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Islamic Militancy in Africa

Africa Security Brief No. 23   published by Terje Østebø on November 30, 2012

The rise in Islamic militancy in the Sahel, northern Nigeria, and the Horn of Africa has elevated attention to this evolving security concern. Hopes that Africa’s historically moderate interpretations of Islam would suffice to filter extremist views from gaining meaningful traction seem increasingly misplaced. More generally, understanding of this unconventional security challenge is often based more on speculation than informed assessment. Responses must avoid conflating distinct Islamist actors while addressing local level perceptions of disaffection and under-representation that underpin support for militants.

Boko Haram’s Evolving Threat

Africa Security Brief No. 20   published by J. Peter Pham on April 30, 2012

Support for Boko Haram among some of northern Nigeria’s marginalized Muslim communities suggests that security actions alone will be insufficient to quell the instability.

Regional Security Cooperation in the Maghreb and Sahel: Algeria’s Pivotal Ambivalence

Africa Security Brief No. 18   published by Laurence Aïda Ammour on February 28, 2012

Despite growing concerns across the Sahel and Maghreb over the increasing potency of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the diffusion of heavily armed mercenaries from Libya, the expanding influence of arms and drugs trafficking, and the widening lethality of Boko Haram, regional security cooperation to address these transnational threats remains fragmented. Algeria is well-positioned to play a central role in defining this cooperation, but must first reconcile the complex domestic, regional, and international considerations that shape its decision-making.

Alternative Dispute Resolution in Africa: Preventing Conflict and Enhancing Stability

Africa Security Brief No. 16   published by Ernest Uwazie on November 30, 2011

Low-level disputes in Africa can spiral into violence and conflict due to the lack of effective judicial systems that can provide a credible and timely process for resolving differences. Alternative dispute resolution techniques can strengthen dispute settlement systems and bridge the gap between formal legal systems and traditional modes of African justice. They may have particular value in stabilization and statebuilding efforts when judicial institutions are weak and social tensions are high.

Sifting Through the Layers of Insecurity in the Sahel: The Case of Mauritania

Africa Security Brief No. 15   published by Cédric Jourde on September 30, 2011

Increasing narcotrafficking and a more active Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb are elevating concerns over instability in the Sahel. However, the region’s threats are more complex than what is observable on the surface. Rather, security concerns are typically characterized by multiple, competing, and fluctuating interests at the local, national, and regional levels. Effectively responding to these threats requires in-depth understanding of the multiple contextual layers in which illicit actors operate.

Optimizing Africa’s Security Force Structures

Africa Security Brief No. 13   published by Helmoed Heitman on May 31, 2011

Combating irregular forces has become a common feature of the contemporary African security landscape. However, the security sector in most African countries is ill-prepared to conduct effective counter-insurgency operations. Realigning force structures to address these threats while building security sector professionalism to gain the trust of local populations is needed to do so.

Security Implications of Climate Change in the Sahel Region: Policy Considerations

Recommended research   published by Philipp Heinrigs, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on December 31, 2010

Multiple climate change models foresee future environmental pressures in the harsh Sahel region that could trigger the collapse of community coping mechanisms, mass displacement, and regional fragility. At the same time, no deterministic relationship between environment and insecurity is apparent. Political and economic circumstances display a stronger role in the region’s conflict dynamics. However, adjustments... Continue Reading

Misinterpreting Ethnic Conflicts in Africa

Africa Security Brief No. 4   published by Clement Mweyang Aapenguo on April 30, 2010

Ethnic conflicts in Africa are often portrayed as having ages-old origins with little prospects for resolution. This Security Brief challenges that notion arguing that a re-diagnosis of the underlying drivers to ethnic violence can lead to more effective and sustainable responses.

U.S. Security Engagement in Africa

Africa Security Brief No. 1   published by William M. Bellamy on September 15, 2009

A significant development in Africa over the past decade has been the generalized lessening of violent conflict. Revitalized, expanded international peacekeeping, bolstered by a newly launched African Union determination to tackle security challenges, has reinforced this trend. But, much more cohesive interagency coordination under strong White House direction is required if the United States is to contribute to Africa’s sustained stability given the region’s persistent conditions of poverty, inequality, and weak governance.