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  • Ending the “Drone War” or Expanding it? Assessing the Legal Authority for Continued U.S. Military Operation Against Al-Qaida after Afghanistan

    Either way, if the United States withdraws from Afghanistan in 2016, as President Obama has pledged it will, there is a legitimate question as to whether the United States may lawfully continue its war against Al-Qaida , or whether the war against Al-Qaida , always a contested concept in and of itself, is inexorably tied to the war in Afghanistan. And if a conflict against Al-Qaida may continue after the close of the conventional conflict in Afghanistan, questions remain regarding whether Al-Qaida affiliates, associated forces, and “successors” may be part of the continuing conflict and where that conflict may take place. The answers to these questions are fraught with significant operational effects—consider, for example, the effects on detention authority at Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) or drone strikes in Pakistan or Yemen—each based on the existence of an armed conflict with Al-Qaida and conducted under the law of war. This article addresses each of these issues in turn.