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November 1, 2019

Election 2020
Foreign Policy Roundup: Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, Israel, and Campaign Advisors

Each Friday, I look at what the presidential challengers are saying about foreign policy on the campaign trail.

Bernie Sanders speaks at the J Street National Conference in Washington, DC, on October 28.

October 28, 2019

Islamic State
Islamic State Leader’s Death Does Little to Ease Syria Concerns

A U.S. military operation that eliminated Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is welcome but fails to allay worries about the security vacuum caused by the removal of U.S. troops from northern …

October 29, 2019

Islamic State
After Baghdadi: What Hurts the Islamic State May Help Al-Qaeda

Al-Qaeda could benefit from the death of the Islamic State’s leader, potentially regaining its worldwide reach and influence.

October 14, 2019

Syria
The United States Is Done Caring About Syria

A major new report about the Syrian war raises the question of whether Washington ever cared about it in the first place.

A child inspects a site hit by what activists said was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar el-Asaad at Arbin town in Damascus countryside, Syria July 21, 2015.

September 21, 2016

Malaysia
What is Duterte’s Strategy Toward the Abu Sayyaf?

Having already launched a grim, brutal war on drugs that has reportedly led to thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of arrests, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is now turning his eye to…

duterte-abu-sayyaf

August 19, 2019

Iran
Iran Owns the Persian Gulf Now

The Trump administration’s nonresponse to Iranian aggression has sent an unmistakable message.

A U.S. Navy soldier onboard Mark VI Patrol Boat stands guard as an oil tanker makes its way towards Bahrain port, during an exercise of U.S./UK Mine Countermeasures (MCMEX) taking place in Arabian Sea, Bahrain September 11, 2018.

August 14, 2019

Nigeria
Understanding the Threat Posed by ISWA in Nigeria

The fishing town of Baga, on the shores of Lake Chad, has been devastated by both Boko Haram and the Nigerian army. It is currently controlled by the Boko Haram faction, the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA). The group is led by Abu Abdallah al-Barnawi, and is separate from, and presumably a rival to, Abubakar Shekau’s faction. Obi Anyadike, a reporter, interviewed eight former residents of Baga who had fled to Maiduguri.

Two women and a man stand by a window and a door of a mosque in Maiduguri.

August 1, 2019

Nigeria
Notes From Yobe State on Living With ISWA

From far away it is difficult to know what daily life is really like in an area controlled by a Boko Haram faction. Chitra Nagarajan, a journalist and author who has written for the Guardian (UK), among other publications, recently spent time in Yobe State doing research on gender.

A girl walks past a bull stall on the street in Dapchi.

June 20, 2019

Sudan
Will Gulf Nations Tip the Balance in Sudan Crisis?

Gulf powers have lined up behind Sudan’s ruling military council. Where Sudan goes from here could depend on whether other powers play a countervailing role.

Sudanese protesters wave national flags and shout slogans during a protest outside the army complex in the capital Khartoum

June 13, 2019

Boko Haram
New Audio Offers Potential Window Into ISWA Decision-Making

Abdulbasit Kassim, leading Boko Haram scholar, recently discovered a thirty-eight-minute recording of a purported Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) communique. I translated it from the original Kanuri. It provides a particular version and explanation of ISWA's immediate history, and sheds light on why the group executed Mamman Nur, one of the Boko Haram’s founding fathers and an influential ideologue, its internal decision-making, and ISWA’s relationship with the Islamic State (IS). It is not clear, however, the extent to which what is described in the audio is true to what actually happened. 

Islamic-State-Al-Baghdadi-West-Africa-ISWA