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Dr. Sheldon Gellar

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Sheldon Gellar is a political scientist and Africanist scholar who has worked in a dozen African countries as an international development consultant with USAID, the UNDP, Club du Sahel and other donors over the past forty years. He has applied his skills as political scientist, institutional analyst, and development specialist to conduct assessments in a wide range of areas, — democratic governance, corruption, civil society, decentralization, natural resource management, agricultural policy implementation and participatory development strategies.

After completing a B.A. in literature at Rutgers University, he studied two years in France where he received  the Diplome (M.A) of the Institutd’Etudes Politiques(Paris) and a Certificatd’AptitudeenDéveloppement at the Institut de Rechcrche et de FormationenVue du DéveloppementHarmonisé run by Father Louis Lebret, founder of the Economics and Humanism movement and advisor to Pope John XXIII and Paul VI on development issues . He also has a Ph. D. in Comparative Government from Columbia University.

He is the author of  Senegal: An African Nation between Islam and the West and  Democracy in Senegal: Tocquevillian Analytics in Africa and  co-editor with Aurelian Craiutu of Conversations with Tocwquerville: The Global Democratic Revolution in the Twenty-First Century and written extensively on religion, politics, development, and natural resource management and Environmental issues..

He has taught at Indiana University, Michigan State University, Hebrew  University of Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv University and has been a research  associate at  Indiana University’s Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Princeton University, and the Truman Institute in Jerusalem.

As an international consultant, he has worked primarily in predominantly Muslim Sahelian countries—e.g. Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad, and Guinea and served as Democracy advisor to the USAID/Senegal mission (1998-1999).

Over the past decade, he has been focusing on relations between religion, politics and violent extremism/terrorism in Sahelian African countries and refugee issues.  Since 2013, he has participated in evaluations of USAID Peace through development programs designed to counter violent extremism, analyses of drivers of violence and the risk of violent extremism in Niger and other Sahelian countries, mentoring African researchers working on these issues, and recommending a more holistic and transnational approach to dealing with these issues than currently practiced by USAID and other international aid organizations.  

Dr. Haim Koren

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Haim Koren (Klein) was the Israeli ambassador to Egypt (2013-2016). He previously served as the Israeli ambassador to South Sudan and as the Director of the Middle East Division, Center of Political Research in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During his tenure with the Ministry, his positions have included serving as Director of the Political Planning Division, Deputy Spokesman of the Press Division, and as Consul for Press and Information. He has also served in various other diplomatic capacities in Chicago, USA; Alexandria, Egypt; and Kathmandu, Nepal.

His Ph.D. is on “Local Archives  in Dar Fur 1720 – 1916: A source for legal, political and religious aspects of Islamic community of Western Sudan” . He is an expert in the Arab World, including the Arabic language, media, and extremism. Since 2011, he has been a member of Advisory Board of IFIMES (The Slovenian Institute of Middle East and Balkan Studies) and from 2016- a Member on the Board of Ezri Center for Research of Iran and the Persian Gulf – Haifa University. On 1992-1994 he was a Member of the Center for Middle  Eastern Studies – University of Chicago. From 2008 to 2011, he was an Instructor at the National Defense College of Israel. He has given lectures and seminars on Arabism and Islam, the Ideology of Radical Islam, Sudan, the Global Dimension of the Foreign Policy in Israel and New Framework for Thinking on the Middle East.

Koren has published dozens of articles in his area of expertise. His forthcoming piece (2017) is on “Quo Vadis Sudan? Between the Horn of Africa and the ”Arab Shaking” Fabric.

 

Practical implications in the attempt to prevent and counter radicalisation in Africa – Dr. Anneli Botha

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Practical implications in the attempt to prevent and counter radicalisation in Africa

By Anneli Botha

              RIMA Policy Papers, Volume 5 (2017), Number 1 (April 2015)

Growing reference over the last few years to Africa as the new ‘battleground’ against terrorism has drawn international attention to the threat, although the threat of terrorism on the continent has been a reality for many years. One cannot argue that the atrocities committed by Boko Haram – particularly in Nigeria and Cameroon –have not placed the organisation in a completely new category; yet many countries on the continent have been experiencing the devastating effect of terrorism on a daily basis for years before the international community took notice. In Nigeria, as in other hotspots, most notably the Horn of Africa with Somalia as the epicentre and the Maghreb with Algeria as the original epicentre, the historical origins of these organisations systematically manifested throughout the years long before it reached international recognition. Many scholars focus on the manifestation of these organisations through the lens of the external environment as a means to operatewhile practitioners are disputing on the best strategy to combat the physical manifestation of this threat. Meanwhile research has been increasingly conducted to understand what motivate individuals to join terrorist organisations, and the way they do join eventually.

In their search for explaining radicalisation, scholars, among others, refer to ‘pull-and-push’ factors to explain why individuals become involved in violent extremist organisations. Although these efforts are useful – especially when governments formulate domestic and foreign-aid budget priorities – they are made with specific case studies in mind. African governments and practitioners often borrow from these case studies, as well as from statements made by politicians, to formulate their own understanding of why people resort to acts of terrorism, predominantly blaming poverty and poor socioeconomic conditions. But to understand why people are susceptible to extremism is far more complex than blaming one factor, such as poverty. Countermeasures and policies have proven to be ineffective and even counterproductive, simply because they are not formulated or implemented based on a clear understanding of what drove individuals to be susceptible to extremism and later recruitment.

Radicalisation occurs on both individual, as well as organisational levels. While the latter is well known – since organisations defend their strategies and actions by referring to political and social injustices and exclusion, culminating in a declaration of a specific worldview needed to address these ‘evils’ – individual radicalisation is far more complex. Addressing these challenges should start with not only adopting a purely counter strategy involving a country’s security apparatus, but to conduct empirical research – through interviewing those who had already joined – to understand what is required to prevent and counter radicalisation.

When following this approach one quickly understands that not all people experience the same external circumstances in the same manner – not even individuals growing up in the same household. It has far more to do with the psychological makeup of the person and how he/she perceives the outside world. Therefore, the reasons why the organisation exists is not necessarily the motivation or reason why the individual joined. Unfortunately, the majority of efforts preventing (PVE) and countering (CVE) radicalisation build on perceptions and personal and organisational interests, instead of understanding the phenomenon in the first place. Further placing a question mark on the success of these initiatives comes in the form of searching for the ‘profile’ of a terrorist. It often continues where earlier scholars and security agencies left off in developing criteria commonly based on age, gender, ethnicity, religion, national origin etc. often resulting in the negative consequences of profiling, and most notably marginalisation. When it comes to the intentional recruitment of individuals not fitting these characteristics, scholars, practitioners and the broad public are every time shocked by the exceptions to these often very narrow criteria. Solving this paradox rests with the acknowledgment that any person, under the right circumstances can be recruited into violent extremist organisations. Even more important is understanding the individual who was susceptible to these influences and might have been radicalised, but who was not operationalised. In other words, not all people living in the same geographical area experience external influences in the same way, it is rather the individual’s existing perceptions and psychological profile that serves as the missing link in understanding recruitment into extremist organisations. While practitioners try to figure this out, those tasked with recruitment know human nature and understand the complexities in pushing the necessary ‘buttons’ to convince a person to become part and execute atrocities in the name of a ‘cause’. Other than following a script – such as the linear approach often presented by policy makers and practitioners in preventing acts of terrorism – those responsible for recruitment rather embrace diversity and use it to their advantage, intentionally breaking the “mold” that clearly manifests in the profile of individuals that were previously radicalised and recruited. In other words, the real enemy – those manipulating others in joining violent extremist movements, instead of individuals who commit acts of violence – is light years ahead of those tasked with preventing and combating radicalisation and terrorism. While intentionally outmanoeuvring the state security apparatus to stay ahead, recruiters apply an array of strategies in its recruitment efforts. This is also reflected in the numerous levels of radicalisation as manifested in the different levels of commitment to the “cause” and the roles these individuals will eventually play in the organisation.

Setting the tone for understanding radicalisation, the same lessons also apply to the de-radicalisation process and overall reintegration approach. Corresponding to the reasons – inclusive of why and how – individuals were radicalised, those tasked with de-radicalisation also need to know why and how the individual was radicalised to tailor the development of a counter narrative applicable to that specific individual.

The most practical consequence in our understanding of radicalisation and recruitment into violent extremist movements is the realisation that the answer does not lie with simplifying this phenomenon, but rather to first understand radicalisation and recruitment into every organisation operating in each country (for example the ‘profile’ of an al-Shabaab member in Somalia is remarkably different from the al-Shabaab member in Kenya). It is only through adopting this approach that policy makers, practitioners and the donor community will be able to adopt pro-active and sustainable preventative measures – getting ahead of violent extremist movements, ultimately preventing radicalisation and recruitment.

Dr. Anneli Botha

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Anneli Botha is currently a senior lecturer at the Department of Political Studies and Governance at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein. She also serves as an independent consultant on radicalization, deradicalisation, reintegration and terrorism in Africa, currently working on projects with the Finn Church Aid (FCA) and the UNDP. During the period 2003 and 2016 she worked as a senior researcher on terrorism at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria, South Africa. Anneli has traveled extensively throughout Africa where she conducted research on terrorism and delivered specialized training on various aspects of the threat of terrorism, extremism, radicalisation and counter-terrorism to law enforcement and criminal justice officials on the continent.

Prior to her position at the ISS, she served in the South African Police Service (SAPS) for 10 years.  She was a founding member of the Religious Extremism and Terrorism Desk at Crime Intelligence Head Office and also served in the Rapid Reaction Unit and the Special Task Force on Urban Terror in the West Cape.  At the end of her police career she provided strategic support to the Head of South Africa’s Crime Intelligence Unit.

Anneli holds a Magister Artiumdegree from Rand Afrikaans University in Political Studies (’98) and Philosophiae Doctor from the Department of Political Studies and Governance at the University of the Free State (’14).  Her MA thesis was titled People against Gangsterism and Drugs (PAGAD): A Study of Structures, Activities and Initial Government Reactions.  Her Ph.D. thesis was titled: Radicalisation to Commit Terrorism from a Political Socialisation Perspective in Kenya and Uganda. Additionally, she is a graduate of the University of Pretoria, Political Science (’91) and International Politics (’92).

 

Can the African Union tackle religion? – Dr. Glen Segell

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Can the African Union tackle religion?

By Glen Segell

RIMA Occasional Papers, Volume 5 (2017), Number 5 (April 2017)

The exercise and limitation of religious freedom in the African context is a problematic and controversial issue as it is in other regions worldwide. However in the African context with its tough colonial past, it can be argued that imperial religions have violated the individual conscience and the communal expressions of Africans and their communities. God, Glory and Gold were the 3 G’s of the colonial period now added by the 4th G, Globalisation.[1] Through subversion of African religions mainly by Christianity and Islam by these G’s, Africans have been robbed of essential elements of their humanity.

The African Union (AU) and its predecessors are regimes in their own right that have made attempts to tackle religion on a supra-national basis for many reasons to reinstate the humanity. On paper, at least the key normative document for the continent continues to be the 1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.[2] In the Charter, Article 2 has a non-discrimination clause vis-à-vis Charter rights where religion is one of a number of protected grounds. Not every state on the continent has accepted or implemented this.

Given the lack of implementation of many agreements and due to numerous desires in many areas the African Union (AU) has set out seven aspirations for the year 2063 set out in Agenda 2063 also known as “The Africa we want by 2063”. [3] It is not surprising that religion features in two of these given the above statement about the 4 G’s, imperial religions and the diversity of religions on the continent. These are Aspiration 5 and Aspiration 6.

Aspiration 5 of Agenda 2063 calls for an Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, values and ethics. This is elaborated as “Pan-Africanism and the common history, destiny, identity, heritage, respect for religious diversity and consciousness of African people’s and her diaspora’s will be entrenched.”

Aspiration 6 of Agenda 2063 calls for an Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children. This is elaborated as “All the citizens of Africa will be actively involved in decision making in all aspects. Africa shall be an inclusive continent where no child, woman or man will be left behind or excluded, on the basis of gender, political affiliation, religion, ethnic affiliation, locality, age or other factors.”

To meet these goals the headings of issues that have to be addressed are endless. Many of the issues that have been identified are not unique to Africa. To be sure it could be said that Africa is a case of human nature when reading them. Nevertheless, they have been identified by the AU and therefore they are on the agenda.[4] These include:

  • The links between conflict with religion in Africa where religion is abused to justify oppression, violence and conflict
  • The role of religious and traditional practices in child marriage
  • The need to avoid stigmatizing any particular religion
  • Prejudice, intolerance and stereotyping on the basis of religion and culture
  • The prevention of genocides
  • Disadvantage based upon factors that include poverty, gender, ethnicity, culture, and religion
  • Human rights violations because of place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status
  • The need to ensure that all African citizens, irrespective of their religion, language, gender can participate in the economic, social, political development of the continent
  • Educate leaders to be responsible and not to hate noting past tragedies such as the Rwandan Genocide and in doing so to promote equality without regard to the colour of skin, background, or religion and not to exclude, on the basis of gender, political affiliation, religion, ethnic affiliation, locality, age or other factors
  • To manage diversity by respecting every race, gender, culture, religion and language, and build tolerance
  • Resolve conflicts, personal or community identity claims, that might be based upon or include religion, history, marginalization, exclusion and a host of other factors.

In addition to states who are members of the AU and their leaders – who will be their partners to implement “The Africa we want by 2063” and to address the above issues?

One answer is the African Union Interfaith Dialogue Forum, a permanent steering committee consisting of senior religious leaders and policymakers, tasked with advancing cooperation between the AU and Africa’s religious communities to reduce conflict and coordinate peace and development efforts.[5]

Another answer is leaders of religious faiths at the local level. Although neither Christianity nor Islam could be considered indigenous to Africa; there is no doubt that the African continent and its peoples, for centuries, have been home to the diversity of its indigenous religions, as well as to Christianity and Islam. The facts and figures are not precise though it could be said that 80% of all those living in Africa are either Christian or Muslim. [6]

One challenge to successful implementation of the AU intentions is the diversity of leadership that appear to lack tolerance of each other striving to be the sole faith and the singular leadership. That leaves the rhetorical question – Can the African Union tackle religion?  – or in other words – will Africa really get the “The Africa we want by 2063”!

 

Notes:

[1] Giouroukakis, V. and Connolly, M.  (ed) Getting to the Core of Literacy for History, Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects,  (Sage 2013)

[2] Evans, M. and Murray, R. (ed) African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, (Cambridge University Press 2002)

[3] Baber, G. Essays on International Law, (Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2017)

[4] To be found in reading many reports on the Africa Union website http://www.au.int

[5] Pioin, J. (ed) Africa futures: towards a sustainable emergence? (UNESCO 2015)

[6] The Encyclopaedia Britannica to be found https://www.britannica.com/ debates the various sources each of which has a preference.

An Islamic Caliphate in the Africa context – Dr. Glen Segell

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An Islamic Caliphate in the Africa context 

By Glen Segell

RIMA Occasional Papers, Volume 5 (2017), Number 4 (March 2017)

A thesis is that regime types and leadership are important in defining an Islamic Caliphate in the Africa context in addition to the beliefs and practices of the population. Extrapolating this thesis means that Islam in Africa can be viewed in a number of ways, when considering the notion of an Islamic Caliphate. In all of these there is consensus that the definition of an Islamic Caliphate would negate the existence of the Western notion of a sovereign nation state with defined geographic borders. But what are the interim stages and definitions? One way is to start with the current situation of 54 sovereign nation states on the African continent. Each of these needs to be viewed based on certain criteria. For example the number of people who identify themselves as Muslims in any sovereign state. If there is a majority then the state can be considered a state of Muslims. If the majority of the residents are observant Muslims then it could be said that the state may exhibit Islamism. If the regime has Islamic law and practices then it could be said that it is an Islamic state. All of these could be said to be applicable ways to evaluate whether or not Islam is increasing in Africa towards the emergence of a

One way is to start with the current situation of 54 sovereign nation states on the African continent. Each of these needs to be viewed based on certain criteria. For example the number of people who identify themselves as Muslims in any sovereign state. If there is a majority then the state can be considered a state of Muslims. If the majority of the residents are observant Muslims then it could be said that the state may exhibit Islamism. If the regime has Islamic law and practices then it could be said that it is an Islamic state. All of these could be said to be applicable ways to evaluate whether or not Islam is increasing in Africa towards the emergence of a continent wide Caliphate. But this is not the only way. Also and in the manner of 20

But this is not the only way. Also and in the manner of 20th Century political science research it is possible to evaluate regime types and leadership. That is to say then in the Cold War the question was asked if the states’ leader or the states’ regime was Communist. If the answer was YES then the state was considered to be in the Eastern Soviet bloc. Little or no attempt was made to evaluate the beliefs of the mass population. Then in the Cold War it could be said that of the 50 states in Africa there were no true democracies. The vast majority of post-colonial regimes espoused authoritarian regimes. Communism and relations with the Soviet Union was popular amongst the leaders mainly because the former colonial master states were within the Western Bloc. Similarly today then the alternative approach to considering Islam in Africa is not to ask the beliefs of the citizens. Rather it is to ask how many leaders or cabinet ministers are Muslims in Africa’s 54 states.  If the answer is the majority then in political science terminology Africa is an Islamic continent and hence an Islamic Caliphate. In line with all these types of

In line with all these types of evaluations there is no doubt that Islam is gaining ground over Christianity or is being preferred to paganism as a popular belief or as a way of life. Africa in March 2017 is not an Islamic Caliphate but is not far from being one under such definitions. For example a quick straw poll shows that of Africa’s 54 sovereign states there is no doubt that 14 states north of the Sahara have a majority of Muslim residents, while south of the Sahara there are a further 8 states that have a majority of citizens who practice Islam; and in addition another 11 states in Africa have a substantial number of cabinet ministers or leaders that are Muslims.  Those that are not following the path towards Islam are few, for example South Sudan. Hence one thing is for certain, in the Africa context, and that is that Islam is increasing and that there is no apparent alternative. So an African Islamic Caliphate is an almost certainty.

However as history has shown the existence of an Islamic Caliphate doesn’t mean that it will be a vibrant and religious Islamic Caliphate. Nor does it mean that disputes will not arise as to who is the Caliph of the Caliphate. More certain is that the history of Africa shows that an Islamic Caliphate will probably not last any longer than the authoritarian or Communist regimes of the 20th Century and for the same reasons.

Dr. Glen Segell

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Dr. Glen Segell specializes in civil-military relations and strategic communications. His research interest in Islam and Muslims in Africa stems from these relating to regime types and leadership.

Dr. Glen Segell was made a Fellow Member of the Atlantic Council United Kingdom (2002), elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (2003) and Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society (2005). He was educated at King’s College, Hebrew University, and University of Witwatersrand. His PhD dissertation is on European defense industries. After undertaking anti-terrorist training he served in Sudan and Libya, also holding positions as Director of Research (IOTF) Iraq and Academic Coordinator of the Kuwait Ministry of Defence School of Languages. He has experience in the commercial sector, journalism, and the publishing sector in South Africa, Ireland, Israel, and Britain. He has worked in secondary and tertiary education, holding positions at the University of Reading (UK), The Institute for Historical Research (London), EF (Cambridge), STS (Oxford) and the Hebrew University and Bar-Ilan University in Israel. He is a former Fellow at the Institute of National Security Studies Tel Aviv and currently a Fellow at the Ezri Center for Iran & Persian Gulf Studies University of Haifa. He has been an external examiner for the University of the Orange Free State (South Africa) and Reviewer for Scientia Militaria at the South African Military Academy. He is an Executive Board Member of the Research Committee on Armed Forces and Society (IPSA) and has held elected executive positions at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the International Studies Association, the Political Studies Association (UK), and the British International Studies Association. He is the Editor of the London Security Policy Study Series, Discussion Group Moderator of JISCMAIL Military History and serves as a Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Mediterranean and Balkan Intelligence (RIEAS – Greece) and the Editorial Advisory Board of Military and Strategic Affairs and the Journal of Cyber, Intelligence and Security (INSS). He has been an Associate Editor of the International Encyclopaedia of Public Policy (Australia) and Guest Editor of the European Legacy (Israel). He is Senior Researcher for the Ariel Research Center for Defence and Communication, Ariel University Israel, and Senior Research Associate of the Global Political Economy Research Unit Curtin University of Technology, Perth Australia. He is a member of the Author’s Licensing and Collecting Society, the International Political Studies Association, the Royal Society of Literature, the Literati Club, the London Press Club and the European-Atlantic Group. He has been a guest lecturer; gave presentations in 43 countries and organizes workshops, seminars, and conferences. He appears on TV regularly having written over 200 academic works while also writing a blog for The Times of Israel. A list of Publications and Proceedings can be found at http://www.segell.com/Publications.pdf