It has certainly been a harrowing week, especially for current residents of the Boston area—including myself. As far as we know now, the Boston Marathon bombers were Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, ethnic Chechen brothers born in Kyrgyzstan with family in the war torn Russian provinces of Chechnya and Dagestan. They both lived in Boston at the time of the bombings. You can read a decent profile of the brothers here, an account of the Friday manhunt that eventually nabbed both brothers (one alive, one killed) here, and some good analysis on the current situation in Chechnya/North Caucasus (which may or may not have motivated the Tsarnaev brothers) here and here.
That said, many other notable events occurred around the world this week. So, the usual roundup below!
Somalia: The week began with another terrorist attack on Sunday: a coordinated assault by al-Shabaab militants in Mogadishu that killed more than 30. It was the deadliest attack on the capital city since Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s government began last September.
Mali: In a blow to the African forces attempting to preserve the peace in Mali, Chadian President Idriss Deby announced his country’s 2,000 troops (effective fighters engaged in sweeps with French forces in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains) would pull entirely out of Mali shortly. The announcement came two days after three Chadian soldiers were killed in a suicide bombing in Kidal.
Le Monde has an interview with President Deby here (in French).
Nigeria: In a good news story, the French family of seven kidnapped in Cameroon two months ago has been released. They were thought to have been held by either Boko Haram or Ansaru (a BH-offshoot) in Nigeria.
Jacob Zenn has a short blog post on Boko Haram recruitment strategies here.
Niger-Burkina Faso: An International Court of Justice ruling resolved a long-standing border dispute between Niger and Burkina Fao.
Central African Republic: Tensions are high in the CAR capital of Bangui after clashes between Seleka rebel forces and local youths over the weekend killed more than 17.
Meanwhile, after rebel leader Michel Djotodia was elected president by an acting “parliament” in the CAR, Central African states endowed the new government with its blessing of recognition. However, representatives at the regional summit in Chad also voted to boost the number of regional troops in the CAR to 2,500—suggesting they do not yet trust the new government’s capacity to preserve the peace.
Middle East and North Africa
The Institute for the Study of War has a new report titled “Maliki’s Authoritarian Regime.”
Yemen: Bernard Haykel has a short piece analyzing Yemen’s military transformation.
AQIM: The North African Al Qaeda branch answers questions from reporters via Twitter here.
Pakistan: The Frontier Post reports on the latest in the government offensive to clear the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) from the Tirah Valley.
Compared with its much more prominent brother—the TTP—the insurgency in Balochistan gets far less press. Fortunately, Carnegie Endowment gets us up to speed with a lengthy report here.
CSIS has a new, lengthy report on “Trends in Militancy in South Asia.”
Philippines: Isnilon Hapilon, leader of the AQ-linked Abu Sayyaf Group in the Philippines, was injured in a government offensive on the island of Mindanao. The United States has placed a $5 million bounty on his head.
Kosovo: Extremely good news in the Serbia-Kosovo talks, which finally saw an EU-administered breakthrough. In exchange for some autonomy for northern Kosovo’s ethnic Serbs, a Serbian negotiating team essentially agreed to accept Kosovo’s independence. The agreement is not yet set in stone, but the breakthrough suggests the end is near.
Ironically, the LA Times ran an article just one day before the Boston Marathon bombings outlining the decline in US interest in counterterrorism expertise.