After 12 years of American pressure, al-Qaida’s core is, as President Barack Obama put it, “on the path to defeat.” That’s a good thing, but no one believes that crushing al-Qaida Central deep in its Pakistani sanctuary will mean the demise of the entire movement. Whether of necessity or as part of a deliberate strategy, al-Qaida has endorsed or adopted franchises across the Islamic world. Now American policymakers must assess the comparative danger posed by each of these and identify the most strategically significant ones. Counterterrorism experts often rate al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) the most active and lethal […]

There have been many diplomatic efforts to end the Syrian war, and few if any are worth commemorating. But this week brings the second anniversary of one attempt that, despite making no difference on the ground, offered some evidence of how the international system is evolving. On Aug. 3, 2011, the Security Council agreed a statement calling for an immediate halt to violence in Syria. This was the council’s first significant declaration on the already six-month-old crisis. But it was also notable because of the three countries that championed it: Brazil, India and South Africa, all temporary members of the […]

During the first-ever business and commerce conference of the Indian Ocean Rim-Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) in July, Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma called for an institutional mechanism to facilitate business interaction among members. Though the IOR-ARC has existed since 1995-1996, it has so far failed to emerge as a common economic platform, and India’s trade ties in the IOR region have progressed chiefly along bilateral lines. But with China’s economic overtures increasingly frequent and backed by commercial heft, India finds that it can no longer take its geo-economic position in the region for granted. To counter China’s commercial bilateralism, […]

On Tuesday, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir dismissed his vice president and suspended the secretary-general of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) along with all 29 Cabinet members and their deputies. The move, which was announced in a decree read on national television, comes as the newly independent country faces a host of challenges, including continuing internal violence and negotiations with Sudan, its neighbor to the north. “What we have been seeing in recent months is a more public and more tangible jockeying within the party as a prelude to the 2015 elections,” said Lesley Anne Warner, Africa analyst […]

This month, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan rebel group now based in the Democratic Republic of Congo, staged attacks that prompted more than 60,000 Congolese refugees to flee to neighboring Uganda. In an email interview, Kristof Titeca, senior research fellow at the University of Antwerp’s Institute of Development Policy and Management and the University of Ghent’s Conflict Research Group, described the ADF’s background and its recent resurgence. WPR: What is the background on the Allied Democratic Forces in terms of their numbers and goals? Kristof Titeca: The movement was started in 1995 in eastern Congo by Ugandan members […]

Two and a half years after Tunisia launched the wave of uprisings that spread across the Arab world, the North African country still provides the best hope for the establishment of a sustainable democracy in the region. The development of Tunisia’s transition has been fraught and at times precarious, but at critical moments the country’s political evolution has displayed a self-correcting character. Every time Tunisia has confronted the risk of a breakdown of politics or the fracturing of society, it has managed to pull back from the brink. Tunisia remains dangerously polarized, but the country’s political and social groups have […]

In July 2012, amid the euphoria of historic elections, Libya’s future seemed brighter than ever. The polls were Libya’s first democratic elections in more than 52 years, and the promise of Libya’s Arab Spring seemed closer at hand. Many obstacles had been surmounted to demonstrate to the world that the nation could prevail against strong odds. But those obstacles have not for the most part been overcome. One year after the elections and two years after the fall of Tripoli and the toppling of Moammar Gadhafi, Libya’s transition continues to confound and dismay most observers. This is due in part […]

With its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, ousted from power in Egypt, Hamas is once again facing a new reality in the Middle East. “Hamas considers itself to be an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood, so any attack or weakening of the Muslim Brotherhood is bound to impact Hamas itself,” said Hisham Ahmed, a professor of politics at St. Mary’s College of California. Hamas, the Palestinian organization that governs the Gaza Strip, saw the election of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi to Egypt’s presidency as a signal of political and ideological support from the largest Arab country in the region. […]

At the heart of the turmoil that continues to afflict Egypt lies the sharp ideological divide that separates liberals and Islamists. But ideology alone—differences of opinion over the role of religion, separation of powers and women’s rights, among other issues—does not explain the extent to which the renewed conflict has engulfed the country. Ideology fires up the most die-hard activists on both sides, but something much more mundane mobilizes the masses: The economy is the thing for all but the most committed. Personal privation—a decrease in living standards that has cut across much of Egyptian society—is what has produced the […]

In Mali, a West African country once seen as a model of democracy but now in the midst of an internal conflict, presidential hopefuls are campaigning for July 28 elections that some fear are coming too soon. John Campbell, Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, says the elections should be postponed, “both because of the inadequacy of the technical preparations for the elections but also the concern that the occasion of the elections raises the possibility of terrorist attacks and very low turnout,” he said. Low turnout might detract from the legitimacy […]

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Last month’s appointment of former Sen. Russ Feingold as the new United States special envoy for the African Great Lakes region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) signals an important surge of energy into American diplomacy in this troubled region. His appointment should be seen in the context of other recent positive steps, including the “Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region,” a February 2013 agreement among 11 African states known as the PSC Framework. The framework aims at ending the decades-long instability, violence, multiple humanitarian crises and grave human […]

The Egyptian military’s ouster of President Mohammed Morsi has placed Egypt’s ultraconservative Islamists Salafis in a position of distinct power. The Times of Israel described the reaction among Salafis to the coup in Egypt as one of jumping on the “revolutionary bandwagon,” with the Salafi al-Watan party, fearing political marginalization, calling for national unity following the coup. And even as Egyptian security forces rounded up Muslim Brotherhood leaders, the new interim president called for Islamists to participate in building the new Egypt, in a statement that could serve as an invitation to the Salafis to play a more prominent role. […]

Qatar made a name for itself in recent years with its bold, headline-grabbing foreign policy. Among its many controversial moves, as I noted in earlier articles, none looked as risky as the decision to give strong support to the Muslim Brotherhood in the wake of the Arab uprisings. Now, with the Muslim Brotherhood out of power in Egypt, one of the potential downsides of that risk equation has materialized, leaving Doha at a foreign policy crossroads. For Qatar, the turn of events in Egypt is the most significant, but it is only one in a series of recent reverses to […]

In 2011 a revolution in Tunisia inspired a revolution in Egypt. Both countries subsequently elected Islamist governments. Egypt has now ousted its new rulers. Tunisia does not look set to do the same. The grassroots opposition movement Tamarod, which sparked the recent mass protests in Egypt, has struggled to make the same impact in Tunisia. Its petition to dissolve Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly and scrap the constitution has collected fewer than 200,000 Tunisian signatures—representing barely 2 percent of the population. In contrast, Egypt’s Tamarod claimed to have gathered 22 million signatures for its own petition—more than a quarter of the […]

The world is riveted by the ongoing turmoil in Egypt as that nation frantically searches for a political identity and a path to stable democracy. Because Egypt has long been one of America’s most important political and security partners, Washington is particularly worried about a collapse into violence or the seizure of power by extremists. Such concern is warranted, but more than just the future of Egypt is in play: The problems there are not unique or isolated, but emblematic of a crisis of governance engulfing the entire world. This will have a profound effect on U.S. security. In the […]

Maritime crime and disorder have plagued the Gulf of Guinea for decades, as weak and corrupt maritime security regimes emboldened thieves, smugglers and traffickers to exploit the littoral realm. The bountiful vessels serving Nigeria’s oil fields have presented a particular brand of pirates with a lucrative array of targets. With piracy no longer confined to Nigerian waters, however, West and Central African states have now recognized piracy as a regional crisis, as highlighted by a June 24-25 summit in Yaounde, Cameroon, to address the issue. “No country can withstand the growing challenges individually. That is why we agreed to put […]

On Wednesday, Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Egypt’s military chief of staff, announced that the country’s elected president, Mohammed Morsi, had been removed from office. Egypt’s constitution will be suspended; Adly Mansour, the chief judge of the Constitutional Court, will temporarily assume the presidency and oversee a transitional government until new elections can be held at a date yet to be determined. The events of the “second Egyptian revolution” have effectively terminated the experiment as to whether the Muslim Brotherhood, having won parliamentary and presidential elections last year, would be able to construct a democratic regime. They now present the Obama administration […]

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