As the Syrian civil war enters its 36th month, it is becoming clearer that the conflict is spilling into neighboring states. In Syria, Bashar al-Assad has been waging a bloody war with Sunni insurgents. Assad is an Alawite Muslim, which is an offshoot of Shiite Islam. The Syrian Government has become dependent on religious allies for support, and Sunni fundamentalist groups have become the strongest opposition. Iran and Hezbollah have actively backed their long-term ally in the Assad government, while Saudi Arabia and Qatar have supported the Sunni rebels. The war has morphed into a larger fight between Sunnis and Shiites that has spread into neighboring countries, and has the potential to ignite a wider conflict across the entire region.
During World War II and the years that followed, the United States developed alliances that would be critical to fighting communism and maintaining stability. Across the globe, nations aligned with Washington to ward off communist expansionism. During the Cold War, the United States and its allies would often put their own national interests aside to focus on the larger threat of the Soviet Union and its allies. The shared threat of communism was the glue that held alliances together in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
In India, the world’s largest democracy, there are numerous examples of groups choosing to articulate their goals by forming political parties, or choosing terrorism. There are over 1,400 registered political parties in India, many which claim to represent specific regional or ideological interests. Despite a myriad of specialized political groups, India has still experienced more terrorist attacks than almost any other country, with nearly 7,500 attacks since 1970. Compare this to Canada, which has only experienced 64 attacks in the same time period. With so many political parties available, it seems like most groups could address their grievances through the democratic system, yet terrorism remains all too common across the subcontinent.
This is the fifth article in an ongoing series examining the role of UAVs—commonly called "drones"—exploring the uses of unmanned aerial technology outside of traditional or well-publicized wartime uses. Read the first, second, third, and fourth articles.
For many people, the phrase "human trafficking" conjures up images of horrific nightmares from long ago and far away. However, human trafficking is tragically still prominent, and remains a modern source of misery. President Barack Obama, in a speech to the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative, announced that America's fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time. It is a very real and very complicated 21st century problem, one that requires more attention than it receives.
What are the global implications of gridlock in Washington? What should President Obama do about Syria? Why are our world leaders failing to lead and who can hold them accountable? These are a few of the issues addressed by Dr. Ian Bremmer, President of Eurasia Group, in an interview which coincided with the very first day of the U.S. government shutdown.
In his latest book, Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla, David Kilcullen, the Australian counterinsurgency expert, attempts to formulate a unified theory of irregular warfare. Kilcullen’s study is both timely and relevant. Covering contemporary global trends in counterinsurgency, the Arab Spring, urban planning, militia tactics, transnational criminal networks and other related topics, Kilcullen provides insightful analysis of current and future conflict.
Considering the drawdown from two major ground engagements that have lasted the U.S. military (USMIL) over a decade and the related budgetary pressures on resource allocation, the nature of USMIL activities in the years ahead has already begun to reveal itself. As the U.S. continues to shift from high-visibility, heavy presence interventions to more refined capacity enhancement initiatives and surgical direct action missions, the military will need to rely less on brawn and more on craft. Fortunately, the USMIL has been carefully cultivating Special Operations Forces (SOF) for decades that are perfectly suited to counter the challenges that lay ahead.
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