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.

Search Results

Showing 0 - 10 of 66 results for "somalia"

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 »

How Many Bombs Did the United States Drop in 2015?

by Micah Zenko
Smoke and flames rise over Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province on October 20, 2014. (Pfaffenbach/Reuters) Smoke and flames rise over Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province on October 20, 2014. (Pfaffenbach/Reuters)

The primary focus—meaning the commitment of personnel, resources, and senior leaders’ attention—of U.S. counterterrorism policies is the capture or killing (though, overwhelmingly killing) of existing terrorists. Far less money and programmatic attention is dedicated to preventing the emergence of new terrorists. As an anecdotal example of this, I often ask U.S. government officials and mid-level staffers, “what are you doing to prevent a neutral person from becoming a terrorist?” They always claim this this is not their responsibility, and point toward other agencies, usually the Department of State (DOS) or Department of Homeland Security (DHS), where this is purportedly their obligation internationally or domestically, respectively. DOS and DHS officials then refer generally to “countering violent extremism” policies, while acknowledging that U.S. government efforts on this front have been wholly ineffective. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Drone Strikes, Nation-building, and the U.S. Aviation Inventory

by Micah Zenko

Elisabeth Bumiller, “Soldier, Thinker, Hunter, Spy: Drawing a Bead on Al Qaeda,” New York Times, September 3, 2011.

In Mr. [Michael] Vickers’s [top adviser to then-secretary of defense Leon E. Panetta] assessment, there are perhaps four important Qaeda leaders left in Pakistan, and 10 to 20 leaders over all in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Even if the United States kills them all in drone strikes, Mr. Vickers said, “You still have Al Qaeda, the idea.” Read more »

Obama’s Drone Strikes Reforms Don’t Apply to 46 Percent

by Micah Zenko
A MQ-1B Predator drone that is part of Task Force Odin stands inside a hangar at Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on January 3, 2015. (Jackson/Courtesy Reuters) A MQ-1B Predator drone that is part of Task Force Odin stands inside a hangar at Bagram Air Field in the Parwan province of Afghanistan on January 3, 2015. (Jackson/Courtesy Reuters)

Today, Adam Entous reported the latest confirmation about what informed citizens already knew: the White House’s purported policy guidance for U.S. lethal counterterrorism strikes issued on May 23, 2013 does not apply to CIA drone strikes in Pakistan. The CIA may still target unknown individuals, and they do not have to pose a purported “imminent threat” to the United States. This was widely reported at the time publicly, and I was told by a then-member of a congressional oversight committee that this exception was made clear to them as well. Read more »

Ten Whats With…Thanassis Cambanis

by Micah Zenko
"Once Upon a Revolution: An Egyptian Story," by Thanassis Cambanis (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015). "Once Upon a Revolution: An Egyptian Story," by Thanassis Cambanis (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015).

Thanassis Cambanis is a fellow at The Century Foundation and a columnist at the Boston Globe. He is the author of a new book, Once Upon a Revolution: An Egyptian Story.

1. What is the most interesting project you are currently working on?

Interesting to whom? Read more »