Marc-Antoine Pérouse de Montclos

In Nigeria, the Islamic terrorism of Boko Haram raises a lot of questions about the political relationship between so-called "religious" violence and the state. At least three of them expose our confusions about islamization, conversion, radicalization and the politicization of religion, namely:
– Is it a religious uprising or a political contest for power?
– How does it express a social revolt?
– How indicative is it of a radicalization of the patterns of protest of the Muslims in Northern Nigeria?
A fieldwork study shows that Boko Haram is not so much political because it wants to reform the society, but mainly because it reveals the intrigues of a weak government and the fears of a nation in the making. Otherwise, the radicalization of Islam cannot be limited to terrorism and it is difficult to know if the movement is more extremist, fanatic and murderous than previous uprising like the one of Maitatsine in Kano in 1980. The capacity of Boko Haram to develop international connections and to challenge the state is not exceptional as such. Far from the clichés on a clash of civilizations between the North and the South, the specificity of the sect in Nigeria has more to do with its suicide attacks. Yet the terrorist evolution of Boko Haram was first and foremost caused by the brutality of the state repression, more than alleged contacts with an international jihadist movement.

Anthony Amicelle

The present paper examines current dynamics of surveillance regarding the fight against “terrorism” and its financing. Close analysis of the so-called “SWIFT Affair” and the US terrorist finance tracking program draw attention to one specific case-study which allows us to question the contemporary politics of massively accessing commercial data-banks for intelligence purposes. With reference to the SWIFT affair, the paper explores a sensitive aspect of transatlantic cooperation in the field of counter-terrorism

What kind of future worlds do experts of international security envision? This paper studies the role of experts in DC's think tanks, a relatively small world socially and culturally highly homogeneous. It underlines the characteristics of this epistemic community that influence the way its analysts make claims about the future for security. The DC's marketplace of the future lacks diversity. The paradigms analysts use when they study international politics are very similar. Moreover, the range of issues they focus on is also relatively narrow.
The paper highlights three main features of the relation between those who make claims about the future of security and those to whom these claims are addressed (mainly policymakers). First, it shows that, for epistemic but also for political reasons, the future imagined in think tanks is relatively stable and linear. This future also contributes to the continuity of political decisions. Second, the paper shows that think tanks are also "victims of groupthink", especially when they make claims about the future. Third, it underlines a paradox: scenarios and predictions create surprises. Claims about the future have a strong tunneling effect. They reinforce preexisting beliefs, create focal points, and operate as blinders when, inevitably, the future breaks away from its linear path.

The Maoist movement in India began to develop in the late 1960s, taking advantage of the political space provided when the Communist Party of India (Marxist) abandoned its revolutionary fight. In the early 1970s the Maoist, also called Naxalistes, were the victims of intense factionalism and severe repression which led the militants to retreat to the tribal zones of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, their two pockets of resistance during the 1980s. This strategy explains not only the transformation of the Indian Maoist sociology (which was led originally by intellectuals but became increasingly plebian) but also its return to power in the late 1990s. That decade, notable for economic liberalization, witnessed the exploitation of mineral resources in the tribal regions to the detriment of the interests of the inhabitants. The growth in Maoism during the 2000s can be explained also by a reunification under the banner of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) which was created in 2004.
The reaction of the government in New Delhi to this phenomenon which affects half the Indian states has been to impose repressive measures. In contrast the Maoists see themselves as the defenders of a State of rights and justice.

The international community analyzed the crisis in Somalia in light of its own interests rather than the reality of the country. After having failed to work out a true reconciliation government between 2002 and 2004, western countries went about keeping alive a government that had no real legitimacy, but backed by Ethiopia and Kenya. The emergence of the Islamic Courts in June 2006 reshuffled the cards. More than the radicalization of the Islamic Courts, two arguments finally determined Somalia’s fate and the rekindling of war there. Ethiopia couldn’t stand to see an autonomous power friendly to Eritrea appear on its southern flank. And the United States wanted to signal the absolute predominance of its fight against terrorism over any other consideration. Such a posture provided the opportunity to try out a new security doctrine giving the Pentagon ascendancy over the pursuit of alleged terrorists, co-opting new regional powers on the African continent in the process, given that most of its European allies once again proved particularly limp in the face of yet another militarist drift on the part of Washington. Incapable of occupying the political space, the transitional Somalian government encouraged radicalization. The specter of an Iraq-style conflict in Africa began to loom with Ethiopia’s shaky victory in January 2007.

The peace agreements that were signed in May 2004 may imply the end of the war in South Sudan. In order to assess the likelihood of success, one has to discuss the changes after the Islamists were brought to power in 1989 by a military coup. Of special interest are the impacts of their internal divisions, the emergence of oil money as significant revenues for the State and the consequences of 9/11 in the Middle East. Moreover, difficulties to implement the agreements in South Sudan should not be underplayed. The underdevelopment of this region, the existence of militias still supported by Khartoum and the history of the civil war among Southern Sudanese could give room to bitter divisions and proxy wars involving Khartoum’s government. The current crisis in Darfur reflects the weaknesses of the peace process despite a strong international involvement. Structural issues such as citizenship have not been addressed and this very crisis shows how little the regime intends to reform itself.

Frédéric Massé

The conflict in Colombia has, in the space of a few years, become a real headache for the United States as well as for Europe. Countless human rights violations, forced population displacement, drug trafficking and terrorism make Colombia a textbook case for examining the entire range of security problems today. With the launching of Plan Colombia in 1999, the United States considerably increased its aid to the country. Today, the American administration actively supports Alvaro Uribe’s government in its fight against guerilla movements, labeled “narcoterrorists,” and rumors of armed intervention regularly resurface. Having long remained on the sidelines of the “Colombian tragedy,” Europe seems to be relegated to playing second fiddle. The military option represented by Plan Colombia had opened up a political spaced that the Europeans began to occupy. But with the break-off of peace negotiations, this space has shrunk and has maybe even disappeared for good. In the face of American efforts to monopolize management of the Colombian conflict, it is in fact hard to see how the European Union can return to the forefront in this area of the world that remains the United States’ preserve. All the more so since virtually no voices can be heard asking the Europeans to counterbalance the United States. The situation in Colombia is a new illustration of the state of U.S.-European relations today, between competition, a search for complementarity and a mutual lack of understanding.