Somalia

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Snapshot,
Tom Keatinge

To take out al Shabab, one need look no further than charcoal. The United Nations has repeatedly called for countries in the region to disrupt the group’s trade in this environmentally destructive product, but, as the most recent Somalia UN Monitoring Group report revealed, such efforts have been lackluster. With its patience wearing thin, the UN has now taken matters into its own hands by approving a naval intervention.

Snapshot,
Paul Hidalgo

Last week’s deadly U.S. strike on Ahmed Abdi Godane, the leader of the Somalia-based Islamist militant group al Shabab, could be the group’s undoing. Even so, the region is not out of the woods.

Snapshot,
Paul Hidalgo

The political upheaval and conflict in Kenya could not be better for the Islamist militant group al Shabaab. Its continued attacks have successfully pitted the country’s two top politicians against each other in a game of political brinkmanship that could plunge Kenya into a toxic ethnic conflict -- exactly the kind of environment in which a group like al Shabaab can thrive.

Snapshot,
Brahma Chellaney

East Africa is one of the world’s most water-stressed regions. Overexploitation of water resources there has been compounded by declining snowpacks on Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya. In this light, the discovery of two significant aquifers in mostly arid Kenya has been hailed as a potential game changer.

Snapshot,
William McCants

A civil war has broken out within al Qaeda, largely because its leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has tried to expand the movement too broadly. As al Qaeda affiliates open new fronts in the global jihad, they often disagree about who should call the shots.

Postscript,
Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens

The recent al Shabab attack on a Nairobi mall might have come as a surprise to Western observers, but it should not have. In form and motivation, the attack mirrored several others in the last few years.

Essay, Jul/Aug 2013
Daniel Byman

The Obama administration relies on drones for one simple reason: they work. Drone strikes have devastated al Qaeda at little financial cost, at no risk to U.S. forces, and with fewer civilian casualties than many alternative methods would have caused.

Essay, Jul/Aug 2013
Audrey Kurth Cronin

Drones are not helping to defeat al Qaeda and may be creating sworn enemies out of a sea of local insurgents. Embracing them as the centerpiece of U.S. counterterrorism would be a mistake.

Snapshot,
Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens

Until recently, experts assumed that al-Shabaab’s recruitment in Kenya was limited to the country’s Somali minority, which numbers roughly a million people. But recent attacks have forced a reassessment; as ex-members testify, now Kenyans are joining up as well.

Snapshot,
Afyare Abdi Elmi and Abdi Aynte

Somalia's government has recently made gains against the militant group al Shabaab. But those will prove fleeting if it does not find a way to address the organization's grievances and bring moderates into the fold.

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