WASHINGTON: French forces have made great strides driving al-Qaeda-linked insurgents out of Mali’s major cities, said the Pentagon’s top counterterrorism official, Michael Sheehan. But any long-term solution requires local forces in the lead — not Westerners. And those recent successes in Yemen and Somalia provide a model for Mali — and for Afghanistan after 2014.
Sheehan, the assistant Secretary of Defense for special perations and low-intensity conflict (ASD SOLIC) spoke to scholars, industry officials, and military officers from two dozen countries this afternoon at the National Defense Industrial Association‘s annual SOLIC conference. Across the Maghreb and down to Nigeria, “an inverted L,” he said, “that area in North Africa is becoming awash with different al-Qaeda groups and affiliates.” Keep reading →
Call it Somalia on steroids. Call it Syria next week. Either way it’s a scenario the US military needs to prepare for: an intervention into a failing state where rival factions have looted a sophisticated arsenal, from tanks to shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles to weapons of mass destruction.
There’s no political will in Washington to intervene (directly) in the Syrian conflict as it now stands. The military cost of breaking down Syria’s defenses outweighs the political benefit of stopping the killings. But if the Assad regime imploded — and it’s under greater pressure ever day — that equation would change: The Syrian defenses would become less coordinated and formidable, though still dangerous, while the pressure on the US to act, if only to secure the regime’s chemical weapons, would rise sharply. Keep reading →