Religion & Geopolitics Weekly Roundup

At a Glance

Religion & Geopolitics Weekly Roundup

04 Sep 2014

World leaders gathering at the NATO summit will discuss the ongoing threat from ISIS. This week we take a look at the factionalism of the global jihadi movement, the effect it is having on religious conflict around the world and the ongoing conflicts in Nigeria, Central African Republic and Thailand.

Top Stories

Jihadi movements: Examining recent developments in global jihadi movements, a briefing note from the Centre on Religion & Geopolitics focuses on tactical changes, increased factionalism and a notable generational shift in fighters.

ISIS and al-Qaeda: In light of the emerging threat from ISIS extending to other regions, not solely the Middle East and with the group locked in a battle for leadership of global jihad with al-Qaeda,  J.M Berger examines the situation worldwide.

South Asia

India/South Asia: With news of the announcement of a new Indian branch of al-Qaeda capturing the headlines,  Bobby Ghosh says the move is a desperate one that indicates the group's increasing irrelevance in global jihadism.

South Asia:  Ankit Panda looks at the likelihood of extremist groups in South Asia pledging allegiance to the ISIS caliphate, concluding that this could only occur if the group succeeds in its project to dethrone al-Qaeda from its dominant position in the region.

Afghanistan: Janine Davidson and Emerson Brooking argue that Afghanistan should be at the top of the NATO summit agenda, claiming that lessons must be learned from ISIS' emergence in the wake of the coalition withdrawal from Iraq, as reports suggest that Taliban-affiliated fighters are on the verge of joining forces with ISIS.

Afghanistan:  Richard Kraemer remains optimistic about post-election prospects, pointing out the Taliban lack the means and popular support to retake control of the state, with millions of voters making it clear this year that their ballot is their voice.

Pakistan: As Pakistan's military announced this week that it has killed at least 900 suspected militants since June, the humanitarian situation in North Waziristan continues to worsen.  International Crisis Group's monthly report documents the military refusing access to local and international humanitarian agencies, with the vacuum being exploited by the charity wings of jihadi organisations.

South East Asia

South East Asia: Hannah Suh analyses how ISIS could influence extremist groups in South East Asia, including the potential to revitalise groups such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the Philippines and the importance of a regional response.  Luke Hunt, writing in The Diplomat, also says there is now a desire for a joint response from countries in South East Asia to address the ISIS threat.

Myanmar: Justine Drennan reports this week on the preliminary results from the Myanmar census, drawing attention to the absence of the Rohingya on the census form. Meanwhile the Thomson Reuters Foundation interviews  a former political prisoner who is working to end the persecution of the Rohingya Muslims.

Thailand: As reports emerge of more attacks in the Southern Thailand by Muslim separatists, Veronica Pedrosa reports from Pattani where women and children are being targeted and are now demanding safe zones. Meanwhile  Joshua Kurlantzick looks at a report by Human Rights Watch this week suggesting that the country's housing of thousands of migrant children, including Rohingya Muslims, is responsible for its worsening human trafficking record.

Middle East and North Africa

Iraq/Syria: As Western governments explore their responses to foreign fighters going to fight for ISIS, in the aftermath of the murders of James Foley and Steven Sotloff,  The Economist examines the myriad reasons that young Muslims go to fight. 

Libya: Libya's Grand Mufti is a polarising figure, framing the country's divisions in terms of good and evil, reports Pomegranate. In a  Briefing Note, the Centre on Religion and Geopolitics explains the crisis currently wracking the country.  

West Bank: Hamas, suppressed in the West Bank since the party ousted Fatah from Gaza, appears to be making a comeback, writes The Economist. As things stand, it is unlikely to engage in a direct confrontation with Fatah, but a declining economy and Israeli pressure may change the equation. 

Turkey: New Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's leadership of Turkey's foreign policy in recent years has been driven by his Ottoman revivalism, writes Soner Cagaptay. This requires a rose-tinted view of the latter days of the Ottoman Empire and is the source of the country's current foreign policy challenges. 

Sub-Saharan Africa

Central African Republic: Amid worrying signs of violations of the ceasefire and tensions in the government, James Verini provides an in-depth overview of the conflict, looking at the ongoing violence in the country despite the ceasefire.

Nigeria: Amid reports of further advances by Boko Haram, the Nigeria Security Network has a special report looking at how Boko Haram are gaining territory in the north east of the country and predicting where the next advances could be. A Chatham House paper also addresses how Boko Haram are evolving and looks particularly at the importance of the upcoming elections in 2015.


Religious Freedom: A new joint publication by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and the UN Global Compact Business for Peace platform outlines a number of ways in which businesses are supporting interfaith understanding and peace, whilst also making the case that interfaith understanding – and its contribution to peace – is in the interest of business.


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