Links to Start Your Week 11/9/14

Asia

A veteran journalist in Afghanistan reflects on the challenges the country still faces and what lies ahead as the U.S. prepares to withdraw. A fun fact I learned: private contractors being paid by the U.S. government have been bribing the Taliban for years, providing a significant source of funding for the insurgency that continues to undermine Afghan stability. There is also a lot of good information in this piece about the recent Afghan elections and the state of Afghan democracy, and about some of the ways reporting on Afghanistan fails.

Africa

In Nigeria, citizens form their own militias to fight Boko Haram. They call themselves the Civilian Joint Task Force, or J.T.F. and are credited with forcing Boko Haram out of a large town in Nigeria. Interestingly, one of their main tactics seems to be capturing militants and turning them over to the government. However, some Nigerians worry the vigilantes will eventually become as big a threat to civilians as Boko Haram, and that the Civilian J.T.F. is committing human rights abuses alongside Nigeria’s military.

In Liberia, one of the countries still facing an Ebola outbreak, the disease has revealed a rift among local church communities. Some blame the outbreak on immorality (and homosexuality specifically,) while others calm for calm and teach about basic ways to prevent the spread of the disease from the pulpit. So basically, it’s a prefect microcosm of how religion can be a force for good or bad in people’s actions.

On a related note, here is a Q&A with a journalist who has been covering the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. There is also a list of organizations working to fight the outbreak, if you are interesting in supporting their work.

And in Sierra Leone, food aid is not reaching people in quarantined neighborhoods. As a result, some are breaking the quarantine to go to markets.

Uganda is investigating claims that some of the soldiers it sent as part of the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia committed human rights abuses, including sexually assaulting Somali women.

Middle East

Some of the Shiite militias supporting government forces in Iraq in the fight against ISIL are also using the conflict as an opportunity to attack Sunni communities. The central government in Baghdad supplies these groups with weapons in exchange for their cooperation in the battle with ISIL. The Shiite majority in Iraq was severely repressed under the regime of Saddam Hussein, a Sunni. After the American invasion, there was a flare-up of violence between the two sects, with the Shiites seeking revenge for decades of abuses. The current Iraqi administration has been accused of continuing to exacerbate those sectarian differences, and is now allowing these Shiite militias to operate with impunity.

There are some hopeful signs that ISIL’s winning streak could be coming to an end.

The United Arab Emirates are playing an outsized role in military operations in coordination with the U.S.

Latin America

Mexican officials say they will follow a recommendation by the country’s human rights court to investigate allegations that soldiers committed extrajudicial executions of 15 suspected gang members in June.

Counterterrorism

This is a really good analysis of why efforts to prevent radicalization among young people in countries like Pakistan often fail.

For the first time, a military detainee held in Afghanistan is being transferred to the U.S. to stand trial in a civilian court. This is very exciting, for reasons I will elaborate in a later post.

Democracy

You probably already know, but…both political parties try to play on your deepest fears to get your vote.

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