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  • Author: Abdisaid Ali
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: The growth of Salafist ideology in East Africa has challenged long established norms of tolerance and interfaith cooperation in the region. This is an outcome of a combination of external and internal factors. This includes a decades-long effort by religious foundations in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to promulgate ultraconservative interpretations of Islam throughout East Africa’s mosques, madrassas, and Muslim youth and cultural centers. Rooted within a particular Arab cultural identity, this ideology has fostered more exclusive and polarizing religious relations in the region, which has contributed to an increase in violent attacks. These tensions have been amplified by socioeconomic differences and often heavy-handed government responses that are perceived to punish entire communities for the actions of a few. Redressing these challenges will require sustained strategies to rebuild tolerance and solidarity domestically as well as curb the external influence of extremist ideology and actors.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Violent Extremism, Global Security
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: • A multinational joint task force consisting of Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger has driven Boko Haram from key territorial strongholds in northeastern Nigeria; on June 18, the Chadian military conducted airstrikes against six Boko Haram bases in Nigeria • But the terror group continues to launch deadly, near-daily attacks throughout the region—including on June 15 with twin suicide bombings in Chad—using guerrilla tactics rather than conventional warfare • Nigeria’s newly-inaugurated president, Muhammadu Buhari, has moved quickly to support regional counter-Boko Haram efforts, insisting on Nigerian leadership in the task force and pledging $100 million in financial support • Despite the nascent successes of the joint task force, Islamic State gains in North Africa and, in particular, Libya, could impact the flow of weapons and fighters into Nigeria; Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in March of this year.
  • Topic: Development, Islam, Terrorism, Insurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Despite the recent military surge against Somalia's armed Islamist extremist and self-declared al-Qaeda affiliate, Al-Shabaab, its conclusive "defeat" remains elusive. The most likely scenario – already in evidence – is that its armed units will retreat to smaller, remote and rural enclaves, exploiting entrenched and ever-changing clan-based competition; at the same time, other groups of radicalised and well-trained individuals will continue to carry out assassinations and terrorist attacks in urban areas, including increasingly in neighbouring countries, especially Kenya. The long connection between Al-Shabaab's current leadership and al-Qaeda is likely to strengthen. A critical breakthrough in the fight against the group cannot, therefore, be achieved by force of arms, even less so when it is foreign militaries, not the Somalia National Army (SNA), that are in the lead. A more politically-focused approach is required.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: Like its putative Islamic State counterparts in Iraq and Syria, the Nigerian terror group Boko Haram has in recent weeks accomplished an alarming expansion of its territorial control The downing of a Nigerian fighter jet-and the videotaped beheading of its pilot-also suggest a quantum leap in the group's offensive and propaganda capabilities The Nigerian state's attempts to counter the Boko Haram narrative through positive public relations have yet to yield positive results The government's latest claim of killing the militants' leader, Abubakar Shekau, remains unsubstantiated, thus creating another public relations challenge for Nigerian security officials.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Hans Hoebeke
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: Mali, from model of democracy to a deep political, institutional crisis and war in the course of a few months. This policy brief offers an analysis of the Malian conflict looking into the national political dimension as well as the entire region where already present dynamics were reinforced by the Libyan war of 2011. It also looks into the regional and international response mechanisms.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Democratization, Islam, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Africa, Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Sven Biscop, Jo Coelmont, Rik Coolsaet
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: As French forces are engaged in combat operations in Mali, even belated EU involvement remains crucial, to ensure that the intervention fits in with the political end-state that the EU rightly pursues.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Insurgency, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Mali
  • Author: Michael Olufemi Sodipo
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Northern Nigeria has been the locus of an upsurge in youth radicalization and virulent militant Islamist groups in Nigeria since 2009. Nigeria's ranking on the Global Terrorism Index rose from 16 th out of 158 countries in 2008 to 6 th (tied with Somalia) by the end of 2011. There were 168 officially recorded terrorist attacks in 2011 alone. Bombings across the northeast prompted President Goodluck Jonathan in May 2013 to declare a state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe States. Many Nigerians have come to question whether the country is on the brink of a civil war.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Economics, Islam, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria, Somalia, Yobe State, Borno State, Adamawa State
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Somalia's growing Islamist radicalism is spilling over into Kenya. The militant Al-Shabaab movement has built a cross-border presence and a clandestine support network among Muslim populations in the north east and Nairobi and on the coast, and is trying to radicalise and recruit youth from these communities, often capitalising on long-standing grievances against the central state. This problem could grow more severe with the October 2011 decision by the Kenyan government to intervene directly in Somalia. Radicalisation is a grave threat to Kenya's security and stability. Formulating and executing sound counter-radicalisation and de-radicalisation policies before it is too late must be a priority. It would be a profound mistake, however, to view the challenge solely through a counter-terrorism lens.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Islam, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Africa
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The next six months will be crucial for Somalia. The international community is taking a renewed interest in the country; the mandate of the feeble and dysfunctional Transitional Federal Government (TFG) expires in a half-year; and emboldened troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Kenya and Ethiopia are keen to deal the weakened (though still potent) extremist Islamist movement Al-Shabaab further defeats. This confluence of factors presents the best chance in years for peace and stability in the south and centre of the country. To achieve that, however, requires regional and wider international unity of purpose and an agreement on basic principles; otherwise spoilers could undermine all peacebuilding efforts.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Islam, Terrorism, War, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia
  • Author: Ellie Kemp, Ben Murphy
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: More than six months after famine was declared by the United Nations (UN), Somaliais still in the throes of its worst humanitarian crisis in decades. More than 325,000 children are suffering acute malnutrition inside Somalia, and 31per centof the total population are estimated to be in crisis, while hundreds of thousands have fled to neighbouring countries.
  • Topic: Security, Humanitarian Aid, Islam, Poverty, United Nations, Famine
  • Political Geography: Africa, United Kingdom
  • Author: J. Peter Pham
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: The Nigerian militant Islamist group Boko Haram has grown increasingly virulent since late 2010, reflecting a major transformation in its capacity, tactics, and ideology. There are indications of expanding links between Boko Haram and international Islamist terrorist organizations. Support for Boko Haram among some of northern Nigeria's marginalized Muslim communities suggests that security actions alone will be insufficient to quell the instability.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: Dr. Cengi Günay
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: The “January 25 Revolution” was not a classic revolution. President Mubarak's fall did not entail the overthrow of the regime, neither alter the elites or destroy their institutions, nor reverse the social situation. Although power structures and economic patterns were not removed, Mubarak's fall set an end to exclusive authoritarian despotism and initiated a process of power sharing; a so called passive revolution characterised by the absorption of the “enemies' elites” into the system. From this perspective, legalisation has been only a further step in the Islamists' long and rocky road of integration through moderation. Initially based on tactical considerations, shifts in methods and behaviour usually also evoke a shift in emphasis from ideological conceptions to political pragmatism. The absorption of the Islamist elites supported a process of embourgeoisement and de-­â€ ideologization. This did not entail a departure from Islamic tenets, but rather from ideological conceptions which seemed more and more unrealistic in a globalized world. The integration of de-­â€radicalised and moderated socially conservative Islamist groups with market economy and parliamentary democracy promises not only the prevention of political and economic turmoil, but also guarantees the reinforcement of the existing patterns of domination.
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Africa, Arabia
  • Author: Birame Diop, David M. Peyton, Gene McConville
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: In April 2012, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) declared its readiness to deploy 3,000 troops to northern Mali in response to seizures of territory by Tuareg separatists and Islamist militias. Left unanswered was the question of how ECOWAS would transport these troops and their equipment to Mali. Only airlift resources would be able to deliver personnel and heavy equipment into the area of operations (AO) in a timely manner, provide operational mobility within the AO against dispersed and heavily armed irregular forces, monitor a geographic area larger than France, and sustain operations for months or years. The inability to respond to these challenges to territorial control, in turn, further emboldens such separatists and other spoilers.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Islam, Insurgency, Narcotics Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Africa, France
  • Author: Roger Middleton
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: In 2011 the world waited for the UN to declare famine before providing assistance on the level needed to save lives in Somalia – this delayed response wasted lives and money. We are now seeing warnings of Somalia slipping back into crisis and cannot afford to make the same mistake again – we should respond now, and in force, in ways that make people better able to withstand the next disaster to strike.
  • Topic: Security, Health, Islam, United Nations, Food, Famine
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Turkey is the newest country to intervene in Somalia and its involvement has produced some positive results. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's courageous visit to Mogadishu in August 2011 at the height of the famine and his decision to open an embassy gave fresh impetus to efforts to establish lasting peace. Widespread Somali gratitude for Turkish humanitarian endeavours and the country's status as a Muslim and democratic state established Turkey as a welcome partner. Ankara has signalled it is in for the long haul. However, it must tread prudently, eschew unilateralism and learn lessons to avoid another failed international intervention. Over twenty years, many states and entities have tried to bring relief and secure peace in Somalia, often leaving behind a situation messier than that which they found. Ankara must appreciate it alone cannot solve the country's many challenges, but must secure the support and cooperation of both the Somali people and international community. Trying to go solo could backfire, hamper ongoing efforts and lose the immense good-will it has accumulated.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Foreign Policy, Islam, Peace Studies, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa, Central Asia, Turkey, Somalia
  • Author: Terje Østebø
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: The rise of Islamic militancy in parts of the Sahel and Horn of Africa poses growing threats to regional stability. The appeal of these militants stems from their ability to tap into and persuade marginalized communities, particularly youth, that their grievances can be rectified by the establishment of a more pure Islamist culture. Despite breakthroughs, Islamic militants in Africa typically do not possess great military power and may not seek to govern at the state level. Rather, they tend to be homegrown phenomena, focused on local concerns. Islamic militant organizations in Africa generally only command the support of small minorities within Muslim communities. However, ill-considered interventions, especially those involving Western forces, can reinforce the militants' narrative, thereby strengthening their credibility and recruitment.
  • Topic: Islam, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Depuis plus de cinq ans, alors que la rébellion armée de l'Est du Tchad et la crise du Darfour focalisent l'attention, le Nord-ouest du pays a suscité peu d'intérêts. Cependant, l'ampleur de plus en plus grande du trafic international de drogues et du terrorisme dans la bande sahélo-saharienne, l'émergence d'un islamisme combattant dans les pays voisins, l'intensification des ressentiments intercommunautaires et l'érosion des mécanismes de justice traditionnelle, la sous-administration et l'abandon qui caractérisent la politique gouvernementale à l'égard de cette région, risquent de devenir des facteurs de déstabilisation. Les autorités tchadiennes doivent changer de mode de gouvernance dans cette région et désamorcer les différentes sources de tensions ou les risques de déstabilisation avant que ceux-ci n'atteignent un seuil critique.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Islam, Insurgency, Narcotics Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: Whitney Parker, Scott Worden, Shani Ross, Sahar Azar
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Post-conflict justice mechanisms such as truth commissions, war crimes tribunals and reparations programs have emerged as a fundamental building block of durable peace settlements in Latin America, Africa and Asia. They are relatively rare, however, in Muslim countries recovering from conflict-despite the fact that social and criminal justice is a fundamental principle of Islamic law.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Crime, Islam, War, Law Enforcement, Law
  • Political Geography: Africa, Asia, Arabia, Latin America
  • Author: Karol Kujawa
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: For several months, we have witnessed rapid change in the countries of North Africa. Researchers and politicians have raised questions about the future of Arab countries once the revolution has run its course. Will the new authorities attempt to build a theocratic state or will they follow the example of Turkey and implement democratic reforms? The latter choice is becoming increasingly popular in the Arab world. This article will address the key questions that come up in connection with Turkey and Arab countries, including: the source of Turkey's popularity in the Arab world, what do they have in common, what divides them and, finally, whether Turkey could become a model for Arab countries.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Economics, Islam
  • Political Geography: Africa, Turkey, Asia, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The growing internal schisms and factionalism within Somalia's Islamist movement risk plunging the country even deeper into violence and bloodshed, with dangerous implications for the wider region and beyond. These divisions are also aggravating the political crisis by polarising groups further along ideological, theological and clan lines. However, a limited opportunity may now exist for Somalia's political actors and the international community to capitalise on these divisions and re-alignments to reach out to the increasing numbers of domestic militants disenchanted with the growing influence of foreign jihadis and extremist elements bent on pursuing a global agenda.
  • Topic: Islam, Fragile/Failed State, Governance, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia
  • Author: Stephanie Schwartz
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Recent incidences of ethno-religious violence in northern Nigeria have alarmed the international community to the point where Nigeria is now perceived as a potential breeding ground for transnational terrorism and violent religious extremism.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Terrorism, Governance, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The State Department's recently released Country Reports on Terrorism 2009 (CRT 2009) reveals several important trends in the evolution of global terrorism. The good news is that al-Qaeda is facing significant pressure, even as the organization and its affiliates and followers retain the intent and capability to carry out attacks. What remains to be seen is if the dispersion of the global jihadist threat from the heart of the Middle East to South Asia and Africa foreshadows organizational decline or revival for al-Qaeda itself and the radical jihadist ideology it espouses. How governments and civil society alike organize to contend with the changing threat will be central to this determination. The bad news is that governments and civil society remain woefully ineffective at reducing the spread and appeal of radical Islamist extremism.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Paul Romita
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: Two referenda are scheduled for January 9, 2011, in Sudan. In one, the people of Southern Sudan will decide whether they will remain part of the Republic of the Sudan or form an independent country with its capital in Juba; in the other, residents of the Abyei region will determine whether or not Abyei will become part of Southern Sudan.
  • Topic: Civil War, Islam, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements, Sectarian violence, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Africa, Juba
  • Author: Claire Spencer
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: North Africa may not be as stable as it looks: socio-economic and political pressures are fracturing the consensus between governments and governed and may overtake terrorism and criminality as the region's main destabilizing forces. With political leadership in the region effectively a lifelong position, the growth of authoritarianism is undermining the prospects for achieving political and economic liberalization. Despite the worsening global economic climate, a window of opportunity exists to accelerate socially sensitive and productive domestic investment and open space for greater autonomous political and economic development. Success depends on renegotiating the social contracts on which North Africa's states are based. A broadening of participation, above all through the extension of legal employment, targeted investment on education, health and skills, and the establishment of independent legal and regulatory frameworks, will go some way towards addressing socio-economic stresses. A change in the political environment, however, requires a re-evaluation of how the region's security climate is seen from outside, with adjustments in the kind of support given to regional governments by its key international partners, the European Union and the United States.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Islam, International Security
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Sudan is sliding towards violent breakup. The main mechanisms to end conflicts between the central government and the peripheries – the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the Darfur Peace Agreement and the East Sudan Peace Agreement – all suffer from lack of implementation, largely due to the intransigence of the National Congress Party (NCP). Less than thirteen months remain to ensure that national elections and the South Sudan self-determination referendum lead to democratic transformation and resolution of all the country's conflicts. Unless the international community, notably the U.S., the UN, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council and the Horn of Africa Inter-Government Authority on Development (IGAD), cooperate to support both CPA implementation and vital additional negotiations, return to North-South war and escalation of conflict in Darfur are likely.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Middle East, South Sudan
  • Author: Simon Henderson, Dana Moss
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Nearly twenty years ago, on December 21, 1988, PanAm Flight 103 from London to New York exploded in midair over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing all 259 people on board. Last weekend, according to an unconfirmed report in the International Herald Tribune, Musa Kusa, the Libyan intelligence chief widely believed to have planned the terror attack, visited Washington for talks with intelligence and military officials. The same week saw a telephone conversation between President Bush and Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi, a meeting at the State Department between Qadhafi's eldest son Saif al-Islam and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and the Senate confirmation of the first American ambassador to Libya in thirty-six years. This new chapter offers areas of cooperation, but the United States must proceed with caution.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Libya, London
  • Author: Emma Hayward
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 7, Morocco will hold its first parliamentary election since 2002. That election ended with the Justice and Development Party (PJD), an Islamist faction, just eight seats short of becoming the largest party in parliament. Despite several years of significant political and social reform -- or perhaps because of those reforms -- the PJD has a chance of emerging even stronger after this week's vote.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Morocco