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Essential Commandments in Combating Islamic Jihad

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The international relations is comprised by states that keep their national sovereignty and security by defending its borders and territories. The terrorism phenomenon is not new through history, but in contemporary politics, due to the sophisticated weapons, it endangers national security and exacerbates the international structure.

Islamic terrorism, which constitutes more than 90 percent of world terrorism, is the utmost lethal and must be taken highly seriously. There is no “impossible” when they consider options and scenarios, and they might use all kind of weaponry available to achieve their targets, from chemical to nuclear. All Muslim groups clearly declare: “we will win since you love life while we love death.” It is in accordance with the Qur’an declaration, in Sural al-Nisā’ (4:74) and Surat al-Taubah (9:111).      

Therefore, it is a must to eliminate the political, religious, and managerial leaders of the terrorist organizations. It is a critical condition in the war on terror perpetrators as the most effective way in decreasing the terrorist organizations’ influence its ability to act. By leaders it means not only the top, but also the field leaders. Most important, this definition includes mainly religious leaders. In Islam as one can clearly observe the religious leaders, the Imams, are the most important, as they give the religious clearance and legitimization to the terrorists activity. They excel in spreading and disseminating the deep vicious incitement of hatred for the terrorists

The other side of the war on terrorist organizations are the Arab military regimes. Any observation will clearly exhibit that Arab military regimes were the best in fighting and containing effectively the Islamic movements and groups. Unfortunately, the US has helped to demolish the political coercive authoritarian order existing in the Middle East by removing the military regimes, in Iraq, in Egypt (thank to al-Sisi who has taken back the political power), in Libya, and in Yemen, and continues its policy to topple Asad regime in Syria. The result, the Middle has entered the age of Islamic Tribal Anarchic Winter, in which we find failed states, acute un-stability, and chaos in the entire area. The military regimes, although being oppressive and dictatorial, are the last and best chance of the Arab regimes to survive as relatively open states. The alternative are Islamic regimes ruled by and according to the Sharī‘ah.

   Homicide bombing is a combined personal and group activity: The individual needs the organizational framework for the success of his action, while the organization cannot be effective without his activity. However, the most successful war against terrorist perpetrators is not against the individual, ‘the person with the belt’ which is a disposable raw material, but the organization itself. In order to succeed in the liquidation of terrorism, the elimination of the organization’s leadership, it is a crucially imperative to employ as a continuous strategy operations of the targeted killing.

The Old Testament has a clear answer: “Whoso sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed”. ‘The Iron Law of Oligarchy,’ formulated by the sociologist Michaels, teaches us that leaders wish to preserve their status and position in the organization, and will do everything to keep that aim. This is precisely the reason that their elimination is critical. Thompson proved this reality in his study on the British lessons in Malaysia and Vietnam.

It must be determined: the alternative to targeted killings is attacking the sites from which the terrorists set out, the implication of which would be huge damage to the surroundings. Anyone who understands that it is imperative to combat terrorism must also eliminate its leaders. And if someone raises the approach that these are political or religious leaders, the response should be loud and clear: Terrorist organizations have no political leaders. By definition they are illegitimate squads worthy of liquidation. Characterizing terrorist leaders as political leaders is a logical contradiction. Are Bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Arafat, and Baghdadi political leaders? Were the leaders of the terrorist groups in Europe, Japan and South America political leaders? If so, why were they liquidated with extraordinary success?

Elimination of terrorist leaders is a necessity. One who is involved in indiscriminate murder cannot expect to be treated any differently. Nobody really serious would react to Bin Laden’s execution negatively; and this would be exactly the reaction to the Elimination of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This demand also applies to religious leaders. Countries have two chains of command: The political echelon, which commands, and military echelon, which executes those commands. In contrast, there are three levels in the Islamic terrorist groups constituting a different type of subordination: The terrorist operational echelon; the command and logistical echelon; and the religious echelon, which affirms and legitimizes the homicide bombings through Fatawā’.

Another important commandment is to understanding terrorism sources that is to fight the educational and religious system. Beyond the pre-emptive activity, the main struggle is in the realm of interdiction of the educational and religious factors: abating the hatred transmitted to the youth from birth without even understanding why and creating effective alternatives to the Islamic “Istishhād (homicide) culture”.

The Muslims begin with the politics of the Jihadi ideology of hatred from birth. The children learn to hate before they learn anything else: At home, in school, in the Muslim Schools, Madāris, in youth movements, in summer camps, and in the mosques. They receive a gigantic dose of demonic venomous poison vis-à-vis the free world, and they hate the infidels because they are who they are. Hatred is in their food and drink and it is the fuel that directs and motivates the murders, the horrors of massacre and the lynching. That is why the “Third Generation,” those young Muslims who were born, raised, and educated in the West are the most extreme in Jihad activity.

The Arab-Islamic authoritarian regimes and the patrimonial political and religious leaders are aiming at channeling the rage and frustrations of the masses to the outsider enemy. These political systems horrify and oppress its inhabitants; keep them in poverty and wretchedness, without any hope of social progress and economic prosperity and are still in power by externalizing the guilt toward the outsider enemies, their embodiment: the US and Israel.

The situation has been challenged by Sa’ad Bin-Tefla:

The violence of slaughter, anarchy and bloodshed is a cultural phenomenon. The religious faction sets the rules: To achieve victory or martyrdom in order to restore the Islamic Empire, which stretched from China to Andalusia; the Arab media assists them by painting the world in black and white; and the Arab culture stokes the fire.

In the words of the intellectual Said al-Hamad of Bahrain

A ‘culture of backwardness,’ which dominates the Arab world led Arabs and Muslims into quixotic wars against the West. It also includes the ‘culture of terrorism,’ which adopts the approach of beheading and executing people; and the ‘culture of hatred’ which propagates in the minds and consciousness of the youth hatred for the world and for people whose opinions and thoughts are different than theirs.

The Tunisian thinker al-‘Afif al-Akhdar claims that

Islamist thought is incapable of accepting human thought. The world must condemn the Islamist education and media as an imperative step towards eliminating the ideology of terrorism.  

The Iraqi intellectual, Dr. Kazem Habib points out the importance of fighting educational-religious incitement

Most of the religious schools, the large majority of the Imams in the world’s mosques, and most of the preachers on the Arab TV channels educate to violence and spread hatred and animosity towards people of other religions. They do not acknowledge the other; they do not show tolerance towards non-Muslims, and disseminate hatred against Muslims, treating them as Kuffār.

There are ample researches, documents and evidence of what is being taught in the Madāris and delivered in the mosques. Egypt has found an interesting solution to the fanatic religious preaching in the mosques. All religious preachers (Imams) are civil servants receiving their salaries from government, which tapes and films their preaching (Khutbah) as a precaution step. Any violation of the rules means they are fired and indicted to jail.

Bernard Lewis provides us with the insight that there is no supremacy of legal-religious authority in Islam like in Christianity, capable of imposing fixed religious laws on the terrorists. Each organization has the religious leadership that it accepts and each one can interpret the laws of the Qur’an and the Hadīth as he sees fit. They are fully convinced that their actions are compatible with the demands of Islam.

For that, it is important to emphasize three dimensions:

a) One must not treat the Apocalyptic Global Jihad Groups as a phenomenon of crime, which can be resolved by means of economic improvements. It is well proven: poverty leads to crime but never to terrorism.

b) One must not despair as if the war against fanatic terrorism cannot be won. Despite the mystification of terrorist activity and media’s glorification, it can and must be vanquished.

c) One must not create moral equivalence, and the media is the chief responsible for that, between the terrorists, who are the epitome of evil, and the countermeasures taken by retaliatory states, which express legitimate steps to preserve freedom and maintain security. The struggle is for its legitimate existence and it takes precedence over moral values. It must be fought; it can be prevailed.

Another important commandment is to avoiding terrorist institutionalization as a political power. Action must be taken to rout the terrorist organizations out before they are institutionalized, before they strike deep popular roots, and become a guerilla force that controls territories supported by the masses. The best proof to this is Israel’s failure to strike the Hezbollah organization and Hamas, before they became the central Shi’ite force in Lebanon and the admired Sunni force among the Palestinians. When these groups institutionalized, it is no longer possible to liquidate them.

The test in understanding the importance of an all-out war on terrorism is by of the following analogies:

a) What would you do if a terrorist is threatening your own family, and you have the weapon and the opportunity to liquidate him beforehand? Wouldn’t you put him down?

b) What would you do if you receive authorized evidence about a genuine possibility that your family will be hit, and you can liquidate the terrorist beforehand?

c) How would you react when you are being fired upon from a mosque or a hospital, and your family is being threatened to death? Wouldn’t you shoot back to save them?

d) Will you act in a pre-emptive manner when terrorists push baby carriages filled with explosive vests and missiles?

e) Will you make certain to strip-search pregnant woman, you know she is transporting explosives?

f) How will you act if terrorist leaders plan to liquidate civilians in homicide bombings, but are surround themselves with children for their personal protection?

The free world must change its lenient treatment of Muslim terrorism. The Saudi intellectual Mash’ari al-Dhaydi has written

The time has come for those who turn a blind eye to notice that the enemies of freedom have exploited the atmosphere of freedom to spread their religious fanaticism. People who disseminate this ideological-political platform are greatest enemies of freedoms. Fundamentalist terrorism knows no borders, and must be dealt with before it will be too late.

At the same time one needs put great efforts as to preparing an all-out war on the money transfer. There is no existence to any activity and organizations and other groups without money. He, who really wishes to combat terrorism effectively, must be prepared to exert all energies on the financial roots that support the Apocalyptic Global Jihad Groups. Terrorism is a monumental financial business, with a turnover of billions of dollars. Paradoxically, these funds can solve a significant portion of the social and economic problems in the Arab-Muslim countries. Rich Arab-Oil states fund terrorism as “protection money”, as a payoff in order to appease the threat and to distance it from them. Charity and welfare organizations are the most significant factors in terrorism and incitement, brainwashing the masses with colossal hatred and lies of ignorance.

The West cannot win the war against radical Islam merely with the most sophisticated military strategies. Winning requires understanding the role of Sharī‘ah in developing a global ideological and political movement supported by a parallel “Islamic” financial system to exploit and undermine Western economies and markets. This movement is the foundation and the major funding source for the political, economic, and military initiatives of the global Islamic movement. Sharī‘ah finance is the lethal weapon in the arsenal of Islam. The end goal is to impose that ideology worldwide, making the Islamic Ummah, supreme.

Experts have estimated the Islamist propaganda machine’s bill to be about 100 billion dollars during the last two decades alone, which makes it the largest propaganda machine in history, even larger than the communist propaganda machine during the Soviet era.

Many Arab-Muslim countries, especially Saudi Arabia, transfer funds donated for charitable causes to finance activities of radical Islamic terrorist groups. This method of funding is a pattern of action, as part of the Islamic concept of conducting “a holy war through financial means” (al-Jihād bil-Māl). Ample evidence shows that funds collected for charitable causes, including for the poor and the needy, find their way to terrorist hands.

Most of the activity is done through mosques and the religious institutions, purchased and financed by a huge flow of money: recruitment, socialization, ideological, indoctrination and preparation for and dispatch of terrorist homicide bombings. A cycle of guidance and activity is established, through electronic means and printed material, with internal focus of attention and externalization of the blame to the colonialist infidels.

The British researcher, Adams, proved in the mid-80’s that no organization can survive without funds and the flow of huge moneys. Once the monetary pipeline is closed, the organization is doomed. Money is the lifeblood flowing in the bodies of the terrorist organizations and enables their activity. They need and receive and are dependent on a huge flow of money, and unfortunately they get it. A confrontation in the economic and monetary realm is no less important than the operative military steps. The war on this matter must be conducted ruthlessly and systematically examining all of the Islamic charity organizations, most of which serve as a most vital conduit for the terrorist organizations. One ought not to be impressed by humanitarian and social activity because in practice, most of the money is earmarked for the families of homicide bombers, aid for imprisoned murderers, purchase of real estate and houses for families whose houses were destroyed and directly support of terrorism actions.

The optimal way to deal with terrorism and overcome it is by destroying its economic infrastructure and stopping the flow of money and toughening the control on money laundering. All of the various “charity funds” which work for terrorism must be liquidated, their funds confiscated and their heads convicted of directly supporting terrorism.

The challenge is not only to identify the charity organizations that support terrorism, but to convince the Free World’s governments to work out: to act decisively against banks that cooperate with them and to isolate economically and politically state-sponsored activity.

Last but not least is acting to consolidate international cooperation. This is perhaps the important pre-requisite, the aspired policy, and yet no less elusive issue. In the wake of the September 11, the traumatized world was promised that an international coalition would form, like the one against Hitler and the one against Saddam Hussein, in order to liberate the world from the nightmare of the new Huns. It yet did that not happen, and the march of the folly of irresponsible Western leaders, who are oblivion to the threatening situation, continue. Unfortunately, the free world has learned nothing and internalized nothing, and beyond verbal declarations there is no intention to take substantive action.

Fighting Islamic terrorism effectively is achieved only when the Free World unite its abilities, spiritual and physical. Winning over evil can truly cope with the challenges of the Islamic apocalyptic fanaticism. Paraphrasing Martin Luther King, ‘We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of cooperating against evil.’

Indeed, this is a matter of dead or alive in the case of Islam. Cooperation is really needed policy in the political, intelligence and security realms, with the objective of establishing a consortium of countries combating terrorism. As long as the cartel of ‘Global Jihad Groups’ exists, and the countries threatened by terrorism do not agree on a joint policy, Islamic terrorism will continue to succeed and thrive. The free countries must cooperate, to unite forces in a genuine profound manner in order to facilitate terrorism’s collapse. The war on terrorism is a war of nations supporting freedom against gangs crazed by fanatical ideology, lacking all human compassion and with no human inhibitions to achieving the objective of subduing the free world.

This is a war, which must end with a clear, unambiguous victory, without it the world will return to the darkness of the Middle-Ages, as the researcher Ferguson stress. Europe will not be saved, without American intervention, as it was the situation in two World wars. Thus recommendation of researchers is to consolidate a joint policy, not only concerning intelligence, which is already exists, but especially on the political echelon and the military activity. Otherwise, these fanatics will succeed in bringing their past of the 7th century into the future of our humanity.

Concluding remarks. Islamic Jihad is a worldwide strategic lethal threat. It is a plague, which may set on fire the whole world. If it is not stopped, it will succeed in bringing the Islamic past of the 7th century back to the future of humanity. The battlefield is horrible: any scenario is possible, even the most unimaginative and most unbelievable one: biological, chemical, and atomic warfare is potentially at the hands of fanatics, which are determined to use it. This is the new era of total terrorism, in which there are no human rules and no moral, and there is total de-humanization of “the infidels”.

The gravest mistake is to regard terrorism as criminal phenomenon, which can be solved by social concessions and economic improvements. The second grave mistake is to think that should be a combined policy of fighting terrorism and finding a political horizon. The war against terrorism is total, and the aim is to liquidate it, without any concessions. The third grave mistake is the pervasive despair that one cannot win out this war, and it will continue to be a painful part in modern life. The fourth grave mistake is making a moral equivalence between terrorist perpetrators, who are the total evil, and the counter-terrorist activity of governments. The fifth grave mistake is to deal with terrorism on the judicial ground. If so, it should be executed only in special military courts, and with special judicial procedures of emergency legislation.

The war over Islamic terrorism it can be won out with determination, resilience, and with decisiveness. If one does not initiate, not only the war erupts, but the price in human casualties and suffering will be unbearable. International organizations, negotiations, mediation and policy of appeasement are not only futile and useless, but encouraging these tyrants to continue with their deeds. Defensive measures will not succeed even in the short run. Its threats will definitely grow, and the price needed to fight against it in the future will be much higher.

Since the Free world is under existential threat, military power against brutal and vicious tyrants is demanded and it is crucial to be fought without hesitations and limitations. The natural desire to stability and adherence to peace is justified. But when it comes to paralyze the needed offensive against existential dangers of Islamic terrorism, it becomes a crime. The liquidation the terrorist groups’ leaders at all levels and preventing financial flaw to terrorist organizations are a crucial must.

However, if the Free World continues its oblivious policy as if Islamic terrorism, which has no mercy, no restraints, nor do they obey any basic human laws, is nothing serious, it would be defeated and lost. In the words of Amil Imani, Islam is a formidable enemy in a Trojan horse. Islam is based on hatred and war-mongering with the aim to conquer the world; to submit and subdue humanity; and to bring it back to their 7th century desert. Islam has penetrated the democracies with the aim of replacing civility and liberty with the barbarism of theocracy, and it aims to destroy all the virtues that freedom offer.

Muslims in Western democracies, Imani continues, exhibit incredible audacity as to shamelessly demand that their benevolent hosts surrender their liberties and legalize and adopt the Shari’ah. Once it is recognized, to any extent, it will reach out to submit free society to its laws and rulings. Islam is incompatible with democracy and liberalism; Islam is in total contrast to human rights, freedoms and basic civil liberties. The hydra of Islam is lashing out. It will devour the free world and it assuredly slaughter all who stand against them. Yet, the Free World does not listen; it ignores the lethal hazards; and it does nothing out of paralyzed fear. It is imperative that we fight this lethal danger with the same determination that we fought other enemies of freedom such as Nazism, Fascism, and Communism.

We need a new kind of leadership, committed, courageous, who is not afraid to face the truth, to tell the truth, and to mobilize and motivate for the truth, aimed at fighting back in order to keep our freedoms possibly our existence as free society. The model is the leadership of Winston Churchill in WWII. On May 15 1940, Churchill addressed his immortal speech, to tell his people the truth of “blood, sweat and tears”.

“What is our policy? Our policy is to wage an all-out war against evil and hideous terror very few of it has been existed in the dark history of human crime. You ask what is our objective? The answer is only one word: victory. Victory by all the means and the abilities we can allocate… Because without victory, there will be no existence to our nation… And there will be no power for the generations to come to push mankind forward. Let’s move forward together, with our combined power, and by God’s help we will prevail.”

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How Taliban Victory Inspired Central Asian Jihadists

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Old and young generations of Uighur jihadists

Following the fall of the US-backed Afghan government of Ashraf Ghani on August 15, al-Qaeda-linked Uighur, Uzbek and Tajik jihadi groups widely celebrated the Taliban’s “historic victory” over the “enemies of the Muslim Ummah”. In honor of the Taliban’s rebuilding of the Islamic Emirate, leading Jihadi groups from Central Asia and China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region issued special congratulatory statements, echoed jihadi nasheeds (chants of jihadi glory), arranged a festive feast for their Muhajeers (who immigrated to spread Islam and wage jihad) and gloatingly booed the US military forces leaving Afghanistan on jihadi media.

Turkestan Islamic Party called on all Muslims to unite around the Taliban as one body

Uighur jihadists of the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), formerly known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) from Western China, were one of the first to congratulate the Taliban victory. On August 16, in a statement of the TIP’s Syrian branch, released by its propaganda arm, ‘Muhsinlar’, Uighur militants congratulated the Taliban’s emir Haibatullah Akhunzada and all Afghan fellow believers on the restoration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

Notably, in its statement, TIP ‘discovered’ the root causes of the Taliban’s victory in the Muslim holy book of the Quran, which refers to Surah al-Fatiha “Indeed, we have given you, o Prophet, a clear conquest” (48:1). The TIP further emphasized that “one generation of Muslims have sacrificed themselves for the religion of Allah, for today’s boundless joy and rejoicing.” The Taliban’s victory is “a fruit of long and arduous struggle and God’s big gift to Muslims worldwide”, the statement reads.

The TIP’s Syrian branch has called on all Muslims to make dua’s (invocation of God) for the Afghan Mujahedeen, to cooperate and support their fellows of Taliban. Uighur jihadists emphasized the need for the integrity of the Islamic Ummah, which should be governed only by the rule of the Almighty as one nation and one country. At the end of the statement, TIP noted that “East Turkestan Mujahedeens, as an integral part of the Great Ummah, celebrated the historic victory of the Taliban with boundless joy, and will stand alongside them shoulder to shoulder.”

Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad’s amir Abdul Aziz al-Uzbeki celebrates Taliban victory

It is recalled that ETIM was designated as a terrorist organization by the UN Security Council resolutions 1267 and 1390 on September 11, 2002, for its alleged association with al-Qaeda, its leader Osama bin Laden, and the Afghan Taliban. As part of the “global war on terror,” the US Federal Government designated ETIM as a terrorist organization on August 19, 2002. At that time, China skillfully took advantage of the situation emerging after the 9/11 attacks, achieving the recognition of ETIM as a terrorist group by many members of the U.S.-led “war on terror” coalition.

However, on November 5, 2020, the US Department of State removed ETIM from the blacklist, which provoked a fuming reaction from official Beijing. China on the other hand is pursuing a harsh repressive policy against the Muslim minority in its Xinjiang region detaining more than one million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz in so-called “re-education camps.” Despite the US decision, the post-Soviet Central Asian countries, Russia and China did not exclude TIP from their banned list of terrorist organizations.

According to the latest 2021 UN Security Council’s report, “several hundred Uighur jihadists of TIP located primarily in Afghan Badakhshan and neighboring provinces, whose strategic goal is to establish an Islamic Uighur state in Xinjiang, China.” The report stated that TIP affiliated with both the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and their ties remain “strong and deep as a consequence of personal bonds of marriage and shared partnership in struggle, now cemented through second generational ties.” Moreover, the notorious leader of TIP, Abdul Haq al-Turkestani, has remained a member of al-Qaeda’s elite Shura Council since 2005. For more two decades, the most wanted key Uighur jihadist has been openly loyal to the Taliban’s top leader Haibatullah Akhunzada and the al-Qaeda’s emir Ayman al-Zawahiri. Today, all three top emirs are successfully continuing their faithful jihadi fellowship, skillfully hiding their close relations, and throwing dust in the eyes of the US and its Western partners, tired of the “longest war”.

Thus, it can be assumed that despite the Taliban’s warm relations with the Chinese government after their return to power in Afghanistan, it is unlikely that they will break ties with the Uighur jihadists of TIP. On the contrary, both are expected to remain loyal to the oath of allegiance (bayat). The long relationship between the Taliban, al-Qaeda and TIP has shown that the bayat has a sacred religious value for them.

Taliban is a source of inspiration for Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad

The Uzbek jihadist group Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad (KTJ) on its Telegram channel posted a video congratulating the Taliban on the victory over the most powerful evil empire in the world, which it considers the US. The congratulations were unusual, as the three KTJ leaders via video addressed the Taliban comrades in joint jihad in three official languages of Afghanistan – Pashto, Dari and Uzbek. In particular, the KTJ’s top emir Abdul Aziz al Uzbeki, whom the UN identified as ‘Khikmatov,’ spoke in Pashto, the military commander Sayfiddin in Dari, and the main ideologist of Central Asian Salafi Jihadism, the group’s imam Ahluddin Navqotiy in Uzbek.

Abdul Aziz glorified the Taliban’s victory over the foreign invaders and occupiers as a gift from Allah Almighty to the Ummah. He eulogized the vision of Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s first emir, who once said, “Allah has promised us victory and America has promised us defeat, so we shall see which of the two promises will be fulfilled.” Top Uzbek jihadist further noted that “today, after a long-suffering patience, tireless struggle and great jihadi perseverance, finally came Nusrat (victory) in Khorasan, promised by Allah.” “Because the Mujahedeen are stronger in spirit and faith in God than the invaders, who, despite their military might and immeasurable wealth, fled the country in shame”, concluded Abdul Aziz.

Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad leader Abdul Aziz al-Uzbeki (second right) and KTJ military commander Sayfiddin (second left)

Then, in an emotional speech, the group’s hard Salafi ideologist, Ahluddin Navqotiy, congratulated the Taliban Mujahedeen on behalf of KTJ Muhajeers waging a jihad in Syria’s Idlib province against Bashar al-Assad regime and pro-Iranian radical militias. He expressed confidence that today’s Nusrat of Allah in Afghanistan will become the driving force behind the establishment of Sharia rule in Central Asia.

Noteworthy, the KTJ leader, Abdul Aziz, had close ties with al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, in particular with the Haqqani network. As a native of the Fergana Valley of Uzbekistan, Abdul Aziz made a hijrah (migration) to Afghanistan fleeing the repressive policies of Uzbek President Islam Karimov in the early 2000s. He waged a jihad in Afghanistan as part of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). Then, in 2015, along with dozens of comrade-in-jihad, he split the group and joined the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), a splinter faction of the IMU. At the time, Central Asian jihadists split over the internal conflict between al-Qaeda and ISIS struggling for the leadership of global jihad.

On August 20, 2015, when the IMU officially swore allegiance to the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the IJU followed in al Qaeda’s footsteps and renewed bayat to the Taliban’s emir Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour. In May 2005, a decade before these events, the US government listed the IJU as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization in May 2005.

He belongs to the first generation of foreign fighters from Central Asia, who went through Taliban’s jihadi school in Afghanistan. He gained prestige among the fellow militants as a military strategist, and not as a deep scholar of the Quran or a public orator-ideologist of Salafi jihadism. In 2008-15, Abdul Aziz, along with the IJU’s leadership, was based in the al-Qaeda’s military hub of Mir Ali in North Waziristan. In one of his Jummah Khutbah preaching he admitted that allowing the Pakistani ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) to take refuge in North Waziristan saved the lives of many Uzbek jihadists from the US drone strikes. In 2019, Abdul Aziz made a hijrah to Syrian Idlib province and became the leader of the KTJ group.

Motivations and Strategies of the Central Asian Jihadism

The congratulations from the Central Asian Sunni militant groups to the Taliban were a vivid manifestation of their long-term and tested joint jihadi cooperation, which began in the late 1990s. Thus, Uighur’s TIP and Uzbek’s KTJ complemented a long list of global jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda’s Central Command and its franchises in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), Hurras al-Deen (HD), Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Hamas, congratulating the Taliban on their ‘victory’ over the US and NATO forces.

To celebrate the Taliban’s ‘victory’, Uighur, Uzbek and Russia’s Caucasian Jihadists in Syria also hosted grand feasts for foreign and local Sunni Arab militants and heroized the Afghan Mujahedeen during Jummah Khutbah Sermons. The Central Asian jihadi media widely published photos and videos from these parties and against this background tried to recruit new supporters to make hijrah to Afghanistan and Syria to protect the values of Islam and wage the sacred jihad against the infidels. The dramatic picture of Afghan government soldiers fleeing to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan has made the Taliban and al-Qaeda more attractive for recruiting a new generation of Islamists from Central Asia. Calls to make hijrah, or migrate, to the Taliban’s so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan are also surfacing on jihadist forums. If the Syrian province of Idlib falls, al-Qaeda-aligned and HTS-backed Uzbek and Tajik jihadists’ migration to Afghanistan will be inevitable. The Taliban can easily melt them into Uzbek, Tajik and Kyrgyz societies in northern Afghanistan and use them as leverage over rebellious ethnic minorities.

So, analysis of the jihadist media indicated that al-Qaeda-linked and Taliban-backed Central Asian extremist groups, operating in both Afghanistan and Syria, were deeply inspired by the Taliban’s victory over the pro-Western government of Ashraf Ghani. As a result, small and fragmented Salafi-Jihadi groups from post-Soviet countries have received the biggest boost to unite around the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Consequently, conducive conditions after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan are expected to lead to a resurgence of al Qaeda in the Central Asian region. Latent al-Qaeda sympathizers and other radical Islamists in the “Five Stans” view the restoration of the Islamic Emirate on the other side of the border as the beginning of the great jihad’s revival and the approach of Nusrat. With the decline of ISIS and the rise of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, internal divisions, and inter-group feuds between the jihadist jamaats (group) of Central Asia, sometimes accompanied by bloodshed, are expected to diminish, and the volume of clandestine donations to jihad in the region are also expected to increase markedly.

But the main fear for local authoritarian and corrupt pro-Russian governments is that a Taliban victory could provide a historic boost for Uzbek, Tajik and Uighur violent extremist groups encouraging them in their campaigns to overthrow and replace local regimes. And although the Taliban is viewed by the world community as a Pashtun nationalist jihadi movement, and the Afghan jihad has always been more inward and parochial, nevertheless its ideological influence has always been strong among the Central Asian jihadists.

Despite the fact that the Taliban leadership publicly denies the presence of transnational terrorist groups in the country, a recent UN report revealed that there are about 10,000 foreign fighters in Afghanistan, who are members of al-Qaeda, Uighur’s TIP, Uzbek militant groups Katibat Imam al-Bukhari (KIB), KTJ, IJU and Tajik’s Jamaat Ansarullah (JA). Moreover, some of them took an active part in the recent military attacks against the Afghan army on the side of the Taliban, which led to the rapid fall of Mazar-i-Sharif, the strategically important capital of the Northern Alliance. As we predicted earlier, the Taliban exploited the Central Asian jihadists during the fighting in the north of the country as their “hard power” and political leverage on the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. When the Taliban captured a strategically important security checkpoint near Afghan border with Tajikistan in July, they assigned a Tajik jihadi group Jamaat Ansarullah (JA) to raise the Taliban flag on the site. They also put JA in charge of security in five districts of Afghanistan’s Badakhshan Province – Kuf Ab, Khwahan, Maimay, Nusay, and Shekay – near the Tajik border.

Although the Taliban has repeatedly promised not to allow Afghanistan to be used as a staging ground for any attacks, they will not sever their ties with Central Asian jihadi groups and will not violate the bayat. Uzbek, Uighur and Tajik jihadist groups are expected to maintain a safe haven in Afghanistan under the tacit and tight control of the Taliban. In the jihadist world, bayat or pledging allegiance is a heavy Islamic commitment reaching under the holy gaze of Allah Almighty, and reneging it is considered a serious offence. Therefore, the Taliban has never disavowed the group’s pledge.

In conclusion, the high fighting spirit and ideological strength of al-Qaeda-affiliated Central Asian jihadist groups in Afghanistan is associated not only with the Taliban’s lightning victory, but also with the humiliating and chaotic US withdrawal from the country. One of the Kyrgyz jihadists in Syria wrote on the KTJ Telegram channel that “the honor and dignity of America today is under the Taliban’s feet in front of the great Ummah.” This indicates that a new generation of Central Asian extremists has emerged on the scene of global jihadism, absorbing in itself the al-Qaeda’s Salafi-Takfiri military ideology, and synthesizing it with the Islamist nationalism of the Taliban, based on the common kindred Hanafi’s al-Maturidi Aqeedah (Sunni Islamic theology school). As the US counterterrorism capacity in Afghanistan weakened in the foreseeable future, the terrorism threat from Central Asian region will grow symmetrically for the US and the West as a whole.

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Intelligence

Russia, Turkey and UAE: The intelligence services organize and investigate

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The FSB (Federal’naja Služba Bezopasnosti Rossijskoj Federácii, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation) – created in 1995 from the ashes of the Komitet Gosudarstvennoj Bezopasnosti (KGB), the State Security Committee – is ready for additional responsibilities under the new national security strategy. President Putin’s recent redefinition of the FSB’s role provides some indications on the national security strategy that will soon be announced – a strategy that will affect seas, borders and the security of strategically important intelligence.

On June 1, 2021 President Putin issued a decree outlining the new priorities that will be given to the FSB in Russia’s revised national security strategy, which replaces the one that officially ended last year.

The changes to the Intelligence Service’s regulatory framework, including the peripheral one, provides some indications on the Russian security priorities. Some of the main changes include additional responsibilities for intelligence security, counterterrorism, border control and stronger protection of maritime interests.

Border control and the various references to counterterrorism in its broadest sense – as recently defined by Russia – means entrusting the security service with a number of new areas and tasks, including the redefinition of procedures to detect political radicalisation.

Border control is also strengthened in the revised rules, with FSB border guards acquiring records, filing and storing biometric data and obtaining and processing DNA information obtained during border checks.

The details on access to Russian soil shed light on the Kremlin’s problems with its own fellow countrymen. In the article on the FSB’s involvement in controlling entry into Russia, the decree mentions the “territories requiring special authorisation” such as Transnistria, some parts of Georgia and Eastern Ukraine, and states that the FSB will be involved in a national programme to facilitate the voluntary repatriation of Russians living abroad.

Intelligence is a valuable asset and its security has always been one of the Kremlin’s main concerns. Therefore, the new strategy makes the FSB the leading agency, not just the end user regarding computers, security and telecommunication encryption.

It will oversee and supervise the implementation of the new technological security throughout the community. All this was outlined in December in a law that redefined the role of the FSB’s Centre for State Licensing, Certification and Protection. It will grant licences for the use of “special technical means and equipment intended to receive information secretly”.

The FSB will also examine patents for classified inventions. In addition to its official role in intelligence warfare, the FSB has been tasked with producing more security measures to protect the identity of Russian intelligence agents, and keep the confidentiality of its own officials, officers and soldiers.

The Internal Security Service will also set up a new procedure to inspect agents and individuals entering the army, the intelligence services and the Federal Administration. Using the protection of marine life as an additional task, the FSB will also have increased responsibilities for the seas, including competence and powers over the protection of fishing grounds outside Russia’s exclusive economic zone, the establishment of checkpoints for fishing vessels entering or leaving the zone, and the power to suspend the right of passage for foreign vessels in certain Russian maritime zones.

The Service will also define the structure of operational offices in maritime zones. These measures follow a law adopted last October outlining the FSB’s role in “establishing control and checks in fisheries and the conservation of sea biological resources”.

An important concept in Russian history and life is the silovik. He is a representative of law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, armed forces and other structures to which the State delegates the right to use force. This concept is often extended to representatives of political groups, but also to businessmen, associated with power structures in Russia or formerly in the Soviet Union.

As a jargon term, this word is used in other languages as a broad political term in everyday conversation and in journalism to describe political processes typical of Russia or the former Soviet Union. The etymology of the word is the Russian word sila, meaning strength, force and power.

Trying to renew the aforementioned concept, President Putin provides momentum and injects new impetus into the meaning of this word. After putting the issue on the agenda of the National Security Council of May 28 last, the President is now pushing for the publication of the national security strategy. It has been delayed despite the fact that the Deputy Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation (Sovet bezopasnosti Rossijskoj Federacii), Sergej Vachrukov, had announced it was to be published in February.

As we might commonly believe, the steps to strengthen the Russian secret services are not so much focused on the aforementioned and movie-style “derby” between secret agents, but are mainly targeted to Russia’s traditional “Ottoman” adversary, namely neighbouring Turkey.

President Erdogan’s official meeting with the UAE’s National Security Advisor, Tahnun bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and the renewed ties with Abu Dhabi are the result of behind-the-scenes regional intelligence operations in which the Kremlin wants to see straight and clearly.

While there is still a deep political divide both between Russia and Turkey, and between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, the Turkish President hopes to encourage future Emirates’ investment. Turkish President Erdogan’s unprecedented meeting with the UAE’s national security representative, the aforementioned al-Nahyan, in Ankara on August 18 can be largely attributed to the work of the two countries’ intelligence services over the last few months.

There is a desire to turn a new page after eight years of icy relations, crystallised by the 2013 overthrow of Egypt’s leader Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood’s member close to Turkey and firmly opposed by the United Arab Emirates.  

Steps towards reconciliation began on January 5, 2021 at the Gulf Cooperation Council Summit in al-Ula. The Summit marked the end of Qatar’s isolation, thus paving the way for a resumption of relations between the UAE and Turkey. After the Summit, al-Nahyan flew to Cairo where he met President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who strongly encouraged him to begin a new chapter with Turkey.

At the same time, Egypt’s intelligence service, Mukhabarat al-Amma, engaged in secret talks with its Turkish counterpart, the Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatıı. However, it was al-Nahya’s meeting with the Turkish intelligence Chief, Hakan Fidan, in Cairo a few weeks later that achieved the first results.

That meeting was organized by the Chief of the Mukhabarat al-Amma and by Abbas Kamel, al-Sisi’s regional Director, along with Ahmed Hosni, the strongman of Jordanian Dayirat al-Mukhabarat al-Amma, that King Abdallah II had sent from Amman. Since then, there were eight additional meetings between Turkey and Abu Dhabi, which then led to the aforementioned meeting of President Erdogan with al-Nahyan, with the possibility of holding a future Summit between them.

This rapprochement still has difficulty hiding the deep divide between the two countries on key regional issues such as their respective positions on Syria and Libya, in particular. While they have managed to find some common ground for understanding – ending smear campaigns and trade blockades; resuming visa issuance; direct air links and the return of Ambassadors – President Erdogan and al-Nahyan are simply keeping quiet about their current irreconcilable differences.

Political considerations are put aside to facilitate future UAE’s investment in Turkey.

On August 25, the Emirates’ Group International Holding CO announced it would invest massively in Turkey’s health and agrifood industries, while it seems that the sovereign fund Abu Dhabi Investment Authority is willing to lend Turkey 875 million US dollars.

Is it just business? Russia is investigating.

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Intelligence

Power Vacuum in Afghanistan: A By-product of An Incompetent Geopolitical Contract

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I still recall the evening of December 18, 2011, when I read the news of the last U.S. troops being pulled out of Iraq, that ended an eight-year-long military involvement in the region. Somehow the news instantly gave me an uneasy feeling knowing that a catastrophic storm was awaiting and will mark the beginning of a cataclysmic civil war. Within hours of U.S. military troops leaving the land, Iraqi’s rival Sunni and Shi’ite factions resumed a kind of political infighting that threatened a lurch back into turmoil. Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered an immediate dissolution of his Sunni deputy and issued an arrest warrant for the Sunni Vice President. Not only Sunnis gradually lost the authority of power in the government and security discourse, but the Sunni elites, who challenged Maliki were subsequently either tortured or killed. Out on the streets, after the ISF raided the home of Iraq’s minister of finance, who was also a member of Iraqiya coalition, Sunni protest broke out in Fallujah; and the fire spread across the country. Iraqi Security forces killed between 50-65 civilians on Maliki’s order. This led to the most notorious consortium in the history of global terrorism – an alliance between the Sunnis and ISIS. On July 21, 2013, ISIS initiated a 12-month campaign called the ‘Soldier’s Harvest’ on Iraqi security forces, teamed up with Sunni tribal leaders and former Baathists, and ultimately forcing ISF to evacuate Fallujah and remnants of its government. Soon after, ISIS attacked Abu Ghraib prison freeing up to 1000 minacious inmates, including senior al-Qaida leaders and militants. Empowered and endued with Sunni support, ISIS officially seized Fallujah, parts of Ramadi and Mosul, by June 2014. By gripping Mosul alone, ISIS gained $480 million in stolen cash and armed itself with two divisions’ worth of military weapons and ammunition that were left behind by the U.S. military troops. And, within six months, ISIS became the world’s most well-funded and equipped terrorist group in the world – controlling approximately 100,00 square kilometers of territory across Iraq and Syria at its zenith. Not just the Middle East, ISIS spread its terror tyranny globally as well with strategic attacks on Paris and Brussels.

So, what led to the birth of ISIS? Two words – Power vacuum; and the U.S. policy in Iraq between 2010 and 2011 actively created this geopolitical conditions in which ISIS thrived.

Stages of Power Vacuum – From The Birth of ISIS in Iraq to Rise of The Taliban in Afghanistan

If one thing that we have learned from the U.S led invasion in Iraq is that an incompetent geopolitical contract abhors a political vacuum. In political science, the term power vacuum is an analogy that deconstructs and artificially manufactures power relations and political conditions in a country that has no identifiable central power or authority. In a critical situation like this, the inflow of armed militia, insurgents, warlords, dictators, and military coups to fill this vacuum becomes an organic response, and it comes with a cost – the cost being a noxious civil war and national unrest. On the other hand, a power vacuum can also thrive in conditions following a constitutional crisis where the majority of the ruling government entities resign or are removed, giving birth to an unclear anecdote regarding succession to the position of power. 

What happened in Iraq starting December 2011, and what is happening in Afghanistan today in 2021, is a result of a power vacuum – a by-product of an incompetent geopolitical contract. Twenty years after being forced into power annihilation by the U.S led military bases in Afghanistan, the Taliban is now actively resuming its power as the U.S continues to execute its full exit. Within hours of Joe Biden announcing the official termination of U.S military involvement in the country, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani worded a farewell post on social media, vocalizing that he must leave the country to prevent bloodshed. Today, the only remnant left of his political presence is his departing statement, “Long Live Afghanistan.” With the President fleeing the country, and creating a constitutional crisis of succession to the position of power, what we are witnessing is the manifestation of the initial stage of power vacuum. Soon after the President abandoned the country, the Taliban released a statement declaring that the group has taken over Kabul, a capital city of 6 million civilians, and is working to restore law and order. Considering the reputation of the Taliban – infamous for brutality, repression of women, and execution of religious minorities in the past, the idea of restoration of law and order appears antagonistic.

However, I am not interested in deconstructing the inimical and deleterious ideologies of the Taliban, but unfolding the mechanisms of the power vacuum in Afghanistan. With the Taliban now actively trying to fill this power vacuum created after Ghani’s disappearance, the second stage is at play. The primary question here is not about who will form the national government, but what type of alliance will be established among entities to procure this power. The typology of this alliance – its fundamental values, utility, durability, and workability, will regulate Afghanistan’s democracy and sovereignty in the coming years. If one turns back to 2011 in Iraq, you will recall how the alliance between Sunni tribal leaders and ISIS gave birth to a global terror reign. This was a direct result of abysmal policy deliberation and the abrupt exit of the U.S military troops from Iraq. So, the question is – now that the U.S military troop has ended its twenty-year-long involvement in Afghanistan, what type of alliance will be formed to fill this power vacuum? Will it be as catastrophic as Iraq? As the Taliban continues to coercively occupy the cities, Matthew Levitt, Director of Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy adds, “The possibility is very strong that Afghanistan will have both – a weak government and a government that has a close alliance with the elements of al-Qaeda. To add, there is an element of ISIS, ISIS Khorasan, as well. Although the Taliban doesn’t like them, but as we are witnessing the effort to evacuate people through Kabul airport and the threats of ISIS suicide bombers coming into Kabul, the fact is that the Taliban probably won’t for a very long time have control over all of the city, let alone all of the country. So, there will be an element of a safe haven even for groups that the Taliban doesn’t like – groups and alliances that will use Afghanistan as a base from which to operate and carry out terrorist attacks nationally and globally.” 

It is worth noting that the alliance between the Taliban and al-Qaeda started with its leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, who pledged their allegiance to Taliban leader Mullah Omar in kid 1990s, and accepted Omar as Amir al-Mu’minin (Commander of the Faithful) of all Sunni Muslims. Al-Zawahiri later re-affirmed this pledge to Omar’s successors. Soon after, al-Qaeda gained substantial freedom to operate in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. In return, al-Qaeda doled out money to the Taliban. Since then, to up till now, the alliance between Taliban and al-Qaeda has flourished mutually. Soon after the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda congratulated the group and spoke about their alliance for Kashmir liberation in India. A letter was addressed to the Taliban by al-Qaeda and was shared on Twitter by a journalist. It read, “Allah! liberate the Levant, Somalia, Yemen, Kashmir, and the rest of the Islamic lands from the clutches of the enemies of Islam.”

If this alliance continues to grow stronger to seize power, the probable birthing of one of the deadliest terror organizations is certain – a terror entity that would not only have passive support of the Taliban but would surpass the atrocities committed by ISIS in Iraq. This is a direct result of Biden’s ham-fisted deliberation to exit Afghanistan abruptly, leaving a space to harbor national unrest, the collapse of a democratically elected government, procurement of this political vacuum by insurgents, and brutal violence by the Taliban against its civilians. In short – the fall down of Afghanistan democracy.

The third stage of the power vacuum is yet to mature in Afghanistan. This stage expediates the process of procurement of power, if any of the entities trying to seize power acquires economic funding and gets equipped with advanced military weapons. Jan Pieterzoon Coen, a leading officer of the Dutch East India Company in the 17th century, said, “There’s no trade without war; there’s no war without trade”. He was right. The establishing of power requires a trade that allows an alliance of immaterial ideology between groups and hoarding of material resources (weapons and money)  to execute the ideology. In 2011, the Islamic State armed itself with two divisions’ worth of military weapons and ammunition that were left behind by the U.S military troops. They used these weapons to terrorize the civilians, execute opposition, and expand their captured territory. Another material resource may include stolen or funded cash apart from military machinery. For example, by gripping Mosul alone, ISIS gained $480 million in stolen cash. And, within six months, ISIS became the world’s most well-funded and equipped terrorist group in the world – controlling approximately 100,00 square kilometers of territory across Iraq and Syria at its zenith. So, what we observe here is that the acquisition of economic funding or military weapons gives birth to an effectively exercised political control through coercive means, and internalization of this coercive mechanisms by the civilians. In both cases, the mission is accomplished – an attempt to seize power vacuum by occupying the land and psyche of its civilians. Today, a similar narrative is at play in Afghanistan. The speed with which the Taliban swept across Afghanistan is reminiscent of Islamic State militants taking weapons from the U.S.- supplied Iraqi forces, who like the Afghan Air Force offered little resistance. Grey Myer and Scott Neuman writes, “The Taliban wasted no time in gloating over their new war booty. Photos and video posted to social media show the Taliban posing with captured aircraft, trucks, Humvees, artillery guns and night-vision goggles captured. Such equipment could be used to suppress internal dissent or fight off their rivals. Before the Taliban captured it, the Afghan air force had more than 40 operational U.S.-made MD-530 helicopters. The Taliban has already shown itself ready and willing to use U.S.-made small arms and other technology. Non-weaponry technology like the Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment, U.S. devices containing biometric data, could be used to find potential threats in hiding. I have fallen into the hands of Taliban.” This stage is climacteric

in materializing the procurement of power into a reality. Even if they would be protest in Afghanistan against the rise of the Taliban as the central power, Taliban will use the overwhelming amount of potential weaponry to stifle the dissent and expand their captured territory to places like Panjshir valley.

Who will procure the power in Afghanistan?

The Taliban will eventually seize power, but it would form a weak government, with under-the-table alliance with al-Qaeda; and would potentially foster the inflow and breeding of other groups like ISIS and  ISIS Khorasan in Afghanistan. With opium and rich copper deposits, the international intervention is likely to be seen – motivated by self-interest as opposed to the interest of advocating for civil rest and peace in Afghanistan. Beijing has already held a talk with Taliban officials over the implementation for strategic engagement. It is highly possible that the $25 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project is extended to Afghanistan now that the U.S has vacated the country. Financial support would most likely be delivered hand-in-hand with Beijing’s strongest ally in the region – Pakistan, allowing the Chinese government to persuade the Taliban to sever links with East Turkestan Islamic Movement group, who have executed terrorist attacks in Xinjiang province. On the other side of the border, India – a Hindu extremist governed country, is also in injudicious talks with the Taliban.  Taliban’s close association with al-Qaeda can potentially create a political defilement and unrest in Kashmir, India. This may manifest into border security threat and infiltration of terrorists – manufactured by al-Qaeda, but with the Taliban’s blessings as the central power. To conclude, to think of Afghanistan as a ‘graveyard of empires’ is a zombie narrative. It is being revived to deflect, distract and distort the failure of Biden and the U.S military policies in Afghanistan. The truth is far simpler than we complicate – The creation of a power vacuum in Afghanistan is a direct result of abysmal foreign policy deliberation and the abrupt exit of the U.S military troops. It is indeed a by-product of an incompetent geopolitical contract. Biden’s administration must be held accountable for harbouring a space for demolition of a democratically elected government and rise of the Taliban terror in Afghanistan.

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