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 61 results for "somalia"

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 »

Preventive Priorities Survey for 2015

by Micah Zenko
Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), walk toward the Syrian border near Sinjar, Iraq, August 11, 2014. (Rodi Said/Courtesy Reuters) Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), walk toward the Syrian border near Sinjar, Iraq, August 11, 2014. (Rodi Said/Courtesy Reuters)

Today, we at the Center for Preventive Action released our Preventive Priorities Survey (PPS) for 2015. This is the seventh in our annual effort to harness crowd wisdom and foreign policy expertise in order to identify plausible sources of political instability and violence and to rank them into three tiers based on their impact to U.S. interests and likelihood of happening in the upcoming year. The goal of the PPS is to help officials and policymakers focus on the most important conflict prevention demands. Despite all the early warning analysis done in the U.S. government, there is neither a systematic process that does this, nor a routine system for bringing such information to the attention of senior officials. The PPS represents our best effort to provide this once a year and, given the feedback we receive from officials, the survey is highly coveted and widely read. Read more »

U.S. Transparency and the Truth of Targeted Killings

by Micah Zenko

This morning, the White House released an unusual statement: “The Department of Defense confirmed that Ahmed Godane, the leader of al-Shabaab, is dead as a result of a U.S. military targeted airstrike in Somalia undertaken over the weekend.” What was particularly unique about the statement is that, previously, the Pentagon has purposely refused to confirm the deaths of terrorist leaders killed with legal counterterrorism strikes. On June 5, 2012, when Pentagon spokesperson then-Capt. John Kirby was asked about the reported death of al Qaeda’s no. 2 official, Abu Yahya al-Libi, Kirby replied: “We don’t discuss the specifics of counterterrorism operations.  So I’m not going to speak to specifics of operations.” Read more »

Guest Post: What’s Next for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit?

by Guest Blogger for Micah Zenko
President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, President of Djibouti Ismail Omar Gulleh and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia speak to the media after their meeting on situation in South Sudan on gust 5, 2014. (Gripas/Courtesy Reuters) President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, President of Djibouti Ismail Omar Gulleh and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia speak to the media after their meeting on situation in South Sudan on gust 5, 2014. (Gripas/Courtesy Reuters)

Amelia M. Wolf is a research associate in the Center for Preventive Action and the International Institutions and Global Governance Program at the Council on Foreign Relations. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: One Year After Obama’s Drone Speech

by Micah Zenko
U.S. President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks about his administration's counterterrorism policy at the National Defense University on May 23, 2013. (Downing/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks about his administration's counterterrorism policy at the National Defense University on May 23, 2013. (Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

Harold Hongju Koh, “Ending the Forever War: One Year After President Obama’s NDU Speech,” JustSecurity.org, May 23, 2014.

The President’s historic move in that speech was to call for the eventual repeal of the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) and the end of what I had called at the Oxford Union the “Forever War”… Read more »

Guest Post: Protecting Journalists in Armed Conflict

by Guest Blogger for Micah Zenko
Somali journalists protest as they demand for the release of a colleague, Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, in Mogadishu on January 27, 2013. Abdiaziz was reportedly arrested after reporting on a rape case allegedly involving government soldiers according to local media reports. (Omar/Courtesy Reuters). Somali journalists protest as they demand for the release of a colleague, Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, in Mogadishu on January 27, 2013. Abdiaziz was reportedly arrested after reporting on a rape case allegedly involving government soldiers according to local media reports. (Omar/Courtesy Reuters).

Julie Anderson is an intern in the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Reporting from conflict zones, while risky, is crucial to understand global crises. Seventy journalists were killed on the job in 2013: 44 percent were murdered, 36 percent in direct combat or crossfire, and 20 percent while on a dangerous assignment. Combat-related deaths were due in large part to the Syrian civil war, along with spikes in violence in Iraq and Egypt. Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, the country has been the deadliest in the world for journalists, with thirty-one killed in 2012 and twenty-eight in 2013. Professional media workers and citizen journalists alike have been targets of death, torture, enforced disappearance, abduction and intimidation, and an indeterminate number of human rights violations by both pro- and anti-government forces. Already ten journalists have been killed globally in 2014. Read more »