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Posts Tagged ‘ Al Qaeda ’

Some Fights Are Right: Obama’s IS Strategy

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Barack Obama has received criticism for his recent expansion of strikes against IS to include Syria. On the far left are those who object outright to liberal intervention, while on the right of the spectrum Senator Rand Paul labelled him a ‘neo-con’. However despite his perceived hesitancy, Obama’s strategy looks set to hit a sweet spot between reckless and cautious that is grounded in sound principles and is the best reasonable response to the current threat posed by IS.

IS are the closest the 21st century has to the Nazi’s- fundamentally motivated, exceptionally violent and on a quest that is their downfall before it has even begun. Their so called caliphate has no precedent in history. Killing Shia as easily as they behead innocent westerners or massacre Yazidi Iraqis, the group’s strategy is founded on brutality, with no room for any form of tolerance or compromise, to the point where they have drawn condemnation from Al-Qaeda. Mass murder of civilians and trafficking of women for as sex slaves are par for the course with IS . This incarnation of radical Islam is now the richest terrorist organization in history.  It has also shown itself to be a master of cinematic and striking (and ironically western style) media campaigns in a way that Al-Qaeda never was, making it the most hot brand of radical Islam. The stunning videos are a draw for young radicals of fighting age as well as rich benefactors who may be sympathetic to their cause, and is possibly the greatest threat posed by IS. However despite capturing swathes of Iraqi and Syrian cities (and open desert), the groups has united even larger swathes of the world against it through its actions. General consensus already exists. This includes almost every parliament and head of state in the world, as well as mainstream Muslim groups in western countries (see the “Not in my name” campaign if you feel like blaming regular Muslims). Continue reading

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British Terrorist’s Bin Laden Love Letter Revealed

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Police have revealed a number f files that were uncovered following a search of Islamic terrorist Samantha Lewthwaite’s computer.

The British woman turned terrorist is believed to have been involved in last month’s Kenyan mall attack, and now a picture has emerged of a woman who admired Osama bin Laden and wished her children to become “holy warriors.”

Known as the “White Widow,” Lewthwaite was married to London bomber Germaine Lindsey, who took part in the 7/7 bombing that killed 52 people. In the months after the attack, Samantha denounced her husband and fled the country. Continue reading

North Africa “A Magnet for Jihadists” Claims Cameron

 

dcDavid Cameron’s recent parliamentary address following the end of the hostage situation in Algeria discussed the ever increasing volatility of the north-western region of Africa. The recent stirrings in the region suggested a migrated threat; much of the Jihadist threat used to stem from places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, and still do to some extent, but Cameron now feels that the region in Africa is “a magnet for Jihadists”. Continue reading

Re-Elected Obama Has No Time To Ponder Victory

The objective of a first term president is to get re-elected – Barack Obama has achieved that.  On November 7th 2012 Obama was given a mandate to lead his country for a second term comprehensively defeating Republican Mitt Romney.  However, the incumbent president has no time to savour his victory – unfortunately for him that was the easy part.  Unlike the euphoria of four years ago, the overriding emotion was one of relief for himself and his supporters.  Now he faces the objective of a second term president which is to create a legacy.  The next four years will determine how the first black president to occupy the White House is judged by history.  Not much has changed as a result of this election.  The power structure has remained the same:  Obama occupies the Oval office with a Democratic majority in the Senate and the Republicans still hold sway in Congress.  The checks on his legislative powers in his first term remain.  Obama will be buoyed by victory but he leaves behind the campaign trail with its echoes of lofty oratory and his loyal base in Chicago returning to WashingtonDC and the gritty reality of politics in a divided capital.

There was a palpable fear in the Obama camp about voter turnout.  Hope was the operative word on the campaign trail in 2008 but four years on they couldn’t rely solely on that to bring voters to the polling stations.  The reality of the situation dictated that his team launch a monumental groundswell operation in order to galvanise a similar turnout and they succeeded.   Dubbed the hash-tag election due to the prominent role played by social media, Obama has the largest Twitter following of any world leader.  His team relentlessly contacted supporters and the undecided, imploring them to vote for their man.

This race was deemed too close to call.  But after the ballots were cast and the pundits began deciphering the early exit polls it became clear that the 44th president had managed to win the crucial swing states that often decide these elections.  The margins were tight but President Obama carried Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia and Wisconsin.  This meant that he easily won the race to 270 electoral college votes out of the 538 available.  Currently he stands on 303 to Romney’s 206 with Florida’s 29 still to be allocated.  Obama managed to defeat Romney in Michigan, where the challenger was born, and in Massachusetts, where he was governor from 2003 to 2007.  From the 2008 election results the Democrats only lost two states: Indiana and North Carolina.  In the end Obama won the popular vote by 50% to Romney’s 48% which shows that incumbent clearly won the popular vote.  The president’s mandate is reduced from the last election but it is still a clear mandate.

For the Republicans this defeat illustrates major deficiencies in the Grand Old Party (GOP) as they were unable to capitalise on high unemployment and a stuttering economy since the financial meltdown of 2008.  One must go back to 1936 and Roosevelt during the Great Depression to find a president who, in the face of such high unemployment figures, managed to get re-elected.  The unemployment rate in America is roughly the same as when Obama took office but instead of losing hundreds of thousands of jobs a month the country is now gaining them.

This was an election that a united Republican party would have won.  However, the party is split and they managed to alienate large cohorts of the electorate with their divisive politics throughout the campaign.  It is clear that the party is torn.  Over the next two years they must decide if they are the fractious and severely conservative right-wing party that we saw in the primary or the more moderate one that Romney unveiled at the first presidential debate.  Romney was hamstrung by his own party in this race – for instance the party signed a pact that said they would not raise taxes on anybody and that included the super wealthy – Romney wanted to extended the Bush tax cuts that are due to expire in January thereby avoiding the so called ‘fiscal cliff’.  An exit poll indicated that 60% of voters believed that taxes should be increased on at least the very wealthy.

Romney lost the presidency in a centre right nation because he lost the centre.  He had to secure the extreme elements of his party early in the campaign and by the time he changed tack in search of the middle ground he was too late.  His voter base was too narrow:  He had a greater proportional share of the vote amongst whites, men, the wealthy, older people, Catholics and Evangelicals.  This campaign shows that the GOP needs some serious introspection and to broaden their appeal.  They will not be able to compete over the coming years if they do not moderate certain policies that alienated them from large portions of the electorate.  George Bush won 40% of the Latino vote whereas Romney only picked up 29%.  Hispanics voted en masse for Obama.  Romney and the Republican party have ostracised this large demographic through their extreme immigration policies.   Pat Cadell, a public opinion pollster who worked on Jimmy Carter’s campaign team, spoke on Fox News of the party’s problems, “There is no future for a party that consistently gets wiped out at the polls by Latinos and Women and which constantly appears negative.”  The first presidential debate in Detroit was the highlight of the Romney campaign as he shape-shifted toward the centre.  Voters did not really know who Romney was – they were still uncertain of his true identity. What they feared was the Republican party of the last four years and that his potential administration would have reflected the GOP’s extreme agenda. American politics desperately needs a united Republican party.  They need to decide their identity and emerge as the party of fiscal responsibility and moderately conservative social policies or they will find themselves left behind by the future generations of American voters.

One can only get elected once on a ‘change’ platform.  The American public had a four year record on which to judge Obama so either his policies were seen as acceptable by the electorate or the opposition was not seen as offering a viable alternative – a bit of both seems to be the answer.  Economically Obama inherited ‘The Great Recession’, as it was dubbed, from his predecessor and his policies have prevented a depression.  The recovery is slow but there are green shoots.  Voters are beginning to see improvements in the economy and perhaps the electorate was wary that a new administration could derail this progress.  A Republican Congress has stymied much of Obama’s stimulus plan however the bailout of the auto-industry saved many jobs.  In Ohio for example this bailout directly translated into a victory for him in this vital swing state.  Exit polls suggested that nobody voted solely on foreign policy.  The Republicans touted Obama as weak but he has managed to repair America’s reputation in foreign eyes without pandering or endangering American national security as was feared by his opposition.  Military hawks waited for the incumbent to slip up in his first term but he has been almost flawless in foreign theatres. Al Qaeda is a shadow of its former self.  He tracked down and killed Osama Bin Laden.  He ended the unpopular war in Iraq.  His sanctions on Iran have been tough and he intervened responsibly in the Arab Spring.  He increased troop levels in Afghanistan but intends to pull out of that quagmire by 2014.  The only real blot on his record was the loss of four American lives in Benghazi in Libya and Romney tried to make political capital from this event during the campaign and as a result he lost popularity.  If there is something the American people can be bi-partisan about it is in events where they lose their own men.

Obama’s win was an endorsement for his policies and an acknowledgment that the government has an important role to play in an American recovery.  He will look to implement legislation that he was unable to get passed in his first term now that he is equipped with a new mandate from the public.  His lasting legislative success came early in his first term with his sweeping health reform known as Obamacare.  With his re-election he hopes to fully implement these plans by 2014.  His second term priorities will be the deficit, changing the tax code, immigration and climate change.  His first major obstacle will be the ‘fiscal cliff’ the metaphor for what will happen in January when George Bush’s tax schemes lapse. If a compromise is not reached between the President and Congress on fiscal policy then taxes will increase and there will be spending cuts.  The speeches of both candidates after the results indicated that the need for cooperation on this issue will test their commitment to bi-partisanship.

This election does not indicate a united nation; real polarisation still exists in the States but what this vote does show is a majority electorate that saw Obama as working for them.  They aren’t saying he’s succeeding but he is trying and that is more than can be said of an opposition that has been unwilling to compromise.  Republican House speaker John Boehner, in a speech after the results, was clear that his Congress would remain the check on the president’s power as they have been since the mid-term elections in 2010.  President Obama’s dealings with Congress over the next four years will be the key to his legacy.  He urged reconciliation between the two parties in his emotive speech, “We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states.  We are and forever will be the United States of America.”  Let the partisan battles begin.

Obama and the Drone Wars

If Star Wars had the ‘Clone Wars’, in the 21st Century we have the ‘Drone Wars’.

While drones themselves are nothing new, their place in warfare is. Even at the beginning of the Afghanistan conflict, the US possessed merely a handful of unarmed drones. Today the US operates huge purpose built strike drones across the world. Although most drone attacks occur in lawless provinces of Pakistan, they have also taken place in Yemen, Somalia and the Philippines. It was President Bush who began the drone attacks, but the Nobel-prize winning President Obama has stepped them up considerably, with attacks occurring almost weekly. As reported in the New York Times, Obama insists on Presidential authorisation for drone strikes outside of Afghanistan. This means that he is presented with the best available intelligence and must decide whether the risk of civilian casualties is worth the potential death of a Taliban leader.

And so far, the offensive has been effective. The top brass of the Pakistan Taliban has been decimated, all with no risk to American lives or the cost of troops on the ground. Some see it as a sort of ‘silver bullet’ from the sky. The recent death of Al-Qaeda number two in a typical drone strike was hailed as huge blow to the terrorist network. Abu Yahya al-Libi was considered a major unifying force between Egyptian and North African factions within the movement, and his death is predicted to have a destablising effect.

However the mounting civilian casualties has drawn official condemnation from the Pakistan government and Foreign Ministry. Tensions remain high even after Pakistan has this week reopened road supply routes to NATO forces in Afghanistan. These were closed after the death of 24 government soldiers in a US strike last November. Drone attacks were temporarily suspended, and American personnel were evacuated from the air base they secretly operated from. However with no resolution in sight attacks were stepped up two months later.

Despite the fact that the Pakistan government secretly harboured the drone strikes for years, it seems they have finally turned due to mounting collateral damage. Numbers of civilians killed are disputed, but the foreign ministry claims they reach into the hundreds. The usefulness of this type of offensive must now be called into question. How far can the CIA move down the totem pole of an already decimated Al-Qaeda and Taliban leadership?
Will the mounting civilian casualties and accusations of extrajudicial killings deter Obama, or will he proceed with an effective anti-Taleban tool that presents minimal risk to US lives? For now the attacks continue at the same rate as ever.

Drones have now had a lasting impact on modern warfare. Even in the 60’s it was predicted the majority of military aircraft would eventually be unmanned, and this will likely come true in the next few years. While the US can seemingly hunt its enemies anywhere in the world from the comfort of control rooms in the states, their enemies will not be left behind forever. In 2007 Israeli fighter jets shot down a Hezbollah reconnaissance drone, a surprising step forward for the supposedly primitive group. In another famous incident, Iraqi insurgents hacked into live video feed from a US drone over Baghdad.

Al Qaeda threatens retaliation against US and allies

 

 

Al Qaeda has confirmed that Osama Bin Laden is dead and has vowed to launch revenge attacks on the US and its allies.

The confirmation came after US officials claimed that the terrorist organization had been planning an attack on the U.S. rail network to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

The plot was uncovered as US agencies went through information seized from Bin Laden’s compound after he was killed in a raid by Navy Seals earlier this week.

A statement posted on jihadist websites warned that happiness over the terror chief’s demise would soon be vanished and replaced with “their blood mingled with their tears” .

The group described itself as a “curse” on America, promised bloodshed and also called on Pakistan, where Bin Laden had been hiding out, to rise up in revolt.

An tape recording by Bin Laden speaking a week before his death is set to be released shortly.

The statement read: “We stress that the blood of the holy warrior sheik, Osama bin Laden, God bless him, is precious to us and to all Muslims and will not go in vain.

“We will remain, God willing, a curse chasing the Americans and their agents, following them outside and inside their countries.

“Soon, God willing, their happiness will turn to sadness. Their blood will be mingled with their tears.

“We call upon our Muslim people in Pakistan… to rise up and revolt to cleanse this shame that has been attached to them by a clique of traitors and thieves … and in general to cleanse their country from the filth of the Americans who spread corruption in it.”

All US citizens at home and abroad have been urged to remain vigilant for the foreseeable future, as further attacks in the wake of Bin Laden`s death are extremely likely.

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