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 posts for "Conflict Resolution"

Syria Civil War Total Fatalities

by Micah Zenko
Shiite fighters chant anti- al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and anti-Free Syrian Army (FSA) slogans at the Sayeda Zainab area in Damascus, February 10, 2014. (Alaa Al-Marjani/Courtesy Reuters) Shiite fighters chant anti- al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and anti-Free Syrian Army (FSA) slogans at the Sayeda Zainab area in Damascus, February 10, 2014. (Alaa Al-Marjani/Courtesy Reuters)

This blog post was coauthored with my research associate, Amelia M. Wolf.

Estimates released today by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) portray a different picture of the civil war in Syria than U.S. policymakers and media convey. SOHR’s estimated death toll reinforces the point made in an article published on ForeignPolicy.com in September 2013, when they last released updated data: most of the reported deaths in Syria have not been committed by forces under Bashar al-Assad’s command. Additionally, the involvement of various individuals and groups in the conflict has broadened greatly since SOHR’s September 2013 estimate. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Ukraine, Rep. Mike Rogers, and Drones

by Micah Zenko

Jeanne Whalen and Alan Cullison, “Ukraine Battles to Rebuild a Depleted Military,” Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2014.

In recent weeks Mr. Yarema has turned to Washington and NATO for help, but with little luck so far. Ukraine’s military lacks much of an air force, and if fighting breaks out he expects that Russia would be able to pound Ukrainian ground troops with impunity. In meetings with U.S. senators and Western diplomats, he says he asked for help establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors so that his troops could at least count on some zones of safetyRead more »

You Might Have Missed: Cyberattacks, Asia Pivot, and the U.S. Military and Human Rights

by Micah Zenko
Pro-Russian men hold Russian flags in front of armed servicemen near Russian army vehicles outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava March 1, 2014. (Ratner/Courtesy Reuters) Pro-Russian men hold Russian flags in front of armed servicemen near Russian army vehicles outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava March 1, 2014. (Ratner/Courtesy Reuters)

Zachary Fryer-Biggs, “DoD Official: Asia Pivot ‘Can’t Happen’ Due to Budget Processes,” Defense News, March 4, 2014.

“Right now, the pivot is being looked at again, because candidly it can’t happen,” Katrina McFarland, assistant secretary of defense for acquisition, told Aviation Week’s Defense Technologies and Requirements conference in Arlington, Va… Read more »

You Might Have Missed: FAA UAV Roadmap, Salaries of Congress, and Blackwater

by Micah Zenko

Despite Challenges, Africans Are Optimistic about the Future,” Pew Research, November 8, 2013.

The world’s two leading powers, the U.S. and China, enjoy mostly positive images in Africa. Both nations receive higher favorability ratings in Africa than in the other regions included in the 2013 survey. Across the eight African nations, a median of 73% express a positive opinion of the U.S., while 65% hold this view about China. Globally, the U.S. generally gets higher marks than China on this question. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Drones, Syria, and Technology

by Micah Zenko
Drone site People gather at the site of a drone strike in southern Yemen on August 11, 2013 (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

Allegation of U.S. Spying on Merkel Puts Obama at Crossroads,” New York Times, October 24, 2013.

“This was colossally bad judgment — doing something because you can, instead of asking if you should,” said one career American official with long experience in Europe. A senior administration official declined to say what Mr. Obama knew or did not know about monitoring of Ms. Merkel’s phone, but said the president “doesn’t think we are in the right place.” Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Japanese Drones, Shutdown, CIA in Syria

by Micah Zenko

John Hudson, “U.S. Rules Out a New Drone War in Iraq,” Foreign Policy Magazine, October 3, 2013.

In 2013 alone, Iraq is averaging 68 car bombings a month. The United Nations reports that 5,740 civilians were killed since January, which is almost two times more deaths than recorded in all of 2010. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Syria, Drones, Gender Citation Gap

by Micah Zenko
14-year-old Syrian fighter A 14-year-old fighter, whom activists say is the youngest fighter in the Khadraa brigade operating under the Free Syrian Army, on July 9, 2013 (Khalil/Courtesy Reuters).

Contracts: Air Force, U.S. Department of Defense, September 12, 2013.

General Atomics – Aeronautical Systems Inc., Poway, Calif., has been awarded a $12,844,738 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the MQ-9 stationary targeting improvements. This contract action is for the development and delivery of an improved targeting capability with the Lynx synthetic aperture radar (SAR) on the MQ-9 platform to allow for a more streamlined approach to targeting and quicker decision making by the crew. Read more »

Would the Syria Deal Be a Coercive Diplomacy Success?

by Micah Zenko
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad Syrian president Bashar al-Assad during an interview with French daily Le Figaro in Damascus on September 2, 2013 (SANA news agency/Courtesy Reuters).

In the past three days, the Syrian government made an unprecedented acknowledgment that it possesses a chemical weapons program, and that it will place them under the supervision of United Nations (UN) inspectors. As Syrian foreign minister Walid Moallem stated on Monday: “We are ready to reveal the locations of the chemical weapon sites and to stop producing chemical weapons and make these sites available for inspection by representatives of Russia, other countries and the United Nations.” This remarkable shift occurred after President Obama declared on August 31 that he would conduct limited strikes against Syrian regime targets, after receiving congressional authorization. Subsequently, the Obama administration has repeatedly claimed that it was only the credible threat of force that compelled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to reportedly agree to the initiative that had been discussed between American and Russian diplomats for months. Read more »

Guest Post: What Happens When “Foreign Fighter” Means American?

by Guest Blogger for Micah Zenko
Syria Fighter A Free Syrian Army fighter throws a homemade grenade towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Deir al-Zor on July 30, 2013 (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

Julia Trehu is an intern in the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations.

As the civil war rages in Syria, the arrival of foreign combatants in the region has become a troubling characteristic of the opposition forces battling President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. European governments have already taken steps to directly address the issue of their citizens’ involvement in the conflict–Belgium established a network to monitor returning fighters, and the Netherlands defined the return of jihadists from Syria as a top-level security threat.  A recent article documenting the flow of foreign fighters into Syria comes at a time when the United States is supplying limited arms to the opposition, an already controversial decision with concerns about ensuring that terrorists do not receive weapons. The question of foreign involvement, specifically of American citizens acting as free agents, could complicate immediate policy options in Syria,  evoke potential long-term threats, and provoke debate over the targeting of American citizens in the fight against global terror networks and their affiliates. Read more »

Guest Post: An Unwritten Definition: Humanitarian Intervention After Mali

by Guest Blogger for Micah Zenko
MINUSMA peacekeepers UN peacekeepers mark the start of the 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA) in Mali, on July 1, 2013 (Palm/Courtesy Reuters).

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