Religion & Geopolitics Weekly Roundup

At a Glance

Religion & Geopolitics Weekly Roundup

26 Jun 2014

Events in the Middle East and Iraq continue to make headlines and we feature the latest commentary on this. The Roundup this week also covers significant stories that we have followed recently: the continuing conflict in Myanmar, where we have a situation report and commentary; we focus again on Boko Haram after further attacks in Nigeria; and we include reports on renewed discussions amid hopes for the recent peace agreement in the Philippines.

Top Stories

Myanmar: As a draft bill on religious conversion makes headlines this week, Katherine Marshall looks towards solutions to the interreligious conflicts in her situation report for the Centre on Religion & Geopolitics, while Lynn Kuok looks at the roots of Buddhist nationalism in the country.

Nigeria: With further attacks in the country this week Jacob Zenn answers questions on Boko Haram, including who they are, what they believe and where they might go from here.

Middle East and North Africa

Iraq: The founder of the Islamic Army of Iraq, once on America's most wanted list and active in the insurgency before turning against al-Qaeda, has once again allied his group to ISIS against their common enemy of the Iraqi government, reports the Telegraph.

Jordan: The successes of ISIS in Iraq are further straining Jordan's delicate balancing act. ISIS plans to include Jordan in its expanding Caliphate, and the refugees that have flooded into the country from neighbouring Syria present a growing security risk. But neither the United States nor Israel have an interest in Jordan failing to contain the threat, write Nikita Malik and Abdullah Shami. Meanwhile, Abu Qatada's acquittal on terrorism charges may have political influence behind it: the cleric has been dismissive of ISIS, and Jordanian authorities may be seeking to use him, reports Jonathan Miller

Syria: As all eyes are on the actions of ISIS in Iraq, Rania Abouzeid profiles their rival, Jabhat al-Nusra, recounting the development of their feud and how recent events are changing the nature of al-Qaeda's presence in Syria. 

Syria: The successes of ISIS are viewed with apprehension in Aleppo, where rebels have expelled the group before, and the army awaits a fresh onslaught, reports Edward Dark.  Meanwhile, the fighting in the city continues to target civilians, says Mohammed al-Khatieb.

East and South East Asia

Myanmar: A proposed religious conversion bill is making headlines in the country and IRIN runs through  what various groups are saying on this issue, and  Elliot Brennan gives an overview of Aung San Suu Kyi's presidential ambition and how any change in the constitution would impact on the situation in Rakhine state.

Philippines: Following the peace agreement between the Philippines government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) earlier this year, the Chairman of MILF says that the Front will form a political party and take part in the democratic process after the transition period. The Chairman also met with the Philippines President this week, where delays to the peace deal were raised.

South Asia

Afghanistan: As Hamid Karzai leaves office, Mujib Mashal interviews the outgoing President and analyses his legacy. He says that Afghanistan is better off after Karzai, but suggests that because of the way Karzai has governed, the next government will struggle to maintain that improvement.

Pakistan: Shahzeb Jillani reports from Bannu in north-west Pakistan where thousands of families have been arriving from North Waziristan following an offensive by the Pakistani army on Taliban targets, as residents suggest that many of the militants fled before the attacks began.

Sri Lanka: In the wake of recent arrests in India and Malaysia, J.S. Tissainayagam notes that the government of Sri Lanka must take more responsibility for terrorist groups exporting violence from Sri Lanka to India.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigeria: While news of the kidnapped schoolgirls in Northern Nigeria has faded from the headlines, a further sixty women have been kidnapped in the past week. While little is known of this latest operation, likely by Boko Haram, it further discredits the government in Abuja, and reinforces the increasing capacity of the group writes John Campbell.


Fragile States: The Fund for Peace, which gathers a wide range of data to create their annual Fragile States Index , published this week, finds that South Sudan is the most fragile state in world, while the Central African Republic is the most worsened country for 2014.


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