Friday, November 28, 2014

The Non-State Update: November 28, 2014

We here at D&TB hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving with your families. After the much needed mid-week break, the weekend is here once more. 

Welcome to this weekend’s Non-State Update. Below is a list of some of the best news and analysis articles from this week. Like the rest of Drugs and Thugs Blog, the topics addressed are terrorism, insurgency, transnational criminal organizations, and narcotics trafficking. 

Sidelining the Spoilers: First off, Virginia Bouvier and George A. Lopez have a piece at Foreign Policy on the Colombian peace process and the role that FARC spoilers play. The peace talks stalled after the kidnapping of a Colombian general earlier this month, but the sides need to begin negotiating again, or else lose the chance for peace. 

Foul Play: James Rodriguez’s Former Club Sanctioned for “Laundering Cartel Cash”: Also in Colombian news, OCCRP has a report on the new OFAC sanctions list, specifically those targeting narcotics traffickers. Because of its relationship with La Oficinia de Envigado, the local Envigado Futbol Club has been sanctioned by the US. 

The Islamic State’s Stalled Offensive in Anbar Province: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross at War on the Rocks has a piece on the ISIS campaign over the past month. The article outlines the ISIS campaign against the Iraqi cities of Hit and Amiriyah. Although ISIS remains effective, their march has been slowed and they appear contained in Anbar Province. 

The Iraqi Army Begins Retaking Ground: In the same optimistic vein, an article from Tom at The Line of Steel blog on the Iraqi Army’s recently recaptured ground. Much of the success can be attributed to Abadi’s leadership, as well as the US airstrikes. Things might be turning the corner in Iraq. 

Low on Donations, AQAP Goes on Robbery Spree: At Money Jihad, a post on the dwindling resources of AQAP. The group is in such dire financial straights, they have decided to become petty criminals and rob banks. This is excellent news; criminality by ideological terrorist groups is frequently seen in the death throes of the groups. 

Haqqani Network Launched Suicide Attack at Soccer Game, Afghan Intel Claims: From Bill Roggio at The Long War Journal, news that the recent suicide attack that killed at least 57 individuals was likely committed by the Haqqani Network. Although the attack took place at a soccer match, the intended target was the local police commander that had expelled the Taliban from that region. 

Liquid Cocaine, Bolivia’s Undetectable Drug: David Gagne at InSight Crime has an article on Bolivia’s drug interdiction failures, most notably in identifying liquid cocaine. Because liquid cocaine is so difficult to detect, drug smugglers spray it onto clothes and extract the cocaine after crossing the border. Drug traffickers will continue to evade law enforcement methods, but this is particularly ingenious. 

In a Shift, Obama Extends US Role in Afghan Combat: At the New York Times, Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt with an article on a recent change in the US military mission in Afghanistan. The new action allows US forces to continue operating against the Taliban and other organizations through 2015, despite the initial mission being limited to hunting al-Qaeda and training the Afghan security forces. 

Reflections on the Third Anniversary of the Death of Qaddafi: David Wise has a piece at the Small Wars Journal on the failures of the Libya campaign in 2011, now that we have reached the third year since Muammar Qaddafi was killed. This is a great, short piece on the lessons we should learn from Libya. 

Chasing the Dread Pirate Roberts: Finally, a change of pace from the articles above. NPR’s Planet Money podcast is always great, but their recent episode focused on a perfectly Drugs and Thugs topic, the Silk Road and its founder, the enigmatic Dread Pirate Roberts. It’s a fascinating listen. 

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the weekend. 

For comments, thoughts, concerns, criticism, or submissions to D&TB, please comment below, email me at, or follow me on Twitter @ConorMLarkin 

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