Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from January 29, 2013

Ferocious, Weak and Crazy: The North Korean Strategy

North Korea's state-run media reported Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered the country's top security officials to take "substantial and high-profile important state measures," which has been widely interpreted to mean that North Korea is planning its third nuclear test. Kim said the orders were retaliation for the U.S.-led push to tighten U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang following North Korea's missile test in October. A few days before Kim's statement emerged, the North Koreans said future tests would target the United States, which North Korea regards as its key adversary along with Washington's tool, South Korea.

North Korea has been using the threat of tests and the tests themselves as weapons against its neighbors and the United States for years. On the surface, threatening to test weapons does not appear particularly sensible. If the test fails, you look weak. If it succeeds, you look dangerous without actually having a deliverable we…

The Rise of Radical and Nonofficial Islamic Groups in Russia’s Volga Region

In the two decades since the dissolution of the USSR, Russian and Western experts, human rights activists, and journalists have become accustomed to the political violence of the North Caucasus. Terrorist bombings and acts of sabotage in Dagestan, Ingushetia, and Chechnya are perceived as somehow intrinsic to the region. But a recent tragedy in the Volga region suggests that this sort of violence—and the Islamist terrorists who perpetrate it—may not be confined to the Caucasus. On the morning of July 19, 2012, simultaneous terrorist attacks wounded the Tatarstan chief mufti, Ildis Faizov, and killed Valiulla Yakupov, the former deputy chairman of the Tatarstan Spiritual Board of Muslims (TSBM), a well-known Islamic theologian and public figure and one of the most consistent opponents of what Russian politicians and media refer to as Wahhabism. For the first time, official Islamic religious leaders from outside the North Caucasus became victims of Islamist terrorism. Three months late…

French-led troops regain Timbuktu from rebels

Malian and French troops enter the ancient city of Timbuktu, but one northern town remains in rebel hands

French and Malian troops have taken control of the historic Malian city of Timbuktu, after rebel occupiers fled the ancient Sahara trading town and torched several buildings, including a priceless manuscript library.

The French-led coalition troops were welcomed by residents of the town, AFP news agency reported with some residents saying that the rebel fighters had left the city several days ago.

"The Malian army and the French army are in complete control of the town of Timbuktu. Everything is under control," a colonel in the Malian army told AFP on condition of anonymity.

A French military source said there were fears they could have dotted the city with mines, adding that they were in the process of "securing" it.

Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland, reporting from Timbuktu said that the streets were almost empty when the coalition troops arrived.

"As we got deep…