Weekly Links

Vincent van Gogh, “Flower Beds in Holland,” c. 1883. Photo via National Gallery of Art.

By Patrick Pierson.

Recent airstrikes in Libya underscore the increasing importance of countering the emergence of the Islamic State in the country. Additionally, US efforts are now being supplemented by French special forces. And while the military interventions may prove necessary in the short term, a lasting solution will need to resolve a crisis of politics, not just the crisis of security; ultimately, “you can’t bomb your way to peace.” This report argues that a similarly myopic focus on the military defeat of Al-Shabab in Somalia has encouraged external actors to overlook many of the underlying drivers of instability in the country.

Elsewhere on the African continent, it appears that US special forces will soon be joining the fight against Boko Haram. This comes as Cameroon announces they recently freed 850 villagers in an offensive that killed nearly 100 Boko Haram militants. Unfortunately, the fight against Boko Haram has also encouraged extrajudicial enforcement by the military and vigilante groups, resulting in the arbitrary disappearance and killing of ‘suspected terrorists.’

On Friday, humanitarian aid and human rights groups from around the world urged Western countries to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia, citing innumerable human rights violations in the country’s offensive in Yemen. In the midst of the chaos, Al-Qaeda continues making significant gains and capturing key towns. Some reports suggest the Saudi-backed coalition is tacitly supporting the emergence of Al-Qaeda with the belief that “an enemy of my enemy is my friend.” As noted by former Yemeni information minister Nadia al-Sakkaf, an eventual rebuilding of Yemen will be significantly hampered by the current conflict’s destruction of Yemeni civil society.

This week, President Barack Obama promised continued financial support to address the refugee situation in Jordan. On the other hand, the administration’s pledge to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States has so far resettled a mere 841 individuals. These numbers, however, are enormous in comparison to China’s lack of responsiveness.

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