What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

For the attention of strategists

I feel a little vindicated as far as my views regarding the counterterrorism part of "teh strategy" are concerned. Even though this article will be well-known to those who regularly do their reading on these affairs, I have to excerpt it briefly here. This is an assessment of al-Qaida's current state:
"Its activity is increasingly dispersed to "affiliates" or "franchises" in Yemen and North Africa, but the links of local or regional jihadi groups to the centre are tenuous; they enjoy little popular support and successes have been limited.
Lethal strikes by CIA drones – including two this week alone – have combined with the monitoring and disruption of electronic communications, suspicion and low morale to take their toll on al-Qaida's Pakistani "core", in the jargon of western intelligence agencies.
Interrogation documents seen by the Guardian show that European Muslim volunteers faced a chaotic reception, a low level of training, poor conditions and eventual disillusionment after arriving in Waziristan last year.
"Core" al-Qaida is now reduced to a senior leadership of six to eight men, including Bin Laden and his Egyptian deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, according to most informed estimates. Several other Egyptians, a Libyan and a Mauritanian occupy the other top positions. In all, there are perhaps 200 operatives who count."
And the people who were asked, like Brynjar Lia and Thomas Hegghammer, rank high on my list of sources whom I'm ready to trust.
As to the chaotic reception received in Waziristan by wannabe recruits, I would suggest this source (pp. 4-8., as I should have made clear in the first version of this post) for you to check out if you fancy some afternoon reading today, and haven't yet come across it.
Back to the Guardian article quoted above, it eventually turns its attention to possible future safe-havens of the global jihadist movement. The usual warning about Somalia is mentioned. Another about Nigeria. And north Africa and the the Sahel are highlighted in general. They sure matter. Yemen might receive a bit more mention than it does in the article, perhaps, with the recent attack against the Saudi interior minister (likely prepared at least partly there). But all in all, a crucial fight is still taking place in the Pakistani borderland.

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