Hivos International

Fundamentalism

World News Radio Australia: "There will be certainly a lot of civil wars between 'Islamic State' and other Islamic groups", says Kawa Hassan

Kawa Hassan is a political analyst at international development group Hivos: 

"It will attract I think, at least in the short term, more perceived marginalised youth to join his battle. And what I think we would also see in the short term is an intensification of internal infighting within the radical groups", he says.

"So there will be certainly a lot of civil wars between 'Islamic State' and other Islamic groups because 'Islamic State' is based on pure polarisation."

The Christian Science Monitor: “These attacks shows that the Islamic State has sleeper cells and that they can activate them whenever they want to,” says Kawa Hassan

“These attacks shows that the Islamic State has sleeper cells and that they can activate them whenever they want to,” says Kawa Hassan, an analyst at Hivos, a Dutch NGO, and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center.  “Abu- Bakr Al Baghdadi [the leader of IS] wants to sent a message that they can wage a frontal war… [and] remind Kurdish and Iraqi authorities that they can revert to their traditional tool of trade, which is suicide attacks,” says Mr. Hassan. The use of foreign fighters sends a message to potential recruits that IS is truly waging “global jihad.”  “Despite all the security presence in Kirkuk, it is still a no man’s land,” says Hassan, the analyst.

Annahar: Islamic State is a consequence not a cause of the current catastrophe

In this opinion in Annahar, Hivos' Middle East expert and Carnegie's Visiting Scholar Kawa Hassan argues that in order to understand the recent advances and gains by the Islamic State (IS, formerly Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS) in both Iraq and Syria in June and August 2014, we need to go back to the beginning of 2000.  After 9/11 and 2003, both the Syrian and Iranian regimes saw and used Al-Qaeda as a 'potential ally' in their conflict with the United States but, simultaneously, viewed it as a dangerous enemy. But Damascus and Teheran were not the only capitals that used Al-Qaeda franchises as a political instrument to advance strategic interests. After the eruption of the Syrian revolution, Riyadh, Ankara and Doha entered into this dangerous 'geostrategic game' with disastrous consequences for Syria, the Middle East and beyond.

Meeting Report: Al Qaeda's Resurgence in North Africa?

On Tuesday, 17 December 2013, ICCT - The Hague and Hivos jointly hosted the seminar “After the Mali Intervention: Al Qaeda's Resurgence in North Africa?” at the International Press Centre, Nieuwspoort. The French military offensive in Mali that followed the January 2013 intervention severely degraded the capabilities of militant organisations linked to al Qaeda.

Meeting Report - Islamic State in Iraq and Syria: The Role and Future of Extremist Groups in the Region

On 15 September 2014, Hivos and the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT) co-hosted a seminar on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (IS). What are the causes of the groups strong uprising? What can be done to counter IS and what do to about foreign fighters who go to this region to fight among extremist groups?

To understand the recent advances and gains by the Islamic State (IS, formerly Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS) in both Iraq and Syria and to explore future prospects, we need to go back to the origins of Al-Qaeda in Syria and Lebanon between 2000 and 2013. After 9/11 and 2003, both the Syrian and Iranian regimes saw and used Al-Qaeda as a ‘potential ally’ in their conflict with the United States but, simultaneously, viewed it as a dangerous enemy. But Damascus and Teheran were not the only capitals that used Al-Qaeda franchises as a political instrument to advance strategic interests.

Like their Islamist counterparts in Egypt and Tunisia, Morocco’s Party of Justice and Development (PJD) rode the 2011 wave of popular protests to become the largest party in parliament. Moreover, unlike Islamists elsewhere, they have managed to buck the regional trend by remaining in government. 

The PJD is in the midst of a drawn-out transition to democracy with no other option but to negotiate, compromise and constantly reassure the Moroccan monarchy that its most vital interests are not being threatened. So far, the party seems to have maintained its cohesion and edge over the political opposition, but the hardest work of the democratic transition has not yet started.

Policy Brief by Barah Mikail

As Iraq heads towards parliamentary elections on 30 April, a combination of political and sectarian divides, poor governance  and terrorist attacks continue to add to instability in the country.  The risk of regional spill-over is considerable. Meanwhile, there is a strong chance that the increasingly authoritarian Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, will win a third mandate. This could take Iraq to the brink  of fragmentation. While facing many political obstacles, progress towards decentralisation could offer the best option to prevent further destabilisation and preserve the unity of the country.

The January 2013 French intervention in northern Mali has severely degraded the military capabilities of militant organisations, disrupted their organisational capacities and destroyed many of their sanctuaries. But as violent extremists are being subdued in one area, new hot spots of confrontation are emerging. When forced out of one of their safe havens, transnational terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) just disappear into other peripheral zones of tension.

This paper examines how chaotic environments in North Africa are giving new breathing space to a splintered terrorist organisation. Chastened by its many blunders in northern Mali, an off-balance AQIM is trying to shift gear, focusing less on becoming the face of local militancy in North Africa and more on stealthily parasiting local militant organisations without dominating them.

For decades, the Muslim Brotherhood focused on the need  to uphold and defend Muslim identity in order to maintain organisational  unity, spending less time on developing alternative policies to those  of the regime.

While successful in the short term, in the medium and  long terms this strategy could lead to the marginalisation of the  Brotherhood and its replacement by other more sophisticated forms of  religiously-motivated political and social activism. Its coming to power creates new challenges for the organisation that will define the  group’s future path: the relation between religion and state; the shift from identity politics to policy questions; the 'political relevance' versus 'religious authenticity' dilemma; and the balance of power  between the organisation and its members.

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