Information and news about terrorism

Conflict in Burkina Faso
In late January 2019, the eruption of conflict in the Centre-Nord and Sahel regions displaced thousands of people in rural Burkina Faso. The recent attacks are an extension of a disturbing trend involving the displacement of more than 115,000 people since 2015. According to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, extremist attacks and conflict in Burkina Faso have quadrupled since 2017 as groups like al Qaeda, Ansar ul Islam and ISIS continue to gain support in the north.

Burkina Faso and the Situation

One of the more inspiring success stories in Western Africa, Burkina Faso was on track to implement sweeping political reforms this year, including presidential term limits. Since the country ousted former authoritarian ruler, Blaise Compaoré, in 2014, voter registration increased by 70 percent as scores of Burkinabè grew excited by the prospects of democracy. However, this March 2019, the government put the referendum on hold indefinitely while it struggles to bring stability back to Burkina Faso.

The conflict in Burkina Faso has come at a considerable human cost, with over 70,000 people displaced since January alone. The majority have fled within the country’s borders, finding refuge in the nearby regions of Foubé, Barsalogho and Déou. Though the camps provide families with relative safety, the hastily built, government-sponsored structures are far from adequate. The state is already overwhelmed by a recent influx of Malian refugees and resources are stretched thin as a result.

In refugee encampments like Foubé, a shortage of shelters has forced the roughly 8,000 refugees to live in extremely crowded conditions, increasing the likelihood of measles and other outbreaks. The lack of sanitation has resulted in hygiene-related illnesses, respiratory infections, malaria and parasitic diseases. Meanwhile, in Barasalogho, the nearest clean water is an hour drive from the encampment, sometimes forcing residents to drink unsafe wells or streams and increasing the prevalence of cholera or other illnesses.

UNHCR and Doctors Without Borders

Despite the severity of the conflict in Burkina Faso, the situation has received shockingly little international attention. While the UNHCR and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have played a prominent role in refugee support, the conflict continues to restrict access to many northern communities. MSF, whose primary goal in Burkina Faso is to issue vaccines and curb outbreaks, is working in only two refugee camps. With the situation becoming increasingly tense, the U.N. is urging refugees to seek shelter in camps where the UNHCR and MSF are active.

The sluggish international response has placed the burden of responsibility on the already overwhelmed Burkinabè government. While government rhetoric continues to support democracy and political reform, its response to the extremism has resulted in an unknown number of extrajudicial killings. In less than a year, Human Rights Watch documented at least 116 civilian deaths from government security forces, although the real number is unknown.

As the Burkinabè government struggles to regain stability, the U.N. is calling on the international community to do more. The U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund allocated $4 million early this March, although experts say roughly $100 million is needed to adequately address the crisis. Although the 115,000 forcibly displaced people face a stout uphill climb before the restoration of peace, the future of the Arizona-sized nation is still bright. While a new date for the referendum has not been announced, the steady rise in voter registration and political mobilization suggests reform is on Burkina Faso’s horizon.

– Kyle Dunphey
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Waleed Abdulkhair
Waleed Abdulkhair is a prominent human rights activist and a famous lawyer from Saudi Arabia. He is currently serving a 15- year sentence in his native country. In February 2014, Saudi Arabia passed a new anti-terrorism law, using a vague definition of terrorism to crack down on free speech. Abulkhair was the first human rights activist to be tried and convicted under the law. In the article below, top 10 facts about Waleed Abdulkhair are presented.

10 Facts about Waleed Abdulkhair

  1. Waleed Abdulkhair was born on June 17, 1979 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He was raised in a religious Hejazi family, a family that had many judges and imams (religious leaders). He was taught to memorize the Holy Quran from a very young age.
  2. Waleed Abdulkhair received his Bachelor’s degree in Arabic in 2003 at King Abdu Aziz University. He also received a license from Shaikh Obaid Allah Al Afqani and was approved by the Teaching Board of the Holy Mosque in Medinah.
  3. Abdulkhair met his spouse, Samar Badawi when he took up her case against her father who was verbally and physically abusive toward her. Abdulkhair was successful in defending her rights in court as well as launching a social media campaign. They soon got married and have a daughter together.
  4. In 2015, Waleed Abdulkhair won the most prestigious prize in human rights in Europe, named the Ludovic Trarieux International Human Rights Prize. He also won the Swedish Olof Palme Award and the Swiss Freethinker Prize. Abdulkadir was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, twice.
  5. He founded an independent human rights organization in 2008, called Monitor for Human Rights. The Saudi government, unfortunately, banned the website of the organization and its Facebook page, prompting Waleed Abdulkhair to register the website in 2012 with the Canadian Ministry of Labor. This made the organization the first Saudi Arabian human rights organization that was registered abroad.
  6. The Saudi authorities forbade him from representing particular defendants in court but Abdulkhair defied them. One of his more prominent and recent cases like this was the case of Raif Badawi, the man who garnered international attention when he was flogged for hosting a website advocating for discourse on sociopolitical issues.
  7. Abdulkhair was arrested in 2013 for hosting what is called a “diwanniya,” an informal gathering at his home where participants would discuss topics such as politics, religion, culture and human rights. It is also referred to as “samood,” meaning resistance or in Arabic.
  8. Abdulkhair was sentenced to 15 years in prison on July 6, 2014, by Saudi Arabia’s Specialised Criminal Court, the national terrorism tribunal. He was sentenced for violating the anti-terrorism law, was also banned from leaving the country for 15 years and fined over $50,000.
  9. Abdulkhair strictly refused to apologize to the court for his position on human rights and he did not acknowledge the legitimacy of the Specialised Criminal Court.
  10. Abdulkhair initiated a hunger strike in the prison he was being kept in as a political statement against the poor treatment of the authorities toward him. He suffers from intestinal complications and diabetes, thus requiring a special diet that the authorities have refused to give him.

Waleed Abdulkhair remains a bastion of hope for human rights, civil liberties and democracy in a country that currently suppresses all three of these things. July 2018 was the fourth anniversary of his sentence. He still remains in jail, similar to his many compatriots speaking against human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia.

– Maneesha Khalae
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Poverty in Chad
With an estimated 200 ethnic groups who speak about 100 languages living within its borders, the central African nation of Chad is one of the most diverse countries in the world. The nation is also one of the theorized places of origin of humankind, an idea substantiated by a ~7 million year old humanoid skull discovered within Chad’s borders.

Through its history, Chad has been a central part of some of Africa’s greatest empires, a French colony and an independent state marred by internal and external conflict. Chad is an incredibly complex nation with many factors that contribute to poverty and instability. Here are 10 of the major facts about poverty in Chad that will hopefully demonstrate how the country could benefit from foreign aid.

10 Key Facts About Poverty in Chad

  1. After gaining independence from France in 1960, Chad fought in a civil war for almost 24 years. France, Libya, the Arab leaning northern regions and the African-leaning southern regions of Chad were just a few of the major parties involved in this conflict.
  2. Continuous power struggles within the nation have led to the deaths of more than 51,000 people and the complete instability of an ever-changing government.
  3. Lake Chad is an expansive fresh-water source that provides for millions of people living in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. The lake is central to food and water supplies, land support and nutrient recycling, regulatory groundwater replenishment, carbon sequestration and air purification. Over the past 45 years, Lake Chad has lost 90 percent of its volume and surface area.
  4. Diminishing rainfall, water pollution due to increasing oil exploitation and commercial rice and cotton farming and the absence of government environmental regulatory programs all contribute factors to the destruction of the Lake Chad Basin. Agriculture, which employs nearly 83 percent of the working population in Chad, and the livestock sector, which provides direct or indirect income for 40 percent of the population, made up 23 percent of Chad’s GDP in 2015. Thus, the disappearance of the lake is a large factor in Chad’s poverty.
  5. Since 2015, Chadian forces have combatted the Nigerian terrorist organization Boko Haram to restabilize the Lake Chad region. By the beginning of 2017, attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram displaced more than 100,000 people and created 7,000 refugees on Chadian soil.
  6. The presence of Boko Haram in Chad has periodically closed the border to Nigeria, a main outlet for trade, and slowed economic growth in the lake region. The instability created by Boko Haram’s terrorism further exacerbated long-standing tensions between ethnic communities and the civil conflict in Chad.
  7. Reports for 2017 illustrated that 28 percent of Chad’s population struggle with food insecurity. That is approximately 4 million people — 98 percent of whom live in the Sahelian belt that stretches across west Africa from Senegal to Chad. In fact, malnutrition rates are above emergency levels for children between the ages of five and nine in the Sahel region of Chad.
  8. To help improve food security and reduce instances of malnutrition in the Sahel region of the Lake Chad Basin, the World Food Programme is supporting 1.4 million of the region’s most vulnerable. The group accomplishes such an admirable feat by providing cash-based transfers that can be used to purchase food at local markets and improve the regional economy.
  9. In 2011, the richest 20 percent of Chadians accounted for about 48 percent of total consumption expenditures, while the poorest 20 percent of Chadians accounted for only 5 percent. The increase in these wealth disparities can be attributed to the growth in the oil industry, as the increase mainly benefited oil-related investment in urban capital; meanwhile, the rural industry of cotton production went into decline.
  10. The poverty gap index, a measure of the how much average income of impoverished people falls below the poverty line, shows huge discrepancies between urban and rural areas in Chad. Rural areas have a 22.6 percent poverty index gap, while urban areas stand at 6.6 percent. Rural poverty is more severe due to low levels of education, large numbers of children per household and climate changes’ direct effect on income and employment. Overall, the incidence of monetary poverty was twice as high in rural areas than it was in urban centers in 2011.

Hope of Continued Effort

Poverty in Chad has improved incrementally over the last 50 years, but there is much progress to be made especially when compared to many other developing areas. These 10 facts about poverty in Chad show an incredible opportunity for foreign aid to improve infrastructure and stability.

– Carolina Sherwood Bigelow
Photo: Flickr

Iraq War Facts
The Iraq War began in 2003 under the Bush administration. A common misconception among the Iraq War facts is that the war was a response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks; however, there was no evidence of Iraq’s connection with the attack. The United States intended to abolish Saddam Hussein’s regime and confiscate any weapons of mass destruction.

The war went on for eight years until President Obama officially announced that he would be withdrawing troops from Iraq in 2011. However, when ISIL began taking control of Iraqi land in 2014, U.S. military advisors returned to the country to combat the spread of the Islamic State. To understand the return and current presence of the United States in Iraq, it is important to know the following Iraq War facts.

Purpose

When the U.S. began the war with Iraq in 2003, the purpose was to take down Saddam Hussein from the Iraqi government; however, the United States’ current presence in Iraq is largely due to the permanent threat of terrorism in the Middle East caused by terrorist groups such as ISIL.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is a terrorist organization that follows radical Sunni Islam. It first gained global attention in 2014 with its presence in Iraq and Syria but also spread around the world to countries like Afghanistan, Egypt, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

ISIL initiatives were largely funded by oil revenue made on the black market. The group took control of oil fields in both Syria and Iraq and would sell this oil to fund their activities. Since then, they have lost much of their control of these oil fields to the Iraqi army and their revenue has decreased.

Troops

Although troops were withdrawn from Iraq in 2014, there are still over 5,000 American soldiers in Iraq due to the ongoing “war on terror” in the Middle East. Interestingly, though, it was found that these numbers were not exactly accurate. Pentagon officials acknowledged only over half of the troops are actually present in Iraq — one of the most shocking Iraq war facts as a report found that the actual amount was 8,892.

This number is more than 75 percent more than originally stated. While these figures could seem high, they are relatively small when compared to the number of troops present under the Bush administration. A decade ago, the combined troop total approached 200,000.

The War

Since their return in August 2014, the U.S.-led coalition has conducted more than 13,300 airstrikes against ISIL targets in the area. Through the years, these airstrikes have led to the Iraqi military regaining much of its land from ISIL. Iraq’s government announced the end of the war against the Islamic State in December 2017, over three years after they first began taking control of Iraqi land.

The Islamic State has now lost most of the territory they once took control of. In a statement, the military said it “fully liberated” all of Iraq’s territory and retook full control of the border. According to the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State, 98 percent of territory once claimed by the jihadist group has been reclaimed.

Moving Forward

Since the victory over the Islamic State, the U.S. has announced that it will reduce the number of troops in Iraq. That being said, the United States will not fully leave Iraq despite the fact that ISIL no longer controls Iraqi land.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued a statement saying, “Despite these successes, our fight is not over. Even without a physical caliphate, ISIS remains a threat to stability in the recently liberated areas, as well as in our homelands.” This belief is largely due to the terror that has been created through attacks around the world. Today, the goal is to fight the Islamic State from spreading its influence.

– Luz Solano-Flórez
Photo: Flickr

8 Global Issue Topics for Essays and Research Papers
Today, people are starting to become active participants in the fight against global issues and as a result, progress is being made. However, there are still individuals unaware of pressing issues around them. One way of bringing these people up-to-date would be through the use of essays or research. Here are 10 global issue topics for essays and research papers.

10 Global Issue Topics for Essays and Research

  1. Water Contamination and Shortage: 2.1 billion people in countries undergoing urbanization have inaccessibility to clean drinking water as a result of pollution, poverty and poor management of resources. Water resources are depleted by agriculture and industry energy production. To put into perspective, agriculture accounts for 70 percent of the reduction of water around the world, with 75 percent of a given countries’ water used for this purpose and depleted by contamination. Fortunately, there has been a recent increase in efforts to develop technology to combat contamination and reduce the rate of water depletion.
  2. The Relationship between Education and Child Labor: Despite a surge in funding for some countries and increasing attention through social media, education continues to be a luxury around the globe. Reasons include gender preferences and poverty, and child labor — the use of children in industry. According to UNICEF, 150 million children participate in laborious activities dangerous to their health. As one can imagine, this work hinders a child’s ability to fully invest in education. Therefore it’s most challenging to bring education to sub-Saharan Africa, where the rates of children enrolled in primary education continue to stagger. In addition, fewer students successfully complete secondary education here.
  3. Violence: Violence is a global issue that exists in all shapes and sizes. Violence can be done towards a particular group like women or LGBTQ+ members, or it is an act that can be a result of a mentally disturbed mind. There is also violence in response to economic stress. All these varying forms of violence lead to attention on the safety and prevention of such acts. However, there isn’t much consideration on how an everyday person can help. In discussions about violence, the biggest questions to answer are: How is this violence used? How is it achieved/accessed? Does the media have a role? How much is the foundation for a particular act of violence is personal? What is the overall goal?
  4. Poverty: In 2015, the International Poverty Line was set to $1.90. This number means that a person is living in extreme poverty if they live below this line. According to this set line, more than 1.3 billion people are living in this extreme worldwide. This fact suggests that 1.3 billion people have difficulty obtaining food and shelter, regardless of the availability of homeless shelters and organizations. Current questions or topics to explore in an essay or research would be the cause of variation in wages on the international level, and the nature and initiatives that can be taken to solve this global issue at large.
  5. Inequality: On a global scale, the focus on inequality tends to be in terms of the distribution of wealth. According to a Global Wealth Report, 44 percent of global net worth is held by only 0.7 percent of adults. This suggests that there is a significant division between economic classes around the world. Recently, research has shown the effects that this economic divide has on communities particularly in health, social relationships, development and stability. For example, in a society where there’s a large gap between the rich and the poor, life expectancy tends to be shorter and mental illness and obesity rates are 2 to 4 times higher. In terms of social relationships, inequality on a larger level introduces more violence and crime.
  6. Terrorism: Terrorism like the bombing incidents of the last few years continue to claim the lives of innocents. It is a threat to the peace, security and stability of the world, so terrorism prevention methods have been implemented to illustrate what is wrong and should be/could be done to uphold justice. However, the basis of the threats, mindsets and the successes/failures of response efforts still need to be evaluated.
  7. Child Marriages: Child marriages are defined as the union between one or two individuals under the age of 18. One in five girls are married before the age of 18, and child marriages prevent children from becoming educated, can lead to severe health consequences and increased risk of violence. Legislation and programs were established in order to educate and employ children in these situations as child marriages do not have enough awareness on individual involvement or emphasis on the common causes for these marriages.
  8. Food: Poverty, economic inequality and water contamination mean inability to produce sufficient amounts of food to sustain a population. This can, in turn, lead to poorer health and decreased energy to carry out physical and mental functions, leading to more poverty. By 2050, the world would need to find food for approximately nine billion people as cost of production for food will rise in response to the increased amount of individuals. Thus, the United Nations established programs to ensure food security and technology companies make efforts to reduce food production costs.

The Role of Essays and Research

There has been increasing progress towards solving the global issues; however, for some, this progress is too slow due to lack of understanding of preventative methods, diffusion of responsibility and unanswered questions. These global issue topics for essays and research papers can be used as a starting point to give more insight to others into the issues and how to get involved.

– Stephanie Singh
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Crisis in Afghanistan
According to the most recent Afghanistan Living Conditions Survey (ALCS), the poverty rate in Afghanistan has taken an enormous leap over the past few years, rising from 38 percent in 2011-12 to 55 percent in 2016-17. 
In addition, the percentage of Afghans facing food insecurity jumped from 30 percent to 45 percent, and the underemployment rate (the percentage of people working in jobs that pay too little to sustain themselves) rose from 17 percent to 24 percent over the same timeframe.

The survey states that this “sharp deterioration” is mainly due to macroeconomic, security and demographic factors. These may sound like rather broad issues, but the poverty crisis in Afghanistan can be traced to two major problems.

Reduced NATO Troop Presence Increases Instability

The first of these is the departure of NATO combat troops, which took place in 2014. At its peak, NATO involvement in Afghanistan consisted of about 130,000 troops on the ground to protect civilians from the threat of terrorism. The total number of troops currently stands at about 15,000.

This reduction has made it easier for the Taliban, Afghanistan’s most prominent terrorist group, to increase its presence in the country. In fact, the BBC reported that the Taliban controlled or threatened approximately 70 percent of Afghan territory as of January.

Frequent terrorist attacks and violent conflict have led to an increase in poverty because many have been forced to flee their homes, leave their jobs and pull their children out of school in fear for their lives. This constant instability can make it difficult for families to find ways to provide for themselves.

In response to the negative effects since NATO’s transition out of Afghanistan, the Trump administration sent approximately 3,000 more NATO troops to Afghanistan at the beginning of this year. The effects of this increase have yet to be determined.

Disproportionate Age of Population Contributes to Poverty Crisis in Afghanistan

The second contributor to the poverty crisis in Afghanistan is one whose solution is less clear: the age of the population. The ALCS report indicates that 48 percent of the population is under the age of 15, meaning it has one of the youngest populations in the world.

This anomaly has created an economic dilemma for Afghanistan. The dependency ratio currently stands at 101, which means that 100 income-earning adults have to provide for 101 dependent people.

What this high number implies is that adults are having to spend more money on food, medical care and education for their children. But since most of the population is not old enough to work yet, all of these burdens are placed on a relatively small amount of income earners, which results in more money being spent than earned and leads to higher rates of poverty.

Afghanistan Makes Major Gains in Women’s Employment

One solution offered by the report is to encourage greater involvement of women in the workforce. The female labor force participation rate in Afghanistan as of 2017 is about 19 percent. Although this is the highest rate ever recorded in the country and is a great sign of progress, there is still quite a way to go for Afghanistan to match the world average of 49 percent.

Increasing measures to fight terrorism and creating employment opportunities for women are not simple tasks by any means, but they can be accomplished with hard work. Though conditions may seem dire now, the poverty crisis in Afghanistan is not unsolvable.

– Maddi Roy
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid Is a Matter of National Security
In February of 2018, the Trump administration released a budget proposal indicating deep 29 percent budget cuts to the state department and steady 13 percent increases to the defense department. These state department cuts materialize into $16.2 billion taken away from the previous $55.6 billion allocated in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. The Trump Administration justifies the cuts by stating that aid will remain in the accounts of “friends” of our future foreign policy decisions.

Ramifications of the 2018 Budget Proposal

Meanwhile, the proposed budget increases the amount of money spent on national defense by 13 percent, raising the $600 billion budget to nearly $690 billion. The increased defense budget will be used to completely update the United States’ nuclear arsenal and increase the amount of ground-based missile interceptors in Alaska working to address the increased threat of the Korean Peninsula.

Assessing nuclear threats is a fair concern and position for the United States government to take, however it should not come at the expense of drastically decreasing foreign aid. In truth, foreign aid is a matter of national security.

Foreign Aid is a Matter of National Security

While it may not appear obvious at first, foreign aid is known and regarded by many U.S. military officials as beneficial to United States foreign policy and national security. To illustrate, in 2017-retired General Mike Mullen and retired Admiral James Jones wrote a piece explaining the hands-on benefits they saw foreign aid bring in leading American troops.

Both officials explain that military power alone cannot prevent despair within vulnerable countries from turning into outbursts of violence and instability. Robust foreign aid should not be looked upon as a no-strings-attached giveaway to the poorest nations in the world, but rather as stability enhancement to places most susceptible to radical influence.

Threat of Extremism

The generals explain that countries with limited social hope and foreign assistance are the most prone to radicalization that materializes into extremism. Terror organizations like Al Qaeda, Al Shabab, Boko Haram and ISIS take root in countries with common characteristics — instability and poor governance. These terror cells bring about a sense of social support that citizens do not believe their public officials and service programs will be able to provide them.

The former military officials further explain that Congress can, and should, fully fund the International Affairs Budget, as the funding leads to active approaches from the U.S. government, non-government organizations and in-country support to provide services that meet citizens’ basic needs.

Foreign Aid and the Military

Moreover, foreign aid goes hand-in-hand with a strong military. Without support after a strong U.S. military presence, countries can remain unstable and vulnerable to extremist influence. Therefore, foreign aid creates proactive conflict-prevention strategies which are far less expensive in resources and expended lives than reactionary use of United States Armed Forces.

In 2013, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis bluntly summarized the words of the retired officials and explains why foreign aid is a matter of national security: “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately. So I think it’s a cost benefit ratio. The more that we put into the State Department’s diplomacy, hopefully the less we have to put into a military budget…”

Diplomacy is ultimately less expensive than the wars that a lack of diplomacy brings about. While a strong military is considerably important in 2018 and beyond, cutting foreign aid to increase military spending weakens our strength as a nation, a role model and peacekeeper.

The words of these military officials should be kept in mind in future policy decisions so as to clearly explain why foreign aid is a matter of national security.

– Daniel Levy
Photo: Unsplash

U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to AlgeriaThe diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria officially began in 1962 after the close of a long war for independence from France. Although there was a brief break in diplomatic relations in 1967, Algeria has remained one of the United States’ most reliable partners in the Middle East/North African region.

Having maintained this relationship since 1974, U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Algeria have returned dividends. According to the State Department on U.S.-Algerian relations, the “U.S. has strong diplomatic, law enforcement and security cooperation.” Continuing the current diplomatic status quo through foreign aid benefits the U.S. for multiple reasons. 

First and foremost, Algeria holds an important strategic location in North Africa which provides a foothold for U.S. economic and security interests. In comparison to Algeria’s neighbors, mainly Libya and Northern Mali, the country has remained relatively stable. Furthermore, Algeria has sought to promote regional stability in lieu of the current Libyan conflict and security situation in Northern Mali. 

In recent years, North Africa has seen an increased presence in extremist activity. Most notably, ISIS and al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb have continued to launch terror attacks within Algeria and its neighboring countries. Algeria continues to be a key partner in the U.S. initiative to combat terror groups in both the Middle East and North Africa. As of today, a major component of the U.S. foreign assistance programs seeks to strengthen Algeria’s ability to combat terrorism. Algeria also is an active member of the Global Counter Terrorism Forum. 

Furthermore, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Algeria through ironclad bilateral economic relations in conjunction with security benefits. Algeria has seen a large U.S. investment in the sector of hydrocarbons. In return, the U.S. imports a large amount of the country’s crude oil. The U.S. continues to assist Algeria through modernization in fiscal and monetary policy. Moreover, the U.S. has sought to diversify the Algerian economy by promoting other exported goods in addition to crude oil. 

Planned U.S. funding in foreign assistance to Algeria currently sits at $1.5 million for FY 2019. Out of the total budget, all 100 percent of the funds will go toward peace and security; 33 percent focuses on “combating weapons of mass destruction,” while the other 67 percent has been earmarked for “stabilization operations and security sector reform.” 

As armed conflict continues throughout North Africa and the Middle East, Algeria remains an essential target for U.S. foreign aid. U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Algeria provide both economic benefits in the form of crude oil imports and a strong partner in addressing extremist groups. The U.S. mission of eliminating terror groups and maintaining regional security leaves Algeria in an important place. For U.S. interests, the country has proved to be a reliable ally in the war on terror and continues to act as a strong economic partner. 

– Colby McCoy

Photo: Flickr

Media Misrepresents Iran
Western media has a notorious reputation for misrepresenting developing countries. This article will discuss how the media misrepresents Iran with framing, agenda-setting and manipulation. It will also debunk the common stereotypes embedded in these examples of misinformation.

Iran as a Pro-Terrorism Country

Categorizing Iran as a pro-terrorist country is the largest example of how the media misrepresents Iran. Western media is very quick to blame Iran-based problems on terrorism and, often times, radical Islam. In fact, Iran’s legislation and government officials have clearly proven that they’d prefer Iran to be on sound terms with other nations.

Iranian citizens have been dissatisfied about government spending and its foreign ventures for over a decade now; they would rather spend money internally. To note, reformist president Hassan Rouhani was actually approved for office because of his promise to improve relations with other nations.

Both him and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif are seen as national heroes for their desire for peaceful relations with other countries. To note, western media emphasizes this (false) aspect of Iran the most.

Iran as an Anti-Israeli Country

Characterizing it as a nation with a vendetta against Israelis is the next most common way of how the media misrepresents Iran. Though some Iranian leaders have verbally attacked Israel (like president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose presidency ended in 2013), Iranian citizens have proven to contradict this anti-Israeli feeling.

Larry Cohler-Esses, Jewish journalist, decided to travel to Iran for an exclusive look at Iranian citizens daily lives and genuine feelings. He found that most Iranians are, again, more concerned with domestic issues, with fears surrounding isolation and struggling economically. Indeed, individual citizens have no interest in attacking Israel, but the Iranian government does.

Iran as an Oppressive Country

Western media also misrepresents Iran as a country that oppresses and discriminates against religious minority groups. Iran is known for typically having a conservative, Muslim government that many assume oppresses other religions.

It is true that there has been discrimination against the Baha’i community, but this is because the Baha’i faith has been consider heretical since the 19th Century; however, discrimination is only directed toward the Baha’i community but not to Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians and other religious communities.

Iran as a “Backwards” Nation

The media has presented Iran as an impoverished country that is struggling to modernize society. When Cohler-Esses traveled to Iran, he saw no evidence of this.

Instead, he saw a well-educated, youthful population that was fashionable, modern, and critical of their own government. The media also presents Iran as a country with little to no free press, but instead, reformist newspapers have gotten more popular over the years. While Iran does frequently have issues with legislation that constantly changes and effects freedom of press, the nation’s press ultimately has a fair range of freedom to vocalize their concerns.

The media continues to paint Iran as a country with little to no growth or progress, ignoring its efforts to modernize and industrialize society; fortunately, though, this myth continues to be disproven, time and time again.

The media landscape continues to paint blurry pictures of developing countries, but as countries continue to modernize, the reality will present itself — especially in the case of Iran.

– Chylene Babb

Photo: Flickr

poverty's role in terrorism
There seems to be a close connection between poverty and terrorism. In fact, many argue that poverty breeds terrorism. Even if it does not do so in a direct manner, one only needs to look closer to find the intricate ties between poverty and terrorism. Poverty’s role in terrorism becomes clearer when viewed through the lens of interconnectedness that unravels and unpacks the consequences of poverty. For instance, poverty often deprives people of an adequate education and can lead to marginalization in society, both of which can result in extremist beliefs among impoverished people. These 10 facts about poverty’s role in terrorism make the connection clearer.

10 Facts About Poverty’s Role in Terrorism

  1. The world’s most dangerous nations are also among the poorest. For instance, the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) in 2012 revealed that lower-middle-income countries accounted for seven of the 10 countries most affected by terrorism. Nations such as Iraq, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, which were among the 10 most dangerous countries, also struggle with rampant poverty.
  2. Poverty often deprives people of the ability to obtain an adequate education, and a lack of education leaves many people vulnerable to negative influences. Oftentimes, children from low income or extremely poor families only able to receive an education at madrassas or religious schools, which are targeted by violent extremists looking to indoctrinate and recruit innocent youngsters. Additionally, the top ten most dangerous countries in the 2012 GTI consisted of nations with high illiteracy rates.
  3. Impoverished people often grow up in marginalized and poor areas, which are overlooked by the government. A deep sense of marginalization can lead such people to engage in terrorist activities.
  4. Poverty often goes hand-in-hand with poor governance in a nation. In fact, sometimes poor governance continues the cycle of poverty. Poor people in such nations often feel marginalized not only because of their status but also the hopelessness that comes with the justified mistrust in their government. As a result, they might join groups that promote extremist actions in order to feel like they are being heard and their needs are being considered.
  5. Feelings of deprivation that are caused by being unemployed or the fear of unemployment can lead to extremist thoughts in people, thereby inviting them to engage in terrorist activities. For instance, a 2005 study found a significant positive correlation between state-level unemployment and the incidence of right-wing extremist crimes.
  6. Poor healthcare or lack of access to healthcare is very common in poor countries. In fact, most of the 10 most dangerous countries in the 2012 GTI are also among the places where the most people die from preventable diseases.
  7. More than the lack of material resources, the feeling that an individual cannot make meaningful life choices to alter their living conditions can also lead some to engage in desperate acts. Poverty strips people of their dignity, opportunities and meaningful choices.
  8. Terrorist groups’ community development activities demonstrate a link between insurgency and extreme poverty. For instance, Hamas spends most of its resources providing social, cultural, welfare and educational activities for the Palestinian people, and the Taliban built madrassas to offer free education to poor children in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  9. Even among those living in first world countries, a propensity toward terrorism has been found in groups that live below the poverty line. For instance, according to a 2008 Census Bureau study, American Somalis, 82 percent of whom live near or below the poverty line, are the largest group traveling to fight with jihadist groups abroad.
  10. World leaders agree that poverty is linked to terrorism. For instance, in reference to budget cuts, Secretary of Defense James Mattis famously said, “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately.”

These 10 facts about poverty’s role in terrorism demonstrate that a lack of access to basic necessities can make people desperate enough to engage in terrorist activities. Hopefully, acknowledging poverty as one of the root causes of terrorism will help people find ways to eradicate it altogether.

– Mehruba Chowdhury

Photo: Flickr