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THE CULTURE AND CONFLICT REVIEW Click for an RSS Feed for the Latest Articles

Issue: Vol 4, #4 - Winter 2010/2011

The Culture & Conflict Review is an online peer-review journal produced by the Program for Culture & Conflict Studies, bringing you analysis of current events, policy, operations, and human terrain in South and Central Asia as well as other regions of the world. Premised on the belief that the United States must understand the culture and human terrain of other nations and peoples, we offer commentary and analysis on issues of current interest to policy makers, military commanders, academics, and the general public. We are particularly interested in issues addressing culture, anthropology, regional and identity politics, and the contemporary role of U.S. forces in areas of conflict. New issues of The Culture & Conflict Review are published on a quarterly basis.

Welcome to The Culture & Conflict Review

Welcome to our Winter 2010/2011 edition of The Culture and Conflict Review. In this issue we present excerpts from the latest edition of AQAP's Inspire magazine, as part of our ongoing effort to chronicle the information operation campaigns of our opponents in the War on Terror.

This newest edition of Inspire, AQAP's third edition thus far, looks in detail their recent Operation Hemorrhage which took aim at the global air cargo system, and—at least according to AQAP—successfully downed on UPS air cargo jet in Yemen earlier this year, and even more audaciously sought to down cargo jets over American soil, a plot that was thwarted at the final hour.

We also present two recent, and fascinating, student theses: one exploring the roots of the successful counterinsurgency effort against the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka; and the other proposing an alternative approach to our foreign internal defense (FID) efforts in Pakistan—not necessarily a new approach per se, but rather one tested by time and applied successfully to the very same region several decades ago.

As well, we are pleased to share with you some recent news coverage of, and publications by, our very own CCS researchers.

I. Enemy Minds: AQAP Information Operations

Just a few short weeks after publication of AQAP's second edition of Inspire magazine—the English-language jihadist publication providing the world with a fascinating and authentic insider's view from the jihadist side of the Global War on Terror—a third, "special" edition hit the web in November. It's dedicated entirely to what AQAP has dubbed "Operation Hemorrhage"—their low-cost, asymmetrical attack of the global air freight industry, a vulnerable pillar of the worldwide supply chain that fuels the western economy. The entire budget for this operation: $4,200. [...]

II. CCS in the News

Press TV is a 24-hour English language global news network owned by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) with headquarters located in Tehran and bureaus in Beirut, Damascus, London, Seoul and Washington. It carries news and analysis focusing on West Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East. Professor Johnson was interviewed by Hassan Tavakoli on November 15, 2010 on the war in Afghanistan. [...]
On October 17, Iranian border guards clashed with drug traffickers on the wild Iran-Afghan frontier and subsequently seized 331 pounds of narcotics contraband. The incident would be just one of many such skirmishes that take place every week, were it not for one difference: The seized drugs were not the usual suspects of Afghan opium and hashish, but rather synthetic drugs, highlighting alarming changes to the Southwest Asian narcotics industry. [...]
Zellen is an important voice in the debate on the future Arctic. One could disagree with statements made in his work, but they give the reader both new insights and a fresh introduction to emerging challenges and opportunities in the ‘new’ Arctic. ... The book is a central contribution to the debate on the future of the Arctic. [...]

III. Student Theses

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were arguably one of the most feared, lethal and capable insurgent movements in the modern age. Yet despite their strength and wealth, the Sri Lankan armed forces destroyed the LTTE with a conventional army in a series of pitched battles from 2007–2009. This thesis argues that the destruction of the LTTE during the end-game of 2007–2009 was in part due to a loss of local legitimacy amongst the Sri Lankan Tamils that the movement purported to represent, a product of LTTE coercion, facilitated by the enormous funding structures of the global Tamil Diaspora. The loss of local legitimacy, and its importance to the LTTE during the end-game, is largely missing from most literature on the subject. [...]
When we think of Foreign Internal Defense (FID), we most often think of conducting missions “by, with and through” a Partner Nation’s government and patrolling alongside partner nation security forces who are embroiled in yet another conflict in a “bad” region of the world. But, in some conflicts, this very direct method of training and advising is inadvisable at best, and foolhardy at worst. In Pakistan right now, “by, with, and through” represents just such a foolhardy approach. The more the Pakistani government is pressured to allow the United States to operate in Pakistan, the more militants will swarm to the fight; the only reasonable solution appears to be what has worked so well elsewhere, under similar circumstances: Americans need to stand back, train the right forces to move forward, and let them engage with the enemy—a method of training and advising that should not be as unfamiliar as it seems since the United States used it very effectively just thirty years ago, and in the same general vicinity. [...]

We thank you for your continuing support, and as always welcome feedback as well as submissions from our readers.

From all of us at CCS, we wish you the very best for the holiday season. We'll see you next year!

Editorial Staff

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