Tag: Somalia

EGYPT, SOMALIA, & LIBYA FACE ONGOING ISLAMIST TERRORIST THREATS

Land of Terror: ISIS Alive and Kicking in Sinai: Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet, Oct. 17, 2017 — The Islamic State implemented a double strategic move in the Sinai area on Sunday night.

The Terror Group as Brutal as ISIS: Megan Palin, New York Post, Oct. 17, 2017— A young girl accused of adultery is forced into a hole in the ground and buried up to her neck in front of about 1,000 spectators who have come to the football stadium to watch her death.

Is Al-Azhar University a Global Security Threat?: Cynthia Farahat, American Thinker, Aug. 23, 2017 — Al-Azhar University, the world’s largest Sunni Islamic educational institution, is where many of the world’s most brutal terrorists received their formal religious training.

Benghazi at the Bar: Jenna Lifhits, Weekly Standard, Oct. 16, 2017 — "I want them to hate him," a federal prosecutor said quietly on the evening of October 2 as his colleagues packed up.

 

On Topic Links

 

Netanyahu-Sisi Meeting Highlights Warming Ties Between Israel and Arab World: Adam Abrams, JNS, Sept. 2017

A North Korean Ship Was Seized off Egypt with a Huge Cache of Weapons Destined for a Surprising Buyer: Joby Warrick, Washington Post, Oct. 1, 2017

Census Intensifies Concern in Cairo Over Soaring Population: Ben Lynfield, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 1, 2017

"Our Lives Have Turned into Hell" Muslim Persecution of Christians, May 2017: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Oct. 15, 2017

LAND OF TERROR: ISIS ALIVE AND KICKING IN SINAI

Ron Ben-Yishai

Ynet, Oct. 17, 2017

 

The Islamic State implemented a double strategic move in the Sinai area on Sunday night. First it fired rockets into Israel’s populated area in the Gaza vicinity, and several hours later it launched a major attack on the Egyptian army in the Sheikh Zuweid area near El-Arish.

 

These two operations, which the organization claimed responsibility for, had two purposes: One, to demonstrate that despite being beaten in its strongholds in Syria and Iraq and being driven away from them, ISIS is still alive and kicking; and two, to disrupt Hamas’ reconciliation agreement with Fatah and its tightening relations with Egypt. Both the reconciliation agreement between the two Palestinian organizations, and mainly the cooperation agreement with Egypt, contradict ISIS’s interests. The rocket fire into Israel, in the Gaza vicinity, is therefore aimed at raising the tensions and perhaps leading to an escalation and an active military conflict between the Gazan terror organization and Israel.

 

Another purpose of the ISIS operation is to attract activists who are fleeing Syria and Iraq and looking for a new area of activity on behalf of ISIS and its Salafi ideology. ISIS has been forced to painfully give up a key part of its religious ideology, which separates the organization from al-Qaeda and other Salafi groups—the caliphate idea. It has lost the territory it took over in Syria and Iraq, which it declared the area under “caliphate” sovereignty and under the control of the “caliph,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In Iraq, the area was conquered by government forces with heavy backing from the Americans, the Kurds and Shiite militias sent by Iran. In Syria, the area was mainly conquered by a Kurdish Arab militia which receives American aid and backing.

 

The caliphate idea was one of the things that allowed ISIS to gain a lot of capital as a result of enslaving the local population, selling oil from the wells it took over, demanding ransom for hostages and imposing taxes on the population. All this is now slipping from its fingers and threatening to disappear. ISIS is losing one stronghold after another in the area defined as a caliphate, and these places are also being occupied by the Syrian army with Russian and Iranian backing. The IDF’s Intelligence Directorate estimated a long time ago that in such a situation, ISIS would seek two alternative channels. This first channel is mass attacks in Western Europe, North America and Africa, which are carried out not only by ISIS people who have returned from or fled Syria and Iraq, but also by locals inspired by ISIS’s social media activity. These “inspiration attacks,” as they are called in the West, allow ISIS to keep gaining prestige and supporters despite the blows it is suffering in the Middle East.

 

The second channel is decentralizing ISIS’s activity outside Syria and Iraq. The attempt to turn Libya into an ISIS center failed, and the organization members are now mainly left with Sinai and Boko Haram’s area of activity in Africa. The Sinai Peninsula, despite being a limited area in which the Egyptian government is constantly fighting the Islamist organization, is still an attractive place where ISIS occasionally scores achievements. The organization also threatens the Suez Canal and the ships that cross it and is capable of expanding its activity from there into Egypt.

 

A number of Bedouin tribe leaders in Sinai, mainly in the south and center of the peninsula, recently protested ISIS’s activity following promises they received from the Egyptian government and because ISIS is disentangling the traditional-family-tribal fabric that has characterized the Bedouin tribes in Sinai until now. The tribe leaders managed to restrict ISIS’s activity in southern and central Sinai, but the organization is still active in northern Sinai and is executing suicide bombings and successful attacks on the Egyptian army and police. These attacks are not only murderous but also sophisticated, and because they are carried out in several places simultaneously, they almost always claim a heavy price from the Egyptian security forces.

 

Egypt is operating its air force and armored forces in Sinai unlimitedly, while Israel is turning a blind eye to the massive amounts of forces and weapons Egypt is bringing into Sinai in contradiction of the security appendix of the peace agreement between the two countries. Recently, Egypt also succeed in reaching an agreement with Hamas, disconnecting ISIS from its ideological logistic backing and from the route it used to have for evacuating injured activists into the Gaza Strip.

 

Under its new leader in the strip, Yahya Sinwar, Hamas prefers to ease the Gazans’ distress and reach an agreement with Egypt and a reconciliation agreement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rather than continue the alliance and the aid provided to the organization. That is the reason he has stepped up the security measures in the Philadelphi Route and is preventing ISIS people from moving in and out of the strip. He is also arresting activists of ISIS-affiliated Salafi organizations within the strip quite intensively. As a result, ISIS feels the need to act against the enemies of its Sinai branch—Egypt, which is fighting the organization with certain yet insufficient success, and Hamas, which is currently cooperating with Egypt in a bid to ease the lives of the strip’s residents.

 

Sunday night’s operation did bring ISIS the return it had hoped for, at least in the short run. The Rafah Crossing, which had been closed for four months, was not opened Monday morning, and the strip’s residents were unable to leave for Egypt or return to Gaza. The second achievement is the rocket fire against Israel, which boosts ISIS’s prestige in the Muslim world and strengthens its image as an organization that fights not only Muslims but also Jews and the other heretics…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

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THE TERROR GROUP AS BRUTAL AS ISIS

                                                  Megan Palin

New York Post, Oct. 17, 2017

 

A young girl accused of adultery is forced into a hole in the ground and buried up to her neck in front of about 1,000 spectators who have come to the football stadium to watch her death. Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, 13, pleads with her captors to “don’t kill me” before a truckload of stones is rolled in and about 50 fighters from the al-Shabaab militia start to hurl them toward her. She’s being punished for reporting that three men had raped her in the southern port city of Kismayo in Somalia.

 

After about 10 minutes of Duholow being violently struck by stones, two nurses are instructed to dig her up and check if she’s still alive. She is. Barely. So they put her back into the hole and the men continue to pelt her with stones until she is dead. “This child suffered a horrendous death at the behest of the armed opposition groups,” Amnesty International’s Somalia campaigner David Copeman said at the time.

 

It was Oct. 27, 2008, and the terror group responsible for the killing was relatively new, but since then it has grown bigger and deadlier. Al-Shabaab — a terror group lesser known than ISIS but just as brutal — imposes its own version of Islamic law, which includes dress regulations and public mutilations, and has an estimated 7,000 to 9,000 fighters. The name translates to “The Youth” in Arabic. It’s been responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in a string of guerrilla-style terror attacks, making it Africa’s deadliest Islamic extremist group.

 

The group is suspected to be responsible for the deadly truck bombing that killed at least 276 people and injured 300 on a crowded Mogadishu street on Saturday. The blast occurred in Hodan, a bustling commercial district which has many shops, hotels and businesses, in the city’s northwest. Several experts said the truck was probably carrying at least 1,100 pounds of explosives. A second car bomb exploded two hours later, injuring two people. Somalia’s government blamed the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab extremist group for what it called a “national disaster.”

 

However, al-Shabaab, which often targets high-profile areas of the capital, has yet to comment. The group has a history of not claiming attacks where the scale provokes massive public outrage. Al-Shabaab carries out regular suicide bombings in Mogadishu in its bid to overthrow Somalia’s internationally backed government. It has already killed more than 4,281 people, according to data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Dataset. It has also been known to cut off the hands of alleged thieves and regularly stones to death those accused of adultery.

 

Somalia has been battling al-Shabaab insurgents since 2007 with the help of 22,000 troops from the African Union and a US counter-terrorism campaign.  The militants emerged out of a bitter insurgency fighting Ethiopia, whose troops entered Somalia in a US-backed invasion in 2006 to topple the Islamic Courts Union that was then controlling Mogadishu. Al-Shabaab militants were pushed out of Mogadishu and other major towns across Somalia by African Union and Somali troops in 2011. But the al-Shabaab militants maintained control of rural areas and have continued to launch attacks on military, government and civilian targets in Somalia, as well as terrorist raids in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.

 

The Garissa University massacre in Kenya, which took place near the border with Somalia, was the bloodiest attack in the region prior to the truck bombing last weekend. A total of 148 people died in 2015 when gunmen stormed the university at dawn and targeted Christian students. It followed an attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping center in 2013, in which at least 68 people were killed. In Westgate and other attacks, the militants spared Muslims, while killing those unable to recite verses from the Koran. According to the Nairobi-based Sahan think tank, at least 723 people were killed and over 1,000 injured in bomb attacks during 2016 in Somalia.

 

Prior to last weekend, there hadn’t been a major terrorist attack in the country since Somalia’s presidential election in February. But the latest explosion has shattered hopes of recovery in an impoverished country left fragile by decades of conflict and again raised doubts over the government’s ability to secure the seaside city of more than 2 million people. The recent attacks in Somalia came after the new government threatened to renew efforts to tackle radical Islamic terror in the region and the US military stepped up its focus on the extremist group.

 

In a mysterious move, Somalia’s defense minister Abdirashid Abdullahi Mohamed and army chief Gen. Ahmed Jimale Gedi both resigned last week, without explanation. The Aamin Ambulance group, an independent organization based in Mogadishu, said the attack was a grim new milestone in the war. “In our 10-year experience as the first responder in #Mogadishu, we haven’t seen anything like this,” it tweeted. Earlier this year, the country teetered on the brink of famine, in large part because of the effect of fighting on agriculture and the distribution of humanitarian aid.

 

 

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IS AL-AZHAR UNIVERSITY A GLOBAL SECURITY THREAT?                                                             

Cynthia Farahat

American Thinker, Aug. 23, 2017

 

Al-Azhar University, the world’s largest Sunni Islamic educational institution, is where many of the world’s most brutal terrorists received their formal religious training. This is to be expected, given the nature of the material taught there. Al-Azhar has thousands of affiliated mosques, schools, learning centers, and universities around the world, such as the Islamic American University in Michigan. The institution has also been unofficially controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood for decades.

 

According to the most recent data released by the Egyptian government, there were 297,000 students studying at al-Azhar University in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, there were 39,000 foreign students studying at al-Azhar. These students are taught the theological legitimacy of cannibalizing infidels, gruesome ways to torture non-Muslims to death, and the importance of raping and humiliating non-Muslim women.  This explains why numerous Egyptian public figures and intellectuals have called for a terrorism investigation of al-Azhar University. For example, Egyptian historian, Sayyid Al-Qemany, called upon the Egyptian government to designate al-Azhar University as terrorist organization.

 

In 2015, El-Youm el-Sabi, an Egyptian newspaper, published an investigative report about the curriculum at al-Azhar University. According to the report, one of the books called, al-Iqn’a fi Hal Alfaz ibn Abi Shoga’a (Convincing arguments according to Abi Shoga’a), taught to al-Azhar’s high school students states, “Any Muslim, can kill an apostate and eat him, as well kill infidel warriors even if they are young or female and they can also be eaten, because they are not granted any protection.”  On the treatment of non-Muslims, the report quotes the same book as saying, “to preserve one’s self from the evil of an infidel, any Muslim can gouge their eyes out, or mutilate their hands and legs, or sever one arm and one leg.” Even Muslims aren’t safe from al-Azhar’s teachings. According to the same the report, another book states, “Any Muslim is allowed to kill a fornicator, a warrior, or a [Muslim] who misses prayer, even without permission of the [ruling] Imam.”

 

This is expected given the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood dominates the organization. Not only does the Muslim Brotherhood use the university to recruit hundreds of thousands of students to adopt ISIS-style beliefs, the Brotherhood used the organization to train young people for combat. For example, In 2006, a video leaked from inside al-Azhar showed 50 masked young members of the Brotherhood in black uniforms, performing a military exercises in front of the head of al-Azhar University, resulting in a government investigation and arrests in what later became known as, “the case of al-Azhar militia.”

 

Thus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of the world’s most brutal Islamists either worked for al-Azhar, or graduated it from it. For example, Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, is a graduate from al-Azhar. Also, the first leader of al-Qaeda Abdulla Azzam (1941 –1989), studied at al-Azhar. The spiritual mentor for Osama Bin Laden (1957 –2011), and a leader of the international arm of al-Qaeda, Omar Abdel Rahman (1938 – 2017), known as “the Blind Sheikh,” was a scholar at al-Azhar.  The Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin el-Husseini (1897-1974), studied at al-Azhar University. As well as, Abu Osama al-Masri the mastermind of the Russian plane crash over Sinai in 2015

 

Not only is al-Azhar involved in the spreading of the violent Sunni Wahhabi sect, the government funded institution uses Egyptian blasphemy law to imprison critics of its radical teachings, halting any hope for Islamic reformation. For example, the President of al-Azhar University recently declare that Muslim scholar Islam el-Behery, who was previously imprisoned in Egypt for blasphemy, “an apostate of Islam.” According to the al-Azhar’s Sunni theology, apostasy is punishable by death. Al-Azhar is also responsible for the apostasy Fatwa that resulted in the murder of Egyptian secular figure Farag Fouda (1945-1992). After uproar in Egypt against the University for essentially placing a hit on Mr. Behery by calling him an apostate of Islam, it’s president was forced to resign, but the militant teachings remain untouched…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

 

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BENGHAZI AT THE BAR

Jenna Lifhits

Weekly Standard, Oct. 16, 2017

 

"I want them to hate him," a federal prosecutor said quietly on the evening of October 2 as his colleagues packed up. It had been a long first day in the trial of Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the man charged with instigating the tragic 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Khatallah, a middle-aged man with a long gray and yellow beard, sat quietly for over five hours in one of the wood-paneled courtrooms of the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse—barely fidgeting, not looking at the benches to his left, which were filled with government officials, reporters, and spectators all looking at him.

 

His six-week trial is going to revive the controversy over Benghazi. The violent attacks that occurred at the U.S. mission and a nearby CIA annex on the night of September 11, 2012, left four Americans dead, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. They also triggered hyperbolic remarks and partisan rancor. The contradictory statements and foggy accounts of the night’s events from Obama administration officials led to intense efforts by Congress to pin down exactly what happened. Lawmakers held hearings and produced lengthy reports. But many questions were left unanswered. Monday marked the first day of a trial that should set the story straight.

 

Khatallah is facing 18 counts, including murder and providing material support for terrorists. He has pleaded not guilty on all charges. He wore a blank expression as a top federal prosecutor laid out what to expect in the weeks ahead. Jurors, he promised, would hear from a man named “Ali” who, at the behest of the U.S. government and in exchange for $7 million, grew close to Khatallah in Libya and lured him to his capture in 2014. “I would have killed all the Americans that night,” Khatallah allegedly told Ali of the Benghazi attacks, “if others had not gotten involved and stopped me.”

 

They’ll hear emotional retellings from people at the U.S. mission and CIA annex the night of the attacks, as well as testimony from arson and weapons experts. All of it, assistant U.S. attorney John Crabb argued, will prove one thing: that Abu Khatallah is responsible for the deaths of four Americans. “Those four Americans were killed because the defendant hates America with a vengeance,” he told jurors. “He didn’t light the fires, and he didn’t fire the mortars,” but Khatallah planned the attacks, incited the fighters, and ensured that no one interfered with the assault or helped the besieged Americans, Crabb said. “He got others to do his dirty work.”

 

About a week before the attacks, Khatallah and a few of his associates stocked up on weapons at a militia camp, Crabb reported. Aided by an elaborate model of the compound and annex as well as video footage, Crabb then walked the jury through the events of the night. He referred to the participants in the attacks as Khatallah’s “associates.” Crabb barely touched on Khatallah’s terror affiliations or those of the other attackers. He mentioned Ubaydah bin Jarrah (UBJ), a militia led by Khatallah, which sought to establish sharia in Libya, and he referenced Ansar al Sharia (AAS), which merged with UBJ around 2011. "I want them to hate him," a federal prosecutor said quietly on the evening of October 2 as his colleagues packed up. It had been a long first day in the trial of Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the man charged with instigating the tragic 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

 

Khatallah, a middle-aged man with a long gray and yellow beard, sat quietly for over five hours in one of the wood-paneled courtrooms of the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse—barely fidgeting, not looking at the benches to his left, which were filled with government officials, reporters, and spectators all looking at him. His six-week trial is going to revive the controversy over Benghazi. The violent attacks that occurred at the U.S. mission and a nearby CIA annex on the night of September 11, 2012, left four Americans dead, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. They also triggered hyperbolic remarks and partisan rancor. The contradictory statements and foggy accounts of the night’s events from Obama administration officials led to intense efforts by Congress to pin down exactly what happened. Lawmakers held hearings and produced lengthy reports. But many questions were left unanswered. Monday marked the first day of a trial that should set the story straight…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Netanyahu-Sisi Meeting Highlights Warming Ties Between Israel and Arab World: Adam Abrams, JNS, Sept. 2017—At a time of warming relations between Israel and Arab states, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held his first public meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.

A North Korean Ship Was Seized off Egypt with a Huge Cache of Weapons Destined for a Surprising Buyer: Joby Warrick, Washington Post, Oct. 1, 2017—Last August, a secret message was passed from Washington to Cairo warning about a mysterious vessel steaming toward the Suez Canal. The bulk freighter named Jie Shun was flying Cambodian colors but had sailed from North Korea, the warning said, with a North Korean crew and an unknown cargo shrouded by heavy tarps.

Census Intensifies Concern in Cairo Over Soaring Population: Ben Lynfield, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 1, 2017—Egypt is grappling with a challenge its president, Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi, has implied is as dangerous to the country’s future as terrorism: runaway population growth. The publication Saturday of results of a national census has heightened concern that the growth – about two million newborns a year – is smothering prospects for sustained economic recovery and could further swell the ranks of young people unable to find work, generating social unrest.

"Our Lives Have Turned into Hell" Muslim Persecution of Christians, May 2017: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Oct. 15, 2017—One month after Islamic militants bombed two Egyptian churches during Palm Sunday and killed nearly 50 people in April 2017, several SUVs, on May 26, stopped two buses transporting dozens of Christians to the ancient Coptic Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor in the desert south of Cairo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARTIFICIAL PEARLS, REAL SWINE: AFRICAN “STATES” CONFRONT POST-LIBYA ISLAMISTS

Download Today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 

 

Contents:                          

 

(Please Note: articles may have been shortened in the interest of space. Please click link for the complete article – Ed.)

 

In Mali, the Domino Theory is Real: Daniel Larison, The American Conservative, Jan. 23, 2013—As the French military intervention in Mali nears the end of its second week, French and Malian forces have begun making slow advances into the territory controlled by several different Islamist and separatist groups. What began a year ago as a Tuareg secessionist rebellion fuelled by weapons and mercenaries returning from Libya expanded into a larger war Jan. 11, when France attacked advancing Islamist forces that were moving towards Mali’s capital, Bamako.

 

Al-Qaeda's Soft Power Strategy in Yemen: Daniel Green, Washington Institute, Jan.24, 2013—Learning from jihadist mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has become adept at aligning with local political movements and building popular support in Yemen. In doing so, it has morphed into an insurgency while retaining its roots as a terrorist group.

 

Nigeria – Where Every Problem is Too Hard to Fix: Gwyne Dyer, The New Zealand Herald, Jan 2, 2013—It is not known if the word "dysfunctional" was invented specifically to describe the Nigerian state but the word certainly fills the bill. The political institutions of Africa's biggest country are incapable of dealing with even the smallest challenge.

 

On Topic Links

 

 

'Darker Sides': The Vast Islamist Sanctuary of 'Sahelistan': Paul Hyacinthe Mben, Jan Puhl, Thilo Thielke, Der Spiegel, Jan 28, 2013

Connecting the Dots in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya: Abukar Arman, The Commentator, Jan. 7 2013

The Mali Blowback: Patrick J. Buchanan, American Conservative, Jan. 18, 2013
Mali and the al-Qaeda Trap: Paul Rogers, Real Clear World, Jan. 25, 2013

 

 

IN MALI, THE DOMINO THEORY IS REAL

 

Daniel Larison

The American Conservative, Jan. 23, 2013

 

As the French military intervention in Mali nears the end of its second week, French and Malian forces have begun making slow advances into the territory controlled by several different Islamist and separatist groups. What began a year ago as a Tuareg secessionist rebellion fueled by weapons and mercenaries returning from Libya expanded into a larger war Jan. 11, when France attacked advancing Islamist forces that were moving towards Mali’s capital, Bamako. Unlike most previous Western interventions over the last two decades, France is here supporting the internationally recognized government of Mali, and its intervention has so far been welcomed by most Malians as necessary for the defense of their country. Unfortunately, French intervention now likely would not have been necessary had it not been for the intervention in Libya in 2011 that the last French president demanded and the U.S. backed. Had Western governments foreseen the possible consequences of toppling one government two years ago, there might be no need to rescue another one from disaster now.

 

France says it will continue fighting until the Malian government’s control over its northern territory is restored and Islamist groups are defeated, which promises to be a protracted, open-ended commitment for a nation that was already weary of its role in Afghanistan and unable to wage the war in Libya without substantial American help. The U.S. role in the conflict remains a minimal one, confined so far to intelligence assistance and logistical support. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) does pose a real security threat to North and West Africa, and it could pose a threat to Europe, but the threat to the U.S. from AQIM is minimal, if it exists at all. The U.S. has far less at stake in this fight than France or the countries in the region, so it is appropriate that they bear the costs of countering that threat.

 

The Libyan war did not create Mali’s internal divisions, which have existed since independence, but the destabilizing effects of changing one regime in the region exacerbated many of the country’s political weaknesses. As a result, the country was effectively cut in half, its democratically-elected president was overthrown in a coup, and hundreds of thousands of its people have been forced to become refugees. Adding to the embarrassment of Western interventionists, up until then Mali had been something of the poster child for successful democratization and development in Africa. Now it is in danger of being reduced to an even more misleading caricature as “another Afghanistan” or “another Somalia.” But thinking in these terms is bound to fail. Mali’s predicament has to be understood on its own terms.

 

Despite broad French and Malian support for French intervention, it is far from obvious that President Hollande’s decision was a wise or well-considered one. One of the few prominent French opponents of that decision, Dominique de Villepin, voiced his doubts shortly after the intervention began:

 

In Mali, none of the conditions for success are met. We will fight blindfolded absent a clear objective for the war. Stopping the southward advance of the jihadists, and retaking the north, eradicating AQIM bases are all different wars. We will fight alone absent a reliable Malian partner. With the overthrow of the president in March and the prime minister in December, the collapse of the divided Malian army, and the overall state failure, on whom can we depend? We will fight in a void absent strong regional support. ECOWAS is in the rear and Algeria has signaled its reluctance.

 

Like Sarkozy’s decision to use force in Libya, Hollande’s decision to go to war in Mali has been a popular one and a much-needed political boost for his ailing government, but that popularity will disappear if French involvement becomes prolonged and costly. Unless Hollande limits French objectives to those that are realistic and obtainable, he will find that de Villepin was as prescient in his warnings about war in Mali as he was when he admonished the U.S. against invading Iraq.

 

As far as America is concerned, there is no compelling national interest that obliges the U.S. to become more involved in the conflict in Mali. One lesson of the Libyan war is that the U.S. shouldn’t join wars of choice that our allies insist on fighting. Americans should remember that one of the reasons the French are fighting in Mali is that our government agreed to support the last French-backed military adventure in Africa. What other countries in the region would suffer serious unintended consequences from doing the same thing in Mali? How many other countries have to be wrecked before American leaders acknowledge that their interventionist remedies often do more harm than good?

 

The Libyan intervention’s consequences in Mali tell a cautionary tale about the disaster that unnecessary war can unleash on an entire region, but most of the Obama administration’s opponents in the U.S. refuse to understand this. Instead of seeing Mali’s current woes as a warning against going to war too quickly, hawkish interventionists are already crafting a fantasy story that this is a result of excessive American passivity. This virtually guarantees that Republican hawks will keep attacking the administration for “inaction” when they could instead be trying to hold it accountable for its past recklessness in using force. Absent a credible opposition, the administration will keep receiving the benefit of the doubt from the public on foreign policy, even when it isn’t deserved.

 

If the U.S. learned anything from the Libyan war experience, it ought to be that our government should be far more cautious about resorting to force and much less willing to dismiss the importance of regional stability when considering how to respond to a brutal and abusive regime. Unfortunately, the bias in favor of (military) action in U.S. foreign-policy discourse makes it virtually impossible for these lessons to take hold.

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AL-QAEDA'S SOFT POWER STRATEGY IN YEMEN
Daniel Green

Washington Institute, Jan.24, 2013
 

Learning from jihadist mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has become adept at aligning with local political movements and building popular support in Yemen. In doing so, it has morphed into an insurgency while retaining its roots as a terrorist group. To counter the group's political, legal, and social-welfare efforts in areas outside the capital, the Yemeni and U.S. governments must supplement their counterterrorism campaign by expanding services to the provinces in a decentralized fashion.
 

Since its founding in January 2009, AQAP has repeatedly attacked the United States and its interests. Washington has responded by significantly expanding its drone strikes in Yemen and bolstering the government's ability to fight AQAP itself through additional military aid and training.

 

When the Arab Spring began to sweep the region in 2011, a political crisis emerged in Yemen between then president Ali Saleh, who had ruled for over thirty years, and opponents who criticized the regime's corruption, lack of services, and leadership. As the crisis unfolded, Yemeni security forces became involved in political struggles in Sana, with many units moving from the south to the capital. Sensing a vacuum, AQAP launched a series of raids throughout the south that year, using conventional tactics to overrun large swathes of territory, including many districts and a provincial capital.
 

After seizing control of various southern Yemeni towns and districts, AQAP moved beyond its terrorist focus, adopting the characteristics of an insurgency and holding territory in order to create a nascent government. Its ability to do so was based not only on its enhanced military capabilities and the departure of government security forces, but also on its effective community engagement strategy.

 

Capitalizing on longstanding southern grievances regarding insufficient education, healthcare, security, rule of law, political representation, and economic development, AQAP sought to replicate the central government's functions throughout the region. Its political agents established a form of stability based on Islamic law, convening regular meetings with community leaders, solving local problems, and attempting to replace chaotic tribal feuds with a more ordered and religiously inspired justice system. This effort included mitigating tribal conflicts, protecting weaker tribes from stronger rivals, and creating opportunities for some ambitious locals, including weaker tribal factions, to rise beyond their social position and seize power in their communities. AQAP also provided humanitarian assistance such as fresh water and food for the indigent, basic healthcare, and educational opportunities (albeit only Quranic teachings).

 

Many of these efforts appealed to the population, not only because they were better than what the local government had provided, but also because many tribal sheiks had previously been discredited for not living up to their responsibilities. Additionally, Quran-based engagement was highly appealing to communities in which that book was often the only text residents knew.
 

Al-Qaeda's strategy in Yemen reflects many of the lessons it learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, where it frequently alienated locals through the brutality of its rule. In addition, Yemeni tribal structures are far stronger than in those two countries, and tribal leaders are much more adept at governing their traditional areas of control. AQAP has therefore pursued a softer approach not simply because it wants to, but because it must, since the tribes have far greater power than it currently wields.

AQAP has also been effective at joining its cause with local political movements in Yemen, as it did in Iraq with Sunni Arab nationalists. To date, it has aligned its interests with southern elements seeking greater autonomy from the central government or complete independence from Yemen (though it is probably not working with the longstanding Southern Mobility Movement).

 

Finally, al-Qaeda does not have as strong a foreign character in Yemen as it did in previous conflicts. This reduces Washington and Sana's ability to separate the population from the terrorist group by using national pride, ethnic/tribal differences, or simple xenophobia to rebuff AQAP's advances.

 

Last year, in response to AQAP's gains, the Yemeni military launched widespread operations against the group's forces in the south. Although these efforts were largely successful in pushing AQAP out of areas it overran in 2011, the group continues to pose a threat. Having retreated to its traditional safe havens in the interior, al-Qaeda has since undertaken a concerted assassination campaign against Yemeni security, military, and intelligence officials as it reconstitutes its forces.

 

In addition, the group still commands sympathy and influence in the south. To be sure, AQAP eventually reverted to harsh rule in many communities once it consolidated power there, alienating many locals and spurring the exodus of thousands from areas under its sway. Yet many others remain sympathetic to the group, not just for religious or culturally conservative reasons, but also out of a general feeling that al-Qaeda, with all its imperfections, is still a better alternative than the Yemeni government.

 

Although relief efforts for war refugees did much to improve Sana's image among southerners, only a sustained governance and development initiative — one highly synchronized with military clearing and holding operations against AQAP — will consolidate support for the central government. Yet this sort of initiative will not come naturally to Sana or Washington. The lack of such efforts following last year's clearing operations is already undermining popular support, creating another opportunity for a chastened but resilient AQAP to leverage the south against the central government. The group is already adapting its community engagement strategy by apologizing for the excesses of its recent rule and making overtures to key local leaders to lay the groundwork for reasserting control.

 

Thus far, most U.S. efforts against AQAP have been limited to counterterrorism operations, which are unable to address the fundamental issues prompting Yemenis to either tolerate the group's presence or actively support its goals. In fact, the heavy reliance on sometimes-inaccurate drone strikes has allowed AQAP to take advantage of U.S. and Yemeni mistakes and further bolster its support among the population…..

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NIGERIA – WHERE EVERY PROBLEM IS TOO HARD TO FIX

Gwyne Dyer

The New Zealand Herald, Jan 2, 2013

 

It is not known if the word "dysfunctional" was invented specifically to describe the Nigerian state – several other candidates also come to mind – but the word certainly fills the bill. The political institutions of Africa's biggest country are incapable of dealing with even the smallest challenge. Indeed, they often make matters worse.

 

Consider, for example, the way that the Nigerian Government has dealt with the Islamist terrorists of Boko Haram. Or rather, how it has failed to deal with them. Boko Haram (the phrase means "Western education is sinful") began as a loony but not very dangerous group in the northern state of Bornu who rejected everything that they perceived as "Western" science. In a BBC interview in 2009 its founder, Mohammed Yusuf, claimed that the concept of a spherical Earth is against Islamic teaching. He also denied that rain came from water evaporated by the sun.

 

Bornu is a very poor state, however, and his preaching gave him enough of a following among the poor and ignorant to make him a political threat to the established order. So hundreds of his followers were killed in a huge military and police attack on the movement in 2009, and Mohammed Yusuf himself was murdered while in police custody. That was what triggered Boko Haram's terrorist campaign.

 

Its attacks grew rapidly: by early last year Boko Haram had killed 700 people in dozens of attacks against military, police, government and media organisations and against the Christian minorities living in northern Nigeria. So last March Nigeria's President, Goodluck Jonathan, promised that the security forces would end the insurgency by June. But the death toll just kept climbing.

 

In September, an official told the Guardian newspaper, "There is no sense that the Government has a real grip. The situation is not remotely under control." Last week alone, six people died in an attack on a church on Christmas Day, seven were killed in Maiduguri, the capital of Bornu state, on December 27 and 15 Christians were abducted and murdered, mostly by slitting their throats, in a town near Maiduguri on December 28.

 

President Jonathan's response was to visit a Christian church on Sunday and congratulate the security forces on preventing many more attacks during Christmas week: "Although we still recorded some incidents, the extent of attacks which [Boko Haram] planned was not allowed to be executed." If this is what success looks like, Nigeria is in very deep trouble.

 

Part of the reason is the "security forces", which are corrupt, incompetent, and brutal. In the murderous rampages that are their common response to Boko Haram's attacks, they have probably killed more innocent people than the terrorists, and have certainly stolen more property.

 

But it is the Government that raises, trains and pays these security forces, and even in a continent where many countries have problems with the professionalism of the army and police, Nigeria's are in a class by themselves. That is ultimately because its politicians are also in a class by themselves. There are some honest and serious men and women among them, but as a group they are spectacularly cynical and self-serving.

 

One reason is Nigeria's oil: 100 million Nigerians, two-thirds of the population, live on less than a dollar a day, but there is a lot of oil money around to steal, and politics is the best way to steal it. Another is the country's tribal, regional and religious divisions, which are extreme even by African standards. In the mainly Muslim north, 70 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line; in the mostly Christian south, only half do.

 

Now add a ruthless Islamist terrorist group to the mix, and stir. Boko Haram's support does not just come from a tiny minority of religious fanatics and from grieving and angry people turned against the Government by the brutality of the security forces. It also comes from a huge pool of unemployed and demoralised young men who have no hope of doing anything meaningful with their lives.

 

Democracy has not transformed politics dramatically anywhere in Nigeria, but the deficit is worst in the north, where the traditional rulers protected their power by making alliances with politicians who appealed to the population's Islamic sentiments.

 

That's why all the northern states introduced sharia law around the turn of the century: to stave off popular demands for more far-reaching reforms.

 

But that solution is now failing, for the cynical politicians who became Islamist merely for tactical reasons are being outflanked by genuine fanatics who reject not only science and religious freedom but democracy itself.

 

Nigeria only has an Islamist terrorist problem at the moment, mostly centred in the north and with sporadic attacks in the Christian-majority parts of the country. But it may be heading down the road recently taken by Mali, in which Islamist extremists seize control of the north of the country and divide it in two. And lots of people in the south wouldn't mind a bit. Just seal the new border and forget about the north.

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'Darker Sides': The Vast Islamist Sanctuary of 'Sahelistan': Paul Hyacinthe Mben, Jan Puhl and Thilo Thielke, Der Spiegel, Jan 28, 2013—France is advancing quickly against the Islamists in northern Mali, having already made it to Timbuktu. But the Sahel offers a vast sanctuary for the extremists, complete with training camps, lawlessness and plenty of ways to make money.

 

Connecting the Dots in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya: Abukar Arman, The Commentator, Jan. 7 2013—Just as the temperature of ‘security threat’ slowly declines in Somalia, it rises in other parts of East Africa. Elements of mainly political, religious, and clan/ethnic nature continue to shift and create new volatile conditions. Though not entirely interdependent these conditions could create a ripple effect across different borders.  It is a high anxiety period in the region – especially the area that I would refer to as the triangle of threat: Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.
 

The Mali Blowback: Patrick J. Buchanan, American Conservative, Jan. 18, 2013—“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” is Newton’s third law of physics. Its counterpart in geopolitics is “blowback,” when military action in one sphere produces an unintended and undesirable consequence in another. September 11, 2001, was blowback.

Mali and the al-Qaeda Trap: Paul Rogers, Real Clear World, Jan. 25, 2013—A series of events and statements in the early weeks of 2013 suggests that the "war on terror" declared in 2001 is entering a new phase. The escalation of war in northern Mali and the siege of the In Amenas gas facility in Algeria, followed by the sudden advice from several European governments that their citizens in Benghazi should leave immediately, all focus security attention on northern Africa. At the same time, there are signs of an increase in Islamist influence among the opposition forces in Syria's ongoing war, and of an intensified bombing campaign against government and Shi'a sites in Iraq.

 

 

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Ber Lazarus, Publications Editor, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

The Ups and Downs of Islamist Fortunes in Yemen, Somalia, and Mali

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Contents:                          

(Please Note: articles below may have been shortened in the interest of space. Please click on the link for the full article.)

 

Why Yemen is the Scariest Challenge Facing Obama Abroad: Bruce Riedel, The Daily Beast, Nov. 9, 2012     —The scariest terrorist challenge facing the re-elected President Obama comes from Yemen. Obama will have to face the growing menace of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the failing state in Yemen that it thrives on.

 

Somalia’s Tentative Recovery: Irfan Husain, Dawn, Dec.10, 2012—Finally, some good news from Somalia: In large measure, this return to normalcy is due to the defeat of the terrorist group Harkat al-Mujahideen al-Shebab by the forces of the African Mission for Somalia established by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

 

A Trip Through Hell: Daily Life in Islamist Northern Mali: Paul Hyacinthe Mben, Der Spiegel, Oct. 30, 2012—For months, an Islamist regime has been terrorizing northern Mali. Hundreds of thousands have already fled the region, and those who have stayed behind are experiencing new forms of cruelty with each passing day. A Spiegel reporter documents a two-week journey through a region Europe fears will become the next Somalia.

 

On Topic Links

 

 

Losing Yemen: Gregory Johnsen, Foreign Policy,  Nov. 5, 2012

Saudi Arabia – Yemen Border Dispute: Chris Murphy, ICE Case Studies,  Nov., 2006

Remote U.S. Base at Core of Secret Operations: Craig Whitlock, Washington Post, October 25, 2012

In Yemen Trading Girls is Economical: Hind Aleryani, NOW Lebanon, December 10, 2012

 

 

 

WHY YEMEN IS THE SCARIEST
CHALLENGE FACING OBAMA ABROAD

Bruce Riedel

The Daily Beast, Nov 9, 2012

 

The scariest terrorist challenge facing the re-elected President Obama comes from Yemen….Obama will have to face the growing menace of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the failing state in Yemen that it thrives on. The response must be nimble and careful because AQAP’s real goal is to drag America into another bleeding war in the Muslim world, this time hoping it will spread into the oil rich deserts of Saudi Arabia….

 

The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al Qaeda and America’s War in Arabia by Gregory Johnsen is a detailed narrative account of the development of AQAP [see link in On Topic below – Ed.]….The story is fascinating, this is a group that was virtually destroyed in 2004 by drone attacks and effective counter terrorism operations, and then it recovered, helped immensely by the Arab world’s anger over the American invasion of Iraq. In 2009 it rebranded itself with new leadership composed of Saudis and Yemenis, several of whom had been prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. It’s number two, Saeed al Shihri, spent five years America’s Cuban prison before being released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 where he fled into Yemen. A drone had allegedly killed him last month, then he reappeared alive in a message threatening more attacks on America.

 

Since 2009 AQAP has tried to attack the American homeland at least three times. On Christmas Day 2009 it almost succeeded. [A] suicide terrorist…successfully penetrated American security and got a bomb on a Detroit bound flight that day. President Obama was absolutely right when he said after the fact “we dodged a bullet, but just barely” because the bomb failed to detonate properly. Johnsen reveals that AQAP’s master bomb maker, a Saudi named Ibrahim Asiri has now built a bomb with two detonators so it can’t fail.

 

The Arab Awakening came to Yemen in 2011 with a vengeance and has left the country completely fragmented. AQAP has thrived. Yemen has always been a difficult and inhospitable place. Its most desolate region, where Osama Ben Laden’s family comes from and Shihri was nearly killed, is the Hadramawt which means “death has come” in Arabic and is said to contain the gate to hell in one of its wadis. Today Yemen is running out of oil and water, more than half the population is under 18, half goes to bed every night hungry and the national government barely controls even parts of the capital.

 

For over a decade America has been trying to fight al Qaeda in Yemen without getting dragged deeper and deeper into its internal dysfunctional politics….America’s key ally in this war is Yemen’s bigger and richer brother, Saudi Arabia, the real prize in the struggle. Bin Laden and his protégés in AQAP have always had their focus on the Kingdom and the House of Saud. Johnsen details just how deeply the Saudis have become involved in the war in Yemen including how its intelligence service has foiled two AQAP plots against America and its Royal Saudi Air Force is now flying bombing strikes against AQAP targets deep inside the country.

 

AQAP entitled the video it produced about the Christmas Day plot “the Final Trap.”  Shihri was one of the narrators. What the title meant was that al Qaeda hopes to draw America deeper and deeper into a quagmire with more and more boots on the ground in Yemen. It wants another Iraq, another Afghanistan. An attack in America that killed hundreds would force America to take on the challenge of rebuilding Yemen with our own hands, a final trap that would bleed America’s military, our economy, and our morale.

 

President Obama has wisely avoided the trap for the last four years but the Yemeni threat has not gone away and the slow collapse of the Yemeni state offers little hope that it will.  Washington has a long-term challenge in Arabia…..

 

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SOMALIA’S TENTATIVE RECOVERY

Irfan Husain

Dawn, Dec.10, 2012

 

Finally, some good news from Somalia: according to a new issue of the French weekly Paris Match, the Somali shilling has doubled in value against the dollar over the last two years. The international airport at Mogadishu has been refurbished, and now boasts of a duty-free shop. Turkish Airlines operates three weekly flights to Istanbul as a result of a visit by Recep Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister….The same issue of the magazine informs us that the price of fish has shot up because of new restaurants opening up to cater for the increasing number of foreigners and returning expatriate Somalis. A new six-story hotel is coming up in the capital. Male and female students are returning to schools and university.

 

In large measure, this return to normalcy is due to the defeat of the terrorist group Harkat al-Mujahideen al-Shebab by the forces of the African Mission for Somalia established by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). This force, sanctioned by the UN, has been very successful in pushing the terrorists out of Mogadishu, and from other towns as well. The effort to eject the extremist thugs out of the country began last year, and has made steady success.

 

The other factor underpinning the Somali success story is the return of some 300,000 migrants who had been forced to leave their country due to the complete breakdown of law and order. With their money and their entrepreneurial spirit, the rebuilding of Somalia is under way. Scattered across North America and Europe, this diaspora made its mark by dint of hard work and self-help.

 

Considering that Somalia was for years synonymous with our notion of a failed state, this recovery is nothing short of miraculous. For decades, the country was caught up in murderous tribal warfare that destroyed much of Mogadishu. A slice of this mayhem was captured by the Nineties film Blackhawk Down that depicted the failed American effort to restore some order and bring in food supplies. In the event, Bill Clinton pulled out US forces after they lost a number of soldiers….

 

Whatever was left was demolished by the Shebab in their bid to impose a Taliban-like theocracy on Somalia. These holy warriors modelled themselves on the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, banning everything from music to sports. Symbolising the return to sanity is the reopening of the National Theatre, a building earlier used by the Shebab as an arms depot and then as a public toilet….

 

Repeated bouts of famine, in part caused by the civil war,…hastened Somalia’s descent into chaos. After a provisional government was established with international support, the country was again subjected to yet another round of violence when the Shebab attempted to take control. For years, Mogadishu was a divided city with the young terrorists calling the shots. The country is also plagued by a nest of pirates who prey on ships sailing hundreds of miles from the coast. Their links to the Shebab have been reported, and their depredations have been the subject of widespread international concern and action….

 

The return of a tenuous stability augurs well for this east African state. If it can build democratic institutions, it might well emerge from decades of violence and abject poverty. Luckily, it has many well-wishers: the West as well as its neighbours realize that a collapsed Somali state means trouble for the entire region…..

 

One lesson from Somalia is that given political will and firm military action, the extremist scourge can be defeated. The reality is that jihadis, whether in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia, have very little public support. Even though they fly the Islamic banner, they are actually fighting for power and money. They recruit poor, gullible young men to their cause, but the leaders are cynical killers who use religion as a ploy to silence their opponents.

 

In Somalia, the Shebab faded away when confronted with well armed and disciplined troops. While they killed and terrorised unarmed civilians, they were no match for the OAU force….

 

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A TRIP THROUGH HELL:
DAILY LIFE IN ISLAMIST NORTHERN MALI

Paul Hyacinthe Mben

Der Spiegel, Oct. 30, 2012

 

For months, an Islamist regime has been terrorizing northern Mali. Hundreds of thousands have already fled the region, and those who have stayed behind are experiencing new forms of cruelty with each passing day. Northern Mali is virtually inaccessible to journalists at present. Sharia law has been in effect there since last spring, when fundamentalists took control of a large part of the country, which had been considered a model nation until then. The fundamentalists stone adulterers, amputate limbs and squelch all opposition. They have destroyed tombs in Timbuktu that were recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site….

 

A checkpoint set up by the Islamist police on the road to Gao marks the beginning of the region controlled by the new rulers of northern Mali. Adolescents wielding Kalashnikovs stand at the barrier with their legs apart. The oldest one keeps repeating the same instructions through a megaphone: "No cigarettes, no CDs, no radios, no cameras, no jewelry," an endless loop of prohibitions, a list of everything that's haram, or impure, with which this journey to the north begins. The men stand guard in the name of the Prophet Muhammad.

 

With arrogant gestures, they stop the few long-distance buses still coming from southern Mali. One of the men, holding his weapon at the ready, inspects the busses by walking down the aisle and checking to make sure everyone is in compliance with the Islamists' rules: Are women and men sitting in separate areas? Are the women wearing the hijab? And are the men wearing trousers that reach to their ankles, the kind of trousers that radical Muslims believe the Prophet favoured? They are now obligatory in Gao….

 

Mali has been a divided country since April, when Islamists took control of a region in the north larger than France, while the south is still administered by a government that is incapable of defending itself. This spring, forces with the Tuareg ethnic group drove the Malian army out of the country's northern regions within only a few weeks. They proclaimed the Tuareg nation of Azawad, which no nation in the world has recognized.

 

Then came the Islamists, armed to the teeth with what was left of the arsenal of the former Gadhafi regime in nearby Libya. The Islamists are also well connected with al-Qaida fighters who for some years now have found a safe haven in the Maghreb region of North Africa and the countries of the Sahel zone south of the Sahara Desert. Those Tuareg who didn't join the Islamists were driven out. The fronts of buildings in Gao still show traces of the power struggle between the two groups, including bullet holes and blackened and crumbling walls. The world is now deeply concerned that Mali could turn into another Somalia or Afghanistan.

 

In principle, the United Nations Security Council has already approved the deployment of international troops against the north. The European Union has decided to send military advisors, and the United States is even considering the use of remote-controlled drones to fight the Islamist leaders. Northern Mali, less than a five-hour flight from Paris, cannot become a new hotbed of terrorism or a second Somalia, says German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. His US counterpart, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, believes that the Islamists in Mali were behind the attack that led to the death of the American ambassador in the Libyan city of Benghazi seven weeks ago.

 

Gao, a city of 100,000 people, has become a lifeless place since the Islamists took over. It was once a stopping point for tourists traveling to Timbuktu, but now the roadside stands have disappeared, bars and restaurants are boarded up and music is banned. The new strongmen proclaim their creed on signs posted at street corners, written in white Arabic lettering on a black background, that read: "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger."

 

To make matters worse, garbage collection has been suspended, leaving waste to rot in the streets at temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Around 400,000 people have already fled the Islamists. Most who have left represent the better-educated parts of the work force, like the engineers who kept the power plant and waterworks in operation. Foreign aid organizations are gone, as are government officials who were in the process of implementing a new road construction program.

 

"Gao is a dead city," says Allassane Amadou Touré, a mechanic, as he drinks tea in the shade. He is unemployed, like many in the city, and says that Gao's economic output has "declined by 85 percent" since the spring. The Islamic police have become the city's biggest employers. Ironically, their headquarters are on Washington Street in downtown Gao. From there, the armed police officers, most of them young men who are little more than children, are sent out into the neighborhoods to drum into residents what is considered "haram" and "halal," or pure.

 

Until recently, the Sharia courts' sentences were also carried out on Washington Street, but now the Islamic police have become more cautious. Since an angry crowd managed to rescue people who had been convicted of crimes from the executioner, hands and feet are now being severed in secret. The Sharia court uses a former military base outside the city to carry out its grisly punishments.

 

One of its victims was Alhassane Boncana Maiga, who was found guilty of stealing cattle. Four guards drag Maiga, wearing a white robe, into a dark room and tie him to a chair, leaving only one hand free. A doctor gives the victim an injection for the pain. Then Omar Ben Saïd, the senior executioner, pulls a knife out of its sheath. "In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful," he calls out, takes the convicted man's hand and begins to slice into it, as blood squirts out. It becomes more difficult when Saïd reaches the bone, and it's a full three minutes before the hand drops into a bucket. The executioner reaches for his mobile phone, calls his superior and says: "The man has been punished."…

 

One of the masterminds behind Islamist terror in Mali is Iyad Ag Ghali. He lives in Kidal, 320 kilometers (200 miles) northeast of Gao, in an opulent house near the airport, which is now closed. A short man with a long beard and sunglasses, Ag Ghali is constantly surrounded by a throng of heavily armed men with the group Ansar Dine, or "Defenders of the Faith."

Ansar Dine is a new organization. Until last year, Ag Ghali was known as a leading Tuareg separatist. He vacillated between seeking dialogue with Bamako and declaring an independent Tuareg state. Ag Ghali had a reputation for smoking and drinking, but he was also considered unreliable, so the Tuareg rebels marginalized him politically last November. That was probably the moment Ag Ghali discovered Islamism. From then on, instead of calling for a Tuareg nation, he promoted Sharia, saying: "All those who do not walk on Allah's paths are infidels." His change of heart secured him the support of al-Qaida and other extremists from the Maghreb.

His group is also involved in the drug trade in the Sahara. South American cartels send cocaine by ship to Guinea-Bissau in West Africa. From there, the drugs travel northward by land, transported — in return for a hefty share of the profits — by rebels, revolutionaries and bandits, like the Ansar Dine combatants. Kidnappings are another source of income for the "Defenders of the Faith." When the UN approved the deployment of troops to northern Mali in mid-October, Ansar Dine threatened to kill French hostages under its control. Ag Ghali has little to say to the visitor. "Welcome to the Islamic city of Kidal," he says, before getting into his SUV and racing off, followed by his entourage.

But Kidal isn't really welcoming at all. Half of its residents have fled to Mauretania or Niger, and Islamic police in pickup trucks patrol the streets. The market is closed, and women are no longer permitted to go out in public alone in the city.  The men were instructed to grow beards. Those who do not obey the muezzin's call to prayer are either whipped or jailed for three days. Listening to the radio is banned, and the new rulers have simply sawed off satellite dishes on the roofs of houses.

 

Yacouba Mahamane Maiga is dozing under a tree. He is wearing a washed out T-shirt and shorts. He was one of the richest men in the city before the Islamists came to Kidal. "I can't stand any of this anymore," he says, making a fist and pointing it in the direction of the boys with the Kalashnikovs. Before the takeover, his construction company had just been hired to build a new prison and a new courthouse, both government contracts worth millions. Maiga invested €1.5 million ($1.9 million) in new excavators and cranes.

 

But there has been no construction in Kidal since the Islamists arrived, and Maiga is forced to look on as his country falls apart. His machines are covered in desert dust, and his employees have fled. "I worked with these hands my entire life," he says. "Those stupid Salafists." He refuses to take them very seriously and isn't fooled by their piety. He calls them bandits, not holy warriors.

Tirades in public can be dangerous. The Islamic police are everywhere, and yet Maiga no longer makes any effort to hide his anger. There are more than 20 ethnic groups in Mali, and until now, Muslims, Christians and animists coexisted peacefully. Religion was always a private matter, says Maiga. He is convinced that the Islamists have no popular support, and he says that the people of Kidal are tired of being pushed around by adolescents.

Maimouna Wallet Zeidane, 27, is one of the people who are trying to organize the resistance that is popping up everywhere. When it was still allowed, she was very athletic and shared a two-room apartment with her boyfriend in the Etambar neighborhood. Now she lives alone. Thugs with Ansar Dine wanted to cut off her boyfriend's hands, because they were living together. He has since fled to Algeria. "We live in 2012. How can they try to turn back time to the days of the Prophet?" Zeidane asks.

She wears jeans and a T-shirt at home, but if she wore such clothing outside she would be beaten with a stick. She has spread out sheets of paper in her living room and started writing out slogans. One reads: "Islamists = Drug Dealers." There is a knock at the door, and she quickly puts away the paper. "If the Islamic police find this here, they'll burn down the building." She puts a veil over her head and opens the door, by only a crack at first, but then all the way. Three women, her fellow campaigners, walk into the apartment. They call themselves the "Kidal Amazons." The group also consists of 250 women, and it grows larger at every demonstration, they say.

They'll be back on the streets in a few days, holding up their banners, in the middle of the Islamic city of Kidal. They'll risk beatings, each consisting of at least 40 lashes with a stick or a whip, and they'll go to prison. But Zeidane is determined to take that risk. The Islamists have destroyed her life, and she is no longer afraid of the men with the beards and guns. "They should all burn in hell," she says.

 

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

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Losing Yemen: Gregory Johnsen, Foreign Policy,  Nov. 5, 2012—AQAP has repeatedly tried to strike the United States — with a pair of parcel bombs in 2010 and another underwear bomb that was uncovered in early 2012 — while the United States has responded with ramped-up drone and air strikes along with increased economic aid to the central government in Sanaa.

 

Saudi Arabia – Yemen Border Dispute: Chris Murphy, ICE Case Studies,  Nov., 2006—Even though a common border was delineated by the Taif Treaty in 1934, Saudi Arabia and Yemen have had continued conflict over the issue. The possible oil reserves, civil war, and Saudi interventions in Yemeni politics have driven the conflict for much of the last century.

 

Remote U.S. Base At Core Of Secret Operations: Craig Whitlock, Washington Post, October 25, 2012—Around the clock, about 16 times a day, drones take off or land at a U.S. military base here, the combat hub for the Obama administration’s counterterrorism wars in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East.

 

In Yemen Trading Girls Is Economical: Hind Aleryani, NOW Lebanon, December 10, 2012 —Exchange, or tradeoff, marriages provide a suitable solution to address the problem of high dowries and dire living conditions in Yemen. Basically, whoever is unable to pay the dowry of the girl he wants marry has to offer his sister to be married to the bride’s brother. Both men thus avoid paying dowries, while the bridegroom’s sister is denied her right to choose her husband, or even her right to a dowry.

 

 

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Ber Lazarus, Publications Editor, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org