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AssessmentsAug 13, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A soldier keeps guard near the Nigerian border in Maradi, Niger.
Security in the Sahel Is Poised to Worsen
Recent political upheaval in Mali and the Ivory Coast threatens to compound intensifying instability in the Sahel and could spill over into other West African countries. Structural weaknesses of governments in the Sahel will leave them vulnerable to bouts of political unrest, insurgent and terrorist activity and other disruptions. As instability in the Sahel continues to grow, jihadist groups will further undermine the security of these countries and pose an increasing threat to coastal West African countries. These groups do not yet pose a threat of attacks outside the region.
SnapshotsJul 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A Drought Lays Bare Morocco’s Vulnerabilities
While declining rainfall is a problem across the Maghreb region of northwest Africa, this year's ongoing spring and summer drought is hitting Morocco's agricultural sector particularly hard. The drought will weaken the strategic objectives of the Moroccan government's agricultural investment plan, which prioritizes support for export-producing large farms over subsistence-producing small farms in order to drum up valuable export revenue. Dampened domestic production will also force Morocco to import more staple crops needed to feed its 36 million citizens. Combined with the loss of crucial agricultural revenue, the added expense of more imports will exacerbate the economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis, which is already sapping Morocco's tourism revenue.
AssessmentsFeb 10, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Military units from Western Sahara's military forces wait to begin maneuvers in Mehaires, Western Sahara, on Jan. 6, 2019.
A Moroccan Military Drive Puts Algeria on Alert
For years, Algeria has ruled the roost in the Maghreb, marshaling its underground riches to build the most powerful military in the region. Increasingly, however, it's facing a challenge from its long-time rival to the west, Morocco, which is hoping to capitalize on its neighbor's unrest to grab the mantle of regional supremacy. But Morocco's concerted effort to displace Algeria as the lead military power in the region isn't without risk, as it could inflame the underlying tensions between the neighbors, further stoking regional instability.
On SecurityOct 29, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
This July 5, 2014, photo shows an image grab taken from a propaganda video released by al-Furqan Media showing Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as he declares himself caliph in Mosul.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's True Legacy
When al-Baghdadi declared himself caliph following his Islamic State group's stunning battlefield successes in Syria and Iraq, he envisioned a legacy in which all Muslims would fall in line and help him establish sovereignty over all the Earth. Al-Baghdadi saw himself as the one to "Make Islam great again" (to borrow a phrase) and expected to achieve the same success that the Prophet Mohammed's followers enjoyed when they greatly expanded the original caliphate in the late seventh century A.D. But as we now look back at the life -- and death -- of al-Baghdadi, it becomes clear that he was a failure. Not only did he fail to unify all Muslims and lead them on a global conquest, his only lasting legacies might be his group's deep split with others in the jihadist movement, depraved violence (against believer and nonbeliever alike), and rape on an epic scale.
On SecuritySep 10, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
The 9/11 attacks against the United States were a watershed moment for the jihadist movement.
18 Years After 9/11, Jihadism Remains a Global and Local Threat
18 years ago tomorrow, Osama bin Laden and his jihadist al Qaeda group conducted the most devastating terrorist attacks in history. The attacks in New York and Washington took the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent victims, shaking the entire world to its core. And the aftershocks continue to be felt today -- whether it's in the residual consequences of the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, or the complete overhaul of global air travel security.  Almost two decades later, the United States remains engaged in both Middle Eastern and Afghan theatres. Just this past weekend, the White House pulled the plug on the latest round of peace talks with the Afghan Taliban. And on a local and individual level, the attacks continue to affect the health of survivors and first responders who witnessed the horror firsthand and were exposed to asbestos and other toxic building materials in the process.
On SecurityMar 12, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
Algerian protesters demonstrate in the capital Algiers against ailing President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term on March 8, 2019.
The Jihadist Peril Lurking in Algeria's Protests
No stranger to civil conflict, Algeria is once again experiencing significant political unrest. Protests in the country are gathering steam, indicating deep and widespread discontent with the power structure that has helped Algerian President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika remain in power even though the octogenarian suffered a debilitating stroke in 2013. The trigger for the most recent protests that erupted on Feb. 22 was the announcement that Bouteflika -- who is wheelchair-bound and unable to speak -- would stand for a fifth term in presidential elections on April 18. On March 11, however, he announced that he was withdrawing from the election, which authorities will delay until a national conference sets a date for a new election. In climbing down, Bouteflika is clearly hoping to defuse the current protests. But until the particulars are known, it is difficult to determine if he will succeed. The protests are not only focused on
AssessmentsFeb 28, 2019 | 10:30 GMT
Fighters with the Syrian Democratic Forces walk past civilians at a screening area for evacuees from the Islamic State's embattled holdout in Baghouz, Syria, on Feb. 26, 2019.
The Fight Against Jihadists Is Shifting to Africa
When 9/11 kicked off the global war on terrorism, the main focus of counterterrorism efforts was al Qaeda-linked groups operating in the Middle East and South Asia. Close to two decades later, the United States and its allies are still involved in efforts to suppress al Qaeda and its offspring in Iraq and Afghanistan -- albeit perhaps not for much longer. After an exhausting effort, the United States is signaling a shift elsewhere as the Islamic State (which rose from the ashes of al Qaeda in Iraq) has suffered a comprehensive reverse, while Washington has sat down for talks with the Taliban as a precursor to a possible withdrawal of U.S. and allied troops from Afghanistan over the next several years. Instead, Africa has become home to some of the most active jihadist groups in the world. That, in turn, appears set to shift the focus -- for militants and
On SecurityJan 22, 2019 | 11:00 GMT
A Somali soldier stands at the scene of a car bomb attack conducted by al Qaeda affiliate al Shabaab near the Peace Hotel in Mogadishu on Jan. 2, 2017.
Tracking Jihadist Movements in 2019: Al Qaeda
The jihadist movement is a global insurgency – not just a terrorist phenomenon. Today, most of the world's jihadist groups have affiliated themselves with one of two poles: al Qaeda or the Islamic State. This seeming unity, however, belies numerous disagreements about how to pursue jihad. Given these differences, it is little surprise that there is a great deal of variance among different groups – even among those under the same al Qaeda or Islamic State umbrella. In this, some "franchises" stick close to the philosophies and guidance provided by the nominal parent organization, while others stray further afield. Here's a look at what how al Qaeda's various franchises fared in 2018 and what we can expect from them in the year to come.
AssessmentsSep 5, 2018 | 09:30 GMT
Members of the Libyan Special Forces, who are loyal to Khalifa Hifter, ride in a pickup truck past a billboard bearing the strongman's image in Benghazi during September 2017.
France and Italy Each Go Their Own Way on Libya
There's much that France and Italy agree on when it comes to Libya: Both want to stabilize the country so that it doesn't become a haven for terrorism or a staging ground for African migrants, and both wish to prevent its two squabbling governments from fighting one another. But try as they might, the two countries just can't get onto the same page. Paris and Rome back opposite sides of the conflict, and they have two very different views on what should happen next. After bringing together Libya's main players for a conference in May, Paris convinced the various factions to hold elections on Dec. 10. Rome, in contrast, has no wish for any elections this year and is instead planning to hold its own conference on the future of Libya in October. The divergence stems in part from the countries' different imperatives and areas of interest in the North
On SecurityJul 24, 2018 | 08:00 GMT
Police officers present suspected ISWAP militants, as well as a cache of weapons, in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, on July 18.
Defining Militant Groups: Why the Names Matter
On July 14, reports from Nigeria's Yobe state emerged regarding an attack on a military base. Media outlets around the world were quick to identify the main culprit, noting how "Boko Haram" – the name that has become synonymous with militancy in the country – had raided a base. Truth be told, while there was certainly an attack, it wasn't conducted by Boko Haram, but the al-Barnawi faction of Wilayat al Sudan al Gharbi, or Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). The attack touched off a conversation between some colleagues and myself last week that centered on one curious question: Why do many media outlets continue to refer to the group as Boko Haram, even though it declared allegiance to the Islamic State and formally changed its name in March 2015?
On SecurityJun 12, 2018 | 08:00 GMT
A picture taken on April 29, 2018, shows Syrian army forces running for cover from sniper fire from Islamic State positions in Yarmuk, a Palestinian refugee camp on the edge of Damascus.
How Do You Measure Success Against Jihadists?
How do you actually measure success against jihadist groups? As operations the world over have shown, simply destroying a high number of Toyota Hiluxes driven by militants isn't necessarily the defining mark of success in the "war on terrorism," and a tally of terrorist attacks doesn’t necessarily signal failure. As it turns out, there's more to assessing a jihadist group's strength than straight numbers.
SnapshotsMar 2, 2018 | 17:38 GMT
Burkina Faso: Dual Attacks in Capital Fall Short
Mali, the epicenter of terrorist activity in the Sahel region, is unable to effectively combat the extremist groups operating within its borders without significant international help by France, the United States and others. Because of this, its neighbors, including Burkina Faso and Niger, will remain vulnerable to attack. The assault in Burkina Faso on March 2 will motivate France to keep pushing ahead with the Group of 5 (G5) Sahel Force, its massive project to build up local security and counterterrorism capabilities. As Stratfor noted in its 2018 Annual Forecast, however, the security situation in Mali will be unchanged despite France's efforts, because of setbacks in implementing the 2015 Algiers Accord.
AssessmentsFeb 28, 2018 | 16:33 GMT
Five million workers are set to enter the Middle East's job market each year, even as gainful employment is in short supply.
Youth Unemployment: The Middle East's Ticking Time Bomb
Earlier this month, Dubai hosted the World Government Summit, welcoming dignitaries from around the world for talks on global happiness. But amid all the discussions of evermore contented societies lurked a more pressing issue right on the Emiratis' doorstep: the prospect that 5 million workers are set to enter the Middle East's job market each year, even as gainful employment is in short supply. That, at least, was on the mind of Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, who once more exhorted Arab governments to address youth unemployment -- and fast. No one was about to disagree. From Morocco to Iran, states and leaders of all sects, political systems and governing systems understand the threat posed by the region's high youth unemployment.
On SecurityJan 18, 2018 | 12:23 GMT
A Yemeni man surveys the aftermath of a bombing in Huta, in the southern province of Lahj, March 27, 2017.
Tracking Global Terrorism in 2018
With the start of a new year, we once again examine the state of the global jihadist movement. Shared from Threat Lens, Stratfor's unique protective intelligence product, this column includes excerpts from a comprehensive forecast available to Threat Lens subscribers.
AssessmentsOct 18, 2017 | 18:34 GMT
Though branches of the Islamic State tend to garner the most publicity, the greater threat to military forces, aid workers, civilians and citizens of the Sahel comes from another military group: Jamaat Nusrat al Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM).
The Surprising Suspects Behind an Islamist Ambush
Terrorist attacks in sub-Saharan Africa are relatively common but are rare rarely covered in Western media. The exception is, of course, when those attacks begin to affect Western countries such as an armed assault did Oct. 5 in Niger. Eight people, including four U.S. military personnel were killed in the incident. Though no group has claimed the attack, the U.S. Department of Defense said it was carried out by fighters from the Islamic State in the Greater Sahel (ISGS). But though branches of the Islamic State, including ISGS, tend to garner the most publicity, the greater threat to military forces, aid workers, civilians and citizens of the Sahel comes from another military group: Jamaat Nusrat al Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM). The group's Arabic name translates to "The Group to Support Islam and Muslims," but for those in the region and their Western allies it means the threat from Islamist militancy will
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