If Mozambique has attracted international headlines over the past year, it has been mainly for the return to armed conflict in central Mozambique by the ex-rebels Renamo as well as for new discoveries of world-class gas reserves in the country’s offshore waters. But while the results of Mozambique’s municipal elections, which took place on Nov. 20, have not attracted the same level of international attention, they are an important indicator of the health of political pluralism in a country touted as a post-conflict success story with impressive GDP growth. The election results will influence how the Mozambique government deals with […]

The debate about U.S. targeted killing policy has become repetitive and familiar. The policy’s proponents argue that the precision and accuracy of drones keep civilian casualties to a minimum, and that drones are the most viable tool in fighting an asymmetric war, particularly in places that are off-limits to U.S. troops. Opponents of drone strikes argue that civilian casualties are much higher than U.S. government estimates, and that the policy is counterproductive because it leads to the radicalization of a new generation of terrorists. The number of civilian casualties from drone strikes is perhaps the most complicated of these questions, […]

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Voters in the West African nation of Mali will go to the polls this weekend for legislative elections that may offer insight into the country’s uncertain political trajectory. Mali descended into chaos last year, when a coup d’etat in the country’s south paved the way for Islamist militants linked to al-Qaida to take over the northern two-thirds of the country. In late-July, Malians turned out in record numbers for a presidential election that the international community—particularly, France and the U.S.—had been calling for as a condition for unlocking nearly $4 billion in pledged assistance. That election came just six months […]

By Sept. 10, 2001, the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, was increasingly slouching toward irrelevance. Although USAID Administrator Brian Atwood had instituted important reforms during his tenure at the helm during the 1990s, the agency had been badly bloodied by a contentious political battle with the Republican-controlled Congress over whether it should be folded into the State Department. Remarkably, Atwood held both the State Department and Sen. Jesse Helms at bay when Congress tried to abolish USAID and place its remains in Foggy Bottom. But Atwood and the agency paid a steep price for their resistance, and angry […]

Representatives of the Colombian government and the FARC guerilla group announced on Nov. 6 in Havana that they had reached an agreement that could allow FARC leaders to participate in Colombian politics. The precise details of the agreement have not been disclosed, and the two sides have agreed that it would not go into effect until a final peace settlement has been reached. Nevertheless, according to Adam Isacson of the Washington Office on Latin America, the peace process is moving along reasonably well, and the two sides both may have “gotten past the point of no return” toward reaching a […]

Prior to the end of 2012, the Sahel, the region comprising Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad, did not receive much attention in Europe outside Paris. However, since the French-led intervention in early 2013 to combat the violent Islamist takeover in northern Mali, the Sahel has become a regular subject for discussion among European foreign and security policymakers. Suddenly, as Bamako was faced with a coup, it hit home to Europeans how close the region is and how closely intertwined with European interests it has become. As we near the end of 2013, the strategic importance of this region, and […]

Lists of African success stories do not tend to include Chad. More than half of the country’s citizens live below the poverty line. According to data collected by the United Nations, most have spent less than two years at school. From 2008 to 2010, the European Union and U.N. deployed peacekeepers to the country’s unstable eastern border with Sudan. At one point, rebels managed to assault the capital, N’Djamena. Yet this year, Western powers and the U.N. have turned to Chad to help manage new crises in Mali and the Central African Republic (CAR). The supposed basket case has suddenly […]

Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Saudi Arabia earlier this week to mend fraying U.S. ties with the kingdom, which remains one of America’s key partners in the Middle East. At the end of his visit, in a joint press conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud, Kerry declared that U.S.-Saudi ties are “strategic” and “enduring.” But if the Obama administration now believes that things are back on track, it should reconsider that assessment. Given the current overlap between Washington and Riyadh’s regional and global interests, both countries will continue to work closely together, but the coming years will […]

Tuesday’s news of the defeat of the M23 rebel group by the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) national army forces was a rare bright spot for those who follow the country’s fortunes. Until this week, the Congolese army, known by its French acronym FARDC, had not achieved a decisive military victory against any nonstate armed group in its history. The nominal national forces were better known as a ragtag amalgamation of soldiers from former militant groups who as often as not engaged in gross human rights violations against the civilians they were charged with protecting. In battle, FARDC forces typically […]

Add Hamas to the list of regimes teetering precariously in the Middle East. The Palestinian Islamist organization that rules Gaza and remains officially committed to the destruction of Israel is losing friends, running out of cash and struggling to come up with effective military tactics. Even more crucially, it is losing popular support as its foes are preparing to take it on. A group of Gazans opposed to Hamas rule has called for mass demonstrations on Nov. 11, the anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death, openly aiming to remove Hamas from power. The organization calls itself Tamarod, “rebellion” in Arabic and […]

Last week, a U.S. drone strike killed Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of Pakistan’s sociopathically violent Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) movement. The organization has murdered thousands, often relying on indiscriminant suicide bombs; has trained terrorists to attack the United States; and has remained closely aligned with al-Qaida. No one among the civilized will lament Mehsud’s passing. But because the United States did it, Pakistan has responded with outrage. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan called the U.S. action “a conspiracy to sabotage the peace talks” with the TTP—even though almost no one thinks those talks had much chance of success. Islamabad lodged a […]

After weekend election violence in Kosovo forced polling places to close early and left ballot boxes destroyed, leaders of Serbia and Kosovo are meeting in Brussels today to discuss next steps. At the same time, officials have announced that the elections will be repeated in Mitrovica, the northern Serb-dominated municipality in majority-Albanian Kosovo where the attacks took place. Prime Minister Ivica Dacic of Serbia and Prime Minister Hashim Thaci of Kosovo are meeting to determine how to move forward on a pact that aims to integrate ethnic Serbs with the rest Kosovo. Under the terms of a European Union-mediated agreement […]

The eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) took a turn toward peace today as M23 rebels reportedly gave up their 20-month insurgency. The Congolese army, re-engineered after a humiliating defeat by the rebels last year, pushed the M23 out of its remaining strongholds with help from a precedent-setting U.N. intervention brigade and an intensive new focus on the conflict by the U.S. and other international actors. But as Anthony Gambino wrote in a WPR briefing in July, ending the M23’s fight is only one step in a much larger process: The key question now is whether the international community has […]

On Jan. 21, 2009, President Barack Obama pledged to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The announcement’s timing and setting highlighted its importance. On just his second day in office, and flanked by former generals and admirals, the president had made it a top priority to shut the U.S. prison that had become synonymous with human rights abuses and lawlessness. That same day, Obama issued an order banning torture and closing secret CIA “black sites” in an effort to align America’s fight against al-Qaida and other terrorist groups with due process and the rule of law. Obama […]

Out of the Shadows: A New Paradigm for Countering Global Terrorism

The term “shadow wars” aptly describes the U.S. approach to the war on terror. Policymakers perceive they are fighting an enemy composed of shadow and dust, one hidden in and facilitated by the dark underworld of global politics. But to prosecute this campaign, the U.S. has itself, to borrow a term from the writer J.R.R. Tolkien, “fallen into shadow”: Its moral high ground and once-principled politics have been replaced by a recourse to policies such as arbitrary detention, torture and extrajudicial killings that have tarnished its reputation and bolstered its enemies. The blowback from these policies demonstrates that a just […]

Can United Nations peacekeepers ever transform themselves into effective war-fighters? This question has dogged the organization since its failures in the Balkans, Somalia and Rwanda. But it has gained additional urgency over the past year as the U.N. has searched for new strategies to stabilize Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Security Council has wagered that blue helmeted troops can neuter determined rebel forces in both cases, if under very different strategic circumstances. Some U.N. officials fret that the council has placed too much faith in these military efforts. Yet there has been some good news […]

Despite suffering huge losses, the Syrian army has managed to survive longer than almost anyone thought possible at the beginning of Syria’s civil war. According to a recent estimate by the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR), a U.K.-based monitoring group, 28,800 Syrian soldiers have been killed since the beginning of the conflict 2 1/2 years ago. This represents a massive hemorrhage of manpower for an army that was estimated to have a strength of 220,000 at the beginning of the war. The army has also suffered desertions and from the beginning could rely only on a handful of crack […]

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