September 6, 2012
Links Dump 9/6/12, drone edition

Apparently it’s time for a new links dump of stories related to drones.  I haven’t read all of these, but I highly recommend Aaron Zelin’s in Foreign Policy (the first link).  It’s one of the better pieces I’ve seen, pointing out that while we know the short term outcome of using drones (terrorists = dead), we don’t know the medium-to-long term impact, either on terrorist groups or the countries in which they operate.

In no particular order, recent stories on drones: 

May 31, 2012
Yemen in the News

I finally got around to watching Frontline’s amazing piece on AQAP in Yemen.  If you haven’t watched it yet, you definitely should.  There’s a reason everyone was talking about it Tuesday night.

While there wasn’t a lot of new information in the piece for me, there was something dramatic about seeing it in video rather than reading about it, or even seeing pictures.  At the same time, al-Qaeda seems both more sinister and more approachable.  In fact, while watching the scenes in Jaar, all I could think of was how easy it seemed to approach al-Qaeda members.  (Of course, easy from my couch is very different than easy from south Yemen.)

Of all the things that stand out from the documentary, little is more important than the absolutely necessary involvement of Yemeni tribes in kicking out AQAP.  ”If the millions of tribesmen decide collectively one day that they would like to kick out al Qaeda,” gutsy reporter Ghaith Abdul-Ahad stated in the conclusion, “it will just disappear.”  (A full transcript is here.)

What I’m seeing lately is that Yemen is in the news more - and I have to think that’s a good thing.  AQAP has been repeatedly described as the most dangerous al-Qaeda franchise attacking America.  Beyond that, Yemen’s strategic position means its stability - or lack thereof - can have far-reaching effects.  Plus, discussion about Yemen necessitates discussion about drones, because right now the US doesn’t have a Yemen policy so much as a drone policy in Yemen.  (Case in point on the drone discussion: the much discussed NYT piece on Obama’s kill list.)

There is a downside to Yemen being in the news so much (besides the fact that most of the news is negative); the more Yemen is featured, the more people who know little to nothing about Yemen get to regale us with their punditry.  Fortunately, there’s some really good reporting coming out on Yemen as well.  I’m including some of that in the following links dump of stories from the last couple of weeks.

May 22, 2012
Links Dump 5/22/12

The latest is mostly about the push back against al-Qaeda in southern Yemen, and of course, more drones.  And then there’s the suicide bomb, which is its own category.

Sana’a suicide bomb

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May 13, 2012
Links Dump 5/13/12

I’ve really got to clear my browser of some tabs.  Apologies if this overlaps with the other links dumps from this week.

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May 9, 2012
Links Dump 5/9/12 (part 2)

This continuation from yesterday’s links dump is essentially split between news from 2-3 weeks ago, and this week’s excitement over The Underwear Bomber Part II: Leak of the Phantom Menace.

Yemen/AQAP/Ansar al-Sharia

Underwear Bomber 2.0

al-Qaeda Central



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May 8, 2012
Links Dump 5/8/12 (part 1)

So, some stuff’s been in the news lately… (This is part 1 of a 2 part links dump; the other stuff will mostly be older.)

Yemen/AQAP/Ansar al-Shariah 

Al-Qaeda Central


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April 10, 2012
Links Dump 4/10/12

I haven’t had much time to devote to the blog lately (my internet was down for a while, and I have some people in who left Mali), but I have been racking up some stories to read.

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March 24, 2012
Links Dump 3/24/12

Stories from Yemen and elsewhere:

March 17, 2012
Links Dump 3/17/12 (Updated)

Totally random edition.

Also, in books, there’s these to think about:

March 8, 2012
Links Dump 3/8/12 (Updated)

[Update 3/11/12:  Now with more links! (those with an asterisk)] 

A small links dump this time.  But first, a quote from the first link:

Zaed Jaber, director of the Strategic Studies programme at Sheba Centre for Strategic Studies in Sanaa, told The National the success that militant groups are having in Abyan was no surprise.

"The militants know exactly where to attack and powerful security forces who were loyal to the former president are logistically aiding Ansar Al Sharia fighters," said Mr Jaber.

He said the first couple of months of Mr Hadi’s term were sure to be full of obstacles and challenges. “Al Qaeda is strong only because influential officials make it strong. This will end soon with the efforts of the new leadership,” Mr Jaber said.

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