Religion & Geopolitics Weekly Roundup

At a Glance

Religion & Geopolitics Weekly Roundup

10 Sep 2015

In this week's Roundup, we examine how ISIS is using the education system in the territories under its control to inculcate its ideology in the next generation, and explore the ideological underpinning of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

We also feature analysis on Iraq's Assyrian community, on the potential for religious violence in Cameroon, religion, politics and extremism in Tajikistan, and jihadis from the Caucasus fighting in Ukraine.

Top Stories

ISIS: ISIS is using its territorial control to educate a new generation of ideologically indoctrinated young people, inculcating an ideology that airstrikes are unable to destroy, writes Milo Comerford.

Muslim Brotherhood: The rise and fall of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has seen it go from the presidential palace to having most of its leadership in prison. Mubaraz Ahmed looks at the group's origins, aims, and whether it will re-emerge.

Middle East & North Africa

Syria: The debates over the welcome of Syrian refugees to Europe has overshadowed the fact that most would like to live in peace at home, writes Hamish de Bretton-Gordon. For this to happen, the twin threats of ISIS and Assad must be defeated.

Iraq: The Assyrian community was persecuted long before ISIS swept into Iraq's Ninevah Plains. Now some members have formed a militia to protect it. Dan Damon looks at their motivations.

ISIS: Debates over the precise ideological motivation of groups like ISIS can be aided by some historical perspective, argues Alan Strathern. When viewed through this lens, there can be no doubt that such groups are shaped by an Islamist ideology.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Cameroon: In a country that has not previously experienced significant sectarian violence, International Crisis Group examines the potential threat from the growth of Christian and Muslim fundamentalist movements, with an accompanying rise in religious intolerance.

Kenya: A recent Ipsos poll examined attitudes to the deployment of Kenyan Defence Forces to tackle al-Shabaab in Somalia. Trevor Analo assesses the findings, which show a majority support the deployment, but with significant fears that it will not bring an end to the group's violence.

Central & South Asia

Tajikistan: Recent unrest in Tajikistan has been blamed on extremists with links to ISIS, but the reality is more complex, requiring the country to answer difficult questions about religion and politics, writes Milo Comerford.

Afghanistan: Amid media focus on Afghan troops recapturing the former NATO stronghold of Musa Qala from Taliban fighters, Thomas Ruttig looks at the wider Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, finding that the group is making gradual headway in its pursuit of inflicting long-term strain on Afghan armed forces.

East & South East Asia

Myanmar: As the general election campaign begins this week, ahead of the vote in November, a number of potential Muslim candidates for Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party were not selected. Jonah Fisher sees this as a sign that the NLD does not wish to alienate Buddhist groups over the Rohingya Muslim issue.


Ukraine: A group of jihadis from the Caucasus, veterans of conflict in both Chechnya and Syria, have been deployed as part of the 'Sheikh Mansur Battalion' against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Anna Nemtsova argues that the Ukrainian government should be more careful about where its support comes from.

ISIS: ISIS foreign fighters returning to their home countries are proving a security conundrum for governments across Europe. Ben Taub explores what happens to European ISIS returnees and the difficulty of gauging which of them pose a danger.


Conflict and Education: With varying degrees of conflict across the Middle East and North Africa, UNICEF assesses its effect on education, finding that over 13 million children are now unable to attend school, with almost 9,000 schools closed in Syria Iraq, Yemen and Libya.

Radicalisation: A Danish intelligence report has suggested that the average age of foreigners joining the fight in Syria is 16-25, suggesting many are radicalised as children. Julia Ioffe looks at the growing trend of child radicalisation and explores how best to counter the issue.


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