By supporting publicly accessible evaluations, the United States can highlight gaps in regional efforts, improve understanding of local drivers of violent extremism and the tactics used to combat them, and strengthen national and international faith in implemented programming. The United States should encourage its partners in the region to more systematically identify the drivers of violent extremism among their populations.
Existing state-led efforts reflect a focus on religious intervention. But absent deeper understanding of local drivers, this approach risks obscuring other root causes. The United States can use its access to researchers and data on the drivers of extremism—including marginalization, poor governance, and state-sponsored violence—to encourage its partners to address these areas as part of their CVE efforts. The United States could encourage regional participation in the RESOLVE Network, a global consortium that collects and catalyzes local research on violent extremism to facilitate the creation of more effective policies.
Government-led initiatives may be viewed with suspicion in the region. The president and his team should work to correct the lingering damage of its Islamophobic rhetoric during the campaign. Administration appointments and public statements are two major areas that require prompt attention.
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The administration should avoid making reckless decisions and statements that affect CVE work and relations with the governments highlighted in this report, including policies such as the travel bans. Such words and deeds feed into a clash of civilizations model that can inflame public opinion in the Muslim world and harm regional efforts to counter violent extremism.
Countering violent extremism must remain a top priority for the United States and its partners in the Middle East. The United States should continue to play a role in guiding, funding, and developing data-driven CVE strategies that do not lean on repression or counterproductive policies. To that end, the Trump administration should work quickly to reshape its current approach to CVE by abandoning harmful rhetoric and emphasizing thoughtful strategies that uphold American values of political openness, pluralism, and inclusivity.
It should also publicly demonstrate its commitment to working through multilateral institutions and partners to build and improve the quality of existing CVE programming that has been developed by Middle Eastern countries since A majority of the initiatives launched in the region prioritize religious interventions but risk neglecting other drivers. Programming also suffers from overt securitization and politicization, potentially exacerbating existent grievances.
It does this through three major components:. Furthermore, Saudi authorities do not provide their data for transparent evaluation by outside experts. This in turn makes it difficult to assess the high success rates claimed by the government. The country does not appear to currently have a significant domestic extremism problem. This may be attributed to an extensive effort to stamp out extremist influences from educational and religious institutions since the September 11 attacks. The rise of extremism in the region over the past several years has led the UAE to mobilize its considerable resources toward a two-pronged strategy that includes support for anti-Islamist forces and the establishment of an international network of organizations working to undermine the intellectual and theological foundation of extremism.
Absent a national CVE strategy, Egypt appears to be using some of its government agencies to mitigate the threat. However, the Egyptian government considers its primary threat to be the Muslim Brotherhood. Beyond security, the government has presented a disparate set of religious and educational initiatives to counter violent extremism.
CVE efforts in Egypt suffer from politicization and securitization, and they are designed in the absence of evaluative data needed to legitimize the responses. Following two deadly terrorist attacks in , Morocco has upgraded its counterterrorism response. It incorporates moderate religious education, greater gender equality, and economic and human development initiatives.
Below are key aspects of the strategy:. In , the Jordanian government announced a CVE strategy, but little public information about it is available other than a leaked version of the text. The first is the Community Peace Centre. The center works exclusively on de-radicalizing low-risk militants. The second is the Directorate of Combating Extremism and Violence, which is responsible for developing, launching, and implementing the national CVE strategy for Jordan.
Jordan has imam training programs and has limited employment to state-sanctioned clerics to prevent the use of extremist rhetoric in sermons. It is also monitoring mosques in areas known to be recruiting grounds for extremism.
Information on the success rates of de-radicalization programs in Jordan are hard to come by. Overall, signals from the Jordanian government, including the establishment of the Directorate of Combating Extremism and Violence and its partnership with the UNDP, suggest a welcome commitment to establishing a comprehensive approach for countering violent extremism.
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In the chaotic period immediately after the revolution, extremists exploited the general weakness of the state to expand their influence. An estimated 6, to 7, Tunisians have left the country since to join extremist groups in Syria and Iraq.
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Over the past few years, several attempts have been made to address the CVE threat:. The government appears to be mounting a holistic response involving multiple state institutions and civil society actors—a novelty among regional CVE efforts.
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Alia Awadallah is a research associate at the Center for American Progress, where she focuses on counterterrorism, U. Prior to joining the Center, Awadallah worked on the human rights team at Vital Voices Global Partnership, where her work focused on gender-based violence and human rights in the Middle East and North Africa. From to , Awadallah served as a field organizer for the Obama campaign and a program assistant at the Carnegie Institution of Washington.
He comes to the Center with 18 years of experience in peacekeeping, peacebuilding, and stabilization, including a year career with the United Nations. Most recently, Lang was a senior fellow in the international security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
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During his tenure at the United Nations, he served as head of office for former President Bill Clinton in his role as U. Other foreign deployments include a tour as a senior adviser to the U. He is on the advisory board for Building Markets, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to creating jobs in conflict-prone countries.
Her work focuses on nonstate actors, risk analysis, and transnational security issues. Foreign Policy and Security. Introduction and summary When President Donald Trump took office in January, he inherited a military campaign against the Islamic State and Al Qaeda affiliates in the Middle East that had yielded impressive gains in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, in Syria. Get the Latest on Foreign Policy and Security.
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While the center is not a multilateral initiative, it collaborates with foreign governments and nongovernmental organizations to counter violent ideology abroad. The fund works in partnership with governments, civil society, and the private sector in target countries to support national strategies to address the local drivers of violent extremism.
This notion that young people want to be heard, without being accused of complicity in extremism, has been important in shaping our current research. This looks at youth radicalisation, and though still in the early phases, the research has found evidence that young people — in both Islamist and extreme right influenced environments — want conversations. Angry about the suffering of fellow Muslims in Syria, one research participant conquered thoughts about leaving for Syria by talking through his feelings with friends.
In another case, a research participant involved for a number of years in protest movements considered to be far right sought dialogue with oppositional voices. And engaging in its discussion, for some, signals complicity in stigmatising particular communities — while ignoring the policies that fuel their anger and alienation.
This includes grievance, structural inequalities and alienation from power structures. An opportunity for communities to stand up to stigmatisation, engage in dialogue and to show their strength and resilience. Not only in picking up the pieces after terrorist attacks, but in safeguarding each other in a way that makes their occurrence less likely. The change came because rising tensions are now developing and being played out on social media platforms. Social conflicts that once built up in…. But can it really strike a balance between liberty and security? The UK has a long history of controversial counter-terrorism measures.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid recently denied that the new…. Methodology and Research Design For this study, several anonymized Facebook accounts were used to identify English-speaking radicalized Facebook profiles as our target for an online counter-narrative intervention. For example, Nelly Lahoud argues that IS is unlikely to devise a policy explicitly allowing women to engage in combat, as legitimating such a role would allow women to….