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 →
WASHINGTON: In lawless, inaccessible regions of the world, drone strikes are America’s least-worst option for pursuing terrorists, a panel of experts agreed today — and many of the civilians whose deaths are blamed on US drones were actually killed by local factions on the ground or never existed at all.
“They are actually our least horrible option,” said Prof. Christine Fair, a South Asia expert at Georgetown University who has made many trips to Pakistan, including to the badlands known formally as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). “I am… within the strict case of FATA, a drone proponent,” she said, speaking Monday afternoon at the American Security Project in Washington, DC. And while most Pakistanis deplore the drones when polled about them, Fair added that FATA residents she spoke to who have first-hand knowledge of specific strikes and who really died in them are, “very positive…. They know who’s being killed.” Keep reading →