News Round Up
May 26, 2012 § 2 Comments
I tried to do a news round up of relevant, well-written stories regarding NGOs and the private sector, but truthfully I haven’t found anything this week that’s saying much new – any suggestions? So instead of focusing on our blog’s theme, I’m going to rehash the best stories I’ve read this week and recommend them to you, dear readers.
Yemen and Foreign Aid (Waq al Waq) - Observations from a Yemeni observing the aid culture in Yemen and asking those involved with aid to be more honest about the shortcomings.
“Furthermore, a recently raising NGO trend in Yemen is dealing with the vitally important issue of implementing the rule of law. Nevertheless it’s interesting how many organizations (national and international) act as if they are dealing with a blank slate while having a goal of building a state irrespective of what existed before in their targeted regions. They view existing traditional platforms as anachronistic and in need of an absolute deconstruction.
Personally speaking, that doesn’t make any sense simply because the only institutions that tend to be viewed as legitimate and effective in many post-conflict and developing contexts like Yemen are those informal institutions with traditional structures.”
Me Against the World (Foreign Policy) – Everyone’s reading and tweeting about this article, but for good reason – it’s fascinating. A look at al Amriki, what he went through to join al Shabaab and his strategy for survival: hoping the group will dissolve before they kill him.
His fascinating 127-page autobiography was packed with detail about everything from Hammami’s childhood in Alabama to the various types of biting insects and bowel movements he encountered upon coming to Somalia. It’s also filled with details about the torturous training that recruits (in particular, foreign recruits) were made to endure. Hammami doesn’t complain per se, even when he recounts being beaten in his genitals and starved on forced marches, but these are passages that aren’t likely to be seen as generous to al Shabaab. But, in order to avoid making Hammami’s current situation any worse, the narrative (billed as “Part 1″) stops in 2007, when al Shabaab first emerged as an organization distinct from its predecessor, the Islamic Courts Union. References to Hammami’s current plight were oblique at best, and media reports understandably failed to pick up on them.
The Evidence of Jihadist Activity in Syria (Combating Terrorism Center) – Important policy implications across the board. One I picked up on – if foreign fighters really are infiltrating into Syria, Assad’s likely to use that as an excuse to continue to hammer the opposition groups. Not that he wouldn’t do it anyways, but if foreign jihadists are now there or trying to get in to fight against him, it lends unfortunate credibility to what he says (not that this in any way excuses anything that’s happened there). (Sidebar: I saw on Twitter today that Russia sent arms to Assad’s troops (more arms that is)? Perturbing if you’re one of Russia’s revolutionaries, as well as being morally abhorrent).
First, a jihadist organization called Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) has been publicly declared in Syria and adopted al-Qa`ida-like tactics and modes of distributing propaganda.
Second, al-Qa`ida’s amir, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has called for violence in Syria and jihadist intellectual leaders have echoed his message.
Third, important non-jihadist, Arab voices advocate privatized action to overthrow the al-Assad regime and have framed the struggle as opposition to “occupation,” discourse that jihadists believe substantiates their calls for violent jihad, not just localized resistance to a corrupt government.
Fourth, there are already credible reports of foreign fighters attempting to infiltrate Syria, including a number reportedly affiliated with jihadist movements.
Fifth, al-Qa`ida has an active affiliate in neighboring Iraq that has longstanding logistical capabilities in Syria.