Archive for the ‘International Conflict, Terrorism & Security’ Category


FLORENCE, Italy — As President François Hollande of France has declared, the country is at war with the Islamic State. France considers the Islamist group, also known as ISIS, to be its greatest enemy today. It fights it on the front lines alongside the Americans in the Middle East, and as the sole Western nation in the Sahel. It has committed to this battle, first started in Mali in 2013, a share of its armed forces much greater than has the United States.

On Friday night, France paid the price for this. Messages expressing solidarity have since poured in from all over the Western world. Yet France stands oddly alone: Until now, no other state has treated ISIS as the greatest strategic threat to the world today.
The main actors in the Middle East deem other enemies to be more important. Bashar al-Assad’s main adversary is the Syrian opposition — now also the main target of Russia, which supports him. Mr. Assad would indeed benefit from there being nothing between him and ISIS: That would allow him to cast himself as the last bastion against Islamist terrorism, and to reclaim in the eyes of the West the legitimacy he lost by so violently repressing his own people.

The Turkish government is very clear: Its main enemy is Kurdish separatism. And a victory of Syrian Kurds over ISIS might allow the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., to gain a sanctuary, and resume its armed struggle against Turkey.

The Kurds, be they Syrian or Iraqi, seek not to crush ISIS so much as to defend their newfound borders. They hope the Arab world will become more divided than ever. They want to seize Sinjar because it is in a Kurdish area. But they won’t attack Mosul, because that would be playing into Baghdad’s hands. Read more…

Published on Nov. 17 in

Olivier Roy is a professor at the European University Institute in Florence and the author of “Globalized Islam.”




Chers Membres de la Communauté IE,

Au nom de toute notre institution, je voudrais exprimer notre profonde solidarité avec nos amis Français en ces moments d’intense tristesse. Nous condamnons le terrorisme sous toutes ses formes et resterons fermes et unis face à ceux qui menacent nos valeurs. Aujourd’hui nous nous sentons tous Parisiens et nous envoyons nos sincères condoléances à tous ceux qui souffrent les effets de ces attaques barbares.

Avec mes salutations les plus chaleureuses,
Arantza de Areilza
IE School of International Relations

Dear Members of the IE Community,

On behalf of us all, I would like to express our deepest solidarity with our French friends in these moments of profound sorrow. We condemn all forms of terrorism and will stand firm and united against those who challenge our most cherished social values. We all feel Parisians today and would like to extend our deepest condolences to those who are suffering the effects of these barbaric attacks.

With my warmest regards,
Arantza de Areilza
IE School of International Relations

Queridos Miembros de la Comunidad del IE,

En nombre de todos, quiero expresar nuestra solidaridad con nuestros amigos Franceses en estos momentos de profundo pesar. Condenamos todas las formas de terrorismo y seremos firmes frente a aquéllos que ponen en peligro nuestros valores sociales más queridos. Todos nos sentimos Parisinos hoy y enviamos nuestra condolencia más sentida a todos los que sufren los efectos de estos ataques bárbaros.

Con todo cariño,
Arantza de Areilza
IE School of International Relations



A blog entry by 3rd year Bachelor of International Relations Student Lara Schober

Representing ie university as a ‘scribe’ at the Madrid+10 Policy Dialogue on “Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism” organized by the Club de Madrid was a great honor and an incredible experience. Me and ten fellow ie students from the BIR, the BBABIR and the MIR had the opportunity to get a rather unique insight into how diplomacy, political dialogue and individual debates between former statesmen and ministers, experts and important leaders, such as King Felipe VI or Ban Ki-Moon, take place.
Different discussions, led by a moderator, between various panelists on topics such as “New Approaches towards Preventing Violent Extremism” or “Obstacles and Opportunities in the Fight Against Violent Extremism” clearly showed how difficult it can be to reach a global consensus on this quite controversial issue and how emotionally involved some of the panelists, but also participants from the audience, are. Heated debates also arose in the framework of various workshops, which mainly focused on the role of women, the importance of education and online media, and the role of religious leaders in the fight against violent extremism.
Besides some disagreements, especially regarding the involvement of Russia in the Syrian conflict or the role of the West in the fight against ISIS, there seemed to be a clear consensus on the importance of the role of the youth and that it should be a priority to meet their grievances, incorporate them into society, and create an environment with positive future outlooks. Furthermore it was being emphasized that religion is not the problem, but part of the solution in countering violent extremism, and that statesmen should increasingly engage in an interreligious dialogue with religious leaders and enhance pluralism and tolerance within their sphere of influence.
Although we perceived it as somewhat hypocritical to be the only representatives of the youth that carries all the hope, the areas of agreement and the mere fact that such a significant number of former politicians, religious leaders, and representatives of NGOs from all around the world came together to share their opinions and ultimately work towards a common goal, showed me that diplomacy and politics might not be as hopeless in countering violent extremism as I previously thought.



A blog entry by 3rd year Bachelor of International Relations Student Anja Ungeheuer

Just like a great presentation does, the opening ceremony of the “MADRID +10: Policy Dialogue on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism” started with a big bang. When King Felipe VI arrived, it left us very reverent. But, after giving a very charismatic speech he was even friendly enough to allow us to take a picture with him. By then, the realisation of what an amazing opportunity was given to us, kicked in. What followed was the first panel we were able to attend on “Beyond Counterterrorism: New Approaches towards Preventing Violent Terrorism”. The underlying consensus established was that Extremism is only a symptom and not the root cause. Thus, policy makers need to analyse the grievances of the people that push them towards radicalisation. At the same time, it is important to stress that extremism is not a religious or an ethnic issue. In addition, CVE is a generational challenge and should strongly be addressed to the youth. Furthermore, it was said that religious leaders should play a greater role in condemning radicalisation and in guiding the international community on how to deal with extremism from the Middle East.

Afterwards, we attended our first workshop. The workshops were divided between four topics 1) “Role of women in countering radicalization and violent extremism” 2) “Educators in dialogue, youth in debate: countering violent extremism” 3) “Building peace through inter-religious dialogue” 4) “Online Radicalisation”. That evening, I attended the fourth workshop, which in summary discussed how civil society can be mobilised online, by creating a comprehensive, positive narrative, to take away the media space terrorists have. Furthermore, it was discussed whether the Internet needs regulation and how you can counter terrorism online, without taking away freedom of speech. In addition, the day ended after very intense discussion, which only made us look forward to the next day even more! Read more…


Peter Neumann

On October 22nd, Peter Neumann, Director, International Center for the Study of Radicalization (ICSR), King’s College addressed the IE Master in International Relations students in a very interesting exchange on the threat of terrorism, violent radicalization and ISIS. Prof. Neumann started off the seminar by stating that terrorism kills less people every year than traffic accidents or being struck by a bolt of lightning. This being said, terrorism is much more pernicious in that its impact goes beyond just violence. To illustrate this, Peter Neumann gave 3 examples: Tunisia, Syria/Iraq and Europe today.


  • Tunisia until recently was hailed as one of the success stories of the Arab Spring yet just a few months ago its leaders insisted it was on the brink of collapse. How so? Two successive acts of terrorism (the attack of the Museum in Tunis and subsequent attack at a XXX beach resort) pretty much destroyed the tourism industry in Tunisia. Tourism accounts for 35% of Tunisia’s GDP. This is a clear example of how terrorism (that in fact killed “just” 80 to 90 people) had a crippling effect on the Tunisian economy.
  • Syria/Iraq: We are in the midst of a historical transformational period in the Middle East comparable to Europe in 1916. There is a lot of chaos and instability and no one has a clear vision of what the outcome of this upheaval will be. The presence of the Islamic State has complicated the situation considerably. What is most striking is that the group has engaged in genocide, mass atrocities and normalized practices that were until now completely extinct. They have reintroduced human slavery and an ancient tax on non-Muslims as a way to generate revenues. The reintroduction and normalizing of these previously disused practices is extremely disturbing.
  • Europe: According to Peter Neumann, we will see a rise of terrorist attacks in Europe but on a small scale such as the attacks in Paris at the Charlie Hebdo HQ or the attacks in Copenhagen or in the TGV between Brussels and Paris. The impact of these attacks will be to strengthen the already rising far right parties in Europe as we can see I Sweden, Denmark and in France with Marine Le Pen’s National Front. This will have a strong impact on European societies and will lead to discrimination against minorities and a backlash against immigrants, such as the one we are currently seeing today with Syrian refugees. This will threaten the pluralistic, multiethnic, tolerant social fabric that Europe currently prides itself in.

Read more…

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