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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.

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

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…

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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