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11 August 2018  

[CONFERENCE] Between state and society: (r)Evolution of non-state actors in…

on Political Islam

Conference Concept NoteBetween society and state: (r)Evolution of non-state actors in the MENA region Since the beginning of the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa that...

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08 July 2018  

As Hudaida falls to Saudi-Emirati coalition, peace for Yemen seems…

on Yemen

The recent and ongoing Saudi-Emirati offensive on the Yemeni port city of Hudaida will render UN special envoy Martin Griffiths’s ‘new’ solution to the five-year-long Yemeni crisis...

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25 June 2018  

The need for Algerian-Moroccan dialogue

on Algeria

By Hassan Aourid An astute observer of Algeria and Morocco will notice that relations between the two countries have taken a dangerous turn and tensions have visibly increase...

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22 June 2018  

Erdogan hopes to dominate in Turkey's elections

on Turkey

In less than a week, on 24 June 20118, Turkish citizens will cast their votes for presidential and parliamentary elections, the first time that both elections will occur at the sam...

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08 June 2018  

Upending the Palestinian leadership: The role of youth

on Palestine

By Fadi Quran Instead of bringing an end to the occupation, the current Palestinian leadership and its institutions have become a key component of it. Yet a new generation of lead...

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18 May 2018  

Beyond Tradition and Modernity: Dilemmas of Transformation in Saudi Arabia

on Saudi Arabia

By Madawi Al-Rasheed Introduction The dominant narrative through which many observers understand Saudi Arabia depicts a progressive and modernist leadership struggling to gra...

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11 August 2018  

[CONFERENCE] Between state and society: (r)Evolution of non-state actors in…

on Political Islam

Conference Concept NoteBetween society and state: (r)Evolution of non-state actors in the MENA region Since the beginning of the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa that...

Read more

08 July 2018  

As Hudaida falls to Saudi-Emirati coalition, peace for Yemen seems…

on Yemen

The recent and ongoing Saudi-Emirati offensive on the Yemeni port city of Hudaida will render UN special envoy Martin Griffiths’s ‘new’ solution to the five-year-long Yemeni crisis...

Read more

25 June 2018  

The need for Algerian-Moroccan dialogue

on Algeria

By Hassan Aourid An astute observer of Algeria and Morocco will notice that relations between the two countries have taken a dangerous turn and tensions have visibly increase...

Read more

22 June 2018  

Erdogan hopes to dominate in Turkey's elections

on Turkey

In less than a week, on 24 June 20118, Turkish citizens will cast their votes for presidential and parliamentary elections, the first time that both elections will occur at the sam...

Read more

08 June 2018  

Upending the Palestinian leadership: The role of youth

on Palestine

By Fadi Quran Instead of bringing an end to the occupation, the current Palestinian leadership and its institutions have become a key component of it. Yet a new generation of lead...

Read more

18 May 2018  

Beyond Tradition and Modernity: Dilemmas of Transformation in Saudi Arabia

on Saudi Arabia

By Madawi Al-Rasheed Introduction The dominant narrative through which many observers understand Saudi Arabia depicts a progressive and modernist leadership struggling to gra...

Read more
More from this category

22 June 2018  

Erdogan hopes to dominate in Turkey's elections

on Turkey

In less than a week, on 24 June 20118, Turkish citizens will cast their votes for presidential and parliamentary elections, the first time that both elections will occur at the sam...

Read more

08 June 2018  

Upending the Palestinian leadership: The role of youth

on Palestine

By Fadi Quran Instead of bringing an end to the occupation, the current Palestinian leadership and its institutions have become a key component of it. Yet a new generation of lead...

Read more

29 March 2018  

Russia in the Middle East Until 2024: From Hard Power…

on Syria

By Yuri Barman Vladimir Putin’s return to power in Russia in 2012 signified a dramatic change in the country’s foreign policy and military strategy. Scrapping the achievements of ...

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23 February 2018  

As Israel tried to woo African states, it expels African…

on Israel

Israel began this year by announcing that African refugees (who are mostly from Sudan and Eritrea) faced imprisonment if they did not choose the controversial ‘voluntary departure ...

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19 February 2018  

Israel and Palestine: What lies ahead?

on Palestine-Israel

AMEC's executive director, Na'eem Jeenah, spoke as part of a panel organised by SISO (Save Israel, Stop the Occupation) and Liliesleaf Farm on 5 February 2018 at Liliesleaf. The ot...

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07 December 2017  

No 'peace process' to destroy, but Trump's Jerusalem decision is…

on Palestine-Israel

By Phyllis Bennis US president Donald Trump’s plan to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and potentially to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, is not going...

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08 July 2018  

As Hudaida falls to Saudi-Emirati coalition, peace for Yemen seems…

on Yemen

The recent and ongoing Saudi-Emirati offensive on the Yemeni port city of Hudaida will render UN special envoy Martin Griffiths’s ‘new’ solution to the five-year-long Yemeni crisis...

Read more

18 May 2018  

Beyond Tradition and Modernity: Dilemmas of Transformation in Saudi Arabia

on Saudi Arabia

By Madawi Al-Rasheed Introduction The dominant narrative through which many observers understand Saudi Arabia depicts a progressive and modernist leadership struggling to gra...

Read more

27 April 2018  

Chaotic Yemen: The deconstruction of a failed state and regional…

on Yemen

by Helen Lackner Yemen remains in the grip of its most severe crisis ever: the civil war between forces loyal to the internationally-recognised government of President Abd Rabbuh ...

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12 December 2017  

How the Saudis Escalated Yemen Struggle Beyond All Control

on Yemen

By Justin Podur Yemen is a small, poor country in a region empires have plundered for centuries. This civil war is a local struggle that has been escalated out of control by the a...

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09 December 2017  

Yemen: Death of the snake dancer

on Yemen

The 4 December death of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, at the hands of his former Houthi coalition partners, is a culmination of the differing interests that informed ...

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09 November 2017  

Saudi Arabia: The king is (not) dead; Long live the…

on Saudi Arabia

In an extremely busy twenty-four hours in Saudi Arabia this past weekend, a series of moves by the palace sought to consolidate the power of the crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman –...

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25 June 2018  

The need for Algerian-Moroccan dialogue

on Algeria

By Hassan Aourid An astute observer of Algeria and Morocco will notice that relations between the two countries have taken a dangerous turn and tensions have visibly increase...

Read more

10 April 2018  

Scripted electoral victory for Egypt's Sisi

on Egypt

The Egyptian government’s need to artificially increase voter turnout in the presidential election at the end of March through a combination of enticements and threats indicates a ...

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15 January 2018  

Shadow Armies: The unseen, but real US war in Africa

on North Africa

By Ramzy Baroud There is a real - but largely concealed - war which is taking place throughout the African continent. It involves the United States, an invigorated Russia and a ri...

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18 November 2017  

AMEC seminar on African thinkers and decolonisation, by Maati Monjib

on North Africa

In a fascinating seminar at the Afro-Middle East Centre, Moroccan academic Maati Monjib focused on two African thinkers-cum-politicians in a discussion of decolonisation and develo...

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19 May 2017  

Libya's unending civil war: When weapons trump politics

on Libya

By Afro-Middle East Centre Almost three years have elapsed since the reconvening of Libya’s General National Congress (GNC) in July 2014 and subsequent division of the country int...

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09 February 2017  

Statehood in the era of securitisation: Morocco’s accession to the…

on Morocco

By Afro-Middle East Centre In the culmination of an extended process, Morocco was admitted to the African Union on 30 January 2017. This process saw the king undertake numero...

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06 April 2017  

Ensuring Somalia remains in conflict: Trump’s expanded ‘war on terror’

on Somalia

By Afro-Middle East Centre The 29 March decision by the administration of US president Donald Trump declaring Somalia an ‘area of active hostility’ will likely ensure an escalatio...

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10 October 2016  

South Sudan: Beyond the logjam of UNSC Resolution 2304

on South Sudan

By Majak D’Agoôt and Remember Miamingi No country is entirely self-contained or lacking in interdependencies. These interlocking interests form the critical part of any country’s ...

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28 April 2015  

Nigeria’s elections and future challenges

on Sub-Saharan Africa

By Afro-Middle East Centre The election of General Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s president will see a renewed focus by the government on domestic challenges posed by endemic...

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26 September 2013  

Kenyan hostage crisis: The desperation of al-Shabab

on Sub-Saharan Africa

By Afro-Middle East Centre The hostage drama at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi over the past week has raised a number of questions about the Somali organisation al-Shabab. After the...

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23 January 2013  

French military intervention will add to Mali’s problems

on Sub-Saharan Africa

By Afro-Middle east Centre   The north of Africa was plunged into yet another international conflict with France’s invasion of Mali on Friday, 11 January. Without im...

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26 October 2012  

The effects of the ‘War on Terror’ on states’ foreign…

on Sub-Saharan Africa

By Afro-Middle East Centre Recent statements that ‘there is no alternative….it’s going to take military force’, made by Jack Christofides, a senior offici...

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28 August 2015  

Does Pakistan’s refusal to join Saudi Arabia in Yemen indicate…

on Pakistan

By Afro-Middle East Centre Allegedly, the current Saudi-led onslaught on Yemen has already caused destruction that resembles the destruction wrought in Syria over the la...

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31 March 2012  

The feasibility of a continued United States presence in Afghanistan

on South Asia

By Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn Recent events in Afghanistan have fuelled speculation over the ability of international forces to continue their presence in the coun...

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28 February 2012  

Dangerous uncertainty in Pakistan

on South Asia

By Junaid S. Ahmed With relations between Pakistan's civilian government and military incredibly tense, speculation is rife in the Pakistani and international media of a looming m...

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30 May 2011  

Pakistan-USA relations in the post-Usama era

on South Asia

By Junaid S. Ahmad The assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by US Special Forces was supposed to have been a landmark triumph that would bring peace and stability to the r...

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13 December 2010  

Kashmir and Obama's Indian appeasement

on South Asia

By Mohammad Abdullah Gul Obama's recent jive with school children in Delhi symbolises the nature of the new relationship that is emerging between India and the United States of Am...

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13 September 2010  

Pakistan’s floods: Pressing problems and potential risks

on South Asia

By Najam Abbas Pakistan's recent floods have left eight million people dependent on aid for their survival, and washed away huge swathes of the rich farmland on which the country...

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11 August 2018  

[CONFERENCE] Between state and society: (r)Evolution of non-state actors in…

on Political Islam

Conference Concept NoteBetween society and state: (r)Evolution of non-state actors in the MENA region Since the beginning of the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa that...

Read more

26 April 2017  

IS reorganising to face new challenges

on Political Islam

Reports in January 2017 that the leader of the Islamic State group (IS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had been killed, reports that he had been captured by Russian troops in Syria, and th...

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07 March 2017  

IS in Africa: Containment and fragmentation

on Political Islam

By Afro-Middle East Centre With the Islamic State group (IS) losing territory in Syria and Iraq, many believe that the group will use the territory it controls in Africa as a fall...

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14 May 2016  

The Paradox of Survival and Expansion: How the Islamic State…

on Political Islam

Omar Ashour This paper examines the reasons for the military steadfastness of the Islamic State group (IS) in the face of local and international forces that are larger in numbers...

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19 December 2015  

ISIS in Africa: Reality far different from IS propaganda

on Political Islam

By Afro-Middle East Centre The revelation that the alleged mastermind of the 13 November Paris attacks claimed by the Islamic State group (IS) was of Moroccan descent, the tur...

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20 July 2015  

Remaining and expanding: Measuring the Islamic State group’s success in…

on Political Islam

By Afro-Middle East Centre Since its declaration of a ‘caliphate’ on 29 June 2014, the Islamic State group (IS), the brutal successor to al-Qa'ida, has gone from stren...

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18 February 2018  

Africa and the problem of foreign military bases

on 'War on terror'

At the establishment of the African Union (AU) in May 2001, discourses about human security and counter terrorism were ubiquitous both globally and on the continent. In Africa, the...

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21 November 2015  

The Paris attacks: Aftermath and the Islamic State group’s future

on 'War on terror'

By Afro-Middle East Centre The terror unleashed on Paris streets on 13 November reverberated throughout the world. From the G20 summit in Antalya to social media debates about how...

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28 May 2010  

Al-Qaeda in the New National Security Strategy

on 'War on terror'

By Mark Lynch The Obama administration's new National Security Strategy has been released today. It goes a long way towards providing a coherent framework for American foreign pol...

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16 February 2010  

Pakistan’s attitude towards Obama’s plan to negotiate with the Taliban

on 'War on terror'

By Dr. Ijaz Shafi Gilani U.S. President Barack Obama's plan to negotiate with the Taliban in Afghanistan has generally been welcomed in Pakistan. It is being seen as a vindication...

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07 February 2010  

Mission Absolute: American hegemony in space

on 'War on terror'

By Sourav Roy Come April 2010, officials from the sleepy Polish municipality of Morag will be gearing up for perhaps their most critical assignment in the new decade. Their job wi...

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French military intervention will add to Mali’s problems

 
The situation in Mali has destabilised rapidly since the removal of former president Amadou Toumani Touré by a military junta in March 2012. Tuareg rebels from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) took advantage of the subsequent power vacuum to launch an offensive in the north with a view to establishing an autonomous state in the area of Azawad. This position was not new; Tuaregs have sporadically demanded autonomous rule in the area based on the historical and continued political and economic marginalisation of this region. The offensive took a bad turn, however, when the MNLA lost ground to a coalition of Islamist groups, including Ansar al-Dine, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), that have since taken over control of northern Mali, aiming to Islamise the country, or at least the northern cities under their control. While Ansar al-Dine is an ethnically mixed group with a local agenda, the latter two have some links to al-Qaeda, have attracted foreign fighters and claim to adhere to a broader international agenda.
 
The Malian government has been unable to contain the offensive and the escalation of the conflict prompted the international community to consider intervening, while attempting simultaneously to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict. That is why the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2085 on 20 December 2012, sanctioning the deployment of 3 300 troops under the supervision of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) by September 2013, allowing some time to attempt finding a peaceful resolution to the crisis. But events came to a head on 10 January 2013, after Islamist rebels initiated a second offensive to capture the city of Konna, gateway to the south of Mali and only hours away from the capital Bamako. After a renewed call for international assistance by the Malian interim prime minister Dioncounda Traoré, France began a campaign of aerial bombardment to halt the rebel advance.
 
It is perplexing that, given the riskiness of the operation and the quagmire that the French might get themselves into, the French did not invest more into finding a political solution, especially seeing as there may have been a chance that the rebels would engage in negotiations. In November 2012, Ansar al-Dine, the leading Islamist rebel group, renounced violence, claimed readiness to distance itself from AQIM and called for dialogue with the Malian government. But the negotiations, which were mediated by Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore, did not bear fruit. It seems the Malian government, which enjoys the support of the international community, saw no need to engage Ansar Dine. Whatever good faith Ansar Dine may have had in dialogue was lost by Hollande’s failure to pressure the Malian government to compromise, as well as his claim to support a diplomatic resolution while at the same time making a move towards military intervention, thus undermining any chance of a peaceful solution. Realising that a military confrontation was inevitable, the Islamists initiated a second offensive to provoke an immediate French military response, rather than waiting for a well planned international operation in September. This forced Hollande’s hand at a time when he was not necessarily completely ready for the intervention.
 
This brisk course of action by Hollande was likely driven by domestic concerns as well as foreign policy opportunities and fears. With a reputation for indecisiveness, Hollande may have seen this as an opportunity to portray himself as a man of action, a strong statesman. Mali also presented an opportunity for him to distract French media from his proposed same-sex marriage legislation, which recently galvanised large numbers of French people against him.
 
France also claims that an Islamist takeover of Mali could threaten France’s strategic interests in the Sahel region and damage economic relations between both countries. The much speculated existence of gas and oil in northern Mali and the existence of 5 200 tons of uranium may also have provided an incentive for Hollande, especially since France generates eighty per cent of its electricity through nuclear power. Mali may thus be a strategic lynchpin and gateway to a region – which includes the countries of Mauritania, the Ivory Coast, Guinea and Burkina Faso – that is swimming in untapped resources, gold, manganese and copper among other minerals. Moreover, this was a relatively safe move for France since ECOWAS and the UN Security Council were already considering military intervention, meaning France was likely to gain international support, unlike in previous military interventions in Africa. Finally, France also claimed to be motivated by a fear that Mali would turn into ‘another Afghanistan’, a base for Islamists in the region. France seems to have been guided by the belief that compromise was neither possible nor desirable with Islamists.
 
While the French aerial campaign may destroy rebel stockpiles and loosen the rebel grip on the bigger cities of northern Mali, complete annihilation of the rebels appears to be virtually impossible, even with the 2 000 emergency troops from Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Togo, Senegal, Guinea, Ghana and Chad. While the central towns of Diabaly, Konna and Douentza appear to have been taken by French troops, and the other major cities of Timbuktu and Goa are likely to fall soon, the vast Azawad desert will remain a safe haven for the rebels, from which a guerilla war can be launched. The rebels are well-armed, with weapons from post-Qaddafi Libya coming in with Tuareg Libyan soldiers and weapons captured from the Malian army. Moreover, they are able to blend in with the local population and are accustomed to the difficult desert terrain. A military intervention is unlikely to bring this notoriously unpoliced region under control any time soon. The refugee situation, with hundreds of thousands of people already having fled Mali, is likely to worsen. While 2 500 French ground troops have already been deployed, ECOWAS troops are likely to bear the brunt of war casualties.
 
The rebels are not a homogeneous entity. They comprise groups that are pursuing separate agendas. While some atrocities have been committed by certain rebel groups in the north, Ansar al-Dine has displayed a readiness to engage in the political process. Furthermore, the Malian government is not innocent in this matter. Even before the coup in 2012, the government was corrupt and had been accused of human rights violations; it was hardly the beacon of democracy which it is now often made out to have been. The problems of the Malian conflict run deep and there is no easy fix for this marginalised and often uncontrollable region. A French aerial bombardment and ground invasion will add to rather than solve the problem.

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Media Gallery

31 January 2017  

What Trump's orders mean for Middle Eastern relations

President Donald Trump's first few days in office have sparked global shock and outrage following the signing of several executive orders; the one that sparked the most outcries at the weekend was the...

Videos

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12 January 2017  

Na'eem Jeenah on Syria

South African aid organisations have been lauded for their humanitarian efforts in the Syrian conflict. The conflict began with the Arab spring in 2011 and now has degraded into a civil war whereby th...

Videos

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20 September 2016  

An indepth look into the Syrian conflict: Na'eem…

The United Nations has suspended all aid convoys in Syria after its lorries were attacked by warplanes near Aleppo on Monday.The attack came a few hours after the Syrian army declared an end to a week...

Videos

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05 July 2016  

Na'eem Jeenah on the Saudi blasts

There have been three suicide attacks in 24 hours in Saudi Arabia. Four security staff were killed when an attacker blew himself up at a parking lot outside the Prophet's Mosque in Medina. Five other ...

Videos

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