Author Archives: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Organized Crime and Conflict in the Sahel-Sahara Region

Fragility in the Sahel-Sahara region is driven in part by worsening organized crime. Collusion between smugglers of cigarettes, drugs, and weapons and state officials has eroded state authority and created lucrative funding channels for Islamist terrorists, ethnically-aligned militias, and criminal groups in the Sahel-Sahara region. To reverse this worsening instability, governments and international partners should aim to break up alliances between militias and other local criminal networks that lack strong ideological or principled bonds. Meanwhile, improved opportunities for genuine political participation for marginalized groups can further diminish support for organized crime.

Mauritania’s Islamists

The legalization of once harshly suppressed Islamist groups in Mauritania has yielded a largely tolerant movement that supports democratic order and rejects jihadism. Islam appears to be the guiding value not the political doctrine of mainstream Mauritanian Islamists who are increasingly politically active and astute. However, their latitude to further undermine extremist ideologies and threats to Mauritania is tempered by the political necessity to remain distant from an unpopular regime that has aggressively pursued extremist groups.

From Violence to Moderation: Al-Jama‘a al-Islamiya and al-Jihad

Recognizing that violence has failed to achieve political change has led al-Jama’a al-Islamiya and segments of al-Jihadi to renounce violence and redefine their attitudes toward the state and society, shifting the Islamist spectrum toward moderation. However, the continued imprisonment of prominent Islamists and the government’s restrictions on others’ participation in political and social life remain obstacles to an emerging moderate Islamist agenda.

Protest Movements and Political Change in the Arab World

Levels of discontent and unrest have been growing for several years in North Africa and have coalesced into direct challenges to incumbent authoritarian regimes. Their success will be contingent on the ability of dispersed opposition groups to coordinate their efforts and link socioeconomic and political grievances as well as how incumbents choose to respond.

Islamists in Politics: The Dynamics of Participation

On-going ideological debates within Islamic parties often pit hard-line elements against reformers. When allowed to operate openly, most Islamist parties gradually moderate their agendas in order to widen their base of support. In contrast, politically constricted environments provide few opportunities to win new supporters, leaving Islamist parties to appeal to their base.

Salafism and Radical Politics in Postconflict Algeria

By Amel Boubekeur, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2008. Confronting indigenous Islamists movements has been a challenge not only for the West but for Arab governments. Strategies for the inclusion of moderates into the legal and political process while aggressively pursuing the radicals are gaining traction, though the political ramifications of this approach have yet to be seen. Part of the government strategy to counter radical groups (Da’wa Salafism, Salafiyya Harakiyya and Salafiyya Jihadiyya), include amnesty for those who abandon their radical views and a concerted effort of aggressively pursuing the rejecters. While only Da’wa Salafism has accepted the amnesty offer, the other two have seen their influence decline. Despite the success in containing these radical groups, the author argues that they still retain the capability to carry out terrorist attacks and thus represent a serious security threat.