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  • Author: Elad Ben David
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: In January issue of Beehive, Elad Ben David analyses the reaction of French Muslim preachers to the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo’s republication in September 2020 of the controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Europe, France
  • Author: Matan Daniel
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: In this issue of Ifriqiya, Matan Daniel presents an overview of two of the major transnational jihadi groups operating in Africa, al-Shabaab and Boko Haram. He puts each group in its context, and shows how they represent new challenges for the continent and specifically in the regions where they are active. Salafi-jihadi groups (SJGs) have become a significant challenge and threat to global security and to the political stability of many countries during the past few decades. The emergence of al-Qaʿeda and the Islamic State, and the catastrophic consequences of their activity remain vivid in the memory of many. In recent years, as the resonance of al-Qaʿeda and the Islamic State's operations seems to be receding in the Middle East and Asia, Africa has become a rising sphere for the activity of SJGs. This article will elaborate on the issue of Salafi-jihadi activity in Africa, its transnational classification, and on two of the groups that represent it today, al-Shabaab and Boko Haram.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Salafism, Transnational Actors, Jihad, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria, Somalia
  • Author: Rina Bassist
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: In this issue of Ifriqiya, Rina Bassist analyzes the response of the government of Mozambique to the growing security threat of Islamist violence in the north of the country. To address this problem, she explains the background of the issue and calls for a broad approach that would deal with social and ethnic marginalization, as well.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Islam, Violence, Marginalization
  • Political Geography: Africa, Mozambique
  • Author: Ahmet Öztürk
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP)
  • Abstract: Dramatic political changes in Turkey are not limited to the degradation of state institutions or the democratic backsliding. Turkey is experiencing a substantial change in foreign policy as well. In this context, this study argues that new Turkey’s new foreign policy understanding rests on four inter-related parameters that pertain to the priorities of the country’s ruling coalition: militarisation, Islam, civilisation and power.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Civilization, Militarization
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Mediterranean
  • Author: Laila Rifai
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The religious sphere in Rural Damascus Governorate is poised to become a political battleground as both the regime and the exiled opposition seek to court a new rising group of religious leaders. The uprising in Syria, which began in 2011 and is ongoing, has altered the Sunni Muslim religious landscape of the capital, Damascus, beyond recognition. Ironically, both the regime and the Islamic opposition have achieved an important goal: The regime has fashioned, and asserted control over, a religious establishment previously made up of disparate and competing fiefdoms. Meanwhile, long fractious Damascene religious institutes and individuals, now forced into exile, have united within a single opposition organization, the Syrian Islamic Council (SIC).
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Syrian War, Sunni
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Wolfgang Mühlberger
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: En-Nahda’s participation in Tunisia’s post-revolutionary politics triggered an adaptive process, refecting a transition from theoretical elaborations to political practice. Switching from clandestine regime opposition to engagement in an emerging pluralistic system also puts to the test the grand narrative that defnes the movement’s rationale and intends to captivate the party’s potential constituency. After fve years in the game, assuming a tainted Islamist label and somehow acknowl- edging programmatic failure, the party’s leadership proposed a neo-Islamist framing, ‘Muslim democracy’, in 2016. Tis semantic operation aims to fuse two schools of thought, a confessional and a political one, with historically distinct governance systems and polit- ical cultures. Hence, despite this twist in rhetoric, a major challenge for En-Nahda remains the rec- onciliation of its utilitarian take on democratic procedures with its deep-rooted reference to Islamic principles. Yet while continuing to stress its readiness for concessions, suppos- edly in order to save Tunisia’s democratic transition, En-Nahda’s political programme, practice and narrative remain fawed, fuid and unconvincing respectively, eroding its credibility and incrementally reducing its mobilisation capacity.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Democracy, Leadership, State Building
  • Political Geography: Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Pauline Le Roux
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: The Sahel has experienced the most rapid increase in militant Islamist group activity of any region in Africa in recent years. Violent events involving extremist groups in the region have doubled every year since 2015. In 2019, there have been more than 700 such violent episodes (see Figure 1). Fatalities linked to these events have increased from 225 to 2,000 during the same period. This surge in violence has uprooted more than 900,000 people, including 500,000 in Burkina Faso in 2019 alone. Three groups, the Macina Liberation Front (FLM),1 the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS),2 and Ansaroul Islam,3 are responsible for roughly two-thirds of the extremist violence in the central Sahel.4 Their attacks are largely concentrated in central Mali, northern and eastern Burkina Faso, and western Niger (see Figure 2). Multiple security and development responses have been deployed to address this crisis. While some progress has been realized, the continued escalation of extremist violence underscores that more needs to be done.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Regional Cooperation, Violent Extremism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Mali, Sahel, Niger, Burkina Faso
  • Author: Irman Lanti, Akim Ebih, Windy Dermawan
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: With 48 million people, West Java is Indonesia’s largest province in terms of population. Historically, it has served as the cradle of Islamic conservatism in Indonesia. Modernist Islamic parties and candidates that espouse a purist and orthodox form of Islam always won the free and fair elections in this province. It was also the centre of Indonesia’s Islamic rebellion, the Darul Islam / Tentara Islam Indonesia (DI/TII). The Islamic landscape of West Java, however, is not that much different from that of Central and East Java, which is based on Islamic traditionalism. The differences in the socio- political outlook between West Java and other major provinces in Java are due to historical reasons and set it apart from the pattern developed in the others. With the arrival of the new dakwah movements influenced by the Islamic transnational forces, Muslims in West Java are embroiled in an ambivalent position. On one hand, the new movements are considered as bringing a renewed sense of vigour for the Islamic dakwah in this region, but on the other hand, they are also seen as a threat to the common religious practices there. There are indications that conservative West Java is undergoing a further conservative turn, especially judging by the recent voting pattern in the province. However, there is also signs that the threat brought by the new dakwah movements might produce a turnaround away from the deepening of conservatism there.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Domestic politics, Conservatism, transnationalism
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia, West Java
  • Author: Adhi Priamarizki, Dedi Dinarto
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: This paper examines the Prosperous and Justice Party (PKS)’s strategy in the 2019 Indonesian general elections. Among the Islamic-based political parties, PKS gained the most significant increase in votes. We aspire to understand the breakthrough by looking at the party’s strategy. On the one hand, our findings confirm the existing studies that correctly noted the moving of Indonesian political parties towards a “catch-all” direction by which they aim to garner wider support beyond a specific type of voter base. On the other hand, our research notes that PKS has started to exploit the phenomenon of rising Islamic conservatism in Indonesia. Despite solely maintaining an inclusive electoral strategy, this research asserts that the party has adjusted its campaign strategy to fit in with the trend of rising Islamic conservatism while concurrently exploiting the anti-incumbent president (Joko Widodo) sentiment. This paper aims to enhance discussion on Indonesian politics as well as Indonesia’s political parties, particularly the PKS.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Elections, Domestic politics, Conservatism
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Author: Hamza Meddeb
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: In 2016, Islamist political party Ennahda decided to abandon preaching and focus on politics, precipitating an identity crisis within the party. It faced new challenges, including rethinking the role of Islam, addressing its own neutralization as a driver of socioeconomic change, and managing its core supporters while appealing to a broader electorate. Ennahda’s shift to politics has forced it to rethink its ideological framework and rebuild its legitimacy based on arguments other than religion.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics, Religion, Legitimacy, Political Parties
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Turkey expects Chinese support for its incursion into Syria against the Kurds, but in return, China expects Turkey to turn a blind eye to its persecution of Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang. Turkey’s refusal to fully recognize Kurdish rights is thus intertwined with China’s brutal crackdown in its troubled northwestern province. Both parties justify their actions as efforts in the fight against terrorism.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Ethnic Cleansing, Conflict, Syrian War, Kurds
  • Political Geography: China, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Syria, Xinjiang
  • Author: Isam al Khafaji
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: The 12 May Iraqi elections – the fourth since the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein – provided several surprises and contradictions for Iraq’s political landscape. Primary among them was the unprecedented objections to and questioning of the results as announced by the Independent High Electoral Commission – a central focus of this paper. Previous election cycles witnessed objections and complaints, yet none reached an extent that would damaging the clean bill issued by national and international organizations or the Federal Court’s validation of the results. Criticism of electoral transparency reached a point where the Council of Ministers was obliged to create a “higher security committee” to investigate accusations sent to the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), and the United Nations representative in Iraq to send a letter calling on the IHEC to do a manual ballot counting of an arbitrary number of ballot boxes to ensure conformity with electronic ballot counting adopted for the first time this year. This multi-stage drama has reached the point where the Parliament decided, in an extraordinary session, to freeze the IHEC and assign a committee of nine judges to replace it, as well as to cancel the votes of internally displaced persons (approximately 3 million) and of Iraqis abroad (around 1.5 million). Therefore, any interpretation of the current election results must be cautioned with the knowledge that they are subject to change. The results most in question are from several predominantly Sunni governorates (such as Anbar and Salaheddin), Kurdish governorates (such as Sulaymaniyah, Erbil, and Dohuk), or ethnically mixed regions (such as Kirkuk) – where Arabs, Turks, and Kurds are in multiple ongoing disputes. However, the final decisions taken with regards to these appeals will not change the overall results as there is no serious questioning of the accuracy of the results in predominantly Shia governorates, which constitute the majority of Iraq’s population. That most of Iraq’s post-2003 prominent political movements resorted to unprecedented election rigging in 2018 is a tacit acknowledgement of the loss of trust they incurred before massive sectors of their electorates, a trend that has been observed by many for quite some time. Similarly, the public’s loss of confidence in the political class is also manifest in the alarming decline in voting rates, despite the high stakes of this year’s elections. Out of 24.5 million Iraqis eligible to vote, less than 11 million (44.5%) voted. Participation rates in all previous elections – except for governorate council elections – exceeded 60%. This low turnout translates the frustration of many voters at the possibility of changing the political establishment, despite changes in the political parties’ formation and election lists. Contrary to previous elections, where forces of Shia political Islam led by the Islamic Dawa Party were guaranteed to win, the 2018 elections involved bitter conflict among different political visions, each with serious consequences regarding Iraq’s future, and the form of the state to be rebuilt after the destruction wrought by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) and the policies of previous governments. However, most voters saw the fierce electoral competition as merely a repetition of the same faces, stances, and policies.
  • Topic: Islam, Elections, Geopolitics, Kurds
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad, Kurdistan
  • Author: Martin van Bruinessen
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: In the two decades since the fall of the Suharto regime, one of the most conspicuous developments has been the rapidly increasing influence of religious interpretations and practices emanating from the Middle East and more specifically the Gulf states, leading observers to speak of the “Arabisation” of Indonesian Islam. In the preceding decades, the state had strongly endorsed liberal and development-oriented Muslim discourses widely perceived as “Westernised” and associated with secularism and Western education. Indonesia’s unique Muslim traditions have in fact been shaped by many centuries of global flows of people and ideas, connecting the region not just with the Arab heartlands of Islam and Europe but South Asia and China. What is relatively new, however, is the presence of transnational Islamist and fundamentalist movements, which weakened the established nation-wide Muslim organisations (Muhammadiyah, NU) that had been providing religious guidance for most of the 20th century. The perceived threat of transnational radical Islam has led to renewed reflection on, and efforts to rejuvenate, indigenous Muslim traditions.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, transnationalism, Secularism
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Indonesia, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Martin van Bruinessen
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: In spite of their overwhelmingly Muslim populations, Indonesia and Turkey are formally secular states though of different kind. However, both allocate a surprisingly high proportion of the state budget to the administration of Islam, considerably higher than most countries where Islam is the state religion. In Turkey during the years 1950-2000 and in Indonesia during the New Order period (1966-1998), the state invested heavily in the education of “enlightened” religious personnel and the dissemination of religious views that were compatible with the drive for modernisation and development. Turkey’s Directorate for Religious Affairs (Diyanet) controls a huge bureaucracy through which the state interacts with the pious conservative part of the population. Schools for the training of prayer leaders addressed the needs of the same segment of the population and were intended to facilitate the integration of these conservatives into the project of secular modernisation. However, these institutions had the unforeseen effect of enabling the social mobility of once marginalised conservatives, allowing them to gradually gain control of part of the state apparatus. Mutatis mutandis, very similar developments can be observed in Indonesia, where the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA) and the Council of Islamic Scholars (MUI) were expected to provide development-friendly religious guidance and prevent undesirable expressions of religiosity. After the fall of the Suharto regime, the MUI made itself independent of the government and instead became a vehicle through which various conservative religious groups strove to influence government policies, with various degrees of success.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Social Movement, Secularism, Modernization
  • Political Geography: Europe, Indonesia, Turkey, Asia
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Pakistani militants of various stripes collectively won just under ten per cent of the vote in the July 2018 parliamentary elections. Some represented long-standing legal Islamist parties, others newly established groups or fronts for organisations that have been banned as terrorists by Pakistan and/or the United Nations and the United States. The militants failed to secure a single seat in the national assembly but have maintained, if not increased, their ability to shape national debate and mainstream politics and societal attitudes. Their ability to field candidates in almost all constituencies, and, in many cases, their performance as debutants enhanced their legitimacy. The militants’ performance has fueled debate about the Pakistani military’s effort to expand its long- standing support for militants that serve its regional and domestic goals to nudge them into mainstream politics. It also raises the question of who benefits most, mainstream politics or the militants. Political parties help mainstream militants, but militants with deep societal roots and significant following are frequently key to a mainstream candidate’s electoral success. Perceptions that the militants may stand to gain the most are enhanced by the fact that decades of successive military and civilian governments, abetted and aided by Saudi Arabia, have deeply embedded ultra-conservative, intolerant, anti-pluralist, and supremacist strands of Sunni Islam in significant segments of Pakistani society. Former international cricket player Imran Khan’s electoral victory may constitute a break with the country’s corrupt dynastic policies that ensured that civilian power alternated between two clans, the Bhuttos and the Sharifs. However, his alignment with ultra-conservatism’s social and religious views, as well as with militant groups, offers little hope for Pakistan becoming a more tolerant, pluralistic society, and moving away from a social environment that breeds extremism and militancy. On the contrary, policies enacted by Khan and his ministers since taking office suggest that ultra- conservatism and intolerance are the name of the game. If anything, Khan’s political history, his 2018 election campaign, and his actions since coming to office reflect the degree to which aspects of militancy, intolerance, anti-pluralism, and supremacist ultra- conservative Sunni Muslim Islam have, over decades, been woven into the fabric of segments of society and elements of the state. The roots of Pakistan’s extremism problem date to the immediate wake of the 1947 partition of British India when using militants as proxies was a way to compensate for Pakistan’s economic and military weakness. They were entrenched by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in the 1970s and General Zia ul-Haq’s Islamization of Pakistani society in the 1980s. The rise of Islamist militants in the US-Saudi supported war against Soviet occupation troops in Afghanistan and opportunistic policies by politicians and rulers since then have shaped contemporary Pakistan.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Terrorism, United Nations, Violent Extremism, Secularism, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Middle East
  • Author: Paul Marshall
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: ay 20, 1998 (Patrick AVENTURIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images) Conflicts in Indonesian Islam Paul Marshall In the three years following the 1998 economic crisis and the fall of President Soeharto, Indonesia endured economic dislocation, political turmoil, and religious violence that claimed thousands of lives. However, since this period of upheaval the country has been on a broadly upward path both politically and economically. Religious violence has tended to be sporadic and local, aside from the Bali bombings of 2002. Indonesia now has the largest economy in Southeast Asia and among the countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. At 260 million people, the country, which has now had nearly two decades of largely free elections, is the third-largest democracy in the world. Some 88 percent of its population are Muslims, making it the largest Muslim-majority country in the world. Despite these positive political and economic trends, in recent years, Islamist movements have flourished in Indonesia. Indeed, their pressure was a major factor leading to the imprisonment of the Christian governor of Jakarta on charges of blasphemy in 2017. The moderate forms of Islam that have historically been hegemonic in Indonesia may now be under threat.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Economy, Islamism
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Indonesia
  • Author: Spiros Bamiatzis
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP)
  • Abstract: The 1990s wars in Yugoslavia led to the disintegration of the country and ushered an era of poverty, political corruption, organized crime and terrorism. The Balkans became synonymous with the syndrome of a failed state, where civil society institutions are doomed to fail. The area has presented the international community with some unique challenges associated with unemployment, jihadism, crime and all those maladies under the wings of political leaderships that have given many reasons to the international community to doubt their credibility and their belief to the rule of law. This study will prove that a nexus exists between Islamic and ethno-nationalist terrorism and illegal criminal activities, and it will focus mainly in three countries: Albania, Kosovo, and Bosnia Herzegovina.
  • Topic: Corruption, Islam, Poverty, Violent Extremism, Organized Crime
  • Political Geography: Bosnia, Herzegovina, Kosovo, Yugoslavia, Balkans, Albania
  • Author: Nathan Brown
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: All Arab states have large, official Muslim religious establishments that give governments a major role in religious life. These establishments have developed differently, according to each state’s historical experience. Through them, the state has a say over religious education, mosques, and religious broadcasting—turning official religious institutions into potent policy tools. However, the complexity of the religious landscape means they are rarely mere regime mouthpieces and it can be difficult to steer them in a particular direction.
  • Topic: Islam, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Kristin Michelitch, Keith R Weghorst
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Many characterize adherence to Islam as antithetical to women's political equality due to cross-national analyses showing a correlation between Muslim majority countries and higher gender inequality. Others argue that political, economic, and social contextual factors coinciding with religion confound the relationship. A third viewpoint holds that the meaning and salience of religion for women's political equality is fluid and endogenous to such contextual factors. We take a new empirical approach to address these questions by conducting analyses of gender attitudes within and across mixed Muslim-Christian countries in Africa. Consistent with the third viewpoint, we find that within-country gaps between Muslims and Christians are variable in size and direction. Such gaps are generally reduced through within-country matching, indicating at least partial confounding of religion on observable factors. While Muslims are generally more conservative than Christians, the impact of religion on attitudes is far less explanatory than country-level fixed effects and socioeconomic attributes such as gender. Religiosity increases egalitarianism for Christians but has no systematic effect for Muslims. Women of both religions are more egalitarian than men, and the effect of Islam is much larger for men than for women.
  • Topic: Islam, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Bridge Initiative, Georgetown University
  • Abstract: This report analyzes how far-right Islamophobic discourse has been mainstreamed with the election of President Donald J. Trump. Through qualitative research examining the rhetoric employed by the Trump campaign and subsequent administration, the report finds that senior Trump administration appointments share a common belief that Islam and Muslims are a danger to the United States. This view has been present in the far-right world of bloggers and pundits and ballooned following the horrific events of September 11th, 2001, but is now represented in the White House by key members of the Trump administration. Further, the Trump administration has already begun to enact its anti-Muslim and anti-Islam policies. The study finds that the 45th President and his administration’s rhetoric and guidelines normalize Islamophobia thus creating an environment in which discriminatory policies targeting Muslims are legal.
  • Topic: Islam, Trump, Islamophobia, Far Right
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jacques Bertrand, Jessica Doedirgo
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Although the January 2016 Sarinah mall attacks in Jakarta demonstrate the need for continued vigilance, this paper argues that Islamic extremism and fundamentalism are not on the rise in Indonesia. In fact, Islamic extremism in Indonesia reached its height in the early 2000s, with radicalized groups participating in religious conflicts in Eastern Indonesia and carrying out large-scale terrorist attacks, such as the bombings in Bali in 2002. Since then, the capacity of the security apparatus has markedly improved, leading to the crippling of terrorist networks. Today, the majority of Islamists engage in above-ground non-violent activities and pose little threat to the country’s stability. This paper views fundamentalism and extremism as symptoms of broader problems in Indonesia, and argues that addressing these issues should help to further reduce the problems of religious fundamentalism and extremism.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Sectarian violence, Violent Extremism
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Bali
  • Author: Bhanu Joshi, Ashish Ranjan, Neelanjan Sircar
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Muslims comprise 34 percent of Assam’s population, and this population may play a large role in the outcome of Assam’s election. In this piece, CPR researchers Bhanu Joshi, Ashish Ranjan, and Neelanjan Sircar examine the complex contours of the Muslim vote in Assam, with a particular focus on the Lower Assam region where seven of the thirteen districts have a majority of Muslims. They argue that there is no discernible Muslim “vote bank” and any understanding of the role Muslims will play in this election requires a significant amount of nuance.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Gary Soroka
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: The European Union faces enormous challenges, including flows of refugees, economic stagnation, terrorism, xenophobia, anti-Muslim bigotry and the rise of the far right, the Brexit. Strong leadership is needed but it is in short supply. Germany is the most capable, but it too has domestic problems that are preoccupying the political class, not least the prospect of a federal election next year. Despite all this, the country has shouldered its growing responsibilities in recent years with a new confidence and no one should underestimate what they can achieve.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Elections, European Union, Brexit, Xenophobia
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Marc Valeri
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The sultan of Oman traveled to Germany to receive medical care in July 2014. His prolonged stay since then has revived concerns across Omani society about the future of the country without the “father of the nation.” A taped, four-minute television address in early November by Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said—who looked emaciated and expressed regret that he was unable to return home for National Day celebrations later in the month—failed to silence rumors of cancer that have been circulating in the Gulf since he left the country. The anxiety about the health of the seventy-four-year-old ruler, who has no designated heir, came as the supposed “sleepy sultanate,” long thought to be a model of stability, was affected by the winds of protest blowing across the region. In 2011 and 2012, the sultanate of Oman experienced its widest popular protests since the 1970s and the end of the Dhofar war, in which the southern region rose up against Qaboos's father, who then ruled the country.
  • Topic: Islam, Oil, Governance, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Germany
  • Author: Ashraf El-Sherif
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Salafism has been one of the most dynamic movements in Egypt since 2011. Dealt a difficult hand when Hosni Mubarak was ousted from the presidency, Egyptian Salafists have skillfully navigated the transition. Their entry into the political marketplace marked a historic shift toward a new political Salafism and sheds light on whether an Islamist movement can integrate into pluralistic modern politics. The ouster of Mohamed Morsi by a popularly backed military coup in 2013, however, dealt a debilitating blow to the Islamist project—and left deep cleavages within the Salafist movement.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Egypt
  • Author: Kheder Khaddour
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Since the early days of the Syrian uprising in 2011, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has made it a priority to keep state agencies running, allowing Assad to claim that the regime is the irreplaceable provider of essential services. Breaking the regime’s monopoly on these public services and enabling the moderate opposition to become an alternative source of them would weaken the regime and prevent the radical jihadist Islamic State from emerging to fill power vacuums across the country.
  • Topic: Civil War, Democratization, Islam, Governance, Sectarian violence, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Lina Khatib
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The self-proclaimed Islamic State is a hybrid jihadist group with a declared goal of establishing a “lasting and expanding” caliphate. Its strategy for survival and growth blends military, political, social, and economic components. Yet the U.S.-led international intervention against it has largely been limited to air strikes. The gaps in the international coalition’s approach as well as deep sectarian divisions in Iraq and the shifting strategies of the Syrian regime and its allies are allowing the Islamic State to continue to exist and expand.
  • Topic: Civil War, Islam, Terrorism, Insurgency, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Nathan Brown, Michele Dunne
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition movement and one of its oldest, is squeezed between an unprecedented crackdown from the security state and a young generation pushing for more assertive action against the regime of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. As a movement that has long espoused evolutionary change morphs into one that advocates revolutionary change—and struggles with whether that means adopting a strategy of violence against the state—the implications for Egypt and the entire region are massive.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Arab Countries, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Alexey Malashenko, Alexey Starosin
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: There have been significant changes in the composition and distribution of Russia’s Muslim community during the era of President Vladimir Putin. In particular, as Islam expands in the Ural Federal District, religious and political life there is evolving. Much of this expansion is due to the arrival of Muslim migrants from Central Asia and the Caucasus, and some migrants bring with them religious radicalism—a challenge that requires a more effective official response.
  • Topic: Islam, Migration, Politics, Radicalization
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The al-Qaeda presence in the Pech valley is greater now than when U.S. forces arrived in 2002, and counterterrorism efforts in the region continue. This report looks at U.S. military involvement in the Pech valley and the lessons it offers both the Afghan National Security Forces and the U.S. military. It is derived from interviews with some three hundred Americans and Afghans, including general officers, unit commanders, members of parliament, district and provincial governors, Afghan interpreters and U.S. and Afghan combat veterans.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Author: Maryam Ben Salem
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Tunisia is the only Arab Spring country which has succeeded so far in its democratic transition. Now that all the democratic institutions have been put in place, and after the legislative and presidential elections of 2014, the chances of democratic consolidation remain to be seen. Yet the regime faces serious challenges that cast doubt on its survival capacity. The political dynamics at play after the 2014 elections, which allowed Nidaa Tounes to come to power, cannot be understood without taking into account the conditions surrounding the political transition itself. The National Dialogue, hosted by the Quartet who were recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, is key to understanding the ongoing process of democracy consolidation. Taking into account both contingent and structural factors, this paper analyses how the current context is likely to shape the choices of the presidency of the Republic and of the Essid government, as well as the implications in terms of their legitimacy.
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Regime Change, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: North Africa
  • Publication Identifier: 978-88-98650-65-1
  • Publication Identifier Type: DOI
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Algeria today faces a triple crisis. The collapse in global oil prices during 2014 and 2015 has meant that its economic future is potentially extremely sombre. In political terms, the regime faces a complex and uncertain transition as the Bouteflika era comes to an end. Moreover, Algeria’s security environment is threatening, given the chaos in Libya, the emergence of extremism in Tunisia and the ongoing violence in northern Mali because of the extremist groups located there. This situation is further complicated by the persistence of “residual terrorism,” as the government terms it, inside Algeria itself and the chronic crisis with Morocco over the latter’s annexation of the Western Sahara in 1975. This paper analyses each of these factors in turn before seeking to outline short- to medium-term scenarios for the future.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Islam, Oil, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: North Africa
  • Publication Identifier: 978-88-98650-62-0
  • Publication Identifier Type: DOI
  • Author: Mohammad Haddad
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Since the nineteenth century, North Africa’s religious life has witnessed a slow and uncertain metamorphosis. It is still unable to settle into a constant and sustainable model. The traditional order could not resist the emergence of the nation-state, modern education and new forms of social organisation. However, religion has remained on the margins of these developments. Although used in the anticolonial struggle, religion was then abandoned during the formation of the postcolonial state. Yet the difficulties faced by governments since the 1970s have entrusted religion with a predominantly opposition function, which is negative and sometimes violent. This paper argues that only neo-reformism can give a positive spin to religion’s role in politics and can serve as the basis for a new religious order.
  • Topic: Islam, Post Colonialism, Non State Actors, Reform
  • Political Geography: North Africa
  • Publication Identifier: 978-88-98650-60-6
  • Publication Identifier Type: DOI
  • Author: Samuel Helfont
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The term “post-colonial” has presented a seminal problem for historians of the 20th century Middle East. As this essay will detail, debates over the term have provided an important axis around which discussions of political identity revolve. Following World War Two European power in the Middle East crumbled and a number of post-colonial states emerged. These states often justified their existence in terms of ideologies that were tied to specific post-colonial, political identities. Endless debates have occurred over how much emphasis to put on the post-colonial nature of these states and their political identities. In this essay, I will discuss whether a state’s status as post-colonial matters. If so, how? And what are the consequences? Following a general discussion of debates over post-colonialism, will look more closely at three case studies: Egypt, Iraq, and Iran.
  • Topic: Development, Islam, Nationalism, Post Colonialism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Dr. W. Andrew Terill
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: In an unexpected effort to protect a key Middle Eastern ally, the Kremlin intervened in Syria with military forces in late September 2015. This effort was undertaken to protect the Bashar Assad regime from Islamist and secular rebels now threatening his regime. Moscow initiated this action with a limited force that may be primarily designed to prevent Assad’s ouster but does not have the capabilities to help him retake large tracks of the country from the rebel groups that are now holding them. The Russian leadership made the decision to use military units in Syria at some political cost, aware that it was poisoning relations with many conservative anti-Assad Arabs and complicating its troubled relationship with Western powers.1 At some point, the Russians will have to consider the questions of how well these efforts have met their goal of bolstering the regime and what will be their next moves. They may also be rapidly faced with pressure to escalate their commitment to support the regime, if current actions do not produce meaningful results. They may also learn the painful lesson of other great powers, that military intervention in the Middle East is often much more problematic than national leaders initially expect.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil War, Islam, Politics, War, Military Strategy, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Dr. Steve Tatham, Keir Giles
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Experience from Afghanistan and Iraq has demonstrated the vital nature of understanding human terrain, with conclusions relevant far beyond counterinsurgency operations in the Islamic world. Any situation where adversary actions are described as “irrational” demonstrates a fundamental failure in understanding the human dimension of the conflict. It follows that where states and their leaders act in a manner which in the U.S. is perceived as irrational, this too betrays a lack of human knowledge. This monograph offers principles for operating in the human domain which can be extended to consideration of other actors which are adversarial to the United States, and whose decision-making calculus sits in a different framework to our own — including such major states as Russia and China. This monograph argues that the human dimension has become more, not less, important in recent conflicts and that for all the rise in technology future conflicts will be as much defined by the participants’ understanding of culture, behavior, and language as by mastery of technology.
  • Topic: Islam, Science and Technology, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Dr. W. Andrew Terill
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The Syrian civil war began in March 2011 and has claimed nearly 250,000 lives so far. After over 4 years of internal fighting, the Kremlin has decided to expand its role in this conflict by moving combat aircraft and some ground troops to Syria to support the Bashar al-Assad government. These actions seem like a clear prelude to a direct Russian combat role, although the scope of such an effort is not yet clear. It has started with a limited number of air strikes against the opposition forces fighting Assad. Additionally, Russia is providing the Syrian army with new weapons supplies which that army seems to be absorbing very quickly. The United States has expressed concern about the deployment and is facing the question of how seriously it seeks to oppose increased Russian involvement in this war, and what, if anything, to do about it.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil War, Islam, Military Strategy, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Russia, Syria
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Un an après l'intervention française, l'intégrité territoriale et l'ordre constitutionnel ont été rétablis au Mali. Mais la persistance des tensions intercommunautaires et de violences localisées témoigne d'une stabilisation encore précaire du Nord, alors que les forces françaises et onusiennes peinent à consolider leurs progrès en matière de sécurité. Les attentes à l'égard du président Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta sont immenses. Il doit à la fois élaborer un compromis sur le devenir du Nord et engager la réforme d'un Etat affaibli par la crise. Son gouvernement doit aller au-delà des déclarations d'intention et passer à l'action. Pour consolider la situation à court terme, il est tenté de renouer avec un système clientéliste qui a conduit les précédents régimes dans l'impasse. Le président ne peut certes pas tout réformer brusquement mais l'urgence de la stabilisation ne doit ni faire manquer l'occasion d'entamer une réforme profonde de la gouvernance ni occulter la nécessité d'un dialogue véritablement inclusif sur l'avenir du pays.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, Islam, Post Colonialism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The violence in Darfur's decade-old war spiked in 2013, as the mostly Arab militias initially armed by the government to contain the rebellion increasingly escaped Khartoum's control and fought each other. Recent fighting has displaced nearly half a million additional civilians – in all 3.2 million Darfurians need humanitarian help. The Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) signed in Qatar in 2011 is largely unimplemented, notably because it was endorsed by factions with limited political and military influence, blocked by the government and suffered fading international support. The main insurgent groups remain active, have formed an alliance that goes beyond the region and increasingly assert a national agenda. If Darfur is to have durable peace, all parties to the country's multiple conflicts, supported by the international community, need to develop a more coherent means of addressing, in parallel, both local conflicts and nationwide stresses, the latter through a comprehensive national dialogue; eschew piecemeal approaches; embrace inclusive talks; and recommit to Sudan's unity.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Civil War, Islam, War, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Cornelius Adebahr
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: After years of tension, sanctions, and deadlocked negotiations, Hassan Rouhani, Iran's relatively moderate new president, has provided an opening for improved relations between the Islamic Republic and the West. While Rouhani has not ushered in a new Iran, Tehran has adopted a more conciliatory tone on its nuclear program since he took office. This shift is more than just talk, but the West will have to carefully calibrate its response to determine whether Rouhani's changed rhetoric signals the beginning of a new direction for Iran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Islam, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Robert D. Lamb, Sadika Hameed, Kathryn Mixon
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States has a number of interests and values at stake in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, or "South Asia" for the purposes of this analysis. But it also has a broader set of such concerns at stake regionally (in the greater Middle East, Eurasia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia)—and, of course, globally as well. Any long- term policy or strategy frame- work for South Asia needs to be built around the global and regional concerns that are most likely to persist across multiple changes in U.S. political leadership regardless of political party.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Foreign Policy, Islam, War, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, Middle East, India
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Russia has invested extensive resources and prestige in the Winter Olympics to be held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, 7-23 February 2014. The tab, an estimated $51 billion, does not include a nationwide security operation to protect the venue against attack by a resilient and ruthless armed jihadi movement. A spate of bombings, including two in December in the southern city of Volgograd, show that North Caucasus Islamist terrorists are determined to strike opportunistically across the country to mar the games and challenge President Vladimir Putin, who has promised a "safe, enjoyable and memorable" Olympic experience. If ripple effects of security for Sochi and the ambitious regional tourism project the games are meant to inaugurate are not to worsen the situation in the war-to rn North Caucasus, local communities must be assured they will benefit from the development plans, not fall victims to rapacious local elites or the abuses allegedly accompanying the Games. Equally important, they will need guaranteed long-term security, not simply oppressive security regimes.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, International Affairs, Insurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: Russia, Caucasus, Sochi
  • Author: Erica Gaston
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: On January 25, Yemen's National Dialogue Conference (NDC) closed after more than ten months of deliberation. The flagship process within Yemen's post-Arab Spring transition, the NDC has been lauded as a positive model of inclusive and constructive negotiation. In Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, and Sudan, similar national dialogue processes have been mooted or are under way. The NDC made significant progress on a daunting range of governance, structural, and social contract issues. It broke through political and social barriers to engage a broader scope of political parties, actors, and civil society–a precedent that will be difficult to roll back. Despite these achievements, the NDC missed its concluding deadline because of a deadlock over the fundamental dilemma: the future status for southern Yemen and the structure of the Yemeni state. A partial solution was brokered, but only by extending the transition process and leaving tough issues to be resolved later. Meanwhile, other challenges, from unemployment to serious humanitarian shortfalls to rampant insecurity, also remain unresolved. The public has grown increasingly skeptical that either the NDC or the transition process will result in a government that responds to their needs. The verdict is out on the ultimate legacy of the NDC. Even at this early stage, however, the hurdles the NDC has faced may provide lessons for other countries considering such processes. At a minimum, exploring how certain process elements may have contributed to achieving the NDC's goals or not might suggest further areas for research, reflection, or continued engagement in the next stages of transition. Other countries considering a national dialogue should streamline the agenda to the extent possible, weighing carefully which political issues do or do not lend themselves to a large-scale public forum, and ensure an appropriate balance between the national dialogue and other transitional processes.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Islam, Insurgency, Governance, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Khalid Aziz
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: There are doubts whether the exit of a majority of foreign forces from Afghanistan will help the return of peace to that country. Unlike in the case of the SU withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1988, conditions today are more dangerous, and it will be a miracle if the withdrawal is peaceful. The main reason for this is the absence of any reconciliation with the Taliban. This report identifies a minimum set of policies and measures that need to be implemented before successful multiple transitions in Afghanistan can occur. However, the overall picture is not positive, and it is not certain that peace will prevail after foreign troops leave Afghanistan.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Islam, Terrorism, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The Democratic Party (PD) – the incumbent party that won a majority sweep in the 2009 general elections, conferring Yudhoyono his second presidency – is now experiencing a dramatic reversal of fortunes. The party's electability rate has dipped significantly from its heyday peak of 21 per cent in 2009 to a meagre 7 per cent in 2013. A convention based on democratic proceedings ha s been hatched as part of a last - ditched effort by PD with the express purpose of generating the requisite publicity before legislative elections commence in order to restore confidence among its voters. While the convention has been proceeding apace, its impact on the electorate and on the image of the party as a whole has been disappointing. This report analyses the reasons why PD's novel attempt at a democratic convention failed to rejuvenate the party like its predecessor the Golkar party did a decade a go. Included in the analysis are scenario analyses of the various outcomes of the convention, given the plausible choices that party Chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono may take in consideration of the current dire status of PD.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Islam, Political Economy, Governance
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Richard Youngs
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Politics in the Middle East are increasingly polarized and fragmented. The Arab Spring's citizen-led spirit of reform is still alive, but societies are increasingly torn apart by bitter tensions between Sunni and Shia, secular liberals and Islamists, and governments and civil society. As polarization has deepened, the concern with engaging in dialogue to bridge differences has intensified. The relationship between these mediation efforts and support for systemic reform will be a pivotal factor in the Middle East's future political trajectory.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Democratization, Islam, Regime Change, Governance, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Akira Murata
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The paper uses a discrete choice experiment (DCE) to elicit job preferences among youth, and analyzes survey data collected from engineering students at 10 universities in six cities in Egypt during the period of July through October 2013. For a comparative analysis, the survey was also conducted at eight universities in five cities in Indonesia, which is one of the nations in Asia with a Muslim-majority population that faces the same demographic issue. The findings of this research will contribute to building a foundation for designing youth employment policies in Egypt. The most obvious findings to emerge from this study are that: the public-private sector wage differentials must be narrowed; better benefits must accompany private sector employment (particularly support for continuing education, upgrading qualifications, and health insurance); and good IT infrastructure matters. Taken together, these steps could significantly contribute to an increase in the rates of a private sector employment among young Egyptian job seekers, even in the case of continued high public sector wages.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Islam, Labor Issues, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: Africa, America, Arabia
  • Author: Hafez Ghanem
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: This paper presents a political-economy analysis of the Egyptian transition experience from the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 until the end of 2013, and considers options for the future. Establishing a stable democracy in a country with weak institutions and no democratic culture will take years or even decades. With the benefit of hindsight, most observers were too optimistic in 2011 when they predicted that the “Arab Spring” would quickly lead to democracy. They are probably too pessimistic today when they declare the failure of Egypt's democratic transition. The millions of Egyptians who swarmed into Tahrir Square in January 2011 demanding that Mubarak step down, and then again in June 2013 asking for the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi, have learned how to use “people power.” A wall of fear has been broken, and it would be difficult for another autocratic regime to succeed in ruling Egypt for an extended period of time.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Islam, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Arabia, North Africa, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Boko Haram's four-year-old insurgency has pitted neighbour against neighbour, cost more than 4,000 lives, displaced close to half a million, destroyed hundreds of schools and government buildings and devastated an already ravaged economy in the North East, one of Nigeria's poorest regions. It overstretches federal security services, with no end in sight, spills over to other parts of the north and risks reaching Niger and Cameroon, weak countries poorly equipped to combat a radical Islamist armed group tapping into real governance, corruption, impunity and underdevelopment grievances shared by most people in the region. Boko Haram is both a serious challenge and manifestation of more profound threats to Nigeria's security. Unless the federal and state governments, and the region, develop and implement comprehensive plans to tackle not only insecurity but also the injustices that drive much of the troubles, Boko Haram, or groups like it, will continue to destabilise large parts of the country. Yet, the government's response is largely military, and political will to do more than that appears entirely lacking.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Islam, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: Matt Bryden
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The September 2013 attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Center, which left more than 70 people dead, has positioned the Somali extremist group, Al-Shabaab, firmly in the global spotlight. While some observers have interpreted the attack as a sign of "desperation," others perceive it as an indication of Al-Shabaab's reformation and resurgence under the leadership of the movement's Amir, Ahmed Abdi aw Mohamud Godane. The reality is, as usual, more complex. Westgate provided a glimpse of a movement in the throes of a protracted, fitful, and often-violent transition: Al-shabaab is in the process of reinventing itself.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Africa