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The logic of partnering with Iraqi tribes against ISIS

While the environment for working with Iraqi tribes to defeat a common enemy has changed significantly since the Anbar Awakening — primarily as a result of the democratically bankrupt Maliki government –, Daniel Green makes a strong argument for partnering with these tribes again. First, the social structure of tribes readily facilitates a mass movement that can quickly and effectively target an enemy. Equally important, the self-interest of tribes in defending their territory and families and securing their future makes them a formidable force. Clearly, working with Iraqi tribes to defeat ISIS is logical, but  the question for Green is, “Why would they want to partner with us?”  Read more.

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Considering the tribal governance model

Miriam Cooke notes that “[t]ribes are not marginal primitives but modern players, and in places like the Arab Gulf they are globally powerful as tribes. This is a recent phenomenon. During the colonial period in the Middle East tribes were disaggregated in an attempt to modernize what were considered to be backward social formations. While the tribal structures became less visible, the idea of the tribe persisted and has been making a comeback in Arab Spring countries like Libya, Tunisia, Yemen and Morocco but also in Syria and Iraq.”  She notes that despite artificial borders established during the colonial period, tribal relations have persisted. Because of this and other factors, Cooke encourages us to reconsider the structures, norms and values of  tribes since they may provide the key to good governance today. Read full article.



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The voice of Muslim youth is critical to resisting extremist ideologies

Farah Pandith, the first-ever Special Representative to Muslim Communities (U.S. Department of State), discusses the experience of Muslim millennials in today’s environment of growing Islamic extremism. She stresses the importance of finding “an opportunity to hear from a segment of the population on the planet that doesn’t always have an opportunity to talk with us… [W]e really need to be looking at these young people who happen to be Muslim around the world, to get their ideas, to move forward, to build partnership and dialogue.” Read more.

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Western women migrants residing in ISIS territory

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue’s report about Western women migrating to ISIS-held territory is based on social media blogs and postings from women migrants themselves making this report especially informative and insightful.  The report discusses women’s reasons for migrating to include a search for meaning, sisterhood and identity as well as their vision of a new society and how they hope to contribute to it.  With regard to the latter, the importance of ISIS’ state-building efforts are highlighted since this is the way that women are encouraged to build and support an Islamic society built on a strict interpretation of shari’ah law.  The report also discusses the reality of life for migrant women living in ISIS-controlled territory. Descriptions of day-to-day life  from housing and food to the difficulty of being a single migrant woman and migrant women’s status as foreigners are also presented. Finally, migrant women’s celebration of violence and their desire to inflict it themselves are also discussed. In sum, this report provides invaluable, primary source data about  Western women migrants’ experiences in ISIS-held territory and their key role in strengthening and supporting the expansion of ISIS. Read full report.

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Can women make the world more peaceful?

It appears so. Research analyzing female peacemaking found that women hold a significant role in the peace process. Their participation in promoting peace increases the probability of violence ending within a year by 24%. However, positive results like this are dependent on the actions of local women as opposed to women from outside the conflict, e.g., from the UN or the African Union.  Local women are vital for creating a lasting peace agreement while the involvement of non-local women doesn’t contribute to a durable peace. While women’s participation in the peace process is important, the reconstruction process after conflict  can be the most critical indicator of long-term peace. In this regard, institutionalizing gender equality by ensuring female participation in the implementation of a peace plan and establishing gender electoral quotas can significantly increase the likelihood of peace lasting. Read more.



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Gender and Conflict in Mindanao

The Asia Foundation commissioned a study in August 2010 to examine the dynamics of gender and con- flict in Mindanao. Leslie Dwyer and Rufa Guiam conducted field-based research and a literature review to identify challenges and opportunities for women and men in community and national peacebuilding. Their report argues that programming is more effective when comprehensive gender analysis is utilized, and that such an approach can be transformative in societies trying to emerge from conflict. Read full report.

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February Newsletter: Nagata’s Brain Trust

MG nagata

Maj. Gen. Michael K. Nagata, commander of American Special Operations forces in the Middle East, was selected by President Obama to lead the effort to train a Pentagon-backed army of Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State. As part of this endeavor, he’s asking important questions in order to understand ISIS and effectively combat it. He’s brought together a brain trust of three dozen experts to determine why it appeals to so many and to examine its capacity to control populations.

In this issue of the Gamechangers 360 newsletter, we round up three articles on the role of gender vis-a-vis the Islamic State and other extremist Islamic groups that provide important insights for MG Nagata, his brain trust, and anyone concerned with combating extremism.

Read the February NewsletterClick Here to Subscribe

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Standing with those who fight fundamentalism

Although President Obama’s call to tackle political Islamism was welcomed by many, secular, moderate, and feminist advocates in Muslim majority countries are well ahead of him.  For decades theses activists have been calling on the world to understand the danger they were facing. Cherifa Kheddar, President of Djazairouna, the Algerian Association of Islamist Terrorism, who lost her brother and sister to the Armed Islamic Group during the 1990s conflict in her country, knows all too well that  “you cannot defeat terrorism by an anti-terrorist battle, without doing the anti-fundamentalist battle.” And women play a key role in this battle since there is no way to challenge the ideology of Islamism without championing women’s equality. According to Nigerien sociologist Zeinabou Hadari, “Every step forward for women’s rights is a piece of the struggle against fundamentalism.” Read full article.

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