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Militancy and the Arc of Instability: Violent Extremism in the Sahel

Spotlight   published by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies on September 28, 2016

Violent extremist organizations have expanded their ambitions, capacities, and geographical reach into the Sahel and West Africa, creating an arc of instability across the region. Boko Haram, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and other militant groups present a continuing threat to the stability of the region. As they come under increasing pressure from regional and international security forces, their future evolution is uncertain, but they have proven their ability to adapt and rebound in the face of previous setbacks. The Africa Center’s Benjamin Nickels joined a panel experts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies to discuss the continuing challenges facing the Sahel.

Islamist Extremism in East Africa

Africa Security Brief No. 32   published by Abdisaid M. Ali on August 9, 2016

Abdisaid M. Ali reviews the mainstreaming of Salafist ideology in East Africa and the polarizing impact of this more exclusivist interpretation of Islam.

Violent Extremism and Instability in the Greater Horn of Africa: An Examination of Drivers and Responses

Recommended research   published by Eelco Kessels, Tracey Durner, and Matthew Schwartz, The Global Center on Cooperative Security on April 30, 2016

Violent extremism is expressed in myriad ways throughout the Greater Horn of Africa, but some contributing factors span the region. Long-term problems with socioeconomic marginalization, unemployment, and poor infrastructure have combined with evolving demographic shifts, refugee flows, and environmental degradation to expand the population vulnerable to extremist messages. Systemic corruption also alienates citizens from their governance institutions. To build resilience to radical messages, East African countries must build tailored solutions in partnership with the private sector that include seemingly disparate elements such as service provision, community engagement, and literacy building.

Libya, Extremism, and the Consequences of Collapse

Recommended research   published by The Soufan Group on January 27, 2016

Internal and external actors in Libya have pushed varied, divergent agendas, and the country has been unable to form a unified political system. Criminal and violent extremist groups have flourished and begun to monopolize black market activities. If their economic control hardens, it may persist beyond the eventual formation of a government and make a Libyan government more difficult to finance and stabilize in the long run.

Extremism: Root Causes, Drivers, and Responses

Spotlight   published by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies on November 20, 2015

Four of the eight ‘provinces’ or wilayat of the group’s self-declared caliphate are located in Africa Algeria, Libya, Egypt and Nigeria. While there are questions about the group’s ability to direct affiliates in a unified and coordinated campaign, those who have declared loyalty to ISIS have adopted its signature brutality. Efforts to counter violent extremism... Continue Reading

Future (Im)perfect? Mapping Conflict, Violence, and Extremism in Africa

Recommended research   published by Jakkie Cilliers on October 16, 2015

Africa hosts a disproportionate level of conflict compared to other regions in the world. Since 2011, there has been an upsurge in fatalities attributed to violent Islamist extremism, mostly as a result of Boko Haram. Nonetheless, other types of political violence are still responsible for more incidents and higher levels of casualties than Islamist extremist violence in Africa. These conflicts often result from high youth unemployment and lack of political inclusion. Thus, while countering violent extremism should remain a security priority, governments must also put adequate effort toward improving accountability and capability to provide inclusive security and economic opportunity for citizens.

The Role of Disarmament, Demobilization & Reintegration in Countering Violent Extremism

Recommended research   published by Dean Piedmont, Centre for Security Governance on June 30, 2015

The classic approach to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) is faltering in an environment that now includes violent extremism and transnational mercenaries. Countering violent extremism and de-radicalization must be integrated within DDR. As has been seen by the number of well-educated and middle-income recruits to violent extremist organizations, DDR must refocus its goal from socioeconomic reintegration to social cohesion as a precondition to sustainably reintegrate former fighters.

Fundamental Security Challenges Nigeria Must Face, Part 5: Strategies for Combating Extremism

Spotlight   published by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies on May 7, 2015

Part 1: Identity Part 2: Faultlines Part 3: Extremism Part 4: Boko Haram Part 5: Strategies for combating extremism Part 6: Military professionalism Part 7: Maritime security Part 8: Governance The date was June 11, 2009. Nearly 20 unarmed Boko Haram motorcyclists were fatally shot by police for refusing to wear safety helmets. The episode... Continue Reading

Fundamental Security Challenges Nigeria Must Face, Part 3: Extremism

Spotlight   published by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies on April 10, 2015

Part 1: Identity Part 2: Faultlines Part 3: Extremism Part 4: Boko Haram Part 5: Strategies for combating extremism Part 6: Military professionalism Part 7: Maritime security Part 8: Governance Extremist interpretations of Islam by marginalized communities in Nigeria have strong resonance as an avenue to address perceived injustices and economic inequalities. The dangers of... Continue Reading

Salafism, State-Politics, and the Question of “Extremism” in Ethiopia

Recommended research   published by Terje Østebø, University of Florida on December 31, 2014

Ethiopia is witnessing an expansion of the Salafi movement. The Ethiopian government has increasingly interpreted Salafism as extremist movement that is seeking political power and Islamization of the state. However, Salafism is a religious organization whose ideological roots support detachment from public and political life.  This misdiagnosis has prompted a misguided campaign by the Ethiopian... Continue Reading

Preventing Violent Extremism in Burkina Faso: Toward National Resilience Amid Regional Insecurity

Recommended research   published by Augustin Loada and Peter Romaniuk, Global Center on Cooperative Security on June 30, 2014

Although Burkina Faso has remained relatively peaceful and stable in an insecure region where violent extremism has undermined security, structural challenges within the country—such as endemic corruption, religious tension and chronic underdevelopment—render the country vulnerable to extremism. The Burkinabé government, civil society and stakeholder states should seek to nurture resilience by promoting development and community... Continue Reading

A Review of Africa Center Research on Terrorism and Countering Violent Extremism

Spotlight   published by Paul Nantulya on April 2, 2014

As the terrorist threat continues to evolve in North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, the Africa Center through its various programs continues to bring together African, American and European civilian and military professionals to discuss its dimensions and possible solutions. Countering violent extremism On February 24–27, 2014, the Africa Center convened African Union (AU), United States... Continue Reading