Ahmed Rashid is the author of Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and several books on Afghanistan and Central Asia. He lives in Lahore. (November 2016)

FEATURED

Trump in the Middle East: The New Brutality

The rubble of a home destroyed by reported coalition air strikes in the al-Jadida neighborhood of Mosul, Iraq, March 24, 2017

Trump’s growing dependence on a military strategy around the world will reduce US influence with its allies and all major powers. Autocrats around the world will follow the American example and be encouraged to abandon diplomacy and politics and use force to get their way. We will be left with a US that is set on inflaming conflicts rather than ending them, a US that abandons any sense of global responsibility and pays no regard to international agreements.

IN THE REVIEW

Seeing the Despair of Jihad

Lawrence Wright

The Terror Years: From al-Qaeda to the Islamic State

by Lawrence Wright
Lawrence Wright is one of the most lucid writers on the subject of Islamic extremism. His articles for The New Yorker have done a great deal to educate Americans who likely knew little about terrorism in the Middle East before September 11 and still are confused by it. His much-admired …

Sy Hersh and Osama bin Laden: The Right and the Wrong

A wax figure of Osama bin Laden, Międzyzdroje, Poland, September 2008

The Killing of Osama bin Laden

by Seymour M. Hersh
During the past few years, the CIA’s claim to having successfully tracked down Osama bin Laden through extensive intelligence work has come under scrutiny by a small group of skeptics. Seymour Hersh, the widely admired investigative journalist who uncovered the My Lai massacre in 1969, is perhaps the most insistent and vocal among them.

The Fierce Pressures Facing Pakistan

Pakistani Shiite Muslims protesting a suicide bomb attack on a Shiite mosque in Peshawar with portraits of the victims, February 20, 2015. At least twenty-three people were killed in the attack on February 13, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility.

The Struggle for Pakistan: A Muslim Homeland and Global Politics

by Ayesha Jalal

The Army and Democracy: Military Politics in Pakistan

by Aqil Shah
No one should be surprised to read that in Pakistan the army has taken charge, established military courts, derailed democracy, brought television and other media under military control. Nor should one be surprised to learn that foreign policy and national security were being directly run by the army. Many similar situations have occurred in Pakistan since 1958, when the army first came to power in a gradual coup, declared martial law, and ruled for a decade. The country has for years been under partial military rule, outright martial law, or military authority disguised as presidential rule. But the arrangement that has evolved over the last six months is the strangest so far.

Pakistan: Worse Than We Knew

A pro-Taliban rally in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, circa 2002

The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001–2014

by Carlotta Gall
For forty years Pakistan has been backing Islamic extremist groups as part of its expansionist foreign policy in Afghanistan and Central Asia and its efforts to maintain equilibrium with India, its much larger enemy. Now Pakistan is undergoing the worst terrorist backlash in the entire region.

NYR DAILY

Afghanistan: Making It Worse

Smoke from a battle between Taliban and Afghan forces, Kabul, Afghanistan, March 1, 2017

Afghanistan desperately needs an overarching political strategy, which should include dialogue and diplomacy to deal with the problems that President Ashraf Ghani faces, as well as a regional strategy to counter external support for the Taliban. So far Trump’s team has only come up with excessive use of force. The capacity of the military to create lasting change remains limited. How many more lives will have to be lost before the Trump team figures that out?

Iran’s Game in Aleppo

Supporters of the Syrian regime carrying a poster of Bashar al-Assad and Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Iran-backed Hezbollah, Ansar village, Lebanon, March 2, 2016

The advance of regime forces comes at a time when US President-elect Donald Trump has said that he would seek agreement with Russia on an end to the five-year Syrian war that has claimed more than 400,000 lives. Any such US-Russia deal would leave President Bashar al-Assad in place and now much strengthened. It would mean an American abandonment of the Syrian opposition and would give Russia a permanent presence in the Middle East. Yet one of the real victors in such an outcome would also be Iran.

ISIS: The Cornered Beast

An explosion near the Mosque of the Prophet, Medina, Saudi Arabia, July 4, 2016

Claiming more than three hundred lives, most of them Muslim, the attacks by ISIS in Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia have created pandemonium. Since the early months of this year, ISIS has suffered a series of defeats. But the real lesson is that it will take much more than military victories to defeat ISIS.