Micah Zenko

Politics, Power, and Preventive Action

Zenko covers the U.S. national security debate and offers insight on developments in international security and conflict prevention.

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Showing 0 - 10 of 71 results for "somalia"

U.S. Airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, Versus Drone Strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia

by Micah Zenko
A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle assigned to the California Air National Guard's 163rd Reconnaissance Wing undergoes a postflight inspection (Reuters/U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Effrain Lopez/Handout)

Yesterday, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) published an updated estimate of civilian casualties from U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. Previously, the Pentagon had acknowledged just 55 civilian casualties for the air war that began in August 2014. The new CENTCOM estimate listed a total of 24 civilian casualty incidents, which “regrettably may have killed 64 civilians.” This makes the new official estimate of civilian fatalities 119. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Drone Exports, Somalia, and JFK’s “Ordinary Mortals”

by Micah Zenko

Department of Defense Press Briefing by Rear Adm. Kirby in the Pentagon Briefing Room, U.S. Department of Defense, February 18, 2015.

Rear Adm. Kirby: These are actually proscriptions in place that we will follow and we will expect anybody that receives these systems to follow…It’s in our best interest to be able to have this kind of control, supervision, and scrutiny over the potential delivery of these systems because it’s a ubiquitous, now, capability. Not every nation has the same sophistication at it as we do, but this is a technology that’s not going away. So, it suits our interests, and I think it should suit the American people’s interests to know that we’re going to be involved, from soup to nuts, on how these systems are eventually transferred. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Drones, al-Shabaab in Somalia, and the NSA.

by Micah Zenko

Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt, “As Security Deteriorates at Home, Iraqi Leader Arrived in U.S. Seeking Aid,” New York Times, October 31, 2013.

Until now, Mr. Maliki was reluctant to openly ask for United States support. A former American official said that in 2012 Mr. Maliki was on the verge of asking the United States to fly reconnaissance drones over Iraq to help pinpoint the growing terrorist threat but backed off at the last moment when the request became public. Read more »

U.S. Drones: The Counterinsurgency Air Force for Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia

by Micah Zenko
The RQ-4A Global Hawk at a forward-deployed location (Staff Sgt. Reynaldo Ramon ME/Courtesy Reuters). The RQ-4A Global Hawk at a forward-deployed location (Staff Sgt. Reynaldo Ramon ME/Courtesy Reuters).

This past Sunday, Scott Shane of the New York Times reported that the U.S. presidential election spurred the Obama administration to develop and formalize a set of explicit rules to govern the U.S. targeted killings program. Each time that Obama administration officials leak information about a new process (how to make kill lists) or phrase (Disposition Matrix) that supports U.S. targeted killings, Americans are once again reminded of the Long Third War, which has resulted in the deaths of over three thousand individuals outside of battlefield settings. It is remarkable how certain pundits are still shocked by the scope and depth of targeted killings that the United States has carried out for over a decade—albeit most vigorously in the past four years under the guidance of John Brennan and authorized by President Obama. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Israel, Iran, and Drone Strikes in Pakistan and Somalia

by Micah Zenko
President Obama meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu in September 2011 (Courtesy Reuters/Kevin Lamarque). President Obama meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu in September 2011 (Courtesy Reuters/Kevin Lamarque).

I saw how hollow such leadership can be when I attended an expensive Darfur peace conference in Sirte, Libya, in 2007. What fascinated and attracted the rebels was not the plenary sessions or the one-on-one meetings with United Nations officials. It was the all-you-can-eat hotel buffet where turbaned figures laughed as they heaped mountains of rice and meat onto their plates and drank gallons of Pepsi. None of the Darfurian rebels I talked to at that conference could tell me what he was fighting for. In fact, although I had spent much time in the region they came from, it was hard to know if any of these men were fighting at all. The leaders I had met in the field were not there. Read more »

Fazul Abdullah Mohammed’s Death: An Overdue Counterterror Victory in Somalia

by Micah Zenko

Civilians look at the suspected body of Fazul Abdullah Mohammed (L), one of Africa's most wanted al Qaeda operatives, and an unidentified colleague killed at a police checkpoint in Somalia's capital Mogadishu in this picture taken June 8, 2011. Somali police said on Saturday that Abdullah Mohammed, one of Africa's most wanted al Qaeda operatives, was killed in the capital of the Horn of Africa country earlier this week. Picture taken June 8, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer

Reportedly, Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government killed the most-wanted terrorist in Africa, Al Qaeda operative Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, in a random gun fight in Mogadishu on Tuesday. However implausible that story may be, his death is a victory for the victims of terror attacks by Al Qaeda in East Africa (as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged while visiting Tanzania this weekend). Read more »

The (Not-So) Peaceful Transition of Power: Trump’s Drone Strikes Outpace Obama

by Micah Zenko
Women walk past a graffiti, denouncing strikes by U.S. drones in Yemen, painted on a wall in Sanaa, Yemen February 6, 2017 (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah).

[Note: This post was updated to reflect additional strikes in Yemen on March 2, March 3, and March 6.]

As a candidate, President Donald Trump was deeply misleading about the sorts of military operations that he would support. He claimed to have opposed the 2003 Iraq War when he actually backed it, and to have opposed the 2011 Libya intervention when he actually strongly endorsed it, including with U.S. ground troops. Yet, Trump and his loyalists consistently implied that he would be less supportive of costly and bloody foreign wars, especially when compared to President Obama, and by extension, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This might be true, but nonetheless the White House is considering deploying even more U.S. troops to Syria, loosening the rules of engagement for airstrikes, and increasing the amount of lethal assistance provided to Syrian rebel groups. Read more »

Obama’s Final Drone Strike Data

by Micah Zenko
U.S. President Donald Trump greets outgoing President Barack Obama before Trump is inaugurated during ceremonies on the Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017 (Barria/Reuters).

As Donald Trump assumes office today, he inherits a targeted killing program that has been the cornerstone of U.S. counterterrorism strategy over the past eight years. On January 23, 2009, just three days into his presidency, President Obama authorized his first kinetic military action: two drone strikes, three hours apart, in Waziristan, Pakistan, that killed as many as twenty civilians. Two terms and 540 strikes later, Obama leaves the White House after having vastly expanding and normalizing the use of armed drones for counterterrorism and close air support operations in non-battlefield settings—namely Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. Read more »

How Many Bombs Did the United States Drop in 2016?

by Micah Zenko
Obama Biden Dunford U.S. President Barack Obama attends a military full honor review farewell ceremony given in his honor, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden (C) and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford (L) at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Washington, U.S. January 4, 2017. (Barria/Reuters).

This blog post was coauthored with my research associate, Jennifer Wilson

[Note: This post was updated to reflect an additional strike in Yemen in 2016, announced by U.S. Central Command on January 12, 2017.] Read more »