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Abstract: This Policy Brief examines the real and imagined influence of al-Qa‘ida in North Africa and the Sahel. Despite a perception of the transnationalization of terrorist movements in North Africa under al-Qa‘ida’s banner, robust evidence of an effective al-Qa‘ida’s expansion in the Maghreb and the Sahara/Sahel region remains elusive at best. Rather, doubts about al-Qa‘ida’s actual threat and the efficacy of international response in the context of pervasive state failure in the Sahel raise questions regarding the policy objectives of US-led counter-terrorism in the region.
Abstract: The recent political upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa region have exposed growing concerns about conflict risk, political stability, and reform prospects across its societies. Given the prevalence of oil and gas resource endowments in the region, which a voluminous literature suggests can be associated with adverse development consequences, this paper examines the interplay between their associated rents and political economy trajectories. The contribution of the paper is threefold: first, to examine the quantitative evidence of violent conflict in the region since 1960; second, to provide a nuanced review of the regional case study literature on the relationship between resource endowments, political stability, and conflict risk; and third, to assess how prospective political transitions have implications for the World Bank Group's work in the region on public sector management and private sector development. The authors find that resources and regimes have intersected to provide stability and limited violent conflict in the region, but that these development patterns have yielded a set of policy choices and development patterns that are proving increasingly brittle and unsustainable. A major institutional challenge for reforms will be to consolidate a requisite degree of inter-temporal credibility and stability in these regimes, while expanding inclusiveness in state-society relations.
Abstract: This policy brief focuses on a case study. It is suggested that an environmental disaster during the summer of 2010 in the Black Sea region triggered in winter 2011 a food crisis in the Arab World; in turn, this led to massive riots, revolts, political instability, a NATO operation and, alas, an oil crisis that accentuates an already suffering global economy. Coextensively, it may be suggested that an environmental crisis triggered a political crisis, which escalated in a series of conflicts that are of major concern for traditional security structures in Europe and beyond. In sum, the argument is made that as a result of this experience, the human security agenda must have a direct effect on our traditional security agenda. The question addressed at this point is how these interrelated chains of events affect the security establishment and our notions of a ‘high strategy.’
Abstract: North Africa is bracing itself. Not since Algeria’s brutal civil war a generation ago has the region witnessed so much turmoil and uncertainty. Angry and frustrated masses demanding improved governance and greater socioeconomic opportunities present regimes with new challenges. The need for governments to address these grievances is urgent. Failure to respond will intensify public pressure and heighten the risk of more violence.
Abstract: The level of women’s participation in armed violence in Africa is determined by the nature and
typology of conflict. Using prior research as a data source, the article examines the nature of
women’s participation in on-going and recently-concluded armed conflicts in 15 countries in Africa.
Based upon data that show variations, and similarities in the contextual conditions under which
women become war participants, this article presents three kinds of wars, and the conditions that
distinguish them from one another, as a theoretical framework in analysing women’s involvement in
Africa’s armed conflicts. The findings show that in ‘resources/opportunistic’ driven wars, women’s
participation is higher and more complex when compared to ‘ethno-religious’ and
‘secessionist/autonomy’ driven wars. Moreover, this paper finds that women’s participation can be
active and passive; coerced and voluntary.
Abstract: Foreign fighters fuel the world’s conflicts. They
make conflicts more costly for host nations and
peacekeepers. These extremists come from all over
the world and believe they need to fight for their
ideological survival. The best way to combat the
use of foreign fighters is to stop them as close to the
source as possible. This can be difficult, especially if
the U.S. is lacking diplomatic, informational, military,
and economic relations with the source country.
The U.S. government, especially military and
political agencies, needs to be aware of the foreign
fighter phenomenon and plan for it when developing
new contingency and campaign plans as well as
further developing bilateral and regional relationships
in foreign fighter source and transit countries.
This paper will discuss and highlight, from the
national security perspective, the potential military
actions for interdicting foreign fighters. The foreign
fighter problem set, terminology, and life cycle are
defined and discussed. Foreign fighters in current
conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan/Pakistan, and Somalia
are discussed as well. Finally, potential solutions
are introduced as well as actions the U.S. military
can take to stem the flow of foreign fighters within
stability operations framework.
Abstract: Efforts to promote “deradicalization,” or to rehabilitate
detainees charged with terrorism-related
offenses, have taken multiple forms in a wide range
of countries, often as part of broader counterradicalization
strategies that seek to prevent the
adoption of violent extremist ideologies or
behaviors in the first place. Some are more formal
rehabilitation programs, with well-defined agendas,
institutional structures, and a dedicated full-time
staff, while others are a looser combination of social
and political initiatives. Programs vary in their
objectives, their criteria for participation, and the
kinds of benefits and incentives they might offer.
The cumulative lessons learned from several states’
experiences in dealing with violent extremist
groups are of growing interest to countries now
facing similar challenges.
With its global membership, neutral “brand,” and
powerful convening capacity, the United Nations
has the potential to play a powerful role in setting
global norms and shaping international legal
frameworks regarding counterterrorism, as well as
in providing a platform for the exchange of
information and technical assistance for practitioners
This paper draws lessons learned from case
studies of deradicalization initiatives in eight
Muslim-majority countries, which corroborate the
experiences of countries in other regions that have
grappled with violent extremist groups. The paper
concludes by making recommendations
concerning how the UN could help to facilitate the
provision of knowledge and resources to key
stakeholders interested in establishing or strengthening
their own rehabilitation programs.
Abstract: National security is normally seen in terms of military strength and internal security operations against extremists and insurgents. The upheavals that began in Tunis, and now play out from Pakistan to Morocco,. have highlighted the fact that national security is measured in terms of the politics, economics, and social tensions that shape national stability as well. It is all too clear that the wrong kind of internal security efforts, and national security spending that limits the ability to meet popular needs and expectations can do as much to undermine national security over time as outside and extremist threats.
It is equally clear that calls for democracy are at best only the prelude to dealing with critical underlying problems, pressures, and expectations. It is far from certain that even successful regime change can evolve into functional democracies and governance. Countries with no political parties and experienced leaders, with no history of checks and balances in government, with weak structure of governance led by new political figures with no administrative experience, will often descend into chaos, extremism, or a new round of authoritarianism. Even the best governments, however, are unlikely to change an economy and national infrastructure in less than half a decade, and existing demographic pressures will inevitably go on for at least the next decade.
Abstract: In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States the terms of terrorism and insurgency have become part of the everyday American lexicon and for that matter much of the international community’s as well. So common has the usage of these terms become that it would appear they are almost interchangeable if not the same. There is, however, a distinction between a terrorist and an insurgent. It is this distinction which lies at the heart of the difficulty in combating an enemy who does not look like or operate in the manner of a traditional conventional armed threat. If an enemy is identified as being irregular and not keeping with traditional enemy threat models what are the most effect methods for addressing this type of threat? Add to this complexity of combating an unclear and irregular threat the use of terrorism which adds a new dynamic to the situation. Does the presence of terrorist acts indicate those acts were committed by terrorists or some other type of group such as a revolutionary, an insurgent or a guerrilla?
Abstract: The United States has increasingly viewed the government of Algeria as an important partner in
the fight against Al Qaeda-linked groups in North Africa. The Algerian economy is largely based
on hydrocarbons, and the country is a significant source of natural gas for the United States and
Europe. Algeria receives little development assistance from the United States, but its security
forces benefit from U.S. security assistance and participation in bilateral and regional military
Algeria’s relative stability, always tenuous, has most recently been challenged by a series of riots
and popular demonstrations that have occurred since early January 2011. The unrest initially
appeared to be motivated by discontent over food prices, but has turned more overtly political
since mid-January. The example of neighboring Tunisia’s “Jasmine Revolution” and the ripple
effects of ongoing unrest in Egypt may contribute to opposition activism, with further protests
anticipated in mid-February. The government has reacted both by attempting to assuage the
public through political and economic concessions and by using the security forces to prevent and
break up demonstrations. Across the region, other authoritarian governments have adopted a
similar approach with varying results.
Abstract: Beyond noting the fluidity, ambiguity and ambivalence associated with the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, there is little consensus on causes and likely consequences. Do these geopolitical earthquakes constitute an “Arab Spring” leading to transition democratization, akin to 1989 in Central and Eastern Europe? Or should we look to 1979 in Iran, and the prospect of Sunni rather than Shia theocracy taking hold? Might the wider Muslim world – Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey – provide alternative potential governance models for the MENA region, given indigenous variants appear exhausted and no longer able to self-reproduce? What are the lessons which other MENA incumbent regimes and the international community will identify? How might those lessons be learned?
Abstract: Since the dawn of aviation, airpower has played an important role in counterinsurgency operations. This has been especially true as the security situations in Iraq and Afghanistan have deteriorated. While ground forces learned to reapply old lessons to a new environment, air support was reshaped to provide an asymmetric advantage. The capabilities that were developed have become indispensible for conducting a modern counterinsurgency effort. The proliferation of antiaccess and area denial capabilities along with long-range precision weaponry will result in greater challenges for all military operations, even COIN. Airpower will continue to provide critical support and must integrate lessons from operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Abstract: Following the fall of Tunisia's President and in light of the upheaval in Egypt, the spectre of domino effects has been raised. The lack of prospects for young people, social injustice and political repression - all causes that sparked the protests in Tunisia - are problems in virtually all Arab states.
Abstract: Natural resources are often held responsible for intrastate conflicts. As a consequence, both
national and international measures to avoid the detrimental impact of resource endowments
have increasingly been discussed and implemented in resource‐rich countries. These
measures include stabilization funds, subregional development programs, revenue‐sharing
regimes, and transparency initiatives. However, comparative empirical studies of the actual
impact of these measures, particularly regarding their contribution to conflict prevention, are
scarce. This paper contributes to the filling of this gap: combining a medium‐N sample of oildependent
countries and three in‐depth case studies (Algeria, Nigeria, and Venezuela), we
evaluate different instruments of resource management and their effects on conflict risk factors.
On the one hand, the findings do not show any systematic connection between the
countermeasures and a reduction in resource‐related risks; on the other, the paper highlights
common causal factors for the lack of implementation of resource‐related countermeasures.
Abstract: The purpose of this updated report is to supplement two earlier special studies published in 2009 and January 2010: “Why the Maghreb Matters: Threats, Opportunities, and Options for Effective Engagement in North Africa” (March 2009) was co-sponsored by the Conflict Management Program of the John Hopkins University jointly with the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. The second report, “Maghreb & Sahel Terrorism: Addressing the Rising Threat from al-Qaeda and other Terrorists in North and West/Central Africa”(January 2010), was published by the International Center for Terrorism Studies at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
In sum, a coherent and firm US policy vis-à-vis the threats of terrorism in Maghreb and Sahel would increase domestic public understanding and support in the US for sustained engagement with the nations of North and West/Central Africa. The updated documents incorporated in this report, particularly the statistical tables and terrorism chronology covering the period September 11, 2001 – December 31, 2010 make it clear that constructive and sustained engagement is vital, employing both “hard” (security, military, intelligence cooperation) and “soft” elements (economic and social development creating employment opportunities, education that equips students/trainees for jobs, and reduction of religious radicalism). Otherwise, the US, the EU, and our friends in the region will remain hostages to, and targets of, these ideological, theological, and political terrorists for the remainder of the 21st century.
Abstract: The military balance in North Africa, and internal security developments in each country, receive less attention than the Arab-Israeli balance and the balance in the Gulf. They are, however, an important part of the security of world energy exports, and the struggle against terrorism and extremism. Moreover, major acquisitions on the part of Algeria and Morocco starting in 2006, and potential major orders by Libya, could mark the beginning of important military modernization efforts in the region.
Abstract: Militias, rebels and Islamist militants: human insecurity and state crises in Africa explores how armed non-state groups have emerged as key players in African politics and armed conflicts since the 1990s. The book is a critical, multidisciplinary and comprehensive study of the threats that militias, rebels and Islamist militants pose to human security and the state in Africa. Through case studies utilising multidisciplinary approaches and concepts, analytical frameworks and perspectives cutting across the social sciences and humanities, the book conceptualises armed non-state groups in Africa through their links to the state. After contextualising these groups in history, culture, economics, politics, law and other factors, a systematic effort is made to locate their roots in group identity, social deprivation, resource competition, elite manipulations, the youth problématique, economic decline, poor political leadership and governance crisis. Differentiating militias from insurgents, rebel groups and extremist religious movements, the book illustrates how some of the groups have sustained themselves, undermining both human security and the state capacity to provide it. The responses to their threats by local communities, states, regional mechanisms and initiatives, and the international communities are analysed. The findings provide a conceptual reference for scholars and practical recommendations for policymakers.
Abstract: Since its founding in January 2007, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
has continued the jihadi fi ght begun by its predecessor, the Salafi st Group for
Preaching and Combat (GSPC), against the Algerian government. Algeria’s
ability to contain the jihadis has forced AQIM to develop networks in the
Sahara and to cooperate with smuggling rings there. Its mobile commandos,
already active in Mauritania, now represent a serious security threat in northern
parts of Mali and Niger, where they have abducted Westerners and frequently
clashed with government forces.
Osama bin Laden appears to have no grand plans for Africa. But the
Algerian-run AQIM could help al-Qaeda central incorporate a new generation
of recruits from the Sahel. This jihadi progression south of the Sahara is
limited, but troublesome, especially given a recent offer by AQIM’s leader to
train Muslim militias in Nigeria.
However, the ethno-racial divide within al-Qaeda has kept African recruits
out of leadership roles. AQIM cannot prove its commitment to “Africanized”
jihad without Africanizing at least some of its leadership. Also, AQIM has
partnered throughout the Sahel with criminals, not local salafi movements,
limiting its appeal and preventing it from becoming a revolutionary challenger.
This does not mean deterring AQIM will be easy: Mauritania, Mali, and Niger
are among the world’s poorest states and will require international support to
defuse AQIM’s momentum. Algeria is right to push for regional cooperation
to address the threat, and discreet aid from the West is crucial to help the Sahel
countries regain control of their territory from al-Qaeda forces and prevent the
terror group from taking hold in Africa.
Abstract: This paper explores the use of hydrocarbon revenues in post‐conflict Algeria. While the
bloody years of the 1990s now seem to be over, recurring terror attacks and the ongoing
state of emergency leave room for doubt that a situation of stable peace has been achieved
yet. It is therefore necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of post‐conflict peace‐building efforts
in Algeria and identify ways of improving these measures. The resources, which are
mainly controlled by the central state, can have positive and negative effects on the political
economy: they can enhance growth and possibilities for the distribution of wealth, but
the dependency on them makes the whole economy vulnerable to crises. Analysing the
economic (and other) causes of the outbreak of the intra‐state war in 1992 and the reasons
for its escalation and its fading out can be revealing when assessing the extent to which
critical conditions have or have not been addressed by recent and current peace‐building
efforts. The author’s analysis reveals that the measures taken by the government—such as
implementing a programme of national reconciliation, the stimulation of certain sectors of
the economy and the resolute reduction of foreign debt—all aim at stabilization and have
all been driven by hydrocarbon income to a large extent. However, the recent rise and
sudden drop in the price of oil and gas have both had an effect on the scope of these
measures and reveal their limits. Moreover, some of the critical causes of the civil war such
as the unfair distribution of revenue, the lack of political participation and destabilizing
demographic changes still persist and have largely remained unaddressed. One of the author’s
concluding assumptions therefore is that it is very likely that the use of resource
revenues for conflict prevention and peace‐building will only lead to sustainable results
when embedded in full‐fledged reforms of Algeria’s entire economic and political system.
Abstract: As the governments of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) undertake the difficult process of enacting social and political change, the unequal status of women presents a particularly formidable challenge. In Iraq, deliberations over women's legal status have been as contentious as negotiations over how to structure the government. In Jordan, measures to increase penalties for so-called honor crimes faced strong resistance by ultraconservative parliamentarians and ordinary citizens who believe that tradition and religion afford them the right to severely punish and even murder female relatives for behavior they deem immoral. These debates are not just legal and philosophical struggles among elites. They are emotionally charged political battles that touch upon fundamental notions of morality and social order.
In order to provide a detailed look at the conditions faced by women in the Middle East and understand the complex environment surrounding efforts to improve their status, Freedom House conducted a comprehensive study of women's rights in the region. The first edition of this project was published in 2005. The present edition offers an updated examination of the issue, with a special focus on changes that have occurred over the last five years. Although the study indicates that a substantial deficit in women's rights persists in every country in the MENA region, the findings also include notable progress, particularly in terms of economic opportunities, educational attainment, and political participation.
Abstract: Algeria’s intrastate war in the 1990s, during which militant Islamists and the state fought
fiercely against each other, still raises questions concerning the decisive factors leading to
its onset and escalation. This paper uses the resource curse approach and the rentier state
theory to understand the impact resource wealth could have had on the outbreak of this
violent conflict, then goes one step further, adopting a context‐sensitive approach. This
approach attempts to juxtapose those conditions directly linked to the resource sector with
the general conflict‐fueling conditions diagnosed in Algeria. It takes into account conditions
both within the country and in the international context. The application of a context
matrix allows us to examine the interplay of resource‐related factors and other conflictdriving
forces, such as socioeconomic, demographic and ideological changes. Such an approach
not only broadens the general understanding of the resource‐violence link but also
enhances our understanding of the eruption of violence in Algeria.
Abstract: Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, established in January 2007, is the latest
in a long line of Algerian jihadi groups. Like many terrorist organizations,
AQIM enjoys global media exposure on activist Internet sites, but unlike other
al-Qaeda franchises, it has managed to maintain its indigenous leadership. The
group has become known for fearsome suicide attacks, which were previously
unheard of in Algeria, but has failed to incorporate the jihadi outfi ts from
neighboring Morocco and Tunisia. AQIM has therefore focused on the northern
Sahara, carving out safe havens and threatening weak government forces,
fi rst in Mauritania, and now increasingly in Mali.
At the outset, AQIM’s global strategy was based on the triangular dynamic
of the Middle East (where Iraq serves as a magnet for potential recruits),
North Africa (where the group functions as a regional jihadi recruiting hub),
and Europe (where it pursues aggressive propaganda against the French and
Spanish “Crusaders”). The demise of al-Qaeda in Iraq jeopardized this grand
design, undermining AQIM’s capabilities on both sides of the Mediterranean,
but although it primarily targets Western “Crusaders” in its own Algerian and
Saharan environment, AQIM remains wedded to a global agenda.
The threat of AQIM must be contained, and hopefully, ultimately eradicated.
Algeria and the other targeted states have a long record of fi ghting similar
jihadi networks, but they cannot confront transnational movements without
international cooperation. To address this threat, regional security organizations
can enhance much-needed bilateral exchanges among law enforcement
and intelligence agencies. Additionally, the countries implementing the UN
global strategy against terrorism should focus considerable attention on North
Africa and the Sahel, where the threat is on the rise, but not yet out of control.
Abstract: The Middle East remains one of the world’s stormier regions, with fault
lines running across ethnic groups, nation-states, communities, and
religions. Even a cursory overview of the region yields a long list of active and nascent strength in the nuclear realm as the most severe threat to their security.
Over the course of 2008 Iraq witnessed an improvement in security, but
there is still no guarantee that this achievement is stable or that it will be
possible to maintain it once American forces leave the country. At the same time, the conflict in Afghanistan is intensifying anew, and the growing involvement of NATO and US forces is expected to increase even further.
Over the last three years, Israel was involved in two armed confrontations
that were characterized as wars, both against sub-state organizations and
elements supported by Iran. The weight of non-state players in military
confrontations is growing, and military confrontations between countries
are becoming rarer.
Against this background, there is little wonder that the Middle East
remains a region characterized by ever-growing national armed forces
and non-state militias, and remains one of the largest customers of various
types of weaponry.
Abstract: On March 4, 2004, General Charles Wald, then-deputy commander for the European
Command (EUCOM), observed that “there has, without a doubt, been some
al-Qaida presence in portions of North Africa. But it isn’t like Afghanistan or other
places, and what’s more, Pakistan, for that matter.” On March 10, 2005, Rep. Edward R.
Royce (R-California), chairman of the House Subcommittee on International Terrorism
and Nonproliferation, mentioned in a prepared statement that the “train and equip eff orts
[undertaken by the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP)] are aimed at
eliminating the ‘next Afghanistan’: another terrorist sanctuary” across the Sahara-Sahel
region, which allegedly harbors Islamic militants and bin Laden sympathizers. More recently,
Rep. Jane Harman (D-California) argued that “North Africa could be the next front
in [the] war on terror.”
Emerging offi cial forecasts about the rise of violence in North Africa have enhanced
regional governments’ geostrategic positioning in the “Global War on Terror” (GWOT)
by strengthening their diplomatic and military ties to the United States. Speculations and
warnings about the “Afghanistan-ization” of North Africa have not, however, contributed to
the development of a viable interpretive framework for assessing the contexts and interests
underpinning radicalization. In reality, the threat level in the Maghreb in general, and in
Algeria in particular, can only be understood by taking the internal political situation into
consideration from an emic perspective. Only a fi ne-grained, qualitative framework, one
that attends to the processes of radicalization from an insider’s perspective, can reveal how
and why individuals are vulnerable to recruitment into the ranks of radical Islamists, the
so-called “salafi jihadi” network.
Abstract: The recent formation of al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) could be interpreted
as the opening of a new battlefield in the cause of international jihad.
Such a front, however, is not unprecedented. Algerian veterans of the 1980s
Afghan campaign against the Soviets returned home and played a key role in
the Islamist insurgency. Composed mainly of Algerian “Afghans,” the Armed
Islamic Group (GIA) committed unspeakable atrocities in the 1990s. Moroccan
and Algerian émigré communities in Europe, moreover, have played
important roles in financing for al Qaeda and a variety of North African
Salafist groups. Given its consolidation of North African Salafist terrorist
groups under one umbrella, al Qaeda in the Maghreb does present substantial
security challenges for North African and European governments.
Terrorism in the Mediterranean region has grown recently because of
numerous factors. By far the most important have been the growing fundamentalism
of some Maghrebi communities in Europe, the failures of the
jihadist movement (most notably in Algeria), and the financial largesse provided
to jihadist terror organizations by Islamist civil society and criminal networks. The Iraq war has added a powerful new impetus to the expansion
of the jihadist movement.
In this essay I argue that the al Qaeda – North African Salafist alliance is
a response to post-9/11 organizational and ideological problems. Al Qaeda’s
loss of its Afghan sanctuary and the breaking up of its command-andcontrol
operations have made it dependent on affiliates to recruit terrorists.
The inability of the North African Salafists to overthrow any government in
the Maghreb, moreover, requires the commissioning of a cause that could
give them new life. The crossfertilization of al Qaeda and North African
Salafists is a mutually beneficial arrangement designed to compensate for
My argument proceeds on four levels. First, I analyze various jihadist
movements, their common problems, and the reasons why they crossfertilize
their operations. Second, I examine the role of extremist Maghrebi communities
in Europe in facilitating this intermarriage between international
and nationalist jihadism. Third, I note the role of wars (Afghanistan, Bosnia,
Chechnya, Iraq, and Kashmir) in raising Muslim consciousness and Islamic
extremism. Finally, I provide an overview of the security threats created by
the Salafists’ incorporation into al Qaeda for the Mediterranean region.