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

3
Dec

WITH the world’s attention focused on the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, there was a flurry of debate about how much more media coverage France had received than Beirut, where, a day earlier, suicide bombers sent by the Islamic State killed 43 people. In Nigeria, we expect most terrorist attacks to go unnoticed by the world.

Considering the global attention paid to the Islamic State, you would not guess that Boko Haram is actually the world’s deadliest terrorist organization, according to the Global Terrorism Index. While the Islamic State operates in an oil-rich region and directly threatens the West, Boko Haram’s brutality remains largely confined to remote, sparsely populated parts of Nigeria. The group has reinforced this isolation by attacking telecommunications towers.

At the turn of the year, the group occupied territory estimated to be the size of Belgium. In March, its leader, Abubakar Shekau, released an audio message, pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. But he has not appeared in public since then, fueling speculation that he is dead or incapacitated. And Boko Haram has been pushed on the defensive, pummeled by a coalition of troops from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger, briefly supported by mercenaries from South Africa and the former Soviet Union.

In August, I visited Yola — home to at least three camps for internally displaced persons, as Boko Haram’s refugees are known. The Yola I encountered was actually a less beleaguered place than it had been a year earlier, when Boko Haram fighters were virtually knocking on its doors, having overrun a string of nearby towns.

In Maiduguri, about 250 miles away, where Boko Haram first burst onto the national scene in a bloody uprising six years ago, the airport reopened to commercial flights in July, after being closed for about 18 months. The city’s public secondary schools, shuttered since early 2014, started reopening in October.

While Boko Haram may have been weakened, it has yet to lose its capacity to sow terror. The suicide bomb attacks — some carried out by young girls, not even teenagers — now blur with surreal intensity into one another. Many attacks go unclaimed; everyone assumes it’s Boko Haram, as usual. Read more…

Published in the New York Times on Dec. 2nd, 2015

Tolu Ogunlesi is the West Africa editor for The Africa Report and the author, most recently, of the novella “Conquest and Conviviality.”

27
Nov

tweet

 

One tweet from One Direction member Louis Tomlinson during the Paris attacks summarily proves the true impact of celebrity and the existence of the global connectivity so often espoused by the likes of Barack Obama, Bono and Mark Zuckerberg.

A new study by Western University’s CulturePlex Lab, led by Juan Luis Suárez, charted approximately 4.3 million tweets in the wake of the Paris attacks on November 13 and found that one tweeted by Tomlinson at 6:47 a.m. on November 14 was the most active and widely shared Twitter message related to the event with more than 173,000 retweets and 208,000 likes.

“There is a direct correlation represented here in regards to how people react to celebrity and how much impact celebrities truly have,” explains Suárez, a Digital Humanities professor in Western’s Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and the Director of the CulturePlex Lab. “This study shows how powerful you are if you are a super-connector. Companies are using super-connectors for marketing, political parties are using them for campaigns and we show here that pop culture and celebrity are an immediate gateway to these types of events worldwide.”

Suárez says that super-connectors like Tomlinson, who has 20.7 million Twitter followers (and counting), have an unbelievable amount of power to persuade when you consider that they generate immediate reaction from thousands if not millions of people. Read more…

 

Published on Nov. 25 in http://mediarelations.uwo.ca/2015/11/25/history-may-remember-paris-attacks-by-one-tweet-from-one-direction/

23
Nov

mali

While most global attention has been focused on Nigeria, Mali has been West Africa’s other insurgent hotspot in recent years.
It is threatened by various armed groups – from Ansar Dine, which is linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), to Touareg separatist rebel groups. The lawlessness in Libya after Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011 led to a spread of weapons across the Sahel region of northern Africa, which fell into the hands of such groups and fuelled unrest in the region. In 2012 the handling of the Touareg rebellion prompted some army factions to stage an uprising, sparking a civil war. Jihadist groups took advantage of the situation and took control of the north of the country, imposing strict Islamic law.

The resulting fighting needed the intervention of French forces to push away the militants and regain much of northern Mali. But the jihadists are still active and have carried out numerous attacks across the country.

Key players
The most prominent group is Ansar Dine, led by Iyad Ag Ghaly. The group is linked to AQIM and has vowed to destabilise the Sahel region. Ghaly recently called for attacks on France and its interests in Mali. The group implemented Sharia law in towns it captured during the 2012 uprising, including the ancient city of Timbuktu. A new jihadist group known as Macina Liberation Front (FLM) has recently emerged in central Mali.It is linked with Ansar Dine and just last week, carried out an attack on a military checkpoint in the region of Djenne, a town 500km (310 miles) north-east of the capital Bamako. Its leader has called for continued attacks on the government. Last week, the Malian authorities said that information from members of the public had led to the arrest of one of the group’s leading financiers during an army operation in the central region of Mopti. Read more…

By Tomi Oladipo
BBC Monitoring Africa security correspondent
20 November 2015

19
Nov

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 nyt.com

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

 

16
Nov

 

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
Doyenne
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
Dean
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
Decana
IE School of International Relations
Arantza.areilza@ie.edu

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