Weekly Links

By Taylor Marvin

1898 publication, via Wikimedia.
1898 publication, via Wikimedia.

Fighters from the ISIS jihadi organization have seized most of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, expanding the area of northern Iraq and eastern Syria effectively under ISIS control (second link via Anup Kaphle) and highlighting the Baghdad government’s struggle to control its territory and face down insurgent groups with an apparently ineffective army.

In a bit of grim irony this week Iraq took the delivery of the first of 36 US-supplied F-16 aircraft, prestigious fighters great for fighting foreign powers but which raise eyebrows when purchased by a government that cannot govern its own country.

RAND has a new report on the impact of the Iraq War on US national security structures, including the important note “that even if U.S. counterinsurgency capabilities have improved, many wars in the future may require that U.S. capacity for supporting insurgents be as effective as our capacity for countering them.” Walter Pincus comments on the failure to plan for post-conflict governance in Iraq’s relevance for the US’ current limited support for insurgents in Syria (via Small Wars Journal).

Robert Ford, the former US ambassador to Syria, criticizes the Obama administration’s indecision on Syria. These comments remind me somewhat of the broader critique of Obama’s reactive and inward-looking foreign policy made by Vali Nasr, another former administration official, in his 2013 book The Dispensable Nation.

Is it possible to divorce American policies designed to strengthen the Pakistani state from state-abetted — or at least tolerated — abuses?

RFE/RL has an explainer on recent unrest in Gorno-Badakhshan, useful for people like me who know very little about Tajikistan.

More kidnappings in northeast Nigeria are attributed to the Boko Haram insurgency. Michela Wrong asks why African militaries are so ineffective.

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