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Drivers of Radicalisation in the Sahel


Understanding the intricacies of radicalisation and the complex relationships between it and civilian populations is certainly necessary for the development of a comprehensive approach to it. The question of the role of religion in the radicalisation process is integral to this development, and therefore directly relevant to new and/or improved Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) measures. And the answer is perhaps not as clear as you might think.

Radicalisation is mainly a process which forms through strategy and structure, and involves the adaptation of violent means to achieve articulated political goals. The process of radicalisation stems from the adoption of a long-term strategy in combination with short term tactics of a violent and non-violent nature, in the service of goals which potentially evolve in the course of the process.

Much international attention has focused on countering violent extremism by military means. The current responses to religious radicalisation have been mostly kinetic, such as the roles played by MINUSMA, G5 Sahel, EUcap Sahel, Operation Barkhane and bilateral operations. However, they have been less effective than had been hoped for a variety of reasons, including their often negative reception by the local populations as well as a lack of adequate synergy between the organisations involved.

Against this background, this project has identified the main drivers which lead to radicalisation in the Sahel: Ethnic Conflicts; (Perceived) Ethnic Marginalisation; (Perceived) Economic Marginalisation; Pastoral Insecurity; Radical Preaching and Radicalisation in Prisons.

Understanding these elements is likely to help predict ongoing patterns of radicalization in the Sahel. The key findings, based on data gathered from field research, on-line discussions and subsequent in-depth analysis are presented in our full report.


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