"As the power of the central leadership created by Osama bin Laden has declined, the vanguard of violent jihad has been taken up by an array of groups in a dozen countries across Africa and the Middle East, attacking Western interests in Algeria and Libya, training bombers in Yemen, seizing territory in Syria and Iraq, and gunning down shoppers in Kenya."
"The armed Syrian opposition, in all of its disparate glory, has long talked of a revolution after its revolution to unseat Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a period when scores would be settled between various anti-Assad groups…. Elements of all of these various fault lines had become frontlines during isolated bouts of rebel infighting over the past year or more, but the decision by so many different groups to take on ISIS at the same time, and in so many locations, was surprising. What was also surprising was how quickly ISIS was initially routed from some areas."
"Written in the frenzied, emotional days after 9/11, the Authorization for the Use of Military Force was intended to give President Bush the ability to retaliate against whoever orchestrated the attacks. But more than 12 years later, this sentence remains the primary legal justification for nearly every covert operation around the world. Here's how it came to be, and what it's since come to mean."
This report about the Sept. 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi was released on January 15, 2014. It discusses how the attack could have been prevented and according to the New York Times, it is "the first public examination of a breakdown in communications between the State Department and the C.I.A. during the weeks leading up to the deadly episode at the diplomatic compound." The Accountability Review Board released an unclassified report on the embassy attacks in December 2012.
Asked by George Macharia, from University of Nairobi
Terrorism in the Horn of Africa is a complex problem that requires a "full spectrum" solution. The first step in any counterterrorism campaign is developing an understanding of the terrorists' motivations and goals. In the Horn of Africa, the chief terrorist threat emanates from al-Shabab fighters attempting to violently overthrow the Somali government and impose fundamentalist Islamic law. The group and its affiliates are also attempting to sow unrest in neighboring countries like Kenya.
"Calls for a new framework statute to replace the [2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force] are unnecessary, provocative, and counterproductive; they perpetuate war at a time when we should be seeking to end it."
With its Shiite government struggling for survival and poised for a confrontation with Sunni extremists in Fallujah, Iraq faces a deepening sectarian conflict partly fueled by spillover from Syria, says Jane Arraf.
"The fighting over the past week is a watershed moment for the Syrian uprising. The momentum against extremism can pave the way for the re-emergence of moderate groups that had been pushed to the margins under ISIS's reign of terror. The episode has proved that it is Syria's mainstream rebels who are best fit to face down extremists -- not the Assad regime."
Algerian and Western counterterrorism efforts, along with an African-led peacekeeping force in Mali, have shifted the North African al-Qaeda franchise's criminal and terrorist activities to remote areas of the Sahara and Sahel, explains this Backgrounder.
"There is not a Sunni region in the country now that is not enmeshed in strife.… The conflict in Sunni regions is creating an atmosphere of perpetual crisis that could tip the country into civil war or be used by Maliki as a justification to stay in power after what is expected to be a closely fought election. The more chaos, the greater the chance for al-Qaeda-linked fighters to hide among the population and reap chaos."
Hezbollah's long-standing resistance to Israel gained this Lebanon-based Shiite political party and militant group broad support, but its involvement in Syria's civil war may jeopardize its domestic standing.
"The Salafist-jihadist insurgency, and the emergence of one of al-Qaeda's most fearsome affiliates within it, has fundamentally changed the war in Syria. In a conflict in which some 6,000 people continue to die every month and a third or more of the population have been forced to leave their homes, the problem of basic security has almost completely supplanted the aspirations of a once-peaceful protest movement trying to take on an autocratic, militarized, and sectarian regime. And as the regime…has resorted to increasingly brutal attacks, organizations like ISIS have spread unprecedented terror on the rebel side."
"The United States waded deeply into post-Qaddafi Libya, hoping to build a beachhead against extremists, especially Al Qaeda. It believed it could draw a bright line between friends and enemies in Libya. But it ultimately lost its ambassador in an attack that involved both avowed opponents of the West and fighters belonging to militias that the Americans had taken for allies."
Raymond W. Kelly, former commissioner for the New York Police Department (NYPD), will join the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) as a distinguished visiting fellow. Kelly will be joining CFR in early January and will be based at the organization's headquarters in New York. He will focus on counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and other national security issues.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.
The authors argue that the United States has responded inadequately to the rise of Chinese power and recommend placing less strategic emphasis on the goal of integrating China into the international system and more on balancing China's rise.
Campbell evaluates the implications of the Boko Haram insurgency and recommends that the United States support Nigerian efforts to address the drivers of Boko Haram, such as poverty and corruption, and to foster stronger ties with Nigerian civil society.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2014 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass. Read and download »