,000 Filipino refugees back to their war-torn homeland. The move came as Philippine President Gloria Arroyo sought to reassure the U.S. that Manila will restart talks with Muslim separatists seeking to establish a homeland in the country’s troubled south. The numbers were well short of expectations after authorities boasted more than 100,000 could be sent packing, but were enough to raise eyebrows among regional analysts who believe forcing impoverished civilians back into a zone shattered by civil war, Islamic militancy and terrorism will […]

ASHKELON, Israel — There is a hint of political schizophrenia in the Middle East peace process. Even as outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declares that Israel and the Palestinians are tantalizingly close to a peace deal, rocket fire from Gaza is reaching deeper than ever into Israel. The latest Israeli community now enduring life under regular rocket attacks is this Israeli coastal city, Ashkelon, whose targeting by militants raises the stakes in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians of Gaza. Israeli negotiators and Palestinian Authority leaders may well be making progress in their peace talks, but a major […]

War Is Boring: Good News, Bad News in Somali Islamists’ Return

Against the backdrop of starvation and warfare, there are signs that Somalia’s decline might soon turn around. At this point in Somalia’s tortured history, the country’s fortunes are tethered to its resurgent Islamist groups. In early November, one of southern Somalia’s major ports fell to an advancing Islamist army. The U.N. had been using the “beach port” at Merka to deliver thousands of tons of food aid to refugee camps on the outskirts of Mogadishu. With its fall to the Islamists, there was concern that food shipments might be disrupted. But Pete Smerdon, a U.N. spokesman in Nairobi, Kenya, told […]

MADRID, Spain — Spain is on high alert for a possible terrorist attack following the arrest on Nov. 17, of the head of the Basque terrorist group, ETA. Mikel Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina, known by his nom de guerre, Txeroki (Cherokee), was detained along with another ETA suspect in a pre-dawn raid by French police in the southern French Pyrenées region, near the Spanish border. Aspiazu, 35, who is believed to be behind several recent attacks, including the bombing of the Madrid airport in 2006, is the second key ETA leader to be captured within the last six months. In May, […]

When Thailand’s new prime minister, Somchai Wongsawat, paid his first visit to the country’s insurgency-wracked southern provinces last month, he was cautiously optimistic, commenting at the time, “I have been briefed by regional bodies and I consider the situation has improved, but we still cannot be complacent.” Somchai was wise to strike a note that balanced satisfaction with concern. Even skeptics grudgingly acknowledge that the Thai government is making progress in its fight against the insurgency in the restive Malay-Muslim provinces, annexed by the predominantly Buddhist country in 1902. Violence has plummeted by a jaw-dropping 50 percent compared to last […]

On Oct. 30, Murat Zyazikov resigned as president of Ingushetia — a small, mainly-Muslim republic in Russia’s North Caucasus region. Zyazikov’s fate was likely sealed two weeks previously, on Oct. 18, when a military convoy was ambushed by insurgents between the villages of Alkhasty and Surkhakhi, leaving approximately 50 servicemen dead. The ambush was the largest of its type yet seen in the republic. Ingushetia lies directly to the west of Chechnya (the Ingush and the Chechens are close ethnic relatives), and the leaders of the insurgency in Ingushetia have drawn inspiration from their Chechnyan counterparts, who have been fighting […]

President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Nov. 30, 2006, in Amman, Jordan. White House photo by Paul Morse.

President-elect Barack Obama will inherit an Iraq that has experienced substantial improvements in security, but remains rife with unresolved internal issues. If not handled carefully, Iraq's fragile progress could dissolve and the country could become a dangerous foreign policy minefield for yet another American president. Here are the top 10 issues the next administration must address: 1. Determination of Objectives: The Bush administration invested vast resources in the hopes of achieving maximalist aims in Iraq. Though the results in Iraq have clearly fallen short of those aims, the Obama administration needs to formulate a policy that is more comprehensive and […]

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — An uncomfortable silence filled the officers’ mess at the Macarena military base in southern Colombia as the lunchtime news broadcast the purge of 27 high-ranking army officials. “That’s not going to be the end of it,” said one army colonel as he shook his head in disbelief. He was right. Several days later, Colombia’s veteran top army commander, Gen. Mario Montoya, resigned. The firing of the army officers — including three generals — earlier this month followed a government probe into the disappearance of 11 men from Soacha, a poor neighborhood outside of Bogotá. The young men […]

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The war in the Democratic Republic of Congo entered a complicated phase last week, with allegations that Angola and Zimbabwe had either deployed troops in the mineral rich Central African country, or had mobilized them in a bid to bolster President Joseph Kabila’s army. Last month, Kabila requested that Angola — which boasts one of Africa’s strongest armies — back him against the predominantly Tutsi rebels led by renegade Gen. Laurent Nkunda in the volatile eastern province of North Kivu. Officials within the United Nations peacekeeping force in the province’s capital of Goma have also confirmed […]