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November 1, 2019

Election 2020
Campaign 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.

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

December 31, 2019

Global
Ten World Figures Who Died in 2019

I wrote yesterday about ten Americans who died in 2019 who shaped U.S. foreign policy during their lifetimes. But Americans are not the only ones who influence world affairs. Below are ten world figu…

SO

December 23, 2019

Global
Ten Most Significant World Events in 2019

If you are feeling a bit exhausted as 2019 comes to a close, you aren’t alone. It has been a busy year on the world scene. A seemingly unending parade of summits, crises, and protests have dominated …

Hong Kong Protests

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.

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

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

May 24, 2019

Islamic State
Where Exactly is the Islamic State in West Africa?

The Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) claimed a May 16 attack near Tongo Tongo, Niger, killing more than 20 soldiers not far from the Malian border. In March it issued a photo of its members in Burkina Faso and in April it claimed an attack on a militia in Mali. But, it is not clear that the ISWA group based primarily in Nigeria is behind those attacks. 

Cameroon-Boko-Haram-Islamic-State-Terrorism-West-Africa

May 23, 2019

Nigeria
ISWA Tries to Win Over Some Nigerians While Killing Others

The conventional wisdom is that the Boko Haram faction that calls itself the Islamic State in West African (ISWA) is less brutal than Abubakar Shekau’s rival faction, notorious for the Chibok school girl kidnapping and the targeting of civilians. There is some truth to this: ISWA has avoided using female and child suicide bombers and it does not seem to indiscriminately murder entire villages. Its rhetoric does not glory in murder like Shekau’s.

Nigeria-ISWA-Boko-Haram-Military-Bomb

May 15, 2019

Burkina Faso
French Forces Free Hostages in Burkina Faso With U.S. Help

President Emmanuel Macron of France announced on May 10 that French military forces rescued four hostages in Burkina Faso held by Islamist militants. Two were French, one was American, and one was South Korean. No authorities have released freed hostage names, citing privacy considerations. However, the operation cost the lives of two French soldiers, the names of whom have been made public.

France-Macron-Military-Burkina-Faso-Hostage