The War on Terror

We have recently had a request for a post on the war on terror… Anyone is able to request a post idea by emailing me at digestiblepolitics@gmail.com – thanks :) This topic is clearly very extensive, but of great interest and importance, so please read, enjoy and share!

This phrase, the war on terror, has been popularised by ex-president George Bush as a result of the 9/11 attacks in 2001. These attacks mobilised many countries to eliminate a number of terrorist organisations, including Al-Qaeda. This term is no longer used by Obama’s administration, but they have a similar objective of combatting terrorism by using a different phrase: Overseas Contingency Operation.

Terrorism before 9/11

Al-Qaeda can be seen to have originated from the Soviet War in Afghanistan (1979-89). In this war the USA, UK, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and China gave their support to the Islamist mujahadeen guerillas who were fighting against the Soviet Union and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. In the 1990s Al-Qaeda developed following sponsorship by Osama Bin Laden in the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders (WIFJAJC). In 1998, Bin Laden declared war on the West and Israel. Later in 1998, the embassies of Kenya and Tanzania were bombed, leading to Bill Clinton – the then US president – commenced Operation Infinite Reach which aimed to bomb locations in Afghanistan and Sudan where members of WIFJAJC were believed to be. However, this operation was deemed a bit of failure as no leaders of WIFJAJC or the Taliban were killed. Just before 9/11 there was the 2000 millennium attack plots, which included an attempted bombing in LA airport and the USS Cole (a military ship) bombing. 

Objectives

The Authorisation for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF) was brought into US law within a week of the 9/11 attacks. It allowed the American military to use any necessary force against those responsible for the attacks.  Bush defined the war on terror as having the following objectives:

- Defeat terrorists and their organisations

- Identify, locate and demolish terrorists along with their organisations

- Deny sponsorship, support and sanctuary to terrorists

- Diminish the underlying conditions that terrorists seek to exploit

- Defend citizens at home and abroad

terror

Military Operations

Operation Active Endeavour = NATO operation to stop movement of militant/weapons in mediterranean

Operation Enduring Freedom = this is what the Bush administration called the war in Afghanistan, alongside 3 smaller global conflicts explained below:

Afghanistan = US demanded the handing in over Bin Laden, but they refused after the US did not give evidence that Bin Laden was linked to 9/11. So, war was commenced with Taliban in Afghanistan, forcing the Taliban out of the cities to the more mountainous areas of the country. Operation Anaconda set up to kill any remaining Taliban in certain mountainous regions leading to heavy Taliban casualties. The Taliban regrouped in west Pakistan and have since kept the pressure on the USA, UK and other coalition forces. In 2010, Operation Moshtarak established to finish off the Taliban. Today, it is hoped forces will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of the year.

Philippines = In 2002 forces were sent out to help the Armed Forces of the Philippines in their conflict against Filipino Islamist groups.

Horn of Africa = Although there is no specific goal, forces have been deployed here to prevent disruption and militant activity. A group called Task Force 150 was set up to control, inspect and stop shipments, if they wish, from entering the Horn of Africa. It was reported in 2006 that Bin Laden was said to have told militants to set up an Islamic state in Somalia and if anyone intervened Al-Qaeda would fight against them. Issues of terrorism (especially linked to Al-Qaeda) have continued to this day with far too many incidents to report here.

Trans Sahara = Counter-terrorism efforts and the control of arms/drugs trafficking has been set up. January 2012 saw the start of the conflict in northern Mali with islamic militants trying to overthrow the government. In January 2013 France sent troops to the area and launched Operation Serval, which aimed to remove the radical Islamists from the area.

Iraq

Since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait countries have dramatically increased their concerns of terrorism in Iraq. A no fly zone was set up by US forces but after Operation Desert Fox (1998) Iraq said they would no longer respect the no fly zone and simply shoot down US aircrafts. Ex-president G.W.Bush sent people into Iraq to locate weapons of mass destruction and destroy them. However, it was said that they could find no weapons of mass destruction. In 2003, war was declared on Iraq. Although the main combat was believed to be over within 2 months, terrorist groups contributed to an even greater number of casualties than the initial invasion. At the end of 2003 Hussein was captured and was later killed in 2006.

Pakistan 

After the 9/11 attacks the then president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, declared he was on the side of the USA against the Taliban in Afghanistan. In 2002, Musharraf gave a speech stating his opposition to Islamist extremism and said he would contribute to stop it. A number of US-Pakistan operations led to the capturing of a number of terrorists. In 2004, the Pakistan Army sent int 80,000 troops to one location of Pakistan to remove Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations from that region. Drone attacks and on-foot conflict still exists in this region with an estimated 15 US deaths here. On 2 May 2011 Bin Laden was killed by the US special operations forces in Pakistan.

Yemen

Al-Qaeda are also prominent in Yemen and a number of military strikes have been made against members of the organisation there.In counter terrorism efforts the US government has provided millions of dollars of support to combat terrorism here.

afghan

International military support

The war in Afghanistan began with the USA, UK and the Afghan Northern Alliance. Later Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand and Norway (amongst others) joined the war. Less than 24 hours after 9/11 it was said the attacks were against all 19 NATO member state countries. NATO also set up Operation Active Endeavour explained above. Pakistan also joined the US on the war on terror, especially seen in the Waziristan War in Pakistan.

International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)

NATO set this up in 2001 to assist the establishment of the first post-Taliban elected government. In 2006 ISAF said they would replace US forces in the area as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Attacks since 9/11 by Al-Qaeda (non-exhaustive list)

- 2002 bombing in Bali, Indonesia

- 2003 Istanbul bombings

- 2004 Madrid Train Bombings

- 7 July 2005 London bombings

- 2007 Glasgow International Airport Attack

- 2011 Marrakech bombings

- 2012 US Consulate attack in Benghazi

Failed Attacks

- 21 July 2005 London Bombings

- 2006 Hudson River bomb plot

- 2007 John F. Kennedy International Airport attack plot

- 2010 cargo plane bomb plot in USA

- 2013 VIA Rail Canada terrorism plot

Post 9/11 in the USA

In 2002 the US Department of Homeland Security was set up to protect the USA. The USA Patriots Act 2001 allowed law enforcement agencies greater access to personal information, ease intelligence gathering, and makes it easier to deport immigrants etc. However, some interest groups have said such powers encroach civil liberties. In 2005 Bush gave a speech stating that over 400 people had been charged, with over half being convicted, of offences as a result of the Patriots Act. By 2003, 12 major conventions/protocols were set up to continue making changes to combat terrorism. A Continuity of Operations Plan was established so the country/government could continue to run smoothly in case any major event happened.

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Casualties

There are no exact number of casualties since the war on terror began but there are some predictions:

- In Iraq it is estimated that between 100,000 and 1 million people have died – a clearly very wide estimate coming from a wide number of sources! E.g. compare the statistics of the Iraq Body Count Project to the Opinion Research Business poll.

- In Afghanistan it is estimated between 10,960 and 49,600 people have died

- In Pakistan it is estimated between 1,467 and 2,334  were killed in drone attacks since 6 May 2011, whilst tens of thousands have been killed by terrorist attacks

- In Somalia there has been an estimated 7,000+ deaths

Costs

Official documents are not often – if at all – released. But in a congress report in 2011 estimated spending on the war on terror in the 2011 fiscal year at $1.2 trillion. However, a different academic report estimated it to be closer to $2.7 trillion.

Is the war on terror over?

Some said that Obama’s speech on May 23, 2013, marked the end of the war on terror as it appeared to sound like a speech declaring the mission had been accomplished. One analyst, Peter Beinart, suggested that most people thought the war on terror was over.

Do you think the war on terror is over? What are your views/concerns about terrorism?

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NEW YOUTUBE CHANNEL UP AND RUNNING!

Here is our first video! It describes the First Past The Post electoral system… Please like, share and comment!

We would love to hear feedback on how to improve or what you liked :)

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Ukraine Violence – Your Questions Answered!

Why are there protests?

The citizens are greatly concerned about the direction their country (Ukraine) is heading. It is not yet known whether Ukraine will be a country that will adhere to the rule of law or will be a country that is run like Russia in a very closed fashion.

The original trigger for the protests was the result of the President,  Viktor Yanukovych, rejecting the possibility of a stronger relationship with the European Union in favour of closer links with Russia, last year. A majority of the country’s population wants to integrate with Europe (as Ukraine is currently not a member state), so this was a major upset.

protest

2014

This week violence is at an all time high in Ukraine, however it is uncertain whether it started as a result of the government’s actions or the action of the people. Things were believed to be going well, especially as a deal had been made between the protesters and government that their parliament would discuss plans to alter the constitution to limit the president’s power. However, the speaker of the Ukrainian parliament rejected this, which subsequently lead to the protesters becoming increasingly violent.

Who is protesting?

Most protests have occurred in Western Ukraine and Kiev as these areas have people who most want to be part of the EU. Although there has been protests in the East many citizens are Russian speaking and not concerned. Although the opposition parties have been trying to direct the protesters, they do not seem to be very successful in gaining the trust of those protesting.

What is in it?

Russia wants to be a country that can challenge the large global economic powers, such as China, the USA and the EU, so seeks to create a close tie with Ukraine so the country can work towards that goal. However, alternatively, if Ukraine were to be part of the EU it is believed that their economy would rapidly grow.

Will Ukraine be divided?

Some say it will, due to the clear divide in those speaking Russian and those who do not. And as a result of the clear voting divide – where those in the East are voting for the current president who wishes to tie with Russia and those in the west who vote for the opposition.

Vote

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The UK Floods – PICTURES

The UK has been hit be the wettest beginning to a year since records began in the 18th century. Here are some pictures of what has happened so far:

Flood5Flood4Flood3Flood2Flood1FloodPlease do comment and share

We would love to hear from those affected by flooding or any adverse weather both from within and outside of the UK!

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Scottish Referendum – Your Questions Answered!

This September, the people of Scotland will be able to exercise their votes to determine whether or not Scotland should become an independent country

When?

Thursday 18th September 2014.

This date was chosen as to avoid any potential events that may disrupt the voting e.g. bad weather. This year Scotland is already set to hold the Ryder Cup (golf tournament) and the Commonwealth Games. It is also the 700th Anniversary of the famous battle of Bannockburn, where Scotland was then fighting for independence.

Who?

Unlike in many countries where only those over 18 are able to vote, Scotland is allowing all people over the age of 16 to vote.

The chart below (Source: BBC) is interesting as it shows how 800,000 Scots will be unable to vote, despite being born in Scotland. Whilst, 400,000 non-Scottish people will be eligible to vote

 ScotlandReferendum

What?

The question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

 The Electoral Commission rejected previous drafts of the question, as it was believed that the way the question was worded was biased in favour of a yes vote. One example was “do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?” because it was believed this would make people vote ‘yes’.

Who’s campaigning?

The campaign FOR Scottish independence is called ‘Yes Scotland’, whilst the campaign AGAINST Scottish independence is called ‘Better Together’.

The political parties have also been choosing their sides. The SNP and the Scottish Greens back independence, whilst Labour, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats all oppose independence.

Scottish Independence

The 1707 Act of Union led to Scotland losing its independence resulting in its unification with England. Almost ever since this date Scotland has been fighting for independence.

However, in 2011 it was announced (after the Nationalists gained power for the first time) that there would be a referendum on whether Scotland should be independent or not.

scotland

Devolution

When the Scottish Parliament was created in 1999, the Scottish Nationalist Party knew they had an opportunity to push for Scottish independence. Although the potential for a party pushing for independence it was believed no party would do so unless the nationalists gained power. However, one commentator said that devolution would “kill nationalism stone dead”. Yet, in 2011 the nationalists did get power and they began their campaign for independence from the off.

What do the people of Scotland want?

It is difficult to be certain. Although, in one poll last year it was found only 23% of the 1229 people surveyed wanted Scotland to be independent.

The outcome of a yes or no vote

Yes vote = Scotland would be officially independent in March 2016. Before this date many complicated constitutional issues must be resolved. After this date, issues of the EU and NATO must be dealt with.

No vote = the SNP will struggle to get into power again and Scotland will remain part of the UK. One situation the no-voters want to avoid is the one that has occurred in Quebec (Canada) where a series of independent referendums has occurred over the past few years. As a result, some people have called Quebec’s referendums ‘neverendums’.

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Thailand Elections – Your Questions Answered!

Tomorrow, Thailand will be holding their elections amid a series of anti-government protests sweeping across the country.

Why does tension exist?

The country is politically divided. Those protesting are mostly from the middle class and do not want the election to take place. The Democratic Party are also refusing to take part in the election. However, the Pheu Thai Party (who are the current governing party) want the election to take place. Its supporters, who mainly live rurally, also want the election to take place.

thai

Why the opposition?

Those protesting strongly believe the president is being influenced by her brother (the former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra). Mr Thaksin, when in power, was found guilty of corruption and now lives in exile.

The election

The governing party have won the last 5 elections, so it is likely they would win again even without the Democratic Party boycott. However, it is believed that without opposition to the government party the results will not be truly democratic. If the government are to win, the problems in the country are set to continue. Even more concerning is the fact that some candidates for the election are unable to resister meaning that a government win is likely to mean not enough members will be elected for the new parliament.

The Voting

Voting poll stations have been obstructed my many protesters. At one polling station protesters padlocked the gates shut, so nobody could vote. Other stations have seen voters harassed and intimidated as to stop people voting. Many of the polling station were closed (including all of them in Bangkok) which is likely to significantly reduce the voter turnout further reducing the democratic legitimacy of the results. However, Suthep Thaugsuban (one of the main leaders of the protest) has told protesters to allow voters to case their vote.

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