Solutions to Violent Conflict

Archive for the ‘Religion and Conflict’ Category

The War on Terror and Muslim Registry: Between Continuity and Change

In Human Rights, Religion and Conflict on December 14, 2016 at 10:17 am

Perin Gurel is Assistant Professor of American Studies and Concurrent Assistant Professor of Gender Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

The global and local fronts of our endless “War on Terror” intersect around the suspect figure of the Muslim. What might this mean under a president-elect Trump? The structures kept intact, and in some cases expanded, by President Obama provide some clues.

First, there is the Muslim registry. Right after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the Bush administration implemented a special registration program that used immigration law to register, interview, fingerprint, detain, and deport males from 24 Muslim-majority countries (and North Korea) who were in the United States on student, tourist, or work visas, particularly punishing those who had fallen “out of status” because of glitches with the system. Read the rest of this entry »

De-Ba`thification and the Rise of ISIS

In Counterterrorism, Middle East, Religion and Conflict on November 24, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Aysegul Keskin Zeren

As the war against ISIS unfolds, acknowledging the conditions and events that paved the way for ISIS is crucial for rethinking strategy. As a result of a decade of instability in Iraq and more than three years of civil war in Syria, ISIS had fertile grounds and a strong support base to gain power in a wide stretch of territory in the regions. The ability of ISIS to gain significant popular support in Iraq particularly reveals how the policy of de-Ba`thification aided the rise of this extremist group.


The official de-Ba`thification process was initiated by the first two orders of the Coalition Provisional Authority in April 2003. The targets of these orders were high-level Ba`th party officials, Ba`thist leadership in public institutions, and entities that symbolized the Saddam Hussein era such as the Iraqi Army. Read the rest of this entry »

The Role of Diplomacy in Countering ISIS

In Counterterrorism, Middle East, Religion and Conflict on November 24, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Massive influx of Syrian Kurdish refugees into Turkey, September 22, 2014. Photo: EC/ECHO (Flickr)

David Cortright

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a clear and present danger to international security that must be stopped. The question is how. President Obama said there are no military solutions to this crisis, but he has sent American soldiers back to Iraq and launched air strikes there and in Syria. Recently, he ordered a doubling of U.S. troop levels in Iraq to 3,100. What’s missing so far from the U.S. response is a coherent plan for using diplomacy and political measures to weaken ISIS and halt the spread of violence in the region. Read the rest of this entry »

The ISIS Stalemate: It’s the Long Game

In Counterterrorism, Middle East, Religion and Conflict on November 24, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Ebrahim Moosa

With another U.S. aid worker beheaded by ISIS and unreported civilian deaths caused by U.S. airstrikes in ISIS controlled territories in Iraq and Syria, the conflict is taking on the features of a military stalemate.

As long as ISIS is America’s problem, there are no good medium and long-term solutions to the “caliphate” of Abubakr al-Baghdadi. Even assassinating Baghdadi would not solve the problem of the menace of ISIS, just as the execution of Osama bin Laden did not put an end to al-Qaeda. In fact, ISIS is a version of al-Qaeda on steroids.


More revealing about the civil war in Syria and Iraq is the account of Theo Padnos, the American journalist who was released by the Nusra Front after two years of captivity. The real battle in Syria, according to Padnos, is between the Nusra Front and ISIS. The two groups detest each other yet they share a common enemy in the Assad regime. Read the rest of this entry »

Religious Peacebuilding in Mindanao

In Peace, Religion and Conflict on October 17, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Scott Appleby

The war being waged in mineral-rich Mindanao, the southernmost island region of the Philippines, is a perfect storm of contemporary violent conflict. It is about land and resources, religion and clan, sovereignty, governance, and corruption in high and low places. Over a span of four decades, the fighting has resulted in more than 120,000 deaths, hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons, and more than $2 billion in damages to homes and businesses.

The latest news from Mindanao is big. On October 7, 2012, the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) reached an historic Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro People of Mindanao. The parties agreed that the status quo is unacceptable and that Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity representing the Muslim people in the region, will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Read the rest of this entry »

Religion and Conflict

In Peace, Religion and Conflict on October 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Catholic schoolchildren in Mindanao. Photo by Matt Cashore.

Gerard F. Powers

Later this month, the U.S. State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group will submit its recommendations to Secretary Hillary Clinton after a year of work. With subgroups on development, religious freedom and democracy, and conflict mitigation and prevention, the Working Group facilitated engagement with religious leaders, civil society groups, and experts on religion. One impetus for the Working Group was a 2010 report by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which called for strengthening U.S. foreign policymaking by strengthening the capacity to engage religion.

Read the rest of this entry »

Interfaith Women’s Peacemaking in Indonesia

In Peace, Religion and Conflict on October 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Sumanto Al Qurtuby

In 1999, in response to bloody communal violence that broke out in eastern Indonesia, a handful of Catholic, Protestant, and Muslim women leaders and activists established the interfaith alliance Gerakan Perempuan Peduli, the Concerned Women’s Movement (GPP). Based in Ambon, the provincial capital of Maluku and the site of the most severe violence between Christians and Muslims, the group was one of the earliest interreligious civil society associations that initiated meetings and activities across religious boundaries to quell conflict and pursue peace in the conflict zone.

The idea to establish GPP came first from Catholic nuns, notably Sisters Francesco Moens PBHK, Brigita Renyaan, and Getruda Yamlean. The idea was supported by the Catholic vice governor of Maluku, Paula Renyaan. In subsequent clandestine meetings, the members discussed strategies and tactics to build peaceful campaigns and a nonviolent movement. Read the rest of this entry »

Israel and the Making of U.S. Foreign Policy

In Religion and Conflict on May 18, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Atalia Omer

On March 22, 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton affirmed uncompromising U.S. support of Israel at the annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. On May 4, President Barack Obama had lunch with Elie Wiesel, the Nobel laureate, Holocaust survivor, and icon of American Judaism. As reported in the New York Times,1 the lunch was scheduled “as part of an effort to mend fences with American Jews” who disapprove of the general tenor of the American administration’s policy with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Some American Jews have expressed resentment toward the administration’s position concerning the continuous construction of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. The harsher tone toward Israeli expansionist policies is often interpreted by Israeli and non-Israeli Jews alike as a sign of an unfriendly administration in Washington. Read the rest of this entry »

Obama in Cairo: Policy Implications

In Religion and Conflict on May 18, 2010 at 1:28 pm

woman outside mosque

Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The mosque is the largest in the U.A.E. and the eighth largest in the world. Photo by Dave Cobb (Flickr)

R. Scott Appleby
This post includes video content. (6:01)

In a major foreign policy speech in Cairo last June, President Barack Obama addressed not another state or group of nations but a religion:  Islam, which many Americans continue to view (erroneously) as an enemy to the American state.
Read the rest of this entry »

Political Islam: Does the U.S. Want to Engage Effectively?

In Religion and Conflict on May 18, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Emad El-Din Shahin

Three issues are vital to U.S. security in the Middle East and will define America’s future relations with the Muslim world: the peace process (in Palestine, as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan); the United States’ continued support for corrupt and repressive allies; and political and economic reform.

In all three issues, Islamists, whether it Hamas, Hizbollah, Taliban, Iran, or more mainstream movements such as the Muslim Brothers in Egypt, the AK Party in Turkey, or the Justice and Development Party in Morocco, are key players. The United States must engage them in order to create a realistic and workable long-term strategy and relationship with the Muslim world. Read the rest of this entry »