Less than 24 hours after ISIS-affiliates launched suicide attacks at two Zaydi Shiite mosques in Sana, Yemen, killing more than 130 people, the United States announced it would withdraw its remaining ground forces in the country. The United States closed its embassy in January after Houthi rebels deposed the country’s president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. Despite closure of its embassy and the formal withdrawal of diplomatic personnel from the country, the United States continued to maintain a special operations force operating on the ground in Yemen, attempting to counter what it saw as the growing influence of al Qaeda and ISIS affiliates.
Commentators now worry that the withdrawal of US Special Forces from the country could undermine counter-terror operations in the region and embolden al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQIP).
What do you think? What effect, if any, will the withdrawal of US Special Forces from Yemen have on the region? Will AQIP seek to destabilize the Houthi regime? Will it expand its operations beyond Yemen and target US and Western assets elsewhere? Should the US have withdrawn its forces? Why?
The Jordanian government has intensified airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) forces in Syria, less than a week after ISIS burned a captured Jordanian pilot alive. ISIS has already claimed that Kayla Mueller, an American aid worker in Syria who was captured by ISIS in 2013, was killed in a Jordian airstrike. The Jordanian government has rejected that assertion, maintaining that there is no evidence that ISIS’s claims are true.
Meanwhile, international observers have repeatedly noted that airstrikes alone are unlikely to weaken or dislodge ISIS from its stronghold.
What do you think? Will ground forces ultimately be deployed to combat ISIS in Syria? Will the United States send ground forces to fight against ISIS? Why? Should it? Why?
The official policy of the United States government has long been that it will not negotiate with terrorists. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has numerous hostages, including a Japanese security contractor and a Jordanian pilot. ISIS has demanded $200 million for the Japanese contractor and wants to exchange the Jordanian pilot for Sajida al-Rishawi, a female jihadi imprisoned for her role in a 2005 suicide bomb attack.
What do you think? Should the United States broker negotiations with ISIS to secure the release of hostages held by the organization? Or do such negotiations undermine security in the region? Would you support negotiations? Why?
As calls for Iraq’s embattled President Nouri al-Maliki to resign intensify, the competition for who will replace him have heated up. Maliki’s government has been widely criticized for failing to reach out to the country’s minority Shia and Kurdish population, and the government of the autonomous Kurdish region has even toyed with declaring independence from Iraq in recent weeks. The stinging defeats of Iraqi military forces by militants associated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has left Maliki in a vulnerable position.
As Iraq’s parliament meets, there appear to be several leading contenders to replace Maliki as president. This video from the New York Times provides a brief biography for each of the four leading candidates for the position.
What do you think? Who would be the most effective replacement for Maliki as head of the Iraqi government? Will the new president be more effective in addressing the growing challenge posed by ISIS? Why?