Religion & Geopolitics Weekly Roundup

At a Glance

Religion & Geopolitics Weekly Roundup

20 Aug 2015

In the Roundup this week, we look at the problem of radicalisation in prisons across Europe, indications that Boko Haram is growing closer to ISIS, and the extremist threat in South East Asia.

We also feature analysis on ISIS' use of the apocalypse in its propaganda, school dropouts in Kenya joining al-Shabaab, and the prospects of peace in Afghanistan.

Top Stories

Prison Radicalisation: In order to successfully address the issues of prison radicalisation in Europe, we must understand the nature and scale of the problem across the continent, writes Mubaraz Ahmed.

Nigeria: Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau's 16 August audio message, which reasserted his leadership of the group, may indicate growing ties to ISIS, to which it affiliated in March 2015,  says John Campbell

Middle East & North Africa

ISIS: ISIS' use of the apocalypse in its propaganda is a product of the upheavals shaping the region, which prompt many to think of the end times. But the group's leadership, trying to establish a secure Caliphate, is more concerned by government than messianism, says Will McCants.

Syria: An unusual flurry of diplomatic activity between Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United States, and Russia is focused on breaking the deadlock in Syria.  Bridget Kendall explores why, given the parties' common reluctance to share a table, there has been a sudden surge in diplomacy.

Egypt: The Islamist insurgency in Egypt's Sinai region is worsening, as the militants become bolder in their attacks. The military needs to change its tactics if it is to restore peace,  writes Omar Ashour.

Turkey: Rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) are longstanding enemies of the Turkish authorities. As Turkey becomes more active in the coalition against ISIS, Ankara may use the conflict to further its clampdown on the PKK,  writes Lina Khatib.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Kenya: A number of schools in Kenya are reporting that male and female students are dropping out — often without the knowledge of their parents — to join al-Shabaab in Somalia or ISIS in Syria. Fred Mukinda investigates allegations that some teachers are recruiting their students to jihadi groups.

Cameroon: Communities in Cameroon are reporting an increasing number of clashes with refugees from the Central African Republic and Nigeria. There are an estimated 250,000 refugees in the country, and tensions over land use are growing,  says Sylvestre Tetchiada.

Central African Republic: There are indications that the conflict in the Central African Republic, is developing into religious cleansing of the country's Muslim minority.  Khaled Beydoun cautions that the lack of reporting on the conflict risks overlooking the worsening crisis.

Central & South Asia

Afghanistan: Since the death of Mullah Omar the Taliban have hinted that they are willing to tone down some of their views.  Ali Mohammad Ali argues that it is naïve to think that the group has changed, and that a failure to bring its members to justice is a betrayal of its victims, sending the wrong message to groups like ISIS.

Afghanistan: The announcement of the death of Mullah Omar has halted peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. His successor, Mullah Mohammad Mansour, was quick to reissue the call for jihad against the United States and the Afghan government.  Carter Malkasian asks whether the window for peace talks is now firmly closed.

India: Cross-border terrorism still poses a major threat to national security in India, with suggestions that the recent attack on a police station in Gurdaspar may have come from Pakistan.  Sumit Ganguly writes that recent incidents highlight India's weak counter-terrorism strategy.

East & South East Asia

Myanmar: Figures released early this year show that over 59 million people have been forcibly displaced by conflict and persecution.  Katherine Tan argues that the international community, and particularly developing countries, need to do more to protect minorities such as the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

South East Asia: As Indonesia arrests three militants with links to ISIS, suspected of planning to bomb the country's independence day celebrations, Amy Chew explores the difficulties many South East Asian nations are having in dealing with the threat of returning fighters from Iraq and Syria.


United Kingdom: The story of three girls from the Bethnal Green Academy in London who travelled to Syria to join ISIS received widespread media coverage.  Katrin Bennhold explores the details behind the girls' departure, the human impact, the missed signs, and what the future holds for the girls.


Sign up to receive the Roundup

Sign up to the Centre on Religion & Geopolitics' Roundup to receive weekly updates with the latest commentary, analysis and news on the role of religion in conflict zones. Sign up here.