The Great Debate

Who gets out when a U.S. embassy closes, and who gets left behind?

By Peter Van Buren
February 12, 2015
Police troopers secure the entrance of the U.S. embassy in Sanaa

Police troopers secure the entrance of the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, Feb. 11, 2015. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Why Yemen is tearing itself apart

By Clive Jones
January 23, 2015
 Army soldier stands near a building destroyed during recent fighting between the army and al Qaeda-linked militants in southern Yemeni city of Zinjibar

Yemen is witnessing another bout of instability, as Shi’ite Houthi rebels seized the presidential palace on Tuesday in the capital Sanaa demanding power-sharing concessions from President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is being held as a virtual prisoner in his residence. In the ensuing chaos, some worry about whether the volatile political situation could end up strengthening al Qaeda.

‘Charlie Hebdo’: High-impact, low-tech tactics add chilling dimension to attacks

By Matthew Green
January 9, 2015

French soldier patrol near the Eiffel Tower in Paris as part of the highest level of "Vigipirate" security

In the aftermath of 9/11, the biggest fear that haunted U.S. counter-terrorism officials was that al-Qaeda or its allies would somehow get hold of a weapon of mass destruction: a biological agent or a nuclear bomb.

In 2015, Vladimir Putin may witness his empire’s death knell

By Strobe Talbott
December 16, 2014

Russia's President Putin chairs a meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi

The year ahead could see the outbreak of the third Chechen war, which, in turn, could be the death knell of the Russian Federation in its current borders. 

What’s between the covers of al Qaeda’s ‘Inspire’ magazine

By Peter Van Buren
September 3, 2014

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Inspire is an English-language online magazine published since 2010 by al Qaeda. I just read the latest issue and found a lot of what I expected, and some things I didn’t.

For once, the situation in Iraq wasn’t caused by an intelligence failure

By Jane Harman
August 14, 2014

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk towards the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, near the Syrian border town of Elierbeh of Al-Hasakah Governorate

President Barack Obama, in an interview earlier this year with New Yorker editor David Remnick, offered an unfortunate comparison. “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate,” the president said, “is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”

Obama’s impossible choices on Iraq

By Bill Schneider
June 16, 2014

Volunteers who have joined the Iraqi Army to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants, chant slogans in Baghdad

Iraq was a bold U.S. experiment in nation-building. It turned out to be a flop.

Gitmo: Too dangerous to release? Not so fast.

By Daphne Eviatar
May 15, 2014

File photo of detainees sitting in a holding area at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay

When the National September 11 Memorial & Museum opens Thursday, we will finally have a national institution dedicated to exploring the effects of the tragic events of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Swift U.S. jury verdict gives lie to Gitmo

By Daphne Eviatar
March 26, 2014

The government’s charges against Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law looked pretty thin. Washington was basically claiming that the Kuwaiti imam had made a few inflammatory speeches — one praising the September 11 attacks and another warning that more attacks on tall buildings were soon to come. It didn’t sound like much, given that the charges were providing “material support” for terrorism and conspiring to kill Americans.

The religion-fueled fight in Syria

By David Patrikarakos
February 19, 2014

The second round of peace talks in Geneva between representatives of Bashar Al-Assad’s regime in Syria and rebel forces has ended with both sides blaming each other for the lack of progress. Beyond the finger-pointing, however, lies a growing danger to the goal of a negotiated settlement. The civil war’s religious divides are widening, making compromise unthinkable.