Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

Janine Davidson examines the art, politics, and business of American military power.

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Showing posts for "Non-State Actors"

These Captured Letters Reveal Al Qaeda’s How-To Manual

by Janine Davidson
al-qaeda-lessons A suspected al Qaeda militant holds his head as he stands with co-defendants behind bars at the state security court of appeals in Sanaa March 26, 2013. The court on Tuesday upheld jail sentences ranging from four to 10 years against 10 defendants convicted of having links to al Qaeda, the state Saba news agency reported. (Khaled Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters)

The New York Times has published letters exchanged in mid-2012 between two senior Al Qaeda leaders, in which Abu Basir of the Arabian Peninsula tries to impart guidance to Abdelmalek Droukdal, leader of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Buried in Basir’s letters are a fascinating series of “lessons learned” by the aging terror network. I’ve highlighted four here:

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ISIS Hasn’t Gone Anywhere—and It’s Getting Stronger

by Janine Davidson and Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
isis-isil-state-danger Militant Islamist fighters on a tank take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

By Janine Davidson and Emerson Brooking

Amid dangerous escalation in eastern Ukraine following the MH17 tragedy and a widening war in Gaza, it’s easy to dismiss last month’s lightning offensive into Iraq by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq’s (ISIS) as “old news.” Unfortunately, as global attention has shifted elsewhere, ISIS has only grown more virulent. The self-proclaimed caliphate has redoubled its efforts in Syria, launching a series of unprecedented offensives last week that now leave it in control of 35 percent of Syrian territory and nearly all of Syria’s oil and gas fields. The tumor is growing.

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As Facts About MH17 Emerge, U.S. Turns Up the Heat on Putin

by Janine Davidson
mh17-putin-obama An armed pro-Russian separatist stands guard at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region July 21, 2014. (Maxim Zmeyev/Courtesy Reuters)

The burden is now on Russia.” This was the conclusion of today’s statement by President Obama, as mounting evidence suggests that the MH17 tragedy and deaths of 298 passengers can be directly attributed to Russian-armed and trained rebels operating in eastern Ukraine. This terrible incident has served as a wake-up call for those who have so far been content  to look the other way as Russia plays an increasingly heavy hand in the violent conflict.

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On Iraq, No Quick or Easy Solution

by Janine Davidson
iraq maliki A girl, who fled from the violence in Mosul, carries a case of water at a camp on the outskirts of Arbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region, June 12, 2014. Since Tuesday, black clad Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters have seized Iraq's second biggest city Mosul and Tikrit, home town of former dictator Saddam Hussein, as well as other towns and cities north of Baghdad. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

This week’s news from Iraq is nothing but tragic.  As forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took Mosul and Tikrit before turning toward Baghdad, the bulk of Iraqi forces laid down their arms and fled, demonstrating the mess Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has made of the U.S.-trained and equipped Army that was left in his care just over two years ago.

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In Latin America, Lines Between Crime and War Begin to Blur

by Janine Davidson
Members of Mexico's military salute Members of Mexico's military salute during an official reception for U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Canada's Defense Minister Rob Nicholson in Mexico City, April 24, 2014. (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters)

While attention was focused last week on President Obama’s trip to Asia, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was on a separate mission to boost military-to-military relations in another important part of the world: Latin America. Hagel’s trip to Mexico and Guatemala, two countries plagued by spiraling drug violence, highlights the increasingly blurred line between military activities and law enforcement.

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Putin’s Way of War and NATO’s Article Five

by Janine Davidson
pro russia ukraine An armed man, who is wearing black and orange ribbons of St. George - a symbol widely associated with pro-Russian protests in Ukraine, stands guard with armoured personnel carriers in the background in Slaviansk April 16, 2014. Armoured personal carriers driven into the eastern Ukrainian city of Slaviansk had been under the control of Ukrainian armed forces earlier on Wednesday. (Gleb Glaranich/Courtesy Reuters)

The latest events in Ukraine raise more questions about the future of war and the future of NATO.  Previously, I wrote about how Vladimir Putin’s tactics reflect an uncomfortable trend around the world in which aggressors are actively exploiting the norms and laws we have traditionally held regarding crime and war.  Even the media have trouble labeling the suspiciously well-disciplined and well-armed “militants,” “rebels,” or “activists” who are seizing buildings in a coordinated fashion across Ukraine.

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Mind the Gap: Putin’s Actions and the Future of War

by Janine Davidson
Masked members of a pro-Russian defense unit take an oath to the Crimean government in the city of Simferopol on March 10, 2014. Masked members of a pro-Russian defense unit take an oath to the Crimean government in the city of Simferopol on March 10, 2014 (Vasily Fedosenko/Courtesy Reuters).

Molly K. McKew and Gregory A. Maniatis’s recent op-ed in the Washington Post is worth a read. The authors wisely observe that Putin’s aggression in Crimea—like in Georgia in 2008—reflects the future of great power conflict. Putin is not playing some sort of 19th-century geopolitical game, they argue, but rather he is “redefining 21st-century warfare”: Read more »