Religion & Geopolitics Weekly Roundup

At a Glance

Religion & Geopolitics Weekly Roundup

17 Apr 2014

The role of social media in religious conflict has received a lot of attention recently. This week the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence released a groundbreaking study using social media to track the new spiritual influences on foreign fighters in Syria – and those planning on going. Also, the BBC reports from Nigeria – an early adopter of social media – where the government's slow response to Islamist attacks has prompted a #CitizenSolutionToEndTerrorism campaign on Twitter. The continuing and rising role of social media is something that we will be following as we observe the interaction between religion and geopolitics.

Top Stories

William Dalrymple is optimistic after good turnout early on in the Indian election, and the peaceful election in Afghanistan, but worries about Modi's ascent to power in India.

As news emerges from Yemen of a huge al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular gathering, Saeed al-Batati offers context: propaganda celebrating successes and promising more.

In the week we publish our latest Situation Report on Somalia, the Guardian guides us through some of the best reading material available on the conflict in the country.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Kenya:  Cedric Barnes reflects on the treatment of Somalis in Kenya in recent weeks, and argues that government actions create a larger constituency for Al-Shabaab.

Nigeria: Horrific stories from Nigeria have garnered international attention this week. But as the latest Nigerian Security Tracker from CFR shows how widespread the violence is, John Campbell points out that most of it usually goes unnoticed in the international press.

Central African Republic: The UN Secretary General has drawn attention to the urgent action needed in the country. This is enhanced by Michelle Shephard's report, showing how conflict pits neighbour against neighbour in a country which locals say was never divided by religion.

Central and South Asia

China:  Reuters highlights worries over Uighur militants in expectation of a greater role for China in post-election Afghanistan.

Afghanistan: A successful Afghan election should challenge those who question the possibility of democratisation of the Islamic world, argues Davood Moradian.

Pakistan:  Adnan Rehmat considers the state of civil-military relations in view of the extensive effort required to bring Pervez Musharraf to trial.

South East Asia

Indonesia: Following on from the legislative elections in Indonesia, the Financial Times looks ahead to the presidential elections in July and suggests that the presidential frontrunner, Jokowi will need to create deals with others to fulfil his ambition.

Myanmar: While the plight of the Muslim Rohingya community in Myanmar continues to draw world attention, a report by CNN explores the the influence of Aung San Suu Kyi amid criticisms that the opposition politician has been too silent on the issue.

Middle East and North Africa

Morocco:  Mohammed Masbah examines the issue of Salafi-jihadi trends in the country: a cycle of release from prison, jihad in Syria, and return to prison in Morocco.

Syria: There have been protests against the regime in the Druze town of Sweida recently. Tobias Lang explores the issue, and argues that the regime was able to compromise due to their religious rather than political nature – but the distinction between the two can be blurred.

Libya: The country continues to defy central control, as demonstrated by the recent attempt of one militia to sell a tanker full of oil on the black market. Abigail Hauslohner interviews two of those involved in the scheme.


United Kingdom: In the wake of government concerns over the presence of Arab dissident groups in London, Frank Gardner asks if the UK is returning to "Londonistan".


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