Combatting Terrorism: Soft Power Approaches

Bedouin protest over the recent terrorist attacks in 2006. Image: John Barker/Flickr

This article was originally published on 20 July 2015 by The Strategist, a blog run by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

Over a decade of securitised transnational approaches to combatting terrorist activity and propaganda have shown that such approaches are ineffective on their own. Sometimes, these ‘hard power’ measures can actually damage efforts to roll back the appeal and participation in violent extremism.

While such steps may be justified in domestic contexts where threats are critical or imminent, failure to accompany these with robust ‘soft power’ initiatives will prove fatal in the longer-term. If we are to succeed in countering violent extremism, these are some key strategies to invest in: » More

Evolving Conflicts: an Analysis of Ongoing Violence in the Middle East and North Africa

Free Syrian Army rebels preparing for battle. Image: Freedom House/Flickr

Since the start of the Iraq war, the Middle East has been descending into deeper levels of violence. Currently, most of the countries in the region are either suffering from internal conflicts or being affected by other conflicts. And much of the violence in the region is centred in the two least peaceful countries in this year’s Global Peace Index: Syria and Iraq.

The Global Peace Index, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, measures peace in 162 countries according to 23 indicators of the absence of violence or the fear of violence. This year’s GPI discusses the ongoing conflicts in the six Middle Eastern and North African countries most affected by conflict. Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Israel and Lebanon had the highest number of conflict-related civilian and battle fatalities in the region in 2014, and in many cases, that number has been sharply on the rise.

These conflicts have global significance for a variety of reasons, not least because of their fluid nature and increasing intensity. While there is a lot of uncertainty about how events may unfold, what is clear is that the dynamics underlying these conflicts are complex. The fact that each conflict includes numerous state and non-state participants with different tactical and strategic interests only makes the path to peace less clear. The report highlights some of the more important drivers of violence and sets out some of the opportunities for building peace. It includes a detailed discussion of conflict in each country and addresses the following key themes: » More

Is Wildlife Trafficking a National Security Threat?

Confiscated illegal animal products at JFK airport. Image: Steve Hildebrand/Wikimedia

This article was originally published on 10 June 2015 by New Security Beat, a blog run by the Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) at the Wilson Center.

Trafficking of illegal wildlife goods is quickly becoming one of the most lucrative illicit businesses in the world. With growing demand in Asia, an industry that was once fed by isolated, small-scale poaching incidents is now run by well-organized, transnational criminal networks, similar to narcotics and guns. The Obama administration labeled wildlife trafficking as a national priority in 2013 and released a National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trafficking in 2014. A detailed implementation plan for the strategy followed this year, identifying key steps and implementing agencies to help end trafficking in the United States and abroad. » More

Comments Off

Peace in an Age of Terrorism: Can the AU Achieve Vision 2020?

The flag of the African Union. Image: wikimedia

This article was originally published by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) on 12 June 2015.

A Solemn Declaration at the 50th anniversary of the African Union (AU) in 2013 outlined the vision to ‘end all wars in Africa by 2020′. However, prospects for ‘silencing the guns’ are fast eroding. With only five years remaining, no significant progress has been made.

The success of Vision 2020 is also crucial for achieving Agenda 2063 – the AU’s ambitious development plan that seeks to transform Africa into a prosperous, integrated, well-governed and peaceful continent by 2063.

Achieving Vision 2020 depends on Africa’s ability to successfully tackle the root causes of conflicts, putting an end to impunity and eradicating piracy, and also whether it manages to combat extremism, armed rebellions, terrorism, transnational organised crime and cybercrime. The AU is yet to roll out a comprehensive plan with targeted deadlines on how to eliminate these issues at various levels. This raises concerns about how serious the organisation is about accomplishing what many would see as an impossible task. » More

Comments Off

‘You Have to Neutralise Terrorists through Terrorists’: Is There a Method to This Madness?

Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar addresses the media during the Naval Commanders’ Conference 2015. Image: Indian Navy/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by Strife on 2 June 2015.

While attending a function in New Delhi On May 21st, India’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said ‘You have to neutralise terrorists through terrorists’. He was referring to the threats to Indian national security from an alleged Pakistan sponsored proxy war. It was a profound statement, as it came from a defence minister of a right-wing nationalist government that came into power with an absolute majority riding on the election promises of giving a befitting reply to provocations originating in Pakistan. » More

Comments Off
Page 1 of 9