Search This Blog

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Does the AUMF cover North Africa?

The new horizon for the armed conflict with al-Qaeda is clearly North Africa.  With recent terrorist attacks in Libya and military offenses by islamist rebels in Mali, it's clear that al-Qaeda has build up a substantial operational capacity in that region.  Much of that capacity exists under the umbrella of the so-called AQIM, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.  Some of that operational capacity might also represent co-sympathetic organizations willing to fight alongside or in tandem with AQIM.

At the moment, the Obama administration is being cautious about committing itself to a particular military posture against this threat.  Although the administration is politically committed to stopping Islamist threats in Libya (after the attack on the Benghazi compound), the Administration is more sanguine about committing military forces in Mali.  For the moment, the French are taking the lead in that fight.

However, if this really represents the future of the al-Qaeda threat, then it is unclear if the administration (or future administrations) will be willing to sit on the sidelines forever.  And if they decide to enter into the fight, there will be some thorny legal dilemmas to resolve. In particular, is the AUMF (Authorization to Use Military Force) passed by Congress after 9/11 sufficient legal authorization for the President to commit troops in North Africa?  If the AUMF does not cover military operations against al-Qaeda threats in North Africa, then the President would presumably be limited by the War Powers Resolution to a 60-day military intervention.

Does the AUMF contemplate a North African intervention?  On the one hand, the AUMF authorizes the President to defend the country against al-Qaeda, Taliban, co-belligerent and associated forces.  In this sense there is a credible argument that at least some of the threats in North Africa, insofar as they operate under the al-Qaeda umbrella, are associated forces.  At least part of the argument would be linguistic -- they are all al-Qaeda.

On the other side of the argument, the AUMF was arguably intended to authorize the President to stop the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks.  But much of the North African branch of al-Qaeda, and associated forces, only came into being after the 9/11 attacks.  And the strength of the North African Islamist movement really increased after al-Qaeda "core" was substantially degraded in Afghanistan and Pakistan by the US drone campaign carried out by the CIA and JSOC.

From my perspective, the result hinges on a deeply philosophical question.  Did the AUMF authorize the President to use all available force against a set of individuals responsible for the 9/11 attacks, or did the AUMF authorize the use of force against organizations responsible for the 9/11 attacks?  Although most of the former are either dead or in custody, then latter persists -- albeit in a transfigured form.  Al-Qaeda has moved from an organization operating mostly in Pakistan and Afghanistan to an organization operating in Yemen and, in the future, possibly various locations in North Africa.  If the AUMF targets groups, the question is whether the group al-Qaeda persists despite these changes.

At this level of analysis, the question becomes one of group identity, the necessary and sufficient conditions for a group's continued existence over time.  Is a shared name, ideology and propaganda sufficient?  Or is direct operation continuity required?  The former definitely obtains as to the different branches of al-Qaeda, but the latter might not be the case.  And is this to be evaluated from an objective or subjective point of view?  How much weight do we place on how the members of the North African Islamist movement themselves view their relationship with al-Qaeda?

In other words, the result of the legal problem rests on a solid definition of "al-Qaeda".  What exactly is it?


Consul-At-Arms said...

It's not a bad question you've asked; let me ask one back at you:

Would the U.S.'s state of war against Nazi Germany have excluded waging war against additional bodies, formations, or organizations of combatants which it formed, or which formed in alliance to Nazi Germany, subsequent to Dec. 7, 1941?

Jens David Ohlin said...

Presumably, war against the other states would be permitted under the law of neutrality, specifically the rule that other states that refuse to declare their neutrality can be deemed "co-belligerents" and can be attacked as the enemy. The question here is whether the law of neutrality can be transferred to non-state actors, like sympathetic terrorist organizations, that might be deemed co-belligerents of al-Qaeda. This is an expansion of the previous doctrine -- is it possible for a terrorist organization to refuse to declare their neutrality?

Gwen said...

How can the administration commit itself to what will be more spending?

Unknown said...

Awesome interior design that
is because here is some thing good for the people who loved fashion and related trend.

Anonymous said...

SliceofItaly provides the Egg/Eggless cakes, birthday cakes for kids online.
Online Cake
Online Birthday Cake Delivery
Valentines Day Gifts

Anonymous said...

Our online cake delivery store offers you a wide variety of delicious and soft cakes.
Cake Delivery in Delhi
Cake Delivery in Noida
Cake Delivery in Faridabad

Anonymous said...

You can order fresh and delicious cakes, delivery online.
Cake Delivery in Gurgaon
Cake Delivery in Ghaziabad
Cake Delivery in Dehradun

Unknown said...

At the very 1st, I’d favor to state thanks to you for this enlightening article. Second, I'd prefer to wonder
wherever I can learn a lot more info concerning your post. I arrived right here via Bing and can't discover any associated web websites connected to this matter. How do I sign for your web blog? I had prefer to stick to your updates as they arrive along! I'd a query to interrogate but I forgot what it absolutely was... anyways, thank you very much.

Unknown said...

When pondering going for dispossessions in Canada, make a point to fiscally set yourself up to put resources into minor or real remodels and repairs. While an abandoned property is evaluated under market esteem, houses that require generous repairs can quickly drain home value. Payday Loans

Emily said...

RBSE 12th result
Karnataka sslc result 2017
CBSE 12th result
tamilnadu sslc result 2017
WBCHSE result

Sarah Saad said...

نقل اثاث بابها 2017
كيفية نقل العفش بابها
اهم شركات نقل العفش بابها

Sarah Saad said...

كيفية نقل العفش بالقصيم
اهم شركات نقل العفش بالقصيم
اسعار شركات نقل العفش بابها

Sarah Saad said...

اهم شركات نقل العفش بالطائف
اسعار شركات نقل العفش بالقصيم
نقل اثاث بالقصيم 2017

Anaminka said...

Want to spend time with hot and sexy women? Contact them through our Call Girls Services and Escorts Service in Agra to have wild moments and ultimate seductive nights, these sexy gorgeous beautiful women are there for you, then why are you all alone, may we ask? You can have them with you anytime you want, day or night. Check our other Services also...
Escorts Service in Agra
Escorts Service in Agra
Escorts Service in Agra
Escorts Service in Agra
Escorts Service in Ahmedabad