Category Archives: Middle East and North Africa

A divorce years in the making: Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)

The tendency in international affairs after a dramatic event is to hastily address the question of “what does it mean?”—as if the event represents a pivotal turning point that bends an otherwise steady trend line. Such is the case after … Continue reading

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The Benghazi whodunit: the curious case of Sufian bin Qumu

The same week that the State Department blacklisted three different but identically-named armed groups in North Africa as Foreign Terrorist Organizations, two conflicting reports—a Washington Post story and a New York Times article one day apart—resurrected a related, highly charged … Continue reading

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Book review: “Restless Valley: Revolution, Murder, and Intrigue in the Heart of Central Asia” by Philip Shishkin (2013)

Mao Zedong, the notorious and brutal father of China’s Communist Party, once wrote: “A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, … Continue reading

Posted in Book reviews, Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Middle East and North Africa, Syria, Uzbekistan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book thoughts: “The Dispensable Nation” by Vali Nasr (2013)

A Middle East scholar and former aide to the late diplomat Richard Holbrooke at the State Department, Vali Nasr holds back no punches. His latest book, The Dispensable Nation, rips into the Obama administration—particularly the White House—on one foreign policy … Continue reading

Posted in Afghanistan, Book reviews, Central Asia, Iran, Middle East and North Africa, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Asia, US policy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Defining “success” in proxy arming: the Afghanistan case

As expected, my recent post on arming Syria’s rebels (see here) generated a bit of debate among Notes on the Periphery readers. Danny, among others, made an important conceptual point: in assessing the “success” of four past cases of proxy … Continue reading

Posted in Afghanistan, Central Asia, Middle East and North Africa, Syria, US policy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Arming Syria’s rebels: Will it work?

After two years of cautious restraint, the Obama administration has reportedly directed the Central Intelligence Agency to begin supplying and distributing small arms and ammunition to elements of the Syrian opposition. What pushed President Obama over the edge? The answers … Continue reading

Posted in Afghanistan, Angola, Central Africa, Central Asia, Chad, Latin America, Middle East and North Africa, Nicaragua, Syria, US policy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Libya – A one-sided standoff in Tripoli

It all happened so quickly. On Sunday, April 28 in Libya’s capital city of Tripoli, an unbridled militia armed with machine guns parked their trucks in front of the foreign ministry, effectively surrounding the building. Another group of armed men … Continue reading

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March Madness at Notes on the Periphery!: Part 5 (full bracket)

Over the past month, Will Vogt and I have unveiled an entire “bracket,” modeled off the 68-team format used during college basketball’s final tournament, to provide a short preview of 64 “forgotten” conflicts across the world. In each “regional”—Middle East … Continue reading

Posted in Balkans, Caucasus, Central Africa, East Africa, Europe, Latin America, March Madness, Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, territorial disputes, terrorism, West Africa | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Al Qaeda’s Gamble in Mali

A few years from now, when the first full-length book on Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is written (any takers?), how will it characterize the group’s recent adventure in Mali? My bet: Mali will be described as a … Continue reading

Posted in Al Qaeda, Algeria, Mali, Middle East and North Africa, terrorism, West Africa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

March Madness at Notes on the Periphery!: Part 1 (Europe and the Middle East)

It’s mid-March. Those of you in the United States know what that means: it’s time for the most exciting three weeks of the year—NCAA college basketball’s final tournament. Each year, 68 college teams (annoyingly bumped up from 65 a few … Continue reading

Posted in Al Qaeda, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Balkans, Caucasus, Cyprus, Egypt, Europe, Georgia, Iraq, Kosovo, Libya, March Madness, Middle East and North Africa, North Caucasus, Northern Ireland, Saudi Arabia, territorial disputes, terrorism, Tunisia, Turkey, Western Sahara, Yemen | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments