Tuesday Headlines

Local Insights Should Inform Development Projects
Imam Qasim Rashid Ahmad, founder and chairman of Al-Khair Foundation, explains why international organizations need to speak first with local leaders and residents about what they need before leaping into help.

Ahmad, whose organization is active in Africa, says that “transitioning from a ‘donors versus beneficiaries’ mentality, to thinking about aid delivery as a partnership of equals is particularly necessary.” He notes that more often than not, “African countries are perceived only in terms of their varying levels of dependence on foreign aid, when in fact the continent has more than enough imagination and innovation to forge its own unique solutions to local challenges — if given the support and resources to do so.”

Russian Actions In Syria Post Test To NATO
For the second time, Russian airplanes violated Turkish airspace, which NATO deemed as “serious” and strongly condemned. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addressed a special meeting of the council saying it comes at a  crucial period in world events.

“We see the Middle East and North Africa in turmoil. Russia’s deployment of significant forces in Syria is of great concern. Russian combat aircraft have violated Turkish airspace. This is unacceptable,” he said, adding that Russia must “de-conflict” its military activities in Syria.

As Turkey summoned the Russian ambassador for talks, Stoltenberg reiterated NATO’s support of Turkey while speaking on Tuesday.

“I will not speculate on the motives, I would just reiterate or restate that this is a serious violation of Turkish airspace, it should not happen again, and NATO has expressed strong solidarity with Turkey,” Stoltenberg said.

Politics Central To Success In Training Foreign Fighters
In recent years there have been too many examples of instances when US-trained foreign fighters have either failed to live up to the military challenge, or, as was the case in Iraq, the soldiers simply laid down their arms and surrendered. The litany of examples is outlined in an article written by Eric Schmitt and Tim Arango in The New York Times.

“Our track record at building security forces over the past 15 years is miserable,” said Karl W. Eikenberry, a former military commander and United States ambassador in Afghanistan, told the reporters.

The question of why our track record is so miserable comes down to politics, asserts Max Boot in a recent Commentary piece.

“If a military force does not have a popular and legitimate political basis, it doesn’t matter how tactically proficient it is. It will either fail (as in Iraq or Yemen), or become so strong that it will take over the state (as happened in South Vietnam, Chile, and Mali, among other places),” he writes. The solution, Boot maintains, is not simple or even identifiable in concrete terms.

“There is no magical formula to training effective foreign militaries. It simply requires learning the lessons of the past and emphasizing the importance of building a stable and legitimate polity through a long-term commitment,” he concludes.

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