Sunday, April 27, 2014

ISIL Just Hates Everyone, Don't Take It Personally

I've written a few times in the past about the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and how the organization is currently in conflict with other insurgent groups in Syria. ISIL/ISIS for whatever reason has appeared to decide that if you are not in that specific organization, then you must be the enemy. I wonder how many resources and personnel have been used up by infighting between ISIL, Al Nusrah Front, the Free Syrian Army, etc. It boggles my mind and does nothing but help out the Bashar al Assad regime.

ISIL apparently isn't making many friends in Iraq either where they've stepped up their game in recent months and have control over much of the Al Anbar Province. ISIL has pushed into other Sunni dominated provinces where they've come into conflict with not just the Iraqi Security Forces but the various other insurgent groups who I recall quite fondly: Ansar al Sunna, 1920's Revolutionary Brigade, and my personal favorite, Jaysh Rijal al Tariq Naqshabandia.

I won't go into the boring details, but if you're interested, Joel Wing over at Musing On Iraq explains the situation as best as anyone using open source can.

Seriously, now long before the US is back in Iraq?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Philippines Goes On the Offensive

Earlier this month I wrote about the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front insurgent group signed a peace agreement. I saw this as good news and although there are still a few other insurgent/terrorist groups operation in the Philippines, the agreement will most likely lead to peace in the southern portion of the country in the long term.

Apparently, it's also freed up the government to allocate resources to going after Abu Sayyaf, the Al Qaida linked terrorist group known to conduct attacks in the Philippines. On Friday, the government launched an operation to capture Puruji Indama, a commander in Abu Sayyaf. This led to a day long gun battle in which 3 militants and 2 soldiers were killed. Yesterday, police conducted a raid targeting an Abu Sayyaf linked kidnapping cell, a raid which led to the detainment of a MILF commander (don't giggle).

Abu Sayyaf will likely retaliate shortly and I have no idea how the MILF will react to the arrest of one of their commanders, but it appears that the government has the upper hand along with the initiative for now.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Afghan Elections: 2014 Edition

Credit: Reuters/Mohammad Ismail

Last Saturday, Afghanistan held presidential elections to determine who will next lead the country...or at least determine who would be on the ballot for the inevitable run-off elections. I had my concerns about violence and voter turnout. In the last elections voter turnout was reportedly low. There was also plenty of reporting leading up to April 5th that indicated that the Taliban was doing everything it could to prevent people from voting and to de-legitimize the elections.

Happily, election day saw a relatively low level of violence and about a 58% voter turnout. Not great, but also not bad for a country where ballots have to be brought in by donkey in many areas.

The day wasn't perfect, however, as more remote districts and districts heavily influenced by the Taliban saw an extremely low turnout. But to be perfectly honest, this was expected and I'll take what I can get in Afghanistan. The government had even closed about 1,000 polling centers, or approximately 1/8 of the places people could vote due to insecurity in those areas.

But as I said, this isn't a developed nation free of violence and 58% turnout is pretty damn good. This good news was improved when I learned two key Taliban leaders in the area that my section is focused on blew themselves up attempting to attack a polling center.

So now that April 5th is done and in the history books, I wait patiently for a few weeks for the official count to be announced...which as I stated above, will likely just lead to a run-off between two or three of the candidates; and who knows how that will go.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

MILF Agrees To Give Up Toys...I Mean Weapons

I don't post enough "good" news on this blog so here's something good that has occurred in the past few days (not an April Fools joke). The Philippines has signed a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. If you are not aware, the MILF (greatest insurgent acronym ever) is the largest Muslim insurgent group in the Philippines and has been fighting the government for the past 40 years or so for the right of self determination on the island of Mindanao.

According to the agreement, the MILF gives up its weapons and the government gives Mindanao more autonomy. It's a decent deal and hopefully this ends the violence in that part of the Philippines. However, of concern is the splinter group  Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters which has claimed it will keep fighting, although I see them dying out with this agreement. There's also the Al Qaida linked Abu Sayyaf that operates in the area.

But I'm going to chalk this one up as a win and see the world as just a little bit safer. In celebration I'll post something that I haven't posted in awhile:

That's right! A cute fucking puppy!