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Sudan’s descent into chaos prepares al-Qaeda to return to its historic stronghold



“Sudan’s moment has come; “Chaos is our chance to sow the seeds of jihad.” warned Abu Hudhaifa al-Sudani, senior leader of al-Qaeda, in: October 2022 Manifesto.

His words can have seemed premature then, but in a 12 months brutal civil war has plunged Sudan into the chaos by which terrorist groups thrive. Risk Al-Qaeda is gaining ground in Sudan is now very real and, for my part, threatens not only the country itself, but additionally regional – and potentially global – security.

In April 2023 fighting broke out in Sudan between Sudanese Armed Forces and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, creating an influence vacuum that extremists want to fill.

At the identical time, the Rapid Support Forces are a gaggle that developed under and was once allied The former president of Sudan, who harbored al-Qaeda, Omar al-Bashir – was strengthening your grip in strategic areas similar to Darfur and southern Khartoum.

Actually, each a paramilitary group and the armed forces were accused of recruiting Islamist fighters, fueling fears that the civil war – whatever the winner – will prove to be a foothold for extremist groups.

How defense policy researcher and counterterrorism expert, I’m afraid that Sudan may turn out to be a stronghold of Al-Qaeda and a possible base for organizing attacks on the United States and its allies. The potential takeover of the Rapid Support Force in Sudan could mirror the pre-9/11 situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban was on top of things. facilitated the rise of al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda members are searching possibilities to achieve what they failed to achieve within the Middle East, they’ve already achieved listening to the calls to the top to Sudan.

Decades of riots and extremism

Sudan civil unrest predates current struggles by many years. It caught fire in 1989, when al-Bashir got here to power, uniting the nation with radical Islamist ideologies. He put it on Sharia law and in 1991 protected al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Under al-Bashir, bin Laden established training camps and expanded al-Qaeda’s financial network, Laying the substructure for the terrorist attacks of September 11.

Sudan faces international sanctions for supporting terrorism expelled bin Laden in 1996

However, al-Bashir’s sponsorship of the Janjaweed militia group, the architects Genocide in Darfur in 2003, further strengthened its links with Islamic extremists. Under the microscope, al-Bashir modified its name to Janjaweed because the Rapid Support Force in 2013, appointing former Janjaweed member Mohammed Hamdan “Hemeti” Dagalo as its leader and maintaining his brutal tactics.

The 2021 coup d’état, organized by Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan of the Sudanese Armed Forces and Hemeti of the Rapid Support Forces, soon turned into a coup power struggle between the 2 men, starting the present conflict in Sudan.

Today, under Hemeti’s leadership, the paramilitary group continues its oppressive campaign in West Darfur, engaging in alleged ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Masalit population.

Meanwhile, A attack on the prison in April 2023, which The Sudanese army blamed the Rapid Support Force rebelsfacilitated the escape of al-Bashir’s allies, although the previous president stays in hospital under guard.

Sudan in the guts of jihad

In the face of conflicts within the Middle East and Eastern Europe, the West may overlook the crisis in Sudan and the potential it holds for al-Qaeda, a gaggle that has long harbored ambitions to return to Sudan.

Despite his expulsion, bin Laden continued to emphasize the importance of Sudan in his plans for global jihad. You could see it in his Audio recording from 2006 AND diary entries by which he identified Sudan as a key base of operations.

2023 publication by key al-Qaeda figure Ibrahim al-Qussi entitled “Fragments of Al-Qaeda History” Revealed Bin Laden managed the investment $12 million solely for jihad in Sudan, underscoring the region’s continued importance to al-Qaeda’s goals.

Sudan’s appeal to extremists transcends its connections to bin Laden. Strategically linking North and Sub-Saharan Africa, Sudan is a key location for Islamist extremists searching for to expand their influence across the region.

After US withdrawal in 2021 from Afghanistan and the return of the Taliban to power, Al-Qaeda has re-established a presence within the country, reopening training camps and madrasas.

However, much earlier, Al-Qaeda had long since transformed from a centralized organization in Afghanistan into a decentralized network with branches around the globe – from the Arabian Peninsula to the Indian subcontinent, to sub-Saharan Africa and the Sahel.

Historic ties, recent ambitions

Recent events highlight Al-Qaeda’s increased give attention to Sudan and result from detailed findings expansion plans Sudanese al-Qaeda leader Abu Hudhaif al-Sudani. Bin Laden’s former associate notorious background in Afghanistan and Iraq, al-Sudani issued an announcement renewed connection for jihad.

Following the outbreak of civil war in Sudan, al-Sudani’s 2022 manifesto titled “Now the Fighting Has Begun: War Messages for the Mujahideen in Sudan” not only recommends military strategy targeted attacks and guerrilla activities across Sudan, but additionally a vision of jihad stretching from Dongola within the north of the country to Darfur within the south, with Khartoum because the command center.

Al-Qaeda detailed its threat in a message marking the twenty second anniversary of the 2001 attacks on the United States, promising“It is only a matter of time before the next attack eclipses the horrors of 9/11.”

This declaration together with the group escalates their presence in conflict zones similar to Niger and Libya actively positions them to attack U.S. interests around the globe. Indeed, the 12 months 2022 United Nations Report indicated that al-Qaeda was planning high-profile attacks, likely at sea.

Which would mean an extremist takeover

Al-Qaeda’s potential in resource-rich Sudan mustn’t be underestimated. Historically, the resource-constrained group’s operations in Afghanistan have been devastating; in Sudan, along with his abundance of oil, gold and fertile landtheir capabilities could possibly be significantly increased.

Sudan provides a lucrative base for the one in power. Establishing ties with each side of the civil war would undoubtedly bring enormous financial advantages to al-Qaeda if either side prevailed, in the identical way that al-Bashir ruled a generation earlier.

And Sudan’s access to the Red Sea makes it potentially a fair greater threat than Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

Capturing the Sudanese stronghold could strengthen al-Qaeda affiliates in Yemen, Somalia and the Sahel region, exacerbating regional conflicts and threatening key Red Sea trade routes. Interestingly, a July 2022 United Nations report revealed it Al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch was increasing its naval capabilities.

A resurgence of al-Qaeda capabilities within the region may lead to increased piracy, militarized blockades and unregulated arms flows, escalating tensions within the region and triggering broader geopolitical unrest.

However, because the United States redirects resources and a focus to wars in Europe and the Middle East and countering China, Sudan has apparently fallen off its priority list. Further complicating matters is the undeniable fact that the U.S. response is entangled within the conflicting interests of its Gulf allies supporting different factions within the civil war in Sudan.

The United States, overwhelmed by resource constraints, overwhelmed by competing threats, and worn out by many years within the Middle East, is in a weak position to counter al-Qaeda’s expansion in Sudan.

But as Sudan moves closer to becoming a world center for terrorism, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Historical examples similar to the autumn of Afghanistan to the Taliban and the rise of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria illustrate the potential costs.

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Research country: Birmingham hosts BISA 2024




“So it’s your first time in the UK and you’ve come to Birmingham? “You are poor,” was the conversation on the train. I grimaced as I got off the carriage and had no connection with the sprawling metropolis, often proudly called “England’s second city” by locals. But what I heard was not an unusual reaction from the British when considering “Brum”, a city often treated harshly as being unpleasant to the attention.

The West Midlands (as you would possibly guess, its neighbor the East Midlands, which I visited a couple of weeks ago) is nevertheless an enormous and diverse region, home to almost three million people and a wider metropolitan population of over 4 million. The response of the Swedish visitor from Sweden was reasonably more positive than an Englishman may need expected. She had an exquisite few days and despite the (unsurprisingly) unsettled weather in the beginning of the summer, she was already desirous about returning to those shores.

The guest, an instructional at Lund University (Conversation member institution), attended the annual conference of the British International Studies Association (POWER). It’s a big gathering that draws researchers from all around the world, and that is what attracted me to Birmingham as well. I only managed to survive for someday, coming and going, but my experience was similarly upbeat.

Not Paris

Let’s be honest, when you arrive at New Street station it becomes quite clear that Birmingham shouldn’t be Paris. There is a combination of buildings here, some paying homage to an era of producing and industrial success, lots of them not risk the king’s wrath. And on a somewhat dreary Friday morning in early summer, the excitement that when characterised even towns devoid of great tourist attractions was absent; driven out by Covid and maybe never to return.

However, there was still traffic and plenty of people happening foot or by shiny tram to the central Centennial Square were also heading to the BISA conference. And despite Birmingham’s struggles, the town council filed for bankruptcy last yr – it looks as if it might offer opportunities that other cities haven’t got. Additionally, it stays a wonderful place for a conference.

Birmingham: The late, great Telly Savalas loved this, baby.

Birmingham’s status as a middle of international events can have been shaped over time National Exhibition Center, next to the airport, nevertheless it is within the very heart of the town that there may be now a bustling conference center. There is a posh of conference rooms there wonderful city library, symphony hallAND Exchange, a part of the University of Birmingham (yes, one other member of the Conversation) hosted BISA delegates for 3 days.

Over coffee on the Stock Exchange, Julia Dryden, director and CEO of BISA, introduced me to the size of the event. They organized almost 1,200 registrations and 330 panels, in addition to quite a lot of accompanying events. I only got to a few, nevertheless it gave me insight into research being done in related disciplines.

Artificial intelligence and war

I managed to get entangled in a discussion among the many so-called critical military studies including a debate on the concept of ‘liberal war’, in addition to an enchanting panel entitled Predicting the Future of War: Artificial Intelligence, Automated Systems and the Decision to Recourse to Force, which featured articles from Toni Erskine on the Australian National University and Nicholas Wheeler on the University of Birmingham.

After lunch, for obvious reasons, a session titled Publishing as a PhD Student: Do’s and Don’ts caught my attention. Under the leadership Richard Devetak The University of Queensland has guidance and guidance on how and when early-career researchers can publish. Of course, I used to be keen to listen to their thoughts on moving beyond the academy and having their work appear on platforms like The Conversation.

Marcus Nicholson, formerly a PhD student at Glasgow Caledonian University, duly informed the room that he had written for The Conversation and that this had led to re-publication in national media in addition to interest from broadcasters. Others talked about how blogging and broader involvement in academic journalism allowed them to succeed in a much wider audience and increased the impact potential of their research.

This time it was a fast trip across the West Midlands for me, but my colleague Rachael Jolley, considered one of our international affairs editors, also dropped by earlier within the week, so you may expect to see articles from this yr’s BISA Conference published here.

So I returned to New Street station to catch the train to London and overhear the meeting between the Lund researcher and his fellow passengers. Like them, BISA continues its activities and can gather in Belfast, Northern Ireland next yr. We hope to be there.

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ICC seeks arrest warrants for Benjamin Netanyahu, Yahya Sinwar and other Israeli and Hamas leaders – but unlikely to lead to swift justice




This was requested by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court court judges edition arrest warrants for the leaders of Israel and Hamasresulting from the Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians on October 7, 2023 and the following Israeli siege of Gaza.

Karim AA Khan, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, often called the ICC, – wrote within the statement that he sought arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, in addition to Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Muhammad Deif and Ismail Haniyeh. Khan said each Israeli and Hamas leaders “bear criminal responsibility” for “war crimes and crimes against humanity,” which he detailed within the statement.

ICC allegations against Hamas include extermination, murder, hostage-taking, rape and other acts of sexual violence. The ICC’s charges against the 2 Israeli leaders include ravenous Palestinians in Gaza, “deliberately targeting civilians,” in addition to persecution and “deliberate killing.”

The ICC, an independent tribunal based in The Hague, Netherlands, prosecutes genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes – the latter legal term which incorporates attacks on civilians and other crimes. violations of martial lawSuch as blocking humanitarian aid.

Khan announced an inquiry in November 2023 to investigate Hamas and Israeli suspects following the Hamas attack in Israel that killed 1,200 people and kidnapped lots of more, and Israel’s subsequent war in Gaza, which has to date over 34,000 Palestinians died.

ICC criminal investigation appears right after the famous genocide case which South Africa brought against Israel in December 2023 before one other international tribunal called the International Court of Justice.

But these investigations and courts are different. Although the ICC can conduct trials of individuals allegedly responsible for criminal violations of international humanitarian law, the International Court of Justice is the a part of the United Nations that adjudicates civil and civil disputes. cannot accuse individuals of crimes.

How human rights researcher and international courts, I imagine it’s important to emphasize that the ICC and other contemporary international criminal tribunals would not have enforcement powers of their very own. This signifies that in an Israel-Hamas situation, the ICC may never have the option to arrest the suspects or bring them to justice.

Therefore, these international courts have had mixed experiences in holding senior political and military leaders accountable for their crimes. Only when political leaders lose power is there a probability that their governments will arrest them and hand them over to international courts for prosecution.

Palestinians walk among the many rubble of destroyed buildings in Nuseirat, Gaza, April 29, 2024.
AFP via Getty Images

A challenge for international courts

Take the instance of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been opposing an ICC arrest warrant since March 2023 for allegedly committing war crimes throughout the Ukrainian war. As long as Putin stays in power, there’s virtually no probability of his arrest.

International criminal tribunals just like the ICC have a two-fold problem. First, these tribunals don’t have any real international police force to perform arrests.

Second, governments implicated within the alleged crimes of their leaders often try to obstruct the work of international tribunals by not extraditing suspects and trying to attack the tribunals as biased.

The problem of enforcement, as my scholarship has showncould allow the leaders of a robust country corresponding to Israel or an entity corresponding to Hamas to avoid arrest warrants issued by international courts – provided the suspects remain inside their country or territory.

Israel is in this example just isn’t a celebration to the ICC, meaning that he has never agreed to abide by his judgments or arrest orders and doesn’t otherwise recognize the court’s jurisdiction. The United States and other countries, including Qatar, where a minimum of one in every of the Hamas leaders named in Khan’s arrest warrant lives, are also not members of the ICC and don’t have any legal obligation to make arrests.

If the ICC pre-trial chamber approves Khan’s request for arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Gallant, they’ll have the option to go to meet US leaders in Washington without fear of arrest. But now they’ll likely avoid travel to European Union countries, all of that are a part of the ICC, and will probably be forced to arrest Netanyahu.

All this also can contribute to Israel’s development further international isolation and pressure on his conduct throughout the war.

Issuing arrest warrants for Hamas leaders also risks stigmatizing Hamas internationally.

The United States, which at times strongly opposed the ICC, but also supported the ICC warned the ad hoc court, as was the case within the ICC war in Ukraine case that issuing arrest warrants for Israeli leaders could jeopardize a possible ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas.

Milosevic’s fall from power

Not all arrest warrants fail.

Attempt Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic from the mid-2000s shows how international tribunals might have the option to prosecute alleged war criminals after they lose power.

In 1993, when the war in Bosnia was still ongoing, the UN Security Council established a special court, called the Tribunal for International Criminal Tribunal for the previous Yugoslaviato address crimes committed during regional wars.

This court indicted Serbian nationalist leader Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in 1999 throughout the ongoing war in Kosovo. Milosevic’s alleged crimes in Kosovo include a large ethnic cleansing campaign against Kosovo Albanians, the country’s largest ethnic group. Milosevic later faced additional charges for alleged crimes in Bosnia and Croatia.

However, when the indictment was issued, Milosevic was still in power and his government protected him from arrest. Milosevic lost the presidential election in late September 2000 and after widespread protests he gave in.

The United States promised the brand new democratic government in Serbia significant economic aid to speed up post-war recovery. This helped persuade the Serbian government to accomplish that arrest Milosevic and then move it to international tribunal in June 2001.

People are holding loudspeakers and standing in front of a black and white photo of a man looking very serious.
Relatives and supporters of hostages held by Palestinian militants in Gaza chant during an indication calling for their release on April 27, 2024.
Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images

A possible handbook for the leaders of Israel and Hamas

Milosevic trial was launched in February 2002but he died in prison in 2006, shortly before the top of the trial.

His trial continues to reveal that, under certain circumstances, international courts can overcome their lack of enforcement powers and bring high-level suspects to justice. International political pressures and incentives often play a pivotal role on this process.

As long as any political and military leaders facing potential arrest remain in power, it is probably going that no amount of political pressure or guarantees will persuade Israel, Qatar or other countries to cooperate with the international court and hand over any leaders in the event that they are indicted.

History also shows that even when Hamas leaders are overthrown or Israeli leaders lose the elections, there isn’t a guarantee that potential suspects will ever face the ICC.

There is broad public opposition to the ICC in Israel, encompassing politicians across the political spectrum condemning Khan’s request for arrest warrants.

Despite the undeniable fact that Khan can be searching for to prosecute Hamas leaders, Israeli politicians reacted to the ICC’s decision indignant requests for arrest.** Moreover, a minimum of within the short term, it is very unlikely that the United States will apply to its close ally, Israel, the identical pressure that it successfully applied to Serbia over the arrest of Milosevic after his fall from power.

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No matter who wins, both Biden and Trump will likely agree on one thing: doing less in the Middle East




Before the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan he founded that the Middle East was “more peaceful than it had been for decades.”

This is after all not valid. Instead, the heartbreaking state of affairs in the region has inflamed tensions and inspired generation-defining protests around the world.

These concerns have led many to ponder whether the Biden administration’s Middle East policies will ultimately achieve this impair the president’s November re-election campaign against former President Donald Trump.

Eventually perhaps. But even when the occupant of the White House changes, US policy towards the region will largely remain unchanged. That’s because both Biden and Trump will do all the things in their power to realize what Sullivan hoped for: an ultimately more peaceful Middle East.

Cross-party support for coalition constructing

No single U.S. initiative will be more crucial to making sure a more peaceful Middle East than strengthening ties between regional partners. The foundations for construction have already been laid Abraham AccordsArab-Israeli normalization agreements initiated by the Trump administration and adopted by the Biden administration.

The fruits of such efforts became visible when a various coalition – consisting of the US, France, Britain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel – collaborated to shoot down 300 Iranian missiles fired at Israel on April 13. Tehran’s first direct attack on Israel in its decades-long shadow war.

The coalition’s collective response marked dramatic progress toward a long-term and bipartisan U.S. goal for the Middle East: a level of regional cooperation and stabilization that will ultimately enable U.S. downsizing.

As much as Trump may not have appreciated some US alliances, like his predecessors, it’s secure to assume that whoever occupies the White House next yr will likely seek to construct on these regional alliances. There are many reasons.

Rockets are carried in trucks during the April Army Day parade at a military base in northern Tehran.
Vahid Salemi/AP

Iran’s actions remain unchanged

First, the scope and severity of Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region has only increased.

Iran’s proxy militant groups in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Gaza have demonstrated unprecedented levels of aggression in recent years. His at issue whether Iran was fully aware of the October 7 Hamas attack, but Tehran undeniably continues to financially support the group.

Iran has behaved no less aggressively. In addition to the unprecedented attack on Israel in April, it included:

Israeli-Arab ties persist

Second, Iran’s behavior undoubtedly contributed to this stronger bonds between Israel and the Arab world. Although such bonds survived quieter since the starting of the war in Gaza.

Jordan’s King Hussein, who rules over a largely Palestinian population, could also be a vocal critic of Israel’s conduct in Gaza, but he nonetheless advantages from record amounts of Israeli gas and desalinated water being directed to his energy-poor and water-stressed country.

The Egyptian economy may be very dependent on Israeli energy that the Egyptians survived constant blackouts when Israel briefly restricted gas exports at the starting of the war.

The United Arab Emirates and Israel deepened their trade, political and military ties only after they ended latest Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement got here into force last yr.

Although the UAE has repeatedly condemned Israel for its actions in Gaza, the reality is that the trade is two-way increased by 7% in the first quarter of 2024

Both Trump and Biden want to depart the Middle East

Finally, and perhaps most significantly, both Republicans and Democrats agree on the have to shift U.S. attention and resources to the Indo-Pacific region. This has not escaped the attention of American partners in the Middle East.

That’s why the Biden administration both supported and continued the Trump administration’s two most significant diplomatic initiatives in the region – the Abraham Accords and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

The reason is the long-held bipartisan belief that the United States shouldn’t expend more resources – or worse, lose more US lives – in the Middle East.

In Gaza, Trump did it he insisted Israel to finish his actions by saying:

Israel needs to be very careful since you lose lots of the world, you lose lots of support.

The Biden administration’s public and private calls for Israeli restraint in Gaza make it clear that the Biden administration can be not interested in further entanglement in the Middle East.

Regardless of who wins in November, both Trump and Biden can be irritated if the Israeli-Hamas war continued in January 2025. They would even be equally concerned if Hamas resumed attacks on Israel. But neither is willing to spend greater than the bare minimum of political capital to resolve the situation.

In the era that the United States finds itself in produce more own energy and the USA fear of terrorism are decreasing, American residents and politicians would like that allies in the Middle East maintain their very own security.

US Marines in Baghdad.
U.S. Marines on watch on the grounds of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2020.
Kyle Talbot/US Marine Corps/EPA Flyer

The United States’ role in the region stays integral

Despite the United States’ desire to withdraw from the region, the next president still has a key role to play.

The normalization of Saudi-Israeli relationsfor instance, is undoubtedly the most significant goal of the Abraham Accords. And that will prove difficult and not using a binding U.S. security guarantee for Saudi Arabia, a Saudi-U.S. civilian nuclear agreement, and increased U.S. support for an independent Palestinian state.

The U.S. military presence in the region will also proceed to play a key role in uniting a various coalition of nations opposing Iran’s growing influence. After all, it was the extensive coordination of U.S. Central Command that enabled the international response to Iran’s April 13 attack on Israel.

The United States’ future role in the region can best be described as “leading from behind” – although no U.S. president has said it and probably never will say it directly.

Instead, the winner of November’s elections will publicly defend regional “stability.” On this front, strengthening the regional coalition will remain the foremost strategy – and may ultimately develop into the basis for peace.

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