Author Archive

Militias, Tribes and Insurgents: The Challenge of Political Reintegration in Iraq

10 September, 2008

IRG member David Ucko has a paper published in the October edition of the Conflict, Security & Development journal, entitled Militias, Tribes and Insurgents: The Challenge of Political Reintegration in Iraq. The paper provides a valuable case study of the central role played in post-conflict state-building and counterinsurgency by the reintegration of armed sub-state groups into the political process, and focuses on the evolution of the US approach in Iraq since 2003.

Abstract:

Following its overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the United States was confronted with one of the most complex state-building enterprises of recent history. A central component of state building, emphasised in the literature yet given scant attention at the time of the invasion, is the process of political reintegration: the transformation of armed groups into political actors willing to participate peacefully in the political future of the country. In Iraq, political reintegration was a particularly important challenge, relating both to the armed forces of the disposed regime and to the Kurdish and Shia militias eager to play a role in the new political system.

This article examines the different approaches employed by the United States toward the political reintegration of irregular armed groups, from the policy vacuum of 2003 to the informal reintegration seen during the course of the so-called “surge” in 2007 and 2008. The case study has significant implications for the importance of getting political reintegration right—and the longterm costs of getting it badly wrong.

Access a free copy of the paper here.

Advertisements

Re-ordering the UK’s Campaign Primacy

4 August, 2008

In a weekend interview with The Daily Telegraph, which was also picked up by The Times, Brigadier Ed Butler – the former head of the SAS, and former commander of British forces in Afghanistan – claimed that not only were some British Muslims fighting alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan, but that militant Islamic groups in south-east Asia were also supporting terrorist plots in the UK.

“There are British passport holders who live in the UK who are being found in places like Kandahar… There is a link between Kandahar and urban conurbations in the UK. This is something the military understands, but the British public does not.”

Given this relationship between the foreign and domestic theatres, what are the implications for UK counterinsurgency strategy? In an article entitled Re-ordering the UK’s Campaign Primacy, IRG founder John Mackinlay argues that in the UK we are currently making a mistake in placing our expeditionary commitments over our domestic campaign, and that the current counterinsurgency discourse – as embodied in US Army / USMC FM 3-24 – is insufficiently nuanced to address the nature of the threat posed to Europe, and the UK in particular, by contemporary global insurgency:

Although doctrinally US and UK forces appear to have changed course, the core values of our security institutions remain the same, and at their most instinctive level they have not altered sufficiently to keep up with the changing world. In operational terms we are still facing backwards towards an era when counterinsurgency was a purely expeditionary activity, whereas in reality we need to be thinking more seriously about a 21st century adversary which does not require overseas territories, and which flourishes within our own population.

Representing an overwhelming US presence, US counterinsurgency doctrine is likely to become the concept for every future coalition. So it is this doctrine, and not a yet to be written NATO or national version, which will influence our future modus operandi.

FM3-24 has the appearance of novelty, it mentions the ‘global dimension’ and the possibility of ‘insurgent networks’, but in practical terms its prescriptions are only relevant to an expeditionary, territorial intervention focused on a particular state, with a clearly recognisable centre of gravity. The US doctrine is saying in effect that although the adversary which we seek to address is established globally and exerts itself in the virtual dimension, the military response will be a traditional unilateral expedition, whose capabilities will be tangible, territorial and limited to a space that is physical.

As a result of our failure to fully appreciate the inter-relationship of the domestic and expeditionary elements of our counterinsurgency campaign – or, at least, our failure to operationalise this understanding – it is argued that in the UK we are dangerously neglecting the former in pursuit of the latter.

In common with other European states the British government is engaged on two fronts, the overseas expeditions against the supposed sanctuaries in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a domestic campaign to stem disaffection and radicalisation in its own population. These campaigns are organisationally distinct. The overseas effort principally involves Defence, Foreign Affairs and Overseas Development, whereas the domestic plan of action principally involves the Home Affairs ministry. The problem is that in the UK the images and reverberations of the overseas campaign act against the domestic campaign. It is the continuous traffic of routine news and political debate concerning British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than old fashioned jihadi propaganda, which antagonises the vulnerable Muslim element of the British population, especially those who see their faith as the target of the war against terror.

Despite the obfuscations of its government, the British de facto give primacy to the expeditionary campaign. This prioritisation is not explicit, but by deed and declaration the government pursues its expeditionary campaigns in denial and disregard of mounting evidence that the UK’s foreign policy and military profile in the war against terror contributes to the increasing radicalisation of its own Muslim population.

.
Read the full article here:
Re-ordering the UK’s Campaign Primacy

Bombers, Bank Accounts, and Bleedout: al-Qa`ida’s Road In and Out of Iraq

2 August, 2008

The Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) has made available the latest in its series of Harmony Reports, entitled Bombers, Bank Accounts, and Bleedout: al-Qa`ida’s Road In and Out of Iraq.

Based on analysis of primary source material in the form of captured Al-Qaeda documents (which are made available, translated, in the Harmony Project’s document database), previous reports in the series have provided an authoritative and invaluable insight into Al-Qaeda’s operations and organisation. This latest report builds upon the analysis of the Sinjar documents begun in the previous report.

The following are the key findings from the Executive Summary:

Saudi Arabia and Libya supplied the most fighters in the Sinjar Records.
Saudi Arabia contributed the highest number of foreign fighters to al‐Qa`ida’s fight in Iraq between August 2006 and August 2007, followed by Libya. Of the 576 fighters in the Sinjar Records that listed their nationality, 41 percent (237) were of Saudi Arabian origin, and 19.2 percent (111) were Libyan. Syria, Yemen, and Algeria were the next most common countries of origin with 8 percent (46), 8.1 percent (44), and 7.1 percent (41), respectively. Moroccans accounted for 6.1 percent (36) of the fighters and Jordanians 1.9 percent (11). Nearly all of the home countries listed were in the Middle East or North Africa, although the sample also includes individuals from France (2), Great Britain (1), and Sweden (1). On a per capita basis, Libyan fighters (18.55/1 million) entered Iraq at a much higher rate than Saudi Arabia (8.84/1 million).

Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Egypt were the source of most of the foreign fighters detained in Camp Bucca, Iraq.
As of April 7, 2008, the United States was holding 251 foreign fighters at Camp Bucca, Iraq. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria each contributed 19 percent of those fighters. Libyans comprise only 3 percent of foreign fighters held at Camp Bucca. Saudi Arabia and Libya contribute a relatively smaller percentage of the detainees held in Camp Bucca than were listed in the Sinjar Records.

Foreign Fighters contributed approximately 75 Percent of suicide bombers between August 2006 and August 2007.
Of the 376 fighters in the Sinjar Records that designated their “work” in Iraq, 212 (56.4 percent) were listed as suicide bombers. Assuming that this rate holds for all Jihadis listed in the Sinjar Records—and that the records are an accurate indicator of future behavior—foreign fighters accounted for approximately 75 percent of suicide bombings in Iraq between August 2006 and August 2007.

Many of AQI’s foreign fighters sign suicide contracts before entering Iraq to guarantee they will commit a suicide attack, which suggests AQI must convince and compel many incoming fighters to commit suicide attacks. The contracts suggest that would‐be bombers who renege will not be allowed to fight in Iraq; some state that break the contract immediately divorce their wife.

The plurality of suicide bombers entering Iraq between August 2006 and August 2007 were Saudi. However, the Sinjar Records challenge the notion that Saudi foreign fighters are more likely than fighters from other locations to become suicide bombers, as Libyan and Moroccan nationals registered as “suicide bombers” at a higher rate than their Saudi counterparts.

AQI is a wounded organization.
Tribal disaffection, the surge in Coalition and Iraqi Forces in 2007‐2008, and AQIs self‐destructive penchant for violence have all contributed to the organization’s decline. The number of foreign fighters entering Iraq every month has declined to between 40 and 50, and many foreign fighters are now trying to leave the country. AQI is largely concentrated in and around the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. AQI still desires and is capable of generating large‐scale asymmetric attacks, but is unable to control territory with impunity as it could two years ago.

There Syrian foreign fighter network is effective, but not uniform.
The amount of money fighters in the Sinjar Records paid to their Syrian Coordinators varied dramatically depending on the Syrian Coordinator. Likewise, some Syrian Coordinators worked almost exclusively with fighters from specific countries, and likely with specific Coordinators in fighters’ home countries. In other words, there is not one network in Syria for ushering fighters into Iraq, there are many. Despite the structural incongruities, AQI’s network provided a regular, predictable flow of fighters into Iraq.

There is a strong risk of blowback from Iraq. Relatively small numbers of Jihadis will “bleedout” to fight elsewhere, but they will likely be very dangerous individuals.
The Iraq war has increased Jihadi radicalization in the Muslim world and the number of al‐Qa`ida recruits. Foreign fighters in Iraq have also acquired a number of useful skills that can be used in future terrorist operations, including massive use of suicide tactics, organizational skills, propaganda, covert communication, and innovative improvised explosive device (IED) tactics. Some AQI fighters that have already trickled out of Iraq have bolstered violent movements in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. This trend will likely continue. Although the threat to Europe and North America is real—French officials have tracked 24 fighters from France that have traveled to Iraq—fighters are most likely to join established Jihadi groups in areas of weak government control, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Lebanon.

Not all AQI fighters leaving Iraq will remain militant. AQI requires some exiting fighters to sign contracts demanding they not join other Jihadi groups. It is unclear whether the provision is designed to protect the Jihadi organizations in case the exiting fighters are under surveillance, ensure the fighters do not join AQ’s Jihadi competitors, or if these fighters have angered their AQI hosts.

US withdrawal from Iraq may not end the flow of foreign fighters to Iraq. A withdrawal that leaves swaths of Iraq ungoverned may provoke a resurgence of foreign fighter travel to Iraq. If Jihadis believe Iraq remains a viable arena for Jihad, or they sense an opportunity to humiliate the US, they will travel to Iraq even after a withdrawal, much as an earlier generation of fighters arrived in Afghanistan long after the Soviet Union withdrew.

Smuggling across the Syrian/Iraqi border has tribal roots.
AQI capitalizes on the extensive tribal smuggling networks across the Syrian/Iraqi border, much of which has traditionally received explicit or tacit support from Syrian and Iraqi officials. The smuggling takes a number of forms, each of which requires unique expertise. Livestock smuggling is the most prevalent, and usually takes place on unmarked trails away from established border crossings. Cigarettes and other bulk items are often moved in trucks through border crossings, which requires bribing border guards. High‐value items such as electronics require larger bribes and better intelligence about border officials. Human smuggling often takes place on the same trails as livestock smuggling. There is ample evidence that AQI uses criminal smugglers, who they do not fully trust, to cross the border. AQIs effort to monopolize smuggling networks, which impeded Sunni tribal leaders from much of their traditional livelihood, was an important element convincing Iraqi tribes to cooperate with US forces.

Foreign Fighters contribute large sums of money to AQI, including a majority of its Border Sector 1 funding.
Financial reports show that AQI’s Border Sector 1 relied on three sources of funding: transfers from other leaders in AQI; fundraising from local Iraqis; and money brought by foreign suicide bombers. In AQI’s Border Sector 1, near Sinjar, incoming foreign fighters contributed more than 70 percent of the group’s operating budget. In that sector, 38 percent of AQI’s budget was used to purchase weapons and another 38 percent to import and sustain its personnel. Other AQI sectors likely had very different fundraising dynamics.

Saudi Arabian Jihadis contribute far more money to AQI than fighters from other countries.
Fighters from several nations contributed money to AQI, though Saudi Arabian nationals contributed a disproportionately large amount, totaling 46 percent of the overall funds received from foreign fighters. Furthermore, the mean contribution of Saudi fighters was $1,088, far higher than that of other nationalities. Of the 23 fighters that contributed more than $1,000, 22 were from Saudi Arabia.

AQI is highly bureaucratized, which may be a sign of operational failure and internal mistrust within the organization.
AQI is highly bureaucratized, forcing its agents to provide detailed accounting of inlays and expenditures, urging both incoming suicide bombers and fighters leaving Iraq to sign contracts, and auditing its various sub‐units. AQI, like al‐Qa`ida in general, is plagued by “agents” and intermediaries whose preferences diverge from those of the Jihadi “principals.” Despite the security costs of increasing its paper trail, AQI’s leaders were compelled required regular accounting reports from their underlings, likely because of graft and criminality.

Jihadis headed to Iraq were recruited predominately through local networks, rather than through the Internet.
As noted in the CTCs first Sinjar Report, foreign fighters who ended up in Iraq appear overwhelmingly to have joined the Jihad through local Jihadi sympathizers (33.5%) and personal social networks (29%). Only a few Jihadis appear to have met their local coordinators directly through the Internet. There is also a high likelihood that many foreign fighters traveled to Iraq in groups, and may have made the decision to travel there collectively.

AQI has produced fewer, but far more skilled, fighters than the “Arab‐Afghans” did in the 1980s.
The foreign fighters in Iraq share important similarities—such as country of origin and ideology—with the so‐called “Afghan Arabs” that traveled to Afghanistan to fight Soviet and Afghan‐communist forces in the 1980s. But there are important differences as well. Foreign fighters in Iraq have seen more combat than their predecessors in Afghanistan. In addition, they have shown greater ability to innovate critical tactical skills, such as IED development and suicide bombings.

Although the overall military impact of the foreign fighters for the Jihad in Afghanistan was minimal, the presence of Afghan Arabs had important consequences. Most importantly, the Afghanistan experience helped radicalize thousands of Jihadist activists from all over the world. The recruitment networks attracted volunteers, while training camps radicalized foreign fighters. Similar problems may bedevil the United States and its allies who face a growing body of alumni of the Iraqi Jihad.

The Afghan experience also had some negative implications for al‐Qa`ida that may apply to the current “Jihad” in Iraq. Foreign fighters in Afghanistan alienated local Afghans due to their extremist tactics and by preaching a puritanical ideology. At times, such disputes erupted into violence, especially when splinter groups of highly radicalized Afghan Arabs operated independently of their organizational leadership.

AQI’s permanent Border Sector personnel are vulnerable to coercion.
Family men with property dominate the Border Sector’s permanent establishment. Many are motivated by financial gain more than ideology. To the extent that they can be identified, such individuals are highly vulnerable to pressure, and may be susceptible to being turned and used as agents.

AQI is increasingly linked to al‐Qa`ida’s senior leaders.
AQI did not exist before the US invasion, but the organization has grown progressively more integrated with al‐Qa`ida Central, especially following Abu Mus’ab al‐Zarqawi’s death.

.
Get the report here [PDF].

Afghanistan Bibliography

29 July, 2008

Christian Bleuer, over at Ghosts of Alexander, has made available the third edition of his extensive Afghanistan bibliography, which provides an invaluable resource for anyone with a research interest in Afghanistan.

The 123-page bibliography is broken down into the following sections:

1. Ethnic Groups.
2. Conflict and Mobilization: War, Ethnicity, Jihad, Factions, “Warlords,” Etc
3. Islam, Political Islam, Sharia, Jihad, Sects.
4. The International Community, Reconstruction, Security, Economy, Government, and Development.
5. Opium Cultivation, Drug Use and Trafficking.
6. Environment, Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources.
7. Human Rights Violations.
8. Women, Gender and Family.
9. Civil-Military Relations, Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), Counterinsurgency and Military Issues.
10. Refugees, Internal Displacement, Migration and Diaspora Issues.
11. Macro and Micro Economics.
12. Opinion Polls, Interviews, Study Groups and Surveys.
13. Periodicals and Academic Journals.

Check it out here.

The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

28 July, 2008

The bi-monthly International Affairs journal published by Chatham House always includes a featured article which is made available to non-members. In the recently released July-August issue, the featured article is an excellent piece by Thomas Hegghammer, entitled ‘Islamist Violence and Regime Stability in Saudi Arabia‘. In his paper, Hegghammer provides a well-informed analysis of the underlying dynamics that explain one of the more puzzling conundrums in contemporary jihadi studies: the sudden and somewhat belated rise of AQAP in 2003, and its equally sudden collapse as an operational force by late 2004 / early 2005.

As Hegghammer explains:

Apart from isolated incidents, such as the 1979 Mecca mosque siege, the 1995 Riyadh bombing and the 1996 Khobar bombing, the Kingdom had largely been spared the Islamist violence which had ravaged Egypt and Algeria in previous decades. What, then, caused the sudden outbreak of violence? Even more interestingly: why did it happen in 2003 and not before? The near-absence of violence before 2003 is, after all, quite paradoxical in the light of the fact that Saudi militants were so active abroad in the 1990s, either as guerrilla fighters in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya, or as members of Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda organization. These questions highlight a deeper problem, namely that we do not really understand what determines the comings and goings of Islamist violence in Saudi Arabia. This is hardly a purely academic issue—it directly concerns our ability to assess the stability of the world’s leading oil producer and a pillar of US strategy in the Middle East.

Hegghammer discounts a number of popular theories, including ideology-based explanations ‘which see the violence as a product of the religiosity of Saudi society or the inherent extremism of the Wahhabi religious tradition’; and structural approaches that blame strains ‘of a political (e.g. regime oppression), economic (e.g. unemployment) or social (e.g. westernization) kind.’

Drawing upon his analysis of Saudi jihadist texts and videos, and on extensive field work in the Kingdom, Hegghammer argues instead that:

…Saudi Arabia experienced relatively low levels of Sunni Islamist violence in the 1980s and 1990s because, unlike the Arab republics, Saudi Arabia has never been home to a strong socio-revolutionary Islamist community. Saudi jihadism has been driven primarily not by regime discontent but by extreme pan-Islamism, and has thus been geared towards fighting non-Muslims. I further argue that the violence in 2003 was the result not of structural political or economic strain inside the Kingdom, but rather of a momentary conjunction between high operational capability on the part of the local Al-Qaeda network, boosted in numbers and skills by post-2001 returnees from Afghanistan, and a weak Saudi security apparatus. That gap in capability has now closed, and the QAP campaign has petered out.

Read the paper here.

Winning the War of Words in Afghanistan

26 July, 2008

The International Crisis Group has released a report entitled Taliban Propaganda: Winning the War of Words?. The report examines the way in which the Taliban exploits various forms of media to further its campaign, and focuses on what may be learned about the movement from studying its use of the media – both in terms of what the movement says in its communications, and what it does not say.

Executive Summary:

The Taliban has created a sophisticated communications apparatus that projects an increasingly confident movement. Using the full range of media, it is successfully tapping into strains of Afghan nationalism and exploiting policy failures by the Kabul government and its international backers. The result is weakening public support for nation-building, even though few actively support the Taliban. The Karzai government and its allies must make greater efforts, through word and deed, to address sources of alienation exploited in Taliban propaganda, particularly by ending arbitrary detentions and curtailing civilian casualties from aerial bombing.

Analysing the Taliban’s public statements has limits, since the insurgent group seeks to underscore successes – or imagined successes – and present itself as having the purest of aims, while disguising weaknesses and underplaying its brutality. However, the method still offers a window into what the movement considers effective in terms of recruitment and bolstering its legitimacy among both supporters and potential sympathisers.

The movement reveals itself in its communications as:

  • the product of the anti-Soviet jihad and the civil war that followed but not representative of indigenous strands of religious thought or traditional pre-conflict power structures;
  • a largely ethno-nationalist phenomenon, without popular grassroots appeal beyond its core of support in sections of the Pashtun community;
  • still reliant on sanctuaries in Pakistan, even though local support has grown;
  • linked with transnational extremist groups for mostly tactical rather than strategic reasons but divided over these links internally;
  • seeking to exploit local tribal disputes for recruitment and mainly appealing to the disgruntled and disenfranchised in specific locations, but lacking a wider tribal agenda; and
  • a difficult negotiating partner because it lacks a coherent agenda, includes allies with divergent agendas and has a leadership that refuses to talk before the withdrawal of foreign forces and without the imposition of Sharia (Islamic law).

Out of power and lacking control over territory, the Taliban has proved adept at projecting itself as stronger than it is in terms of numbers and resources. Despite the increasing sophistication of some of its propaganda, however, it still puts out contradictory messages that indicate internal rifts and the diffuse nature of the insurgency. These reveal a cross-border leadership and support apparatus striving to present a unified front and assert control even as various groups maintain their own communications networks. Maintaining relations with transnational jihadist networks, which have a more global agenda, is a potential problem for the Taliban, which has always been a largely nationalistic movement.

A website in the name of the former regime – the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – is used as an international distribution centre for leadership statements and inflated tales of battlefield exploits. While fairly rudimentary, this is not a small effort; updates appear several times a day in five languages. Magazines put out by the movement or its supporters provide a further source of information on leadership structures and issues considered to be of importance. But for the largely rural and illiterate population, great efforts are also put into conveying preaching and battle reports via DVDs, audio cassettes, shabnamah (night letters – pamphlets or leaflets usually containing threats) and traditional nationalist songs and poems. The Taliban also increasingly uses mobile phones to spread its message.

The vast majority of the material is in Pashtu, and a shortage of language skills in the international community means much of this either passes unnoticed or is misunderstood. English-language statements are relatively crude, but the Taliban is able to put out its story rapidly. More effort is devoted to Arabic language output, aimed at soliciting the support of transnational networks and funders. The overriding strategic narrative is a quest for legitimacy and the projection of strength. Use of tactics such as suicide bombings – previously unknown in Afghanistan – and roadside bombs, as well as such audacious actions in 2008 as a prison break in Kandahar city, an attack on a military parade attended by President Hamid Karzai and an assault on a five-star hotel demonstrate that grabbing attention lies at the core of operations.

Within Afghanistan the Taliban is adept at exploiting local disenfranchisement and disillusionment. The Kabul administration needs to ensure it is seen as one worth fighting for, not least by ending the culture of impunity and demanding accountability of its members. The international community must provide the necessary support and pressure for improved performance, while also examining its own actions. Whatever the military benefits of arbitrary detentions, they are far outweighed by the alienation they cause. The effectiveness of aerial bombardment, even if strictly exercised within the bounds of international law, must be considered against the damage to popular support. Greater efforts are needed in Western capitals to explain to their own populations the necessity of staying for the long haul rather than yielding to the pressure of quick fixes that give only the appearance of action.

The Taliban is not going to be defeated militarily and is impervious to outside criticism. Rather, the legitimacy of its ideas and actions must be challenged more forcefully by the Afghan government and citizens. Its killings of civilians and targeting of community leaders need to be highlighted, including a public accounting for actions by the militants through open trials – something that has not yet happened. Strengthening the legitimacy of the Afghan government and ensuring that its actions – and those of its international backers – are similarly bound by the rule of law should be an important complement. Ultimately, winning popular support is not about telling local communities that they are better off today. It is about proving it.

Read the full report here.

Small Wars Past and Present

19 July, 2008

A useful research resource worth being aware of is the lists of small wars past and present maintained by the USMC Small Wars Center of Excellence:

Ongoing Small Wars
Past Small Wars [PDF]

h/t: Tom Odom at Small Wars Council

Why Terrorists Quit

18 July, 2008

The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point has released the July issue [PDF] of its CTC Sentinel journal, which is quickly establishing itself as one of the finest non-subscription publications addressing contemporary terrorism and insurgency around.

The July issue leads with an article by Michael Jacobson entitled Why Terrorists Quit: Gaining From Al-Qa`ida’s Losses, which argues that there are valuable lessons to be learned from an understanding of the processes by which individual terrorists have in the past become de-radicalised, voluntarily de-selecting themselves from participation in contemporary jihadist militancy. Jacobson’s thoughts on this subject were examined in a March posting on this blog.

Also of note is Kirsten E. Schulze’s piece entitled Indonesia’s Approach to Jihadist Deradicalization, which provides an Indonesian perspective on the practice of ‘COIN Inside the Wire’ – the process of integrating rehabilitation of captured militants into broader COIN campaigns – a strategy whose implementation by the Saudis, and by the US in Iraq, was examined in this post earlier this month.

The full line up is as follows:

Why Terrorists Quit: Gaining From Al-Qa`ida’s Losses
By Michael Jacobson

An Ideological and Operational Threat: Abu `Amr/Shaykh `Isa
By Erich Marquardt & Abdul Hameed Bakier

Indonesia’s Approach to Jihadist Deradicalization
By Kirsten E. Schulze

The High Stakes Battle for the Future of Musa Qala
By David C. Isby

Al-Qa`ida Seeking to Recruit African-American Muslims
By Cadets Benjamin Haas & Daniel McGrory

Propaganda and Peace Deals: The Taliban’s Information War in Pakistan
By Arthur Keller

Uncovering Extremist Violence in Morocco
By Alison Pargeter

After Action Report: Nuanced Diplomacy in Zerok, Afghanistan
By Captain John G. Gibson, U.S. Army

Securing Pakistan’s Tribal Belt

17 July, 2008

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has released a special report written by Daniel Markey – CFR’s senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia – entitled Securing Pakistan’s Tribal Belt [PDF].

The following is the ‘Introduction & Summary of Recommendations’:

Today, few places on earth are as important to U.S. national security as the tribal belt along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. The region serves as a safe haven for a core group of nationally and internationally networked terrorists, a training and recruiting ground for Afghan Taliban, and, increasingly, a hotbed of indigenous militancy that threatens the stability of Pakistan’s own state and society. Should another 9/11-type attack take place in the United States, it will likely have its origins in this region. As long as Pakistan’s tribal areas are in turmoil, the mission of building a new, democratic, and stable Afghanistan cannot succeed.

Nearly seven years after 9/11, neither the United States nor Pakistan has fully come to terms with the enormity of the challenge in the tribal belt. Washington has failed to convince Pakistanis that the United States has positive intentions in the region and is committed to staying the course long enough to implement lasting, constructive change. Pakistan, for its part, has demonstrated a disturbing lack of capacity and, all too often, an apparent lack of will to tackle head-on the security, political, or developmental deficits that have produced an explosion of terrorism and extremism within its borders and beyond. Islamabad’s conflicted views and priorities with respect to this fight have deep roots; for much of its history, the Pakistani state has employed militants as tools to project power and influence throughout the region.

In order to begin making progress in the tribal areas, the United States must build strong working relationships with Pakistani leaders and institutions, both military and civilian. The alternatives, ranging from reluctant, piecemeal cooperation to an outright rupture in bilateral relations, are bound to be far more costly and counterproductive to American interests over the long run. And despite the inevitable frustrations that will plague the U.S.-Pakistan partnership, it cannot be founded on coercive threats of U.S. sanctions or unilateral military activity. Such coercion is profoundly counterproductive because it empowers those in Pakistan who already suspect U.S. ill intentions and it undermines Washington’s real and potential allies in the Pakistani political system.

Rather than threats, Washington should employ a strategy of enhanced cooperation and structured inducements, in which the United States designs its assistance to bring U.S. and Pakistani officials closer together and provides Pakistan with the specific tools required to confront the threats posed by militancy, terrorism, and extremism.

In his first six months in office, the new U.S. president should articulate a formal, comprehensive vision for U.S. policy in the tribal areas, one that prepares both Americans and Pakistanis for a cooperative effort that extends to other facets of the bilateral relationship and will—even if successful—far outlast the next administration. The U.S. government should place Pakistan/Afghanistan second only to Iraq in its prioritization of immediate national security issues, and should move quickly to reassess assistance programming and to invest in U.S. personnel and institutions required for a long-term commitment to the region.

This report aims to characterize the nature of the challenges in Pakistan’s tribal areas, formulate strategies for addressing these challenges, and distill these strategies into realistic policy proposals worthy of consideration by the incoming administration. It
focuses mainly on U.S. policy, but recognizes that Washington’s choices must always be contingent upon Pakistan’s own course of action. The scope of this report is thus more constrained than exhaustive, and its recommendations for U.S. assistance programming
are intended to provide strategic guidelines rather than narrow prescriptions.

Read the whole report here.

H/T: Pakistan Policy Blog

Badal: A Culture of Revenge – The Impact of Collateral Damage on the Taliban Insurgency

8 July, 2008

The ever-useful Combined Arms Research Library (CARL) has published a report – written by Raja G. Hussain of the US Naval Postgraduate School – that examines the role played by collateral damage in exacerbating the Afghan insurgency.

Abstract:

This thesis examines the impact of collateral damage on the Taliban insurgency. It reveals the relationship between death of innocent civilians and the tribal concept of badal (revenge). Research also analyzes Taliban propaganda leaflets to illustrate the compromise of popular support caused by collateral damage stemming from the Coalition’s tactics.

Research probes into the historical Anglo-Afghan wars and the 1979 Soviet invasion to draw parallels to the current insurgency. In doing so, it highlights the rising role of religion and FATA, Pakistan. FATA is analyzed to show the effects of intrusions by outside actors as well as historical and recent events that have shaped the populace and structure of these tribal regions.

Lastly, the research concludes by offering non-kinetic solutions to curbing the Taliban insurgency. The solutions focus on FATA and offer socio-economic and political remedies to hinder with the Taliban recruitment efforts and cross-border incursions. Thesis recognizes FATA and reduction in collateral damage as pivotal factors to fostering stability in the region.

Access the report here.