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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Issue 2132

The Sahel: Local Conflicts, International Stakes
Introduction
Introduction

Sahelian Islam’s Shift Towards Salafism And Its Implications For Regional Terrorism

by Joshua Meserveyvia The Caravan
Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The Sahel region of Africa stretches east from Senegal’s Atlantic coast into Sudan, covering a vast space in which the Sahara Desert peters out southward into savannah. It is predominately Muslim, and specifically Sufi, a type of syncretic Islamic practice that emphasizes the mystical experience of God.

Featured Analysis
Featured Analysis

From The Middle East To The Sahel And Throughout Africa: How Russia Pushes Western Powers Towards The Exit

by Isabelle Lasserrevia The Caravan
Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Sub-Saharan Africa, the Sahel, the Middle East, Afghanistan. Like an octopus, Russia has extended its tentacles to every crisis riddled corner, filling the void created by the withdrawal of Western forces. Occasionally partnering with Turkey to better share the imperial burden, Vladimir Putin has once again inserted Moscow as a major player on the international scene. To what extent can it take the place of democratic powers?

Featured Analysis

The Sahelian Matrix Of Political Violence

by Heni Nsaibia, Clionadh Raleighvia The Caravan
Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The Sahel is one of the most active conflict theatres on the African continent and has become a major node in the "Global War on Terror'' over the past twenty years. After nearly a decade of foreign military intervention through overlapping counterterrorism, stabilization, and military and security training missions, the conflict is often referred to as a ''Forever War'' alongside other Western-led military interventions in the Middle East and Africa. As military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan draw to a close, attention is increasingly shifting to Africa as the next battlefront— where the Sahel remains a key geopolitical dilemma.

Featured Analysis

Remaining Without Expanding? Examining Jihadist Insurgency in Northeastern Nigeria

by James Barnettvia The Caravan
Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Over the past twelve years, northeastern Nigeria has experienced one of the most destructive jihadist insurgencies of anywhere in the world. As many as 350,000 people have died and some five million have become displaced as a result of conflict between insurgents commonly known as Boko Haram and the Nigerian state.

Featured Analysis

France In The Sahel Is A Policeman Trying To Escape From Prison

by Michel Goyavia The Caravan
Tuesday, September 21, 2021

On the 10th June, 2021, President Macron announced 'the end of Operation Barkhane' in the Sahel, but he did not announce France's withdrawal from the war against Salafi-jihadist organisations in the area. This is simply a new avatar of France's military engagement in the Sahel after Nicolas Sarkozy's ‘Sahel plan’ and the start of the Special Forces' Operation Sabre in 2009, operation Serval in 2013 and operation Barkhane in 2014. 

Featured Analysis

The Sahel After Afghanistan

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The Sahel and the states bordering it are sites of significant jihadist activity that will derive considerable encouragement from the Taliban victory in Afghanistan: Islamism will be on the upswing everywhere. In the Sahel in particular, such violent extremism plays out against the backdrop of weak political structures, poor governance, intercommunal conflicts, and profound economic challenges. These are poor states with growing populations.

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Featured Analysis

U.S. Middle East Strategy

by Samuel Tadrosvia The Caravan
Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Middle East remains today a troublesome area for the United States. American interests in the region are threatened by a host of adversaries from a resurgent Russia, a hegemonic Iranian desire and campaign of subversion, and Jihadi threat that has morphed from Al Qaeda to the Islamic State. Moreover, despite long U.S. investments and alliances, the region remains deeply anti-American. 

Featured Analysis

Middle East Perceptions Of An America Adrift

by Sanam Vakilvia The Caravan
Thursday, March 28, 2019

American strategy towards the Middle East has long been based on maintaining the twin pillars of security and stability in a region of geostrategic importance. At a crossroads between Europe, Africa and Asia, the Middle East has been historically significant for its energy supplies and passageways connecting the east and the west. To advance American interests, the United States has traditionally sought to maintain its position of influence through regional partnerships and with its military presence. Today though, there is a widespread perception that the US may be abandoning the Middle East. 

Featured Analysis

Thinking About A Strategy For The Middle East

by Dennis Rossvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Strategy starts with understanding our interests and the objectives that flow from those interests.  In the Middle East, our interests have evolved but perhaps less than many may think.  After the Second World War, when the US assumed more global responsibilities, Democratic and Republican Presidents saw the Middle East as vital to our interests because of its oil and geo-strategic centrality.  The unimpeded flow of its oil was necessary for global economic health and for the reconstruction of Europe—which was perceived as an essential national security priority. 

Featured Analysis

“Going Short” In The Middle East

by Samuel Helfontvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

In finance, “going short” is a way to make money on stocks that lose value. Nassim Taleb, the author of The Black Swan, reportedly used this tactic to make millions during financial crises. He did not know exactly when or why the markets would crash, but he knew they eventually would. Then he cashed in.  In many ways, going short is the opposite of traditional investment. In traditional investments one bets on success. In going short, one bets on failure. For over a decade, the United States has been trying to find a way to declare victory in the Middle East so that it can leave.

Featured Analysis

No Exit: The U.S. Predicament in the Middle East

by Henri J. Barkeyvia The Caravan
Thursday, March 21, 2019

“L'enfer est pavé de bonnes intentions” (the road to hell is paved with good intentions) goes a French expression. Years of American involvement in the Middle East to fashion a region that is stable, peaceful, more prosperous and more respectful of human rights has proven, so far at least, a failure. As a result, U.S. decision makers, thinkers and certainly the public at large are increasingly expressing their exasperation with that region.

Featured Analysis

Why America Can't Quit The Middle East

by Hal Brandsvia The Caravan
Thursday, March 21, 2019

One of the most persistent myths about U.S. foreign policy is the idea that America desires—due to greed, messianic ideological impulses, or simple imperial presumptions—to dominate the Middle East. In reality, American policy has long been torn by two conflicting imperatives: The need to protect enduring U.S. interests, on the one hand, and the desire to stay clear of the region’s unending headaches, on the other. 

Introduction

The Collapsing Strategic Context

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 19, 2019

In designing an optimal American strategy toward the Middle East, two factors stand out.  One is that now, as most always in the past, the climate of opinion is both “this is the last chance for peace” and “this is a time when nothing can be done”.  The second is that whatever happens in the region at this point in the 21st century will affect and be affected by negative and dangerous new trends in the other power centers of the world: China, Russia, the U.S., and even the European Union.

The Caravan: Toward a Middle East Strategy

via The Caravan
Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Issue 1921 of The Caravan is now available online. The journal is a periodic symposium on the contemporary dilemmas of the Greater Middle East.

Featured Analysis

Our Political Theologies

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 18, 2018

It has been seventeen years since the September 11 attacks, a defining moment not only for America but for our allies as well, and the response of one of them can help understand some of the underlying cultural aspects of contemporary political debate.  When the news reports spread through Paris, the initial reaction of profound shock quickly gave way to vigorous expressions of solidarity with the United States. “We are now all Americans” Le Monde declared famously. France, itself so often scarred by terrorism from the Middle East since the Algerian War, felt threatened as well, as painful national memories reemerged. 

Featured Analysis

The Middle Eastern Christian Dilemma

by Samuel Tadrosvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Writing in his famous book, What Went Wrong, the Middle East’s eminent historian, Bernard Lewis remarked that “according to Islamic law and tradition, there were three groups of people who did not benefit from the general Muslim principle of legal and religious equality – unbelievers, slaves, and women …. the rise of Western power and the spread of Western influence brought important changes to all three groups.” But while the drive for the emancipation of the three groups elicited fierce opposition, the reason was hardly the same. 

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The Caravan is envisaged as a periodic symposium on the contemporary dilemmas of the Greater Middle East. It will be a free and candid exchange of opinions. We shall not lack for topics of debate, for that arc of geography has contentions aplenty. It is our intention to come back with urgent topics that engage us. Caravans are full of life and animated companionship. Hence the name we chose for this endeavor.

We will draw on the membership of Hoover's Herbert and Jane Dwight Working Group on the Middle East and the Islamic World, and on colleagues elsewhere who work that same political and cultural landscape. Hoover senior fellow Russell Berman directs the project from which this effort originates.