In the wake of a major natural disaster, the narrative arc that subsequently unfolds has the potential to reshape the political landscape of the affected country. The script has been written and performed many times in many countries, with no two times ever exactly the same. After this weekend’s massive earthquake in Chile, keep an eye on the response from the governments — both the outgoing and incoming one — to see how the quake ends up altering that country’s long-term political picture. No matter where disaster strikes, the script opens with shock, heartbreak and compassion. Then, it inexorably moves […]

Marjah as the New Model

NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff interviews U.S. Army Brigadier General Ben Hodges of the Southern Region Command in Kandahar about the Marjah offensive. Hodges says that the focus in Marjah is on governance, despite military operations, and that he expects a few more weeks of fighting there before the mission is complete. Furthermore, he says the tactics used to fight insurgents in Marjah will be used as a model for future offensives.

Understanding the Taliban, Easier Said than Done

At an event last week at New York University, four men who know the Taliban better than most Westerners shared their perceptions of the group behind the insurgency fighting coalition forces in Afghanistan. What emerged was a portrait of shadowy figures, little understood by even those who have had close contact with the group. With “reintegration” now the “buzzword du jour” and calls for a negotiated settlement to the war gaining momentum, we have yet to understand just who it is we will be negotiating with. “We still understand very little about the Taliban,” said Alex Strick van Linschoten, echoing […]

Getting China’s Back on CT

It would be hard, under any circumstances, not to see this as a pretty significant development: The leader of anal-Qaida-linked Chinese militant group has been killed in a U.S. drone attack inPakistan’s restive tribal region, an official said on Monday. AbdulHaq al-Turkistani, the leader of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party, and twocomrades died when a missile fired from a CIA-operated pilotless aircraft strucka vehicle in North Waziristan district Feb. 15. . . . Al-Turkistani hails from Uighur in China’s eastern province ofXinjiang. But in the current context of strained U.S.-China relations, as well as the need for China’s UNSC vote […]

Iranian officials have recently accused the United States of plotting to use a Sunni terrorist group, Jundallah, to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran. Though Tehran has made such charges before, this is the first time the Iranian government has explicitly tied the alleged efforts to President Barack Obama. Several reasons explain both the motivations behind Tehran’s accusations as well as their timing. On Feb. 23, the Iranian government reported that it had captured Abdolmalek Rigi, leader of the Jundallah terrorist group. A Kyrgyz airline later confirmed that one of its planes had been intercepted in Iranian air space and […]

The New Rules: Winners and Losers in Iraq’s Upcoming Election

The upcoming Iraqi parliamentary elections loom large in the political fortunes of so many players, both internal and external, that it constitutes a historical referendum of sorts — not just for Iraq, but beyond as well. Across the region, globalization, in all its complex currents, appears poised at a number of inflection points. The outcome of Iraq’s elections will leave winners on some fronts, losers on others, and will trigger plenty of bandwagoning by those worried about being left out or left behind. Here’s a list of some potential outcomes, none of which are mutually exclusive, in rough order of […]

The success of Operation Moshtarak, NATO’s military offensive to seize the Taliban-controlled town of Marjah in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, will be determined by how well coalition forces establish a functioning government now that the bulk of the actual fighting is over. Gen. Stanley McChrystal recently described the plan by saying, “We’ve got a government in a box, ready to roll in.” The concept of “government in a box,” or a functioning government ready for immediate deployment the moment combat operations end, is a novel one. Most of the attention lavished upon ISAF’s plans, however, has focused on the man chosen […]

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