Tourist population in Gjirokastër district, southern Albania [Pixabay].
ESSAY / Jan Gallemí
On 24 November 2019, the French government of Enmanuel Macron led the veto, together with other states such as Denmark and the Netherlands, of the accession of the Balkan nations of Albania and North Macedonia to the European Union. According to the president of the French Fifth Republic, this is due to the fact that the largest issue of economic refugees entering France are from the Balkans, specifically from the aforementioned Albania. The latter country applied to join the European Union on 28 April 2009, and on 24 June 2014 it was unanimously agreed by the 28 EU countries to grant Albania the status of a country candidate for accession. The reasons for this rejection are mainly economic and financial.. There is also a slight concern about the diversity that exists in the ethnographic structure of the country and the conflicts that this could cause in the future, not only within the country itself but also in its relationship with its neighbours, especially with the Kosovo issue and relations with Greece and North Macedonia.. However, another aspect that has also been explored is the fact that Albania's accession would mean the EU membership of the first state in which the religion with the largest number of followers is Islamic, specifically the Sunni branch, issue . This essay will proceed to analyse the impact of this aspect and observe how, or to what extent, Albanian values, mainly because they are primarily Islamic in religion, may combine or diverge from those on which the common European project is based.
Evolution of Islam in Albania
One has to go back in history to consider the reasons why a European country like Albania has developed a social structure in which the religion most professed by part of the population is Sunni. Because of the geographical region in which it is located, it would theoretically be more common to think that Albania would have a higher percentage of Orthodox than Sunni population.. The same is true for Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina. This region was originally largely Orthodox Christian in the south (like most Balkan states today) due to the fact that it was one of the many territories that made up the Byzantine Empire until the 13th century, when the nation gained its independence. However, the reason why Islam is so present in Albania, unlike its neighbouring states, is that it was more religiously influenced by the Ottoman Empire, the successor to the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine Empire fell in 1453 and its territories were occupied by the Ottomans, a Turkish people established at that time on the Anatolian peninsula. According to historians such as Vickers, it was between the 17th and 18th centuries that a large part of the Albanian population converted to Islam.The reason for this, as John L. Esposito points out, was that for the Albanian population, changing their religion meant getting rid of the higher taxes that Christians had to pay in the Ottoman Empire..
Religion in Albania has since been shaped by events. As far as we know from programs of study such as those of Gawrych in the 19th century, Albanian society was then divided mainly into three groups: Catholics, Orthodox and Sunnis (the latter represented 70% of the population). The same century saw the birth of many of the well-known European nationalisms and the beginning of the so-called Eastern crisis in the Balkans. During this period many Balkan peoples revolted against the Ottomans, but the Albanians, identifying with the Ottomans through their religion, initially remained loyal to the Sultan.. Because of this support, Muslim Albanians began to be pejoratively referred to as "Turks".. This caused Albanian nationalism to distance itself from the emerging Ottoman pan-Islamism of Sultan Abdualhmid II. This gave rise, according to Endresen, to an Albanian national revival called Rilindja, which sought the support of Western European powers..
The Balkan independence movements that emerged in the 19th century generally reinforced Christian as opposed to Muslim sentiment, but in Albania this was not the case; as Stoppel points out, both Albanian Christians and Muslims cooperated in a common national goal .. This encouraged the coexistence of both beliefs (already present in earlier times) and allowed the differentiation of this movement from Hellenism.. It is worth noting that at that time in Albania Muslims and Christians were peculiarly distributed territorially: in the north there were more Catholic Christians who were not so influenced by the Ottoman Empire, and in the south Orthodox also predominated because of the border with Greece. On 28 November 1912 the Albanians, led by Ismail Qemali, finally declared independence.
The international recognition of Albania by the Treaty of London meant the imposition of a Christian monarchy, which led to the outrage of Muslim Albanians, estimated at 80% of the population, and sparked the so-called Islamic revolt. The revolt was led by Essad Pasha Toptani, who declared himself the "saviour of Albania and Islam" and surrounded himself with disgruntled clerics. However, during the period of World War I, Albanian nationalists soon realised that religious differences could lead to the fracturing of the country itself and decided to break ties with the Muslim world in order to have "a common Albania", which led to Albania declaring itself a country without an official religion; this allowed for a government with representation from the four main religious faiths: Sunni, Bektashi, Catholic and Orthodox, training . Albanian secularist elites planned a reform of Islam that was more in line with Albania's traditions in order to further differentiate the country from Turkey, and religious institutions were nationalised. From 1923 onwards, the Albanian National congress eventually implemented the changes from a perspective very similar to that of Western liberalism. The most important reforms were the abolition of the hijab and the outlawing of polygamy, and a different form of prayer was implemented to replace the Salat ritual. But the biggest change was the replacement of Sharia law with Western-style laws.
During World War II Albania was occupied by fascist Italy and in 1944 a communist regime was imposed under the leadership of Enver Hoxha. This communist regime saw the various religious beliefs in the country as a danger to the security of the authoritarian government, and therefore declared Albania the first officially atheist state and proposed the persecution of various religious practices. Thus repressive laws were imposed that prevented people from professing the Catholic or Orthodox faiths, and forbade Muslims from reading or possessing the Koran. In 1967 the government demolished as many as 2,169 religious buildings and converted the rest into public buildings. Of 1,127 buildings that had any connection to Islam at the time, only about 50 remain today, and in very poor condition.. It is believed that the impact of this persecution subject was reflected in the increase of non-believers within the Albanian population. Between 1991 and 1992 a series of protests brought the regime to an end. In this new democratic Albania, Islam was once again the predominant religion, but the preference was to maintain the non-denominational nature of the state in order to ensure harmony between different faiths.
Influences from the international arena
Taking into account this reality of Albania as a country with a majority Islamic population, we turn to the impact of its accession to the EU and the extent to which the values of the two contradict each other.
To begin with, if all this is analysed from a perspective based on the theory of "constructivism", such as that of Helen Bull's proposal , it can be seen how Albania from the beginning of its history has been a territory whose social structure has been strongly influenced by the interaction of different international actors. During the years when it was part of the Byzantine Empire, it largely absorbed Orthodox values; when it was occupied by the Ottomans, most of its population adopted the Islamic religion. Similarly, during the de-Ottomanisation of the Balkans, the country adopted currents of political thought such as liberalism due to the influence of Western European powers. This led to a desire to create a constitutionalist and parliamentary government whose vision of politics was not based on any religious morality.. It can also be seen that the communist regime was imposed in a context common to that of the other Eastern European states. At the same time, it also returned to a democratic path after the collapse of the USSR, even though Albania had not maintained good relations with the Warsaw Pact since 1961.
Since Albania's EU candidacy, these liberal values have been strengthened again. In particular, Albania is striving to improve its infrastructure and to eradicate corruption and organised crime. So it can be seen that Albanian society is always adapting to being part of a supra-governmental organisation. This is an important aspect because it means that the country is most likely to actively participate in the proposals made by the European Commission, without being driven by domestic social values. However, this in turn gives a point in favour of those MEPs who argued that the veto decision was a historic mistake. For if it does not alienate the EU, Albania could alienate other international actors. According to MEPs themselves, these could be Russia or China.
However, there are two limitations to this assertion. The first is that since 2012 Albania has been a member of NATO, so it is already partly alienated from the West in military terms. But a second aspect is more important, namely that Albania already tried during the Cold War to alienate itself from Russia and China, but found that this had negative effects as it made it a satellite state. On the other hand, and this is where Islamic values come into play, Albania today is a member of Islamic organisations such as the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation). Rejection by the EU could therefore mean Albania's realignment with other Islamic states, such as the Arabs or Turkey. Turkey's own government, currently led by Erdogan's party, has a neo-Ottomanist nature: it seeks to bring the states that formerly constituted the Ottoman Empire under its influence. Albania is being influenced by this neo-Ottomanism and a European rejection could bring it back into the fold of this conception.. Moreover, by moving closer to Middle Eastern Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, Albania would run the risk of assimilating the Islamic values of these territories.These are incompatible with those of the EU because they do not comply with many of the articles signed up to in the 1952 Universal Declaration of Rights.
Islam and the European Union
Another aspect would be to ask in what respects do Islamic values contradict those of the EU? The EU generally claims to be against polygamy, homophobia or religious practices that oppose the dignity of the person. This has generated, among other things, a powerful internal discussion as to whether the hijab can be considered as a internship staff that should not be legally prevented. Many feminist groups are against this aspect as they relate it to family patriarchalism.However, other EU groups claim that this is only a fully respectable individual internship staff and that its abolition would be a gesture of an Islamophobic nature. In any case, as mentioned above, Albania abolished both polygamy and the wearing of the hijab in 1923 as not reflecting the values of Islam in Albania.. In this respect, it can be observed that although Albania is a country with an Islamic majority, this Islam is much more influenced by Europeanist currents than by Eastern ones: that is, an Islam adapted to European customs and whose values are currently more similar to those of the neighbouring Balkan states.
Some MEPs, usually from far-right groups such as Ressamblement National or Alternativ für Deutschland, claim that Islamic values will never be compatible with European values because they are expansionist and radical. Dutchman Geert Wilders claims that the Koran "is more anti-Semitic than Mein Kampf".. In other words, they claim that those who profess Islam are incapable of maintaining good relations with other faiths because the Koran itself speaks of waging war against the infidel through Jihad. As an example, they cite the terrorist attacks that the Islamist group DAESH has provoked over the last decade, such as those perpetrated in Paris and Barcelona.. But these groups should be reminded that a sacred text such as the Koran can be interpreted in many ways and that although some Muslim groups believe in this incompatibility of good relations with those who think differently, the majority of Muslims interpret the Koran in a very different way, just as they do the Bible, even if some very specific groups become irrational.
This is clearly the case in Albania, where since its democratisation in 1991 there has been a national project integrating all citizens, regardless of their different beliefs. Rather, throughout its history as an independent country there has been only one period of religious persecution in Albania, and that was due to the repression of communist authoritarianism. One limitation in this respect might be the Islamic revolution that took place in Albania in 1912. But it is worth noting that this revolution, despite its strong Islamic sentiment, served to overthrow a puppet government; no law was enforced after it to impose Islamic values on the rest. So it is worth noting that Albania's political model is very similar to that of Rawls in his book "Political Liberalism", because it configures a state with multiple values (although there is a predominant one), but its laws are not written on the basis of any of them, but on the basis of common values among all of them based on reason.. This model proposed by Rawls is one of the founding instructions of the European Union and Albania would be a state that would exemplify these same values.. This is what the Supreme Pontiff Francis I said at his visit in Tirana in 2014: "Albania demonstrates that peaceful coexistence between citizens belonging to different religions is a path that can be followed in a concrete way and that produces harmony and liberates the best forces and creativity of an entire people, transforming simple coexistence into true partnership and fraternity"..
It can be concluded that Albania's values as an Islamic-majority state do not appear to be divergent from those of Western Europe and thus the European Union. Albania is a non-denominational state that respects all religious beliefs and encourages all individuals, regardless of their faith, to participate in the political life of the country (which has much merit given the significant religious diversity that has distinguished Albania throughout its history). Moreover, Islam in Albania is very different from other regions due to the impact of European influence in the region. Not only that, but the country also seems very willing to collaborate on common projects. The only thing that, in terms of values, would make Albania unsuitable for EU membership would be if, just as it has been influenced by the actors that have interacted with it throughout its history, it were to be influenced again by Muslim states with values divergent from European ones. But this is more likely to be the case if the EU were to reject Albania, as it would seek the support of other allies in the international arena.
The implications of the accession of the first Muslim-majority state to the EU would certainly be advantageous, as it would encourage a variety of religious thought within the Union and this could lead to greater understanding between the different faiths within it. There would be the possibility of a greater presence of Sunni MEPs in the European Parliament and it would help to enhance coexistence within other EU states on the basis of what has been done in Albania, such as in France, where 10 per cent of the population is Muslim. It should also be said that Albania's exemplary multi-religious behaviour would seriously weaken Euroscepticism and also help to foster harmony within the Balkan region. As Donald Tusk has argued, the Balkans must be given a European perspective and it is in the EU's best interest that Albania becomes part of it.
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▲ Members of the Blue Helmets in their deployment in Mali [MINUSMA].
ESSAY / Ignacio Yárnoz
It has been 72 years since the first United Nations peacekeeping operation was deployed in Israel/Palestine to supervise the ceasefire agreement between Israel and his Arab neighbours. Since then, more than 70 peacekeeping operations have been deployed by the UN all over the world, though with special attention to the Middle East and Africa. Over these more than 70 years, hundreds of thousands of military personnel from more than 120 countries have participated in UN peacekeeping operations. Nowadays, there are 13 UN peacekeeping operations deployed in the world, seven of which are located in African countries supported by a total of 83,436 thousand troops (around 80 percent of all UN peacekeepers deployed around the world) and thousands of civilians. The largest missions in terms of number of troops and ambitious objectives are those in the Democratic Republic of Congo (20,039 troops), South Sudan (19,360 troops), and Mali (15,162 troops).
Peacekeepers in Africa, as in other regions, are given broad and ambitious mandates by the Security Council which include civilian protection, counterterrorism, and counterinsurgency operations or protection of humanitarian relief aid. However, these objectives must go hand by hand with the core UN peacekeepers principles, which are consent by the belligerent parties, impartiality (not neutrality) and the only use of force in case of self-defence.
Although peace operations can be important for maintaining stability and safeguarding democratic transitions, multilateral institutions such as UN face challenges related to country contributions, training, a very hostile environment and relations with host governments. It is often stated that these missions have failed largely because they were deployed in a context of ongoing wars where the belligerents themselves did not want to stop fighting or preying on civilians and yet have to manage to protect many civilians and reduce some of the worst consequences of civil war.
In addition, UN peacekeepers are believed to be deployed in the most recent missions to war zones where not all the main parties have consented. There is also mounting international pressure for peacekeepers to play a more robust role in protecting civilians. Despite the principle of impartiality, UN peacekeepers have been tasked with offensive operations against designated enemy combatants. Contemporary mandates have often blurred the lines separating peacekeeping, stabilization, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, atrocity prevention, and state-building.
Such features have often been referred to the case of the peacekeeping operation in Mali (MINUSMA) as I will try to sum up in this essay. This mission, ongoing since 2013 is on its seventh year and tensions between the parties have still not ceased due to several reasons I will further explain in this essay. Through a summarized history of the ongoing conflict, an explanation of the current military/police deployment, the engagement of third parties and an assessment on the risks and opportunities of this mission as well as an analysis of its successes and failures I will try to give a complete analysis on what MINUSMA is and its challenges.
Brief history of the conflict in Mali
During the last 8 years, Mali has been immersed in a profound crisis of Governance, partner-economic instability, terrorism and human rights violations. The crisis mentioned stems from several factors I will try to develop in this first part of the analysis. The crisis derives from long-standing structural conditions that Mali has experienced, such as ineffective Governments due to weak State institutions; fragile social cohesion between the different ethnic and religious groups; deep-rooted independent feelings among communities in the north due to marginalization by the central Government and a weak civil society among others. These conditions were far exacerbated by more recent instability, a spread corruption, nepotism and abuse of power by the Government, instability from neighbouring countries and a decreased effective capacity of the national army.
It all began in mid-January 2012 when a Tuareg movement called Mouvement National pour la Libération de l'Azawad (MNLA) and some Islamic armed groups such as Ansar Dine, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Mouvement pour l'Unicité et le Jihad en Afrique de l'Ouest (MUJAO) initiated a series of attacks against Government forces in the north of the country. Their primary goals for these rebel groups though different could be summarized into declaring the Northern regions of Timbuktu, Kidal and Gao (the three together called Azawad) independent from the Central Government of Mali in Bamako and re-establishing the Islamic Law in these regions. The Tuareg led rebellion was reinforced by the presence of well-equipped and experienced combatants returning from Libya's revolution of 2011 in the wake of the fall of Gadhafi's regime.
By March 2012, the Malian Institutions had been overwhelmingly defeated by the rebel groups and the MNLA seemed to almost have de facto taken control of the North of Mali. As a consequence of the ineffectiveness to handle the crisis, on 22 March a series of disaffected soldiers from the units defeated by the armed groups in the north resulted in a military coup d'état led by mid-rank Capt Aamadou Sanogo. Having overthrown President Amadou Toumane Toure, the military board took power, suspended the Constitution and dissolved the Government institutions. The coup accelerated the collapse of the State in the north, allowing MNLA to easily overrun Government forces in the regions of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu and proclaim an independent State of Azawad on 6 April. The Military board promised that the Malian army would defeat the rebels, but the ill-equipped and divided army was no match for the firepower of the rebels.
Immediately after the coup, the International Community condemned this act and lifted sanctions against Mali if the situation wasn't restored. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) appointed the President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré, as the mediator on the crisis and compromised the ECOWAS would help Malian Government to restore order in the Northern region if democracy was brought back. On 6 April, the military board and ECOWAS signed a framework agreement that led to the resignation of Capt Aamadou Sanogo and the appointment of the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dioncounda Traoré, as interim President of Mali on 12 April. On 17 April, Cheick Modibo Diarra was appointed interim Prime Minister and three days later, he announced the formation of a Government of national unity.
However, something happened during the rest of the year 2012 after the Malian government forces had been defeated. Those who were allies one day, became enemies of each other and former co-belligerents Ansar Dine, MOJWA, and the MNLA soon found themselves in a conflict.
Clashes began to escalate especially between the MNLA and the Islamists after a failure to reach a power-sharing treaty between the parties. As a consequence, the MNLA forces soon started to be driven out from the cities of Kidal, Timbuktu and Gao. The MNLA forces lacked as many resources as the Islamist militias and had experienced a loss of recruits who preferred the join the better paid Islamist militias. However, the MNLA stated that it continued to maintain forces and control some rural areas in the region. As of October 2012, the MNLA retained control of the city of Ménaka, with hundreds of people taking refuge in the city from the rule of the Islamists, and the city of Tinzawatene near the Algerian border. Whereas the MLNA only sought the Independence of Azawad, the Islamist militias goal was to impose the sharia law in their controlled cities, which drove opposition from the population.
Following the events of 2012, the Malian interim authorities requested United Nations assistance to build the capacities of the Malian transitional authorities regarding several key areas to the stabilization of Mali. Those areas were the reestablishment of democratic elections, political negotiations with the opposing northern militias, a security sector reform, increased governance on the entire country and humanitarian assistance.
The call for assistance came in the form of a UN deployment in mid-January 2013 authorised by Security Council resolution 2085 of 20 December 2012. This resolution gave the UN a mandate with two clear objectives: provide support to (i) the on-going political process and (ii) the security process, including support to the planning, deployment and operations of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA).
The newly designated mission was planned to be an African led mission (Africa Union and ECOWAS) and funded through the UN trust fund and the European Union Africa Peace Facility. The mission was mandated several objectives: (i) contribute to the rebuilding of the capacity of the Malian Defence and Security Forces; (ii) support the Malian authorities in recovering the areas in the north; (iii) support the Malian authorities in maintaining security and consolidate State authority; (iv) provide protection to civilians and (iv) support the Malian authorities to create a secure environment for the civilian-led delivery of humanitarian assistance and the voluntary return of internally displaced persons and refugees.
However, the security situation in Mali further deteriorated in early January 2013, when the three main Islamist militias Ansar Dine, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa and Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, advanced southwards. After clashing with the Government forces north of the town of Konna, some 680 kilometres from Bamako, the Malian Army was forced to withdraw. This advance by the Islamist militias raised the alarms in the International arena as they were successfully taking control of key areas and strategic spots in the country and could soon advance to the capital if nothing was done.
The capture of Konna by extremist groups made the Malian transitional authorities to consider requesting once again the assistance of foreign countries, in especial to its ancient colonizer France, who accepted launching a military operation to support the Malian Army. It is also true that France was already keen on intervening as soon as possible due the importance of Sévaré military airport, located 60 km south of Konna, for further operations in the Sahel area.
Operation Serval, as coined by France, was initiated on 11 January with a deployment of a total of 3,000 troops and air support from Mirage 2000 and Rafale squadrons. In addition, the deployment of AFISMA to support the French deployment was fostered. As a result, the French and African military operations alongside the Malian army successfully improved the security situation in northern areas of Mali. By the end of January, State control had been restored in most major northern towns, such as Diabaly, Douentza, Gao, Konna and Timbuktu. Most terrorist and associated forces withdrew northwards into the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains and many of their leaders such as Abdelhamid Abou Zeid were reported eliminated.
Despite taking control back to the government authorities and restoring the territorial integrity of the country, serious security challenges remained. Although the main cities had been taken back, terrorist attacks remained frequent, weapons proliferated in the rural and urban areas, drug smuggling was increasing and other criminal activities were also maintained active, which undermine governance and development in Mali. Therefore, the fight just transitioned from a territorial and conventional war to a guerrilla style warfare much more difficult to neutralise.
United Nations deployment
Following the gradual withdrawal of the French troops from Mali (Operation Serval evolved to Operation Barkhane in the Sahel region), AFISMA took responsibility to secure the stabilization and the implementation of a transitional roadmap which demanded more resources and engagement from more countries. As a consequence, AFISMA mission officially transitioned to be MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali) by Security Council Resolution 2100 of April 25, 2013.
Seven years after, MINUSMA mission accounts with a deployment of 11,953 military personnel, 1,741 police personnel and 1,180 civilians (661 national - 585 international, including 155 United Nations Volunteers) deployed in 4 different sectors: Sector North (Kidal, Tessalit, Aguelhoc) Sector South (Bamako) Sector East (Gao, Menaka, Ansongo) Sector West (Tombouctou, Ber, Diabaly, Douentza, Goundam, Mopti-Sevare). The $1 Billion budget mission (financed by UN regular budget on Peacekeeping operations) accounts with personnel from more than 50 different countries being Chad, Bangladesh or Burkina Faso the biggest contributors in terms of number of troops (Figure 1).
The command and control of the ground forces is headed by both commanders Lieutenant General Dennis Gyllensporre (military deployment) and MINUSMA Police Commissioner Issoufou Yacouba (police deployment). Regarding the political leadership of the mission, the Special Representative of the Secretary-general (SRSG) and Head of MINUSMA is Mr. Mahamat Saleh Annadif, an experienced diplomat on peace processes in Africa and former minister of Foreign Affairs of Chad.
Other international actors engaged
MINUSMA however is not the only international actor engaged in the security and political process of Mali. Institutions as the European Union are also on the ground helping specifically on the training of the Malian Army and helping develop their military capabilities.
The European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) is composed of almost 600 soldiers from 25 European countries including 21 EU members and 4 non-member states (Albania, Georgia, Montenegro and Serbia). Since the beginning of the mission initially designed to end 15 months after the start in 2013 (First Mandate), there have been several extensions of the periods to end the mission by Council Decision (Second Mandate 2014-2016, Third Mandate 2016-2018) until today where we are on the Fourth Mandate (Extended until 2020 by Council Decision 2018/716/CFSP in May 2018). The strategic objectives of the 4th Mandate are:
1st to contribute to the improvement of the capabilities of the Malian Armed Forces under the control of the political authorities.
2nd to support G5 Sahel Joint Force, through the consolidation and improvement of the operational capabilities of its Joint Force, strengthening regional cooperation to address common security threats, especially terrorism and illegal trafficking, especially of human beings.
Regarding this last actor mentioned, the G5 Sahel Joint force (Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad) is an intergovernmental cooperation framework created on 16 February 2014 and seeks to fight insecurity and support development in the Sahel Region with the train and support of the European Union and external donors.
Its first operation, launched on July 2017, consisted in a Cross-Border Joint Force settled in Bamako to fight terrorism, cross-border organised crime and human trafficking in the G5 Sahel zone in the Sahel region. The United Nations Security Council welcomed the creation of this Joint Force in Resolution 2359 of 21 June 2017, which was sponsored by France. At full operational capability, the Joint Force will have 5,000 soldiers (seven battalions spread across three zones: West, Centre and East). It is active in a 50 km strip on either side of the countries' shared borders. Later on, a counter-terrorism brigade is to be deployed to northern Mali.
Finally, as I explained before, France gradually withdrew from Mali and transformed Operation Serval to Operation Barkhane, a force, with approximately 4,500 soldiers, spread out between Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad to counter the terrorist threat on these territories. With a budget of nearly €600m per year, it is France's largest overseas operation and engages activities such as combat patrols, intelligence gathering and filling the Governance gap of the absent Government institutions.
Troop and Police contributors to MINUSMA [Source: UN].
Retrieved from MINUSMA Fact Sheet
Assessment on the situation of MINUSMA
Since its establishment, MINUSMA has achieved some of its objectives in its early stages. From 2013 to 2016, the situation in Northern Mali improved, the numbers of civilians killed in the conflict decreased and large numbers of displaced persons could return home. In addition, MINUSMA supported the celebration of new elections in 2013 and assisted the peace process mainly between the Tuareg rebels and the Government. The peace process culminated in the 15 May 2015 with the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, commonly referred to as the Algiers Agreement.
The Algiers Agreement was an accord concluded between the Malian Government and two coalitions of armed groups that were fighting the government and against each other, being (i) the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) and (ii) the Platform of armed groups (the Platform). Although imperfect, the peace agreement gave the basis to a continued dialogue and steps were made by the Government regarding the devolution of competences to regional institutions, laws of reconciliation and reintegration of combatants and resources devoted to infrastructure projects in the northern regions.
However, since 2016 the situation has deteriorated in several aspects. Violence has increased as jihadist groups have been attacking MINUSMA forces, the Forces Armées Maliennes (FAMA), and the Algiers Agreement signatories (CMA and the platform). As a consequence, MINUSMA has sustained an extraordinary number of fatalities compared to other recent UN peace operations.
Since the beginning of the Mission in 2013, 206 MINUSMA peacekeepers have died during service in Mali. In the last report of Secretary General, it is noted that during the months of October, November and December 2019, there have been 68 attacks against MINUSMA troops in the regions of Mopti (46), Kidal (9), Ménaka (5), Timbuktu (4) and Gao (4) resulting in the deaths of two peacekeepers and eight contractors and in injury to five peacekeepers, one civilian and two contractors.
During this same period, the Malian Armed Forces have also experienced a loss of 193 soldiers and 126 injured. The deadliest attacks occurred in Boulikessi and Mondoro (Mopti Region) on 30 September; in Indelimane (Ménaka Region) on 1 November; and in Tabankort (Ménaka Region) on 18 November. MINUSMA provided support for medical evacuations for the national defence and security forces, as well as fuel and equipment to reinforce some camps.
In addition, during this last 3 months, there have been 269 incidents, in which 200 civilians were killed, 96 civilians were injured and 90 civilians were abducted. More than 85 per cent of deadly attacks against civilians took place in Mopti Region. Between 14 and 16 November, a series of attacks against Fulani villages in Ouankoro commune resulted in the killing of at least 37 persons.
As we can see from the data, Mopti region has further deteriorated regarding civilian protection and increased terrorist activity. What is more surprising is that this region in not located in the north but rather in the centre of the country. Mopti and Ségou regions in central Mali are where violence is increasingly spreading. Two closely intertwined drivers of violence can be distinguished: interethnic violence and jihadist violence against the state and its supporters.
The attacks directed primarily towards the Malian security forces and MINUSMA by jihadists have been committed by the jihadist group Katiba Macina, which is part of the GSIM (Le Groupe de Soutien à l'Islam et aux Musulmans), a merger organisation resulting from the fusion of Ansar Dine, forces from Al-Qaïda au Maghreb Islamique (AQMI), Katiba Macina and Katiba Al-Mourabitoune. This organisation formed in 2017 has triggered the retreat of an already relatively absent state in the central areas. The Katiba exerts violence against representatives of the state (administrators, teachers, village chiefs, etc.) in the Mopti region, provoking that only 30 to 40 per cent of the territorial administration personnel remains present. Additionally, only 1,300 security forces are stationed across the vast region (spanning 79,000 km²).
Between the Jihadist activities and the retaliation activities by government forces, there has been a collateral consequence as self-defence militias have proliferated. However, these militias have not only exerted self-defence but also criminal activities and competition over scarce local resources. To this problem we have to add the ethnic component where violence exerted by militias is associated with ethnic differences (mainly the Dogon and Fulani). Jihadists have instrumentalised this rivalry to gain sympathizers and recruits and turned the radicalisation problem and the interethnic rivalry into a vicious trap. The ethnicisation of the conflict reinforces the stigmatisation of the Fulani as "terrorists". Meanwhile, the state has tolerated and even cooperated with the Dogon militia to cope with the terrorist threat. However, these groups are supposedly responsible for human rights violations, which again fosters radicalisation among the Fulani population feeling they are left alone in this conflict. As a matter of fact, the Dogon Militia is alleged to be responsible of the 23 March assassination of 160 Fulani in the village of Ogossagou (Mopti Region).
Northern Mali has not remained calm meanwhile, the Ménaka region has also experienced a violence raise. Recent counterterrorism efforts led by ethnically based militias resulted in a counterproductive effects leading to human rights violations and atrocities between Tuareg Daoussahaq and Fulani communities. Due to again the absence Malian security forces or MINUSMA blue helmets, civilians have had no choice but to rely on their own self-protection or on armed groups present in the area, escalating the vicious problem of violence as in the Mopti region.
Strategic dilemmas of MINUSMA
Given this situation, several dilemmas arise in the current situation in which the mission is. The original Mandate of MINUSMA for 5 years has already expired and now the mission is in a phase of renewal year by year, which makes it a suitable time to rethink the overall path where this mission should continue.
The fist dilemma arises given the split of the violent spots between the north and the centre of the country. MINUSMA was originally set up to stabilize the conflict in the north, but MINUSMA's 2019 Resolution 2480 has derived some attention and resources to the central regions and particularly on Protection of Civilians while maintaining its presence in the north too. However, the only problem is that this division on two has not come hand in hand with an increase in resources devoted to the mission, which means that attention paid to the central regions may be in spite of gains made in the north, making the MINUSMA mandate even more unrealistic.
This dilemma raises the problem of financing of the mission. As the years passes, financers of the mission (those that contribute to the General Budget on Peace Keeping Operations of UN) such as the US are getting impatient of not seeing results to a mission where $1 Billion is devoted out of the around $8 Billion of the General Budget. The problem is that for MINUSMA to accomplish its mission in Northern Mali, it has to make an enormous military and logistical effort. The ongoing violent situation calls for security precautions that tie up scarce resources which are no longer available for carrying out the mandate. To illustrate the problem, we can look at the expenditures of the mission and discover that around 80 per cent of its military resources are devoted to securing its own infrastructure and the convoys on which the mission depends to supply its instructions.
A final dilemma is related to the development of the terrorist threat. As we have analysed in this article, today's conflict in Mali is about terrorism and therefore requires counterterrorist strategies. However, there are people that state that MINUSMA should focus on the politics part of the conflict stressing its efforts on the peace agreement. Current counterterrorism efforts conducted by the Malian Army are highly problematic as they have fuelled local opposition due to its poor human rights commitment. It has been reported the use of ethnic proxy militias (Such as the Dogon militias in Mopti region) who are responsible for committing atrocities against the civilian population. This makes the Central Government to be an awkward and not very trustworthy partner for MINUSMA. At the same time, returning to political tasks alone may further destabilize the country and possibly the whole Sahel-West African region.
There is no doubt MINUSMA operates hostile environment where around half of all blue helmets killed worldwide through malign acts since 2013 have lost their lives. However, MINUSMA has been heavily criticised by public opinion in Mali and accused of passivity regarding protection of civilians whereas critics say, blue helmets have placed their own security above the rest. The has contributed to this public perception by using the mission's problems as a scapegoat for its own failures. However, the mission (with its successes and failures) brings more advantages than inconveniences to the overall process of stabilization of Mali.
As many diplomats in Bamako and other public officials stress, the mission and its chief, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, play an important role as mediators both in Bamako politics and with respect to the peace agreement. We cannot discredit the mission of its contribution to Mali's stabilisation. As a matter of fact, it is legitimate to claim that the situation would be much worse without MINUSMA. Yet, the mission has not stopped the spread of violence but rather slowed down the deterioration process of the situation.
While much presence is still needed in northern Mali, we should not forget that the core of the problem to Mali's instability is partly on the political arena and therefore needs mediation. Therefore, importance of continuing political and military support to the peace process should not be underestimated.
At the same time, we have seen the situation over protection of civilians has worsened in the central regions, which requires additional resources. Enhancing MINUSMA's outreach and representation might prevent the central regions from collapsing, though solutions need to be found to ensure stability in the long term through mediation as well. Further expanding the mission in the central regions without affecting the deployment in the north and, therefore, not risking the stability of those regions, would require that MINUSMA have additional resources. This would clearly be the best option for Mali.
Resources could for instance be devoted to improve the lack of mobility in the form of helicopters and armoured carriers to make it possible for the mission to expand its scope beyond the vicinity of its instructions. Staying in the instructions makes MINUSMA more of a target than a security provider and only provides security to its nearby zones where the base is physically present. In addition, the most dangerous missions are carried out by African peacekeepers despite lacking adequate means whereas European countries' peacekeepers are mostly based in MINUSMA's headquarters in Bamako, Gao, or Timbuktu. While European peacekeepers possess more sophisticated equipment such as surveillance drones and air support, African troops do not benefit from those and have to face the most challenging geographical and security environments escorting logistical convoys.
Additionally, by accelerating the re-integration of former rebels to the Malian security forces, encouraging Malian police training, and demonstrating increased presence through joint patrols in most instable areas to protect civilians are key to minimise the threat of further violence. Increased state visibility as we have analysed in this essay has driven to insecurity situations. Consequently, if it can be as much of the problem, it can also be the solution to re-establish some of its legitimacy alongside with the signatories of the Peace Accord to show good faith and engagement in the peace process.
In the end, any contribution MINUSMA can make will depend on the willingness of Malians to strive for an effective and inclusive government on the one hand and the commitment of the International community on the other. Supporting such a long-term process cannot be done on the cheap. Therefore, countries cannot continue to request to do more with the same or even less resources.
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▲ A picture of Vladimir Putin on Sputnik's website
ESSAY / Pablo Arbuniés
A new form of power
Russia's growing influence in African countries and public opinion has often been overlooked by western democracies, giving the Kremlin a lot of valuable time to extend its influence on the continent.
Until very recently, western democracies have looked at influence efforts from authoritarian countries as nothing more than an exercise of soft power. Joseph S. Nye deﬁned soft power as a nation's power of attraction, in contrast to the hard power of coercion inherent in military or economic strength (Nye 1990). However, this influence does not fit the common definition of soft power as 'winning hearts and minds'. In the last years China and Russia have developed and perfected extremely sophisticated strategies of manipulation aimed towards the civilian population of target countries, and in the case of Russia the role of Russia Today should be taken as an example.
These strategies go beyond soft power and have already proved their effectiveness. They are what the academia has recently labelled as sharp power (Walker 2019). Sharp power aims to hijack public opinion through disinformation or distraction, being an international projection of how authoritarian countries manipulate their own population (Singh 2018).
Sharp power strategies are being severely underestimated by western policy makers and advisors, who tend to focus on more classical conceptions of the exercise of power. As an example, the "Framework document" issued by the Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies on Russia-Africa relations (Mora Tebas 2019). The document completely ignores sharp power, labelling Russian interest in communication markets as no more than regular soft power without taking into consideration the disinformative and manipulative nature of these actions.
A growing interest in Africa
Over the past 20 years, many international actors have shifted their interest towards the African continent, each in a different way.
China has made Africa a major geopolitical target in recent years, focusing on economic investments for infrastructure development. Such investments can be noticed in the Ethiopian dam projects such as the Gibe III, or in the Entebbe-Kampala Expressway in Uganda.
This could be considered as debt-trap diplomacy, as China uses infrastructure investments and development loans to gain leverage over African countries. However, there is also a key geopolitical interest, especially in those countries with access to the network Sea and the Indian Ocean, due to the One Belt One Road Initiative. This project requires a net of seaports, where Kenya, and specifically the port of Lamu, could play a key role in becoming a hub for trade in East Africa (Hurley, Morris and Portelance 2019).
Also, Chinese investments are attractive for African countries because they do not come with prerequisites of democratisation or transparent administration, unlike those from western countries.
Yet, even though both China and Russia use sharp power as part of their foreign policy strategies, China does barely use it in Africa, since its interests in the continent are more economic than political. This is based on the view that China is more keen to exploit Africa's natural resources (Mlambo, Kushamba and Simawu 2016) than anything else.
On the other hand, Russia has both economic and military interests in the region. This is exemplified by the case of Sudan, where in addition to the economic interest in natural resources, there is also a military interest in accessing the network Sea. In order to achieve these goals, the first step is to grant stability in the country, and it can be achieved through ensuring that public opinion supports the government and accepts Russian presence.
The idea of a Russian world-Russkiy spanish medical residency program-has grown under Putin and is key to understanding the country's soft and sharp power strategies. It consists on the expansion of power and culture using any means possible in order to regain the lost superpower status.
However, this approach must not be seen only as a nostalgic push to regain status, but also from a purely pragmatic point of view, since economic and practical factors have "pushed aside ideology" in the competition against the West (Warsaw Institute 2019).
The recent Russia-Africa Summit (23-24 October 2019), that took place in Sochi, Russia, proves how Russia has pivoted towards Africa in recent years, offering infrastructure, energy and other investments as well as arms deals and different advisors. The outcome of this pivoting is being quite beneficial for Moscow in strategic terms.
The Kremlin's interest in Africa was not remarkable until the post Crimea invasion. The economic sanctions imposed after the occupation of Crimea forced Russia to look further abroad for allies and business opportunities. For instance, as part of this policy there was a more robust involvement of Russia in Syria.
The Russian strategy for the African continent involves benefiting favourable politicians through political and military advisors and offering control on average influence (Warsaw Institute 2019). In exchange, Russia looks for military and energy supply contracts, mining concessions and infrastructure building deals. Moreover, on a bigger picture, Russia-as well as China-aims to reduce the influence of the US and former colonial powers France and the UK.
Leaked documents published by The Guardian (Harding and Buerke 2019), show this effort to gain influence on the continent, as well as the strategies followed and the degree of cooperation with the different powers-from governments to opposition groups or social movements.
However, the growth of Russia's influence in Africa cannot be understood without the figure of Yevgeny Prigozhin, an extremely powerful oligarch which, according to US special counsel Robert Mueller, was critical to the social average campaign for the election of Donald Trump in 2016. He is also linked to the foundation of the Wagner group, a private military contractor present among other conflicts in the Syrian war.
Prigozhin, through a network of enterprises known as 'The Company' has been for long the head of Putin's plans for the African continent, being responsible of the growing number of Russian military experts involved with different governments along the continent, and now suspected to lead the push to infiltrate in the communication markets.
Between 100 and 200 spin doctors have already been sent to the continent, reaching at least 10 different countries (Warsaw Institute 2019). Their focus is on political marketing and especially on social average, with the hope that it can be as influential as in the Arab Springs.
Influence in the average is one of the key aspects of Russia's influence in Africa, and the main targets in this aspect are the Central African Republic, Madagascar, South Africa and Sudan. Each of these countries has a potential for Russian interests, and is targeted on different levels of cooperation, from weapons deals to spin doctors (Warsaw Institute 2019), but all of them are targets for sharp power strategies.
However, it is hard for a foreign government to directly enter the communication markets of another country without making people suspicious of its activities, and that is where The Company plays its role. Through it, pro-Russian publishing house lines are fed to the population of the target states by acquiring already existing average platforms-such as newspapers or television and radio stations-or creating new ones directly under the supervision of officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this ensures that the dominant frames fit Russia's interests and that of its allies.
Also, the presence of Russian international average is key to its sharp power. Russia Today and Sputnik have expanded their reach by associating with local entities in Eritrea, Ivory Coast, etc. Russian radio services have been expanded to Africa as well as a key factor in both soft and sharp power.
Finally, social average are a great way of distributing disinformation, given its global reach and the insufficient amount of fact-checkers devoted to this area. There, not only Russian average can participate but also bots and individual accounts are at the service of the Kremlin's interests.
Although Madagascar is viewed by the Kremlin as a high cooperation partner, it doesn't seem to have much to offer in geopolitical terms other than tan mining concessions for Russian companies. Therefore, Russian presence in Madagascar was widely unexpected.
During the May 2019 election, Russia backed six different candidates, but none of them won. In the final stages of the campaign, the Kremlin changed its strategy and backed the expected and eventual winner, Andry Rajoelina (Allison 2019). This could be considered a fiasco and ignored because of the disastrous result, but there is a key aspect that shows how Russia is trying to shape public opinion across the continent.
Although political advisors and spin doctors were only one part of the plan, Russia managed to produce and distribute the biggest mass-selling newspaper along the country with more than two million copies every month (Harding and Buerke 2019). Though it did not seem to have any major impact on the short term, it could be an important asset for shaping public opinion on the long run.
Central African Republic
The Central African Republic (CAR) is of major geopolitical relevance in the whole of the African continent. Due to its location as well as its cultural and ethnic features, it is viewed by the Kremlin as the gate to the whole continent. It is the zone of transition between the Muslim north of the continent and the Christian south (Harding and Buerke 2019).
Given the complicated situation and the context of the ongoing civil war, it can be considered as an easy target for foreign powers. This is mainly due to the power structures being weakened by the war. Russia is part of the UN peacekeeping mission in the CAR, in a combination of soft and hard power. Also, a Russian training centre is operative in the country, and both Moscow and Bangui are open to the inauguration of a Russian military base.
Russia played a key role in the peace deal of February 2019, and since 2017 Valery Zakharov, a former Russian intelligence official, has been an adviser to CAR's president. All of this, if the peacekeeping operations are successful, would lead to an immense political debt in favour of the Kremlin.
The mineral richness of the CAR is another asset to consider due to the reserves of gold and high-quality diamonds. Also, there is a big business opportunity in rebuilding a broken country, and Russian oligarchs and businessmen would certainly be interested in any public contracts regarding this matter.
In the CAR, Russia exerts sharp power not only through social average, but also through two print publications and a radio station, which still have limited influence (Harding and Buerke 2019). Through such means, Russia is consistently feeding its frames narratives to a disoriented population, which given the unstable context, would be an easy target to manipulate. Moreover, the possibility to create a favourable dominant post conflict narrative would render public opinion more likely to accept Russian presence in the future.
Sudan is of major geostrategic importance for Russia among many other actors. For long time both countries have had economic, political and military relations, leading to Sudan being considered by the Kremlin as a level 5 co-operator, the highest possible (Harding and Buerke 2019). This relation is enforced by Sudan's constant claims of aggressive acts by the United States, for which it demands Russia's military assistance.
Also, Sudan is rich in uranium, bearing the third biggest reserves in the world. Uranium is a key raw material to build a major power nowadays, and Russia is always keen on new sources of uranium to bolster its nuclear industry.
Moreover, Sudan is key in regional and global geopolitics because it offers Russia a possibility to have a military base with access to the network Sea. Given the amount of trade routes that go through its waters, the Kremlin would be very keen to have said access. Many other powers have shown interest in this area, such as the Gulf States, or China with its base in Djibouti being operational since 2017.
For all these reasons. Sudan is a very special element in Russia's plans, and thus its level of commitment is greater than in other countries. The election to take place on April 2020 could be considered as one of the most important challenges for democracy in the short term. Russia is closely monitoring the situation in order to draw an efficient plan of action.
Before the end of Omar al-Bashir's presidency, Russia and Sudan enjoyed good relations. Russian specialists had prepared reforms in economic and political matters in order to ensure the continuity in power of Bashir, and his fall was a blow to these plans.
However, Russia will devote many resources to amend the situation in the Sudan parliamentary and presidential election, that will take place in April 2020. In a ploy to maintain power, Al Bashir mirrored the measures employed against opposition protesters in Russia. These tactics consist of using disinformation and manipulated videos in order to portray any opposition movement as anti-Islamic, pro-Israeli or pro-LGBT. Given the fact the core of Sudan's public opinion is mostly conservative and religious, Russia's plan consists on manipulating it towards its desired candidate or candidates (Harding and Buerke 2019).
In order to ensure that the Russian framing was dominant, social average pages like Radio Africa's Facebook page or Sudan Daily were presented like news pages, while being in fact part of a Russian-backed influence network in central and northern Africa (Alba and Frenkel 2019). The information shown has been supportive of whatever government is in power, and critical of the protesters (Stanford Internet Observatory 2019), which shows that Russia's prioritary interest is a stable government and weak protesters.
Another key part of the strategy has been pressuring the government to increase the cost of newsprint to limit the possibilities of countering the disinformation distributed with the help of Russian advisors (Harding and Buerke 2019). The de-democratization of information can prove to be very effective, even more taking into account the fact that social average is not as powerful in Sudan as it is in western countries, so owning the most popular means of communication allows to create a dominant frame and impose it to the population without them even noticing.
The economic context of South Africa, with a large economy, a rising middle class and a good market overall, is quite interesting for business and could be one of the reasons why Russia has such an interest in the country. Also, South Africa can be seen as an economic gateway to the southern part of the African continent.
South Africa is a key country for the global interest of Russia. Not only for its mineral richness and business opportunities, but mainly for its presence in BRICS. Russia attempts to use BRICS as a global counterbalance in a US dominated international landscape.
Russia is interested in selling nuclear technology to its allies, and South Africa is no exception. The presence of South Africa in BRICS is key to understand why such a deal would be so interesting for Russia. BRICS may not offer the possibility to create a perfect counter-balance for western powers, mainly due to the unsurpassable discrepancies among the involved countries, but its ability to cooperate comprehensively on limited shared projects and objectives can be of critical relevance (Salzman 2019).
The presence in the country of Afrique Panorama and AFRIC (Association for Free Research and International Cooperation), shows how Russia attempts to exert its influence. Both pages are linked to Prigozhin, but they are disguised as independent. AFRIC was involved in the elections of Zimbabwe, South Africa, Madagascar and DRC (Grossman, Bush and Diresta 2019).
In fact, if public opinion could be shaped in order to make Russia's interests like nuclear cooperation acceptable by South Africa, the main obstacle would be surpassed, and a comprehensive plan of cooperation would be in play sooner than later.
The elections of May 2019 were one of the main priorities for Russia. The election saw Cyril Ramaphosa elected, as successor of Jacob Zouma. Ramaphosa is known to have openly congratulated Nicolás Maduro for his second inauguration and holds good relations with Vietnam. This are indicators of a willingness to have good relations even with anti-western powers, which is of big interest for the Kremlin. Furthermore, he has a vast business experience, being the architect of the most powerful trade union in the country among other achievements and initiatives, which would see him open to strike deals with Russian oligarchs in the mineral or energetic fields.
All this considered, South Africa is of extreme relevance for Russia, and thus its efforts to be able to shape public opinion. This could be used to favour the implementation of nuclear facilities as well as electing favourable politicians, creating a political debt to be exploited someday. For now, any activity has been limited to tracking and getting to understand public opinion. However, the creation of new average under some form of control by the Kremlin is one of the priorities for the coming years (Harding and Buerke 2019), and could prove a very valuable asset if it's successfully achieved. Also, despite what was said in the case of Sudan, the importance of social average is not to be forgotten or underestimated, especially given the advantage of English being an official language in the country.
The bigger picture
From a more theorical point of view, that of the Flow and Contra-flow paradigm, Russia attempts to set the political diary through mass average control, as well as impose its own frames or those that benefit its allies. Also, given the proportions of the project, we could talk about an attempt to go back to the cultural imperialism doctrines, where Russia attempts to pose its narrative as a counterflow of the western narratives. This was mainly seen during the cold war, when global powers attempted to widely spread their own narratives through controlling said information flows, arguably as a form of cultural imperialism.
This can be seen as an attempt to counterbalance the power of the US and western powers by attempting to shift African countries towards non-western actors. And African countries may be interested in this idea, since being the centre of the competition could mean better deals and business opportunities or investments being offered to them.
It would be a mistake to think that Russia's sharp power in Africa is just a tool to help political allies get to power or maintain it. Beyond that, Russia monitors social conflicts and attempts to intensify them in order to destabilise target countries or external powers (Alba and Frenkel 2019). Such is the case in Comoros, where Prigozhin employees were tasked to explore the possibilities of intensifying the conflict between the local government and the French administration (Harding and Buerke 2019). Again on a broader picture of things, the attempt to develop an African self-identity through the use of sharp power looks to reduce the approval of influence of western democracies on the continent, thus creating an ideal context for bolstering dependence on the Russian administration either through supply contracts or political debt.
In conclusion, the recent growth of Russia's soft and above all sharp power in Africa could potentially be one of the political keys in the years to follow, and it is not to be overlooked by western democracies. Global average, supranational entities and public administrations should put their efforts on providing civil society with the tools to avoid falling for Russia's manipulative tactics and serve as guarantors of democracy. The most immediate focus should be on the US 2020 election, since the worst-case scenario is that the latest exercises of Russia's sharp power in Africa are a practice towards a new attempt at influencing the US presidential election in 2020.
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▲ Farewell of Espérance Nyirasafari (left) as minister of Gender and Family Promotion, in Rwanda's capital in 2018 [Rwanda's Gov.]
ESSAY / María Rodríguez Reyero
South Africa is ranked 17th in the World Economic Forum's 2020 Global Gender Gap Index (a two place increase from 2019), while Rwanda is ranked 9th (a three place decline from the previous year). Interestingly, Spain is ranked 8th (a major gain of 11 places in one year). Since 2018, Spain has made a gain of 21 places, which is only rivaled by countries like Madagascar (22), Mexico and Georgia (25) and Ethiopia (35).
Regarding political participation and governance in the last decade, the number of African women in ministerial posts has tripled. African women already account for 22.5% of parliamentary seats, a similar percentage to that of Europe (23.5%) and higher than that of the US (18%). However, does the increase in female participation in high political positions lead to a real improvement in the lives of other women? Or is female participation only a façade?
This study's main aim is to explore the impact that women's participation in politics has on the circumstances of the rest of women in their countries. The study is based on secondary research and quantitative data collection and will objectively analyze the situation in Spain, Rwanda, and South Africa and draw pertinent conclusions.
From April to July 1994, between 800,000 and one million ethnic Tutsis were brutally killed during a 100 day killing spree perpetrated by Hutus . After the genocide, Rwanda was on the edge of total collapse. Entire villages had been destroyed, and social cohesion was in tatters. Yet, this small African country has made a remarkable economic turnaround since the genocide. The country now boasts intra-regional trade and has positioned itself as an attractive destination for foreign investment, being a leading country in the African economy. Rwanda's economy appears to be thriving, with annual GDP growth averaging 7.76% between 2000 and 2019, and "growth expected to continue at a similar pace over the next few years" according to a recent study of World Finance.  About 70% of the survivors of the fratricidal struggle between Hutus and Tutsis are women, and thus women play a role of utmost importance in the recovery of Rwanda.
The Rwandan genocide ended with the deaths of one million people and the rape of more than 200,000 women.  Women were the clear losers of the conflict, yet the conflict also enabled women to become the main economic, political and social engine of Rwanda during its recovery from the war. Roles traditionally assigned to men were assigned to women, which turned women into more active members of society and empowered them to fight for their rights. The main area where this shift has been felt is in politics, where gender parity reaches its highest level thanks to Rwanda's continued commitment to equal representation. This support has led the proportion of women in the Rwandan National Parliament to even exceed that of men in the lower house, which consists of 49 women out of a total of 89 representatives.
The body responsible for coordinating female protection and empowerment is the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, promoter of the National Gender Policy. The minister of Gender until 2018 was Espérance Nyirasafari. Nyirasafari was responsible for several main changes in Rwandan society including the approval of laws against gender-based violence. She now serves as one of two Vice Presidents of the senate of Rwanda.
Consequently, Rwanda illustrates African female advancement. In addition to currently being the world's leading country in female representation in Parliament, (in which women hold nearly 60% of the seats), Rwanda reached the fourth highest position in the World Economic Forum's gender gap report. The only countries that came close in this respect were Namibia and South Africa.
The political representation of women in Rwanda has led to astonishing results in other areas, notably education. Rwanda's education system is considered one of the most advanced in Africa, with free and compulsory access to primary school and the first years of high school. About 100% of Rwandan children are incorporated into primary school and 75% of young people ages 15+ are literate. However, high school attendance is significantly low, counting with just 23% of young people, of which women represent only 30%.  Low high school attendance is mainly due to the predominance of rural areas in the country, where education is more difficult to access, especially for women, who are frequently committed to marriage and the duties of housework and family life from a very young age. Despite the growing data and measures established, education is in reality very hard to achieve for women, who are mostly stuck at home or committed to other labor.
Regarding the legislative measures put in place to achieve gender equality and better conditions and opportunities for women, Rwanda does not score high. Despite being one of the most advanced countries in gender equality, currently, no laws exist to ensure equal pay or non-discrimination in the hiring of women, according to WEF's 2019 report, even if some relevant legal measures have been effectively been put into practice since the ratification of the 2003 Constitution, which demonstrates the progress on gender equality in Rwanda.
The Constitution also argues that the principle of gender equality must prevail in politics and that the list of members of the Chamber of Deputies must be governed by this equitable principle. The law on gender violence passed in 2008 is proof of national commitment to women's rights, as it recognizes innovative protections such as the prohibition of spousal rape, three months of compulsory maternity leave (even some Western countries such as the United States lack this protection) or equal rights in inheritance process regardless of gender.
Finally the labor law passed in 2009 establishes numerous protections for Rwandan women, such as receiving the same salary as their male colleagues or the total prohibition of any gesture of sexual content towards them.
Some of the most relevant progress made in Rwanda are the reduction of the percentage of women in extreme poverty from 40% in 2001 to 16.3% in 2014, and the possession of land by 26% of women personally and 54% in a shared way with their husbands.  Thanks to the work and commitment of female politicians, Rwandan women today enjoy inalienable rights which women in many other countries can only dream of. 11] This ongoing egalitarian work has paid off: Rwanda is as mentioned above the 9th country in the world with a smaller gender gap, only behind Iceland, Nicaragua, Finland, Sweden, and Norway. In the annual study of the World Economic Forum, only five countries (including Rwanda, the only African) have surpassed the 50% barrier in terms of reducing the gender gap in politics. Likewise, the gender parity in economic participation that Rwanda has achieved is of great relevance, which has made it the first country in the world to include women in the world of work and equal economic remuneration. Rwanda is a regional role model in terms of egalitarian legislation.
According to IMF and World Bank latest data, South Africa currently is the second most prosperous country of the whole continent, only surpassed by Nigeria. The structure of its economy is that of a developed country, with the preeminence of the services sector, and the country stands out for its extensive natural resources, thus being considered one of the largest emerging economies nowadays. South Africa also has a seat in the BRICS economy block (with Brazil, Russia, India, and China) and is a member of the G20.
Despite its economic position, the country is also home to great inequality, largely bequeathed in its history of racial segregation. According to the New York Times, the post-apartheid society had to face great challenges: it had to "re-engineer an economy dominated by mining and expand into modern pursuits like tourism and agriculture while overcoming a legacy of colonial exploitation, racial oppression, and global isolation - the results of decades of international sanctions." However, what is the role of women in this deep transformation? Has their situation improved or are they the new discriminated ones?
South Africa continues to lead the way in women's political participation in the region with 46% of women in the House of Assembly and provincial legislatures and 50% of women in the cabinet after the May 2019 elections. All the speakers in the national and provincial legislatures are women. Women parliamentarians rose from 40% in 2014 to 46% in 2019.
Rwanda, Namibia and South Africa are ranked in the top 20 countries in reducing the gender gap. On the other hand, South Africa does have established legislation about equality in salaries, but not in non-discrimination in the hiring process according to the data collected by the World Economic Forum in January 2020.
South Africa is writing a new page in its history thanks to the entry of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (she was elected in 2012 president of the African Union Commission becoming the first woman to lead this organisation, and currently serves as Minister of Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation in South Africa's Government) and other women, such as Lindiwe Nonceba Sisulu (minister of International Relations and Cooperation until 2019) into the political competition.
Subsequently, women have always been involved in political organisations, as well as in the trade union movement and other civil society organisations. Although evolving in a patriarchal straitjacket due to the social role women had assigned, they don't wait for "the authorization of men" to claim their rights. This feminine tradition of political engagement in South Africa has resulted the writing of a protective Constitution for women in a post-apartheid multiracial and supposedly non-sexist context.
However, this has not led to an effective improvement in the real situation of women in the country. According to local average data, a woman dies every eight hours in South Africa because of gender violence and, according to 2016 government statistics, one in five claims to have suffered at some time in her life. Besides, in South Africa, about 40,000 rapes are reported annually, according to police data, the vast majority reported by women. These figures lead South Africa's statistics agency to estimate that 1.4 out of every thousand women have been raped, which places the country with one of the highest rates of this type in the world.
After a cruel civil war, followed by 36 years of dictatorship, Spanish society was looking forward to a change, and thus the democratic transition took place, transforming an oppressed country into the Spain we nowadays know. On many occasions, history tends to forget the 27 women, deputies and senators of the 1977 democratic legislature who were architects of this political change (divorce law, legalize the sale of contraceptives, participate in the drafting of the Constitution of 1978, amongst others). These women also having an active role in politics, something unusual and risky for a woman at that time (without rights as basic as owning property or opening a bank account during the dictatorship). It is clear that women played a crucial role in the transformation of Spanish society, but has it really been effective?
Spain's new data since the establishment of a new government in January 2020 is among the top 4 European countries with the highest female proportion: behind Sweden (with 47.4%), France (47.2%) and Finland (45.8%), according to the latest data published by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE).  After the last elections in November, Spain is placed in tenth place in the global ranking. Ahead, there are Rwanda (with 61.3%), Cuba (53.2%), Bolivia (53.1%), Mexico (48.2%) and others such as Grenada, Namibia, Sweden, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, according to data published by the World Bank. Of the 350 congress deputies, 196 are men and 154 are women, meaning that 56% of the members of the House of Representatives are men while 44% are women.
In Spain, also almost every child gets a primary education according to OECD but almost 35% of Spanish young people do not get a higher education. Of those who do go to university nearly 60% of all the students are women. They also get better grades and take on average less time to graduate than men but are less likely to hold a power position: according to PwC Spain last data, only a 19% of all directive positions are held by women, 11% of management advice are women and less than a 5% are women in direction or presidency of Spanish enterprises. This is since at least 2.5 million women in Spain cannot access the labor market because they have to take care of family care. Among men, the figure is reduced to 181,000. The data has been given by the International Labor Organization (ILO). The study also revealed that women in Spain perform 68% of all unpaid care work, dedicating twice as much time as men. About 25% of inactive women in Spain claim that they cannot work away from home because of their family charges. This percentage is much higher than those of other surrounding countries, such as Portugal (13%) or France (10%) and the European average. It is also much larger than that of Spanish men who do not work for the same reason (3%).
Regarding gender-based violence, even if Spain has since 2004 an existing regulation to severely punish it, in the year 2019 a total of 55 women have been killed by their partners or ex-partners, the highest death toll since 2015, with a total of 1,033 since they began to be credited in 2003, according to the balance of the Government Delegation for Gender Violence last data.
To sum up, even if African countries such as Rwanda and South Africa have more women representation and are doing well by-passing laws and measures, due to cultural reasons such as a more ingrained patriarchal society, community interventions, family pressure or the stigma of single mothers, gender equality is more difficult in Africa. Culture, in reality, makes it more difficult to be effective, whereas in Spain the measures implemented, even if they are apparently less numerous, are more effective when it comes to creating institutions that protect women. Women in Africa usually depend a lot on their husbands; they very often suffer in silence not to be left alone without financial support, a situation that in Spain has been tacked without problems.
It is not so much a legislative issue but a cultural one: in Spain, if a woman suffers gender violence and reports it, it is more likely that she would be offered government's help (monetary help, job opportunities...) in order to start a new life, and she most certainly will not be judged by society due to her circumstances. Whereas in South Africa for example, a UN Women rapporteur estimated that only one in nine rapes were reported to the police and that this number was even lower if the woman was raped by a partner, this mainly being due to the social stigma still present nowadays. In Rwanda, a 2011 report from the Rwandan Men's Resource Centre said 57% of women questioned had experienced violence from a partner, while 32% of women had been raped by their husbands, this crime being admitted by only 4% of men, as rape in marriage is seen as a normal situation due to cultural reasons: women still depend somehow on their husbands, and family is the center of society, so it must not be broken.
In numerous occasions, in African countries justice is taken at a different level, in order not to disturb the social and familial order; frequently, rape or gender violence is tackled amongst the parties by negotiating or by less traditional justice systems such as community systems like Gacaca court in Rwanda (a social form of justice designed to promote communal healing, massively used after Rwandan genocide), something unbelievable in Spain, where according to official data from Equality Ministry, last year more than 40.000 reports for gender violence were heard by courts.
In regard to inequality and according to the latest IMF studies, closing the gender gap in employment could increase the GDP of a country by 35% on average, of which between 7 and 8 percentage points correspond to increases in productivity thanks to gender diversity. Having one more woman in senior management or on the board of directors of a company raises the return on assets between 8 and 13 basis points. Consequently, we could state that, as shown by the data (not only those provided by the IMF, but the evident improvements that have taken place throughout this decade in Spain, Burundi, Rwanda, and South Africa) the presence of women both in top management positions and above all, in politics and governance does lead to a real improvement in the rights and lifestyles of the rest of the women, and a substantial improvement of the country as a whole.
However, after their arduous and tricky climb to the top, women inherit a political system which is difficult, if not almost impossible, to change in a few years. Furthermore, the question of the application of laws, when they exist, by the judicial system is a huge challenge in all states as well as making effective all the measures for the reduction of gender inequality. This supposes such a great challenge, not only for these women but also for the whole society, as having arrived where we are.
 World Economic Forum (December 2020), The Global Gender Gap Report 2020. World Economic Forum. Accessed 14/02/2020
 Natalie Keffler (2019), 'Economic growth in Rwanda has arguably come at the cost of democratic freedom�����, World Finance. Accessed 14/02/2020
 Violet K. Dixon (2009), A Study in Violence: Examining Rape in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Inquires journal. Accessed 14/02/2020
 Natalie Keffler (2019), 'Economic growth in Rwanda has arguably come at the cost of democratic freedom', World Finance. Accessed 14/02/2020
 Tony Blair (2014), '20 years after the genocide, Rwanda is a beacon of hope'. The Guardian. Accessed 14/02/20
 Alexandra Topping (2014), 'The genocide Conflict and arms Rwanda's women make strides towards equality 20 years after the genocide.' The Guardian. Accessed 14/02/2020
 Peter S. Goodman (2017), 'End of Apartheid in South Africa? Not in Economic Terms.' The New York Times Site. Accessed 14/02/2020
 Gopolang Makou (2018), 'Femicide in South Africa: 3 numbers about the murdering of women investigated.' Africa Check. Accessed 14/02/2020
 British Broadcasting Corporation (2019), 'Sexual violence in South Africa: 'I was raped, now I fear for my daughters'. BBC News. Accessed 14/02/2020
▲ People in a rural area of Cameroon [Photokadaffi].
ESSAY / EMILIJA ŽEBRAUSKAITĖ
In seeking to better understand the grounds of Islamic fundamentalism in Africa, it is worth to looks for the common denominators that make different areas prone to the insurgence of extremism. In the continent of boundaries that were mainly drawn by the Europeans, many countries contain a multitude of cultures and religions, all of them in constant interaction and more often than not - friction with each other. However, in order to classify the region as highly susceptible to the inter-religious or inter-cultural conflict to happen, there are more important factors that must be taken into consideration. Through quantitative study and document analysis, this article, with an example of the rise of Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria and the expansion of the group to the neighbouring countries such as Cameroon, will underline the most important problems that paved the path for the emergence and spread of the Islamic fundamentalism, discussing its historical, social and ideological origins, at the same time providing possible long-time solutions on social and ideological ground.
The brief history of Islam in Nigeria and Cameroon
The arrival of Islam to Nigeria dates back to the 11th and 12th centuries, when it spread from North Africa through trade and migration. It incorporated Husa and Fulani tribes into the common cultural ground of Islam which extended throughout North Africa, introducing them to the rich Islamic culture, art, Arabic language and teachings. In the 19th century, Fulani scholar named Usman Dan Fodio launched a jihad, establishing a Sokoto Caliphate ruled under a strict form of Shari'a law, further spreading Islamic influence in the region, introducing it for the first time to the area which today forms the Northern part of Cameroon, another country of our analysis.
The Sokoto Caliphate remained the most powerful state in Western Africa until the arrival of the European colonists. As opposed to the Southern part of Nigeria which was colonized and Christianized, the North received a lesser portion of Western education and values, as the Europeans ruled it indirectly through the local leaders. The same happened with Cameroon, which was indirectly ruled by the Germans in the North and experienced a more direct Westernization in the South. Even the indirect rule, however, brought great changes to the political and judicial processes, which became foreign to the local inhabitants. "This was viewed by Muslim northerners as an elevation of Christian jurisprudence over its Islamic judicial heritage" (Thomson, 2012) and the experience was without a doubt a humiliating and painful one - a foreign body destroying the familiar patterns of a lifestyle led for centuries, implementing a puppet government, diminishing the significance of a Sultan to that of a figurehead.
After their corresponding independence in 1960, both Nigeria and Cameroon became what American political scientist Samuel Huntington called cleft countries - composed of many ethnical groups and two major religions - Christianity in the South and Islam in the North. This situation, as described by Huntington, can be called the clash of civilizations between Islamic and Western tradition. He identifies the similarity between the two religions as one of the main reasons for their incompatibility: "Both are monotheistic religions, which, unlike the polytheistic ones, cannot easily assimilate additional deities, and which see the world in dualistic, us-and-them terms" (Huntington, 2002).
The independence also brought secularization of the two countries, thus undermining in both the political Islamism and the idea that Muslims should be ruled by the law of God, and not the law of men. However, the long-lasting Islamic tradition uniting the Northern Nigeria (and to some extent Northern Cameroon, although it was introduced to Islam much later) with the rest of North Africa and separating it from its Southern counterpart prevailed: "The Sokoto Caliphate remains a not-so-very distant and important reference point for Nigeria's Muslims and represents the powerful role that jihad and Shari'a law played in uniting the region, rejecting corruption, and creating prosperity under Islam" (Thomson, 2012).
Fertile ground for fundamentalism
Out of the romantic sentiments of long lost glory, it is not too difficult to incite resentment for modernity. To a certain extent, a distaste for the Westernization, which was an inevitable part of modernizing a country, is justifiable. After all, European imperialism selfishly destroyed indigenous ways of life enforcing their own beliefs and political systems, ethics, and norms a practice that continued even after decolonisation. Yet, the impetus for the growth of Islamic fundamentalism in Nigeria as well as other places in Africa can be found as much in the current situation as in the past grievances.
In Nigeria specifically, the gap was further enhanced by different European policies concerning the Northern and Southern parts of the country. Along with the more direct Westernisation, the Southern part of Nigeria was also better educated, familiar to Western medicine, bureaucracy, and science. It had an easier time to adapt to forming part of a modern liberal state. According to the data published in Educeleb, by 2017 Nigeria's literacy rate was 65.1% (Amoo, 2018). All the Southern states were above the national average and all the Northern ones were below. The same statistics also depict the fact that the difference between literacy level between genders is barely noticeable in the Southern states, while in the Northern states the gap is much wider.
Apart from the differences mentioned above, the Southern region is the place where the oil-rich Niger delta, which in 2018 contributed to 87.7% of Nigeria's foreign exchange, is situated (Okpi, 2018). It can be argued that the wealth is not equally distributed throughout the country and while the Christian South experiences economic growth, it often does not reach the Northern regions with Muslim majority. "Low income means poverty, and low growth means hopelessness", wrote Paul Collier in his book The Bottom Billion: "Young men, who are the recruits for rebel armies, come pretty cheap in an environment of hopeless poverty. Life itself is cheap, and joining a rebel movement gives these young men a small change of riches" (Collier, 2007).
The rise of Boko Haram
In this disproportionally impoverished Northern part of the country and with the goal of Islamic purification for Northern Nigeria, a spiritual leader, Muhammad Yusuf, founded an organisation which he called People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad. The locals, however, named it Boko Haram, which literally means books are forbidden and reflects the organisation's rejection of Western education and values. Boko Haram was founded in 2002 in Borno state, Maiduguri, where Yusuf established a mosque and Koranic school in which he preached Islamic teachings with a goal of establishing an Islamic state ruled by Shari'a law. "Western-style education is mixed with issues that run contrary to our beliefs in Islam" (Yusuf, 2009).
Although the organisation seemed to be peaceful enough for Nigerian government to ignore it for the first seven years of its existence, from the start Boko Haram was antagonistic towards the secular government which they associated with corruption, Christian-domination and Western influence. In 2009 the confrontation between the group and Nigeria's security forces led to and extrajudicial killing of the Muhammed Yusuf in captivity (Smith, 2009). The event became an impetus for the pre-existing animosity Boko Haram felt for the state to grow into an actual excuse for violence. Since 2009 the group was led by Abubakar Shekau who replaced Muhammad Yusuf after his death.
The attacks of the organisation became more frequent and brutal, killing many civilians in Nigeria and neighbouring countries, Muslims and Christians alike. Although its primary focus laid on the state of Borno, after being pushed out of its capital Maiduguri, Boko Haram became a rural-based organisation, operating in the impoverished region around Lake Chad basin (Comolli, 2017). Apart from Nigeria, the countries in which Boko Haram inflicted damage include Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Cameroon, the latest being the subject of analysis in this essay.
Impact of Boko Haram in Nigeria and Cameroon
To illustrate the impact the terrorist group had on the partner-economic development of the region, we will look at the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance (Ibrahim Index of African Governance, n.d.). As an example, we will evaluate the perception of staff security and level of national security in Nigeria - a country in which the Boko Haram had originated, and Cameroon - one of the countries where it spread after Nigeria's government launched their counter-terrorism program. The timeline for the graphs runs from the year 2000 to 2016 in order to capture the changes in national security and staff safety in Cameroon and Nigeria. This aid the study in drawing concrete conclusions over a period of time.
Figure 1: Impact of Boko Haram on staff Safety and National Security in Nigeria.
Source: Mo Ibrahim Index
The perception of staff safety in Nigeria, according to Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance, started decreasing since 2010. The tendency can be explained by the fact that in 2009 Nigerian government confronted the fundamentalist group, after which it became more active and violent. The perception of staff safety also dropped after 2014, the year that was marked by the infamous capturing of 276 Chibok schoolgirls out of their school dormitory. When it comes to the index portraying the level of national security, similar tendencies can be seen characterized by the drop of national security in 2009 and after 2014.
Figure 2: Impact of Boko Haram on staff Safety and National Security in Cameroon
Source: Mo Ibrahim Index
Another example can be Cameroon, the second most affected country after Nigeria which was infiltrated by Boko Haram in 2009. During that time, however, the presence of the terrorist group in the North of Cameroon was rather unassertive. At first the group was focusing on establishing their connections, gaining Cameroonian recruits, using the country as a transit of weapons to Nigeria (Heungoup, 2016). With the beginning of the kidnapping of foreigners, however, the year 2013 is marked by the drop of national security in the country. By 2014, the Cameroonian government declared war against Boko Haram, to which the group responded with a further increase of violence and thus - further drop of national safety.
An additional peak of terrorist attacks can be noticed after the renewed wave of governmental resistance after the 2015 elections in Nigeria which strongly weakened Boko Haram's influence, at the same time leading to increasingly asymmetric warfare. In Cameroon alone, Boko Haram executed more than 50 suicide bombers attacks, which killed more than 230 people (Heungoup, 2016). In the end, it is clear that despite the efforts of Nigerian and Cameroonian governments in fighting Boko Haram by declaring the war against terrorism, it cannot be said with certainty that the response of the governments of these countries were effective in eliminating or even containing the terrorist group. On the contrary, it seems that pure military resistance only further provoked the terrorist group and led to an increase of violence.
Response of the government
The outbreak of violence at the instigation of Boko Haram elicited a similar response from Nigerian armed forces in 2009 (Solomon, 2012). The office of president Goodluck Johnson launched a military mission in Maiduguri, which united the Nigerian Police Force with the Department of State Security, the army, the navy and the air force (Amnesty, 2011). Extra attention was bestowed upon the emergency regions of Borno, Niger, Plateau and Yobo (Economist, 2011).
In order to prevent Boko Haram from hiding and regrouping in the neighbouring states after being actively fought in Nigeria, the government tightened the border security in the North, however, as it has already been explained, the tactics failed miserably as Boko Haram was able to hide and regroup in Nigeria's Northern neighbours after being pushed out of Nigeria. The effort to prevent Boko Haram from gaining foreign support, financing and reinforcement were also dysfunctional, as the terrorist group was successful in finding allies. With the support of other Islamist groups such as Al Qaeda, the previously local problem is becoming more globalized and requires equally global and coordinated efforts to fight it.
And yet, so far the policy of Goodluck Johnson was proven counterproductive due to the internal problems of Nigerian security process such as corruption, unjustified violence, extrajudicial killings as opposed to intelligence-based operations (Amnesty, 2011, p. 30). Another problem can be identified in the specific case of Nigeria being a melting pot of cultures and religions. Each region requires a unique approach based on the understanding of the culture, values and customs of the area. Yet, the Nigerian soldiers in charge of the safety of the Northern states were National instead of local, making the indigenous population feel controlled by the foreign body.
So far, the policy of president Muhammadu Buhari, who was elected in 2015, was not much more successful than his predecessor's. At the beginning of his presidency, Buhari was successful in reclaiming the territory occupied by Boko Haram and was quick to announce the defeat of the terrorist group. However, after losing their ground in Nigeria, Boko Haram again retreated to regroup in the neighbouring countries, only to re-emerge again multiplied into two distinct terrorist organisation, further complicating the resistance. Overall, the use of force has proven to be ineffective in striking down terrorism. The previous examples lead to the conclusion that the use of dialogue and changes in national policies, as opposed to pure force, are crucial for the long term solutions.
Solution to Boko Haram
According to United Nations development program report "Journey to Extremism in Africa: Drivers, Incentives and the Tipping Point for Recruitment" the main factors that make a person prone to get involved with fundamentalism are childhood circumstances, lack of state involvement in their surroundings, religious ideologies, and economic factors (UNDP, 2017). In order to prevent violent extremism, it must be tackled at the roots, because, as we have already seen before, facing violence with further violence approach provided little improvement on the status quo.
Childhood experience may be one of the fundamental reasons for joining extremism later. Members of marginalized communities, in which children were facing staff problems such as lack of parental involvement, lack of education, lack of exposure to different ethnicities and religions, are especially vulnerable. In these borderland areas, the children are rarely entitled to social security, they are often distrustful of the government and do not develop any sense of national belonging. The trust that the government favours some over others is only strengthened by staff witnessing of bribe-paying and corruption. The staggering 78% of the responders of the UN research reported being highly mistrustful of the police, politicians and the military (UNDP, 2017).
The isolation and minimum exposure to other ethnic and religious groups also contribute to the feeling of segregation and suspicion towards others. 51% of recruits have reported having joined due to religious beliefs, some in fear of their religion being endangered. However, even a higher percentage of 57 confessed their understanding of the sacred texts to be limited. This closes the circle of poverty and lack of education, with unemployment being the priority factor for 13% of the volunteer recruits questioned. In the end, are there any possible solutions for this continuous lemniscate (UNDP, 2017)? If there are any they must be in line with the theory of security-development nexus. By increasing the quality of the former, the later will be activated into motion and vice versa. Eliminate one of them and the other will stabilize itself naturally.
The few solutions tackling both lack of security and slow development can be named, starting with combating the traumatizing childhood experiences. Long term solutions are undoubtedly based on the provision of education and social security which would aim to ensure the school attendance, community support for the parents and child-welfare services. The civil education is no less important to encourage the sense of national belonging and trust in the government, which also includes harsher anti-corruption regulations and more government spending directed to the marginalized communities. Strategies to promote a better understanding of the religion as a counterforce for the ignorance leading to easy recruitment, encouraging religious leaders to develop their own anti-extremism strategy, are also solutions that address the often expressed fears of religious groups who feel excluded, their faith being depreciated. The last but not least are the provision of work opportunities in the risk areas - promoting entrepreneurship, facilitating the access of the markets, upgrading infrastructure, basically creating economic opportunities of dignified employment and livelihood.
In the end, underlying question when analyzing Islamic fundamentalism is this: when a Western liberal state, such as the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Islamic faith meet, is there a possibility of reasonable conversation? Originating in Europe, liberalism, as a political doctrine, grew as an opposition to religious doctrines, seeking to establish a secular government founded on reason. And although functional in the Western societies, is liberalism really compatible with Christianity, and even more unlikely, is it compatible with Islam?
While liberal societies are open to freedom of religion, the Abrahamic Religions, being based on a notion of a singular truth, are not that welcoming of the freedom of thought, at least when it extends beyond the dogmas. Neither are they originally very tolerant of the beliefs that diverge from their own doctrines. Looking back at the Middle Ages, the time of prosperity of the Catholic Church, it can be said that Catholic social structure stands on the obedience to the Pope and the official doctrine of the Church. When it comes to Islam, following similar logic, one can argue that the caliphate with a society (ummah) ruled under the shari'a law is a basis of Islamic social order. In its fundamental forms, both are considered unalterable and divinely originated and neither is compatible with a relativist liberal state whose basis of legitimacy lies far from God's will. When the two religious doctrines meet in a nation-state, as in the case of Nigeria, there are arguably only two ends to the story.
The first one, which was already mentioned is Huntington's idea of the clash of civilizations. He argued that the conflict that happens when Islamic and Western civilizations meet is inherent in their doctrines. A secular modern state, being a Western creation, when incorporating Muslim societies only further enhances the friction due to the fact that "the Muslim concept of Islam as a way of life transcending and uniting religion and politics versus the Western Christian concept of the separate realms of God and Caesar" (Huntington, 2002). This makes it more difficult for the Muslims to adapt to the contemporary reality, as in Islam the idea of nation-state is undermined by the concept of ummah (Huntington, 2002).
And although Huntington's argument that the inherent beliefs of a single truth in both religions in their fundamental forms make them incompatible with each other as well as with the present-day reality of a nation-state based international order, this line of thinking does not promote any kind of solution to the continuous problem of religious and cultural differences, which often manifest themselves in the oppression of one group by another creating friction - a fertile ground for further religious fundamentalism. In a world where the colliding of the different religions in everyday situations are inevitable, we must search for a middle ground.
This brings us to the second outcome, which is arguably the only one that can ever lead to a peaceful end. It, of course, requires compromise from religious groups, a compromise which nobody is likely to make when it comes to their fundamental beliefs, and much needed yet the same, because only the dialogue can lead to mutual respect and understanding, two things that wipe out hostility and fear rooted into ignorance. The second outcome of inter-religious interaction would be what John Rawls called an overlapping consensus between different comprehensive doctrines (Rawls, 1933). As by definition comprehensive doctrines are those, which are compatible with political liberalism, it inherently carries an idea of the necessity of some doctrines to give up on the segments of their ideologies that are incompatible with the aforementioned system.
The capitalist system, for example, originally was not willingly received by the Catholic social teachings, being considered a source of injustice. However, the Church, although never particularly eager for it, learned to accept the dominance of capitalism as a current reality and live with it (Fred Kammer). But would it be possible with the doctrine of shari'a law, for example, which is, after all, a basis of Muslim faith, as some Muslims believe that being ruled by the law of God is the only righteous path? This kind of comparison is hardly just from the beginning, as Jesus, unlike Muhammad, was never a political leader and Christianity was always religious and never political tradition, while Islam was always both. Shari'a law, as the sovereignty of God over people, is completely incompatible with democracy which is based on the idea of the sovereignty of the people over themselves, and we are forced to come back to the question of willingness to compromise again.
John Rawls argues that "A modern democratic society is characterized not simply by a pluralism of comprehensive religious, philosophical, and moral doctrines but by a pluralism of incompatible yet reasonable comprehensive doctrines," (Rawls, 1933). The doctrines might as well be incompatible and coexist together, but in the end, they will still have to compromise in order to be compatible with liberalism. The modern world will have to learn to do so sooner or later, to give up their universalist beliefs and give them the benefit of the doubt. This is the price for peace everybody must pay: the weak will have to pay more than the strong, but even the strong cannot use the principle of coercion forever.
In the end, it can be concluded that the insurgence of Islamic fundamentalism in Africa is grounded in common traits such as historical and religious grievances, the relative poverty of one group in proportion to the other, lack of governmental presence and aid in some of the regions. On the micro-level, people are more willing to be recruited when they are uneducated, belong to segregated religious communities, live in relative poverty, do not receive support from the government and live without hope for a better future.
The solution to the spread of extremism, as it has been demonstrated by the example of Nigeria and Cameroon, cannot be rooted purely in the military missions, as they tend to get violent and further decrease the trust of the civilians in their government, closing a circle of us vs. them mentality. The means for solving the problem should include higher governmental presence and aid in the development of the afflicted regions, in the effort of further integration of currently segregated societies by helping them form a part of wider national identity. The idea of integration also transcends to the ideological, religious and cultural level as Islamic fundamentalism often arises from the rejection of Western culture and values that often feel imposed and foreign in the Muslim communities.
The key to the inter-religious conversation, especially when we are talking about Islam and Christianity, two religions that clash ideologically due to mutual assertiveness of sole truth, is the willingness to compromise and adapt to the current social order. If the roots of the problem are not cut off, the friction will continue on to transcend the ideological sphere and manifest itself in the military conflicts, terrorism, even big-scale wars. In an increasingly smaller world, in which the inter-religious interactions cannot be avoided, the decisions must be made. After all, how long we can live in the clash of civilizations?
Amnesty, I. (2011). Nigeria: Human Rights diary 2011-2015. Amnesty International Publications, 30.
Amoo, A. (2018, July 30). educeleb.com. Retrieved from educeleb.com: https://educeleb.com/young-adult-literacy-rate-in-nigeria/
Collier, P. (2007). The Bottom Billion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Comolli, V. (2017). The evolution and impact of Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin. Humanitarian Exchange, 7-10.
Economist, T. (2011). Nigeria's New Government: One and a Half Cheers for the Economy. None for Security. Economist, 56.
Fred Kammer, S. (n.d.). Catholicism and Capitalism. Retrieved from http://www.loyno.edu/jsri/catholicism-and-capitalism
Amnesty, I. (2011). Nigeria: Human Rights diary 2011-2015. Amnesty International Publications, 30.
Amoo, A. (2018, July 30). educeleb.com. Retrieved from educeleb.com: https://educeleb.com/young-adult-literacy-rate-in-nigeria/
Collier, P. (2007). The Bottom Billion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Comolli, V. (2017). The evolution and impact of Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin. Humanitarian Exchange, 7-10.
Economist, T. (2011). Nigeria's New Government: One and a Half Cheers for the Economy. None for Security. Economist, 56.
Fred Kammer, S. (n.d.). Catholicism and Capitalism. Retrieved from http://www.loyno.edu/jsri/catholicism-and-capitalism
Heungoup, H. D. (2016, April 6). Q&A: Boko Haram in Cameroon. Retrieved from International Crisis Group : https://www.crisisgroup.org/africa/central-africa/cameroon/q-boko-haram-cameroon
Huntington, S. P. (2002). The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York: SIMON & SCHUSTER.
Ibrahim Index of African Governance(n.d.). Retrieved from Mo Ibrahim Foundation: http://iiag.online
Lake Chad attack: 'Dozens of fishermen' killed near Cameroon border(2020, January 3). Retrieved from BBC News: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-50987123
News, B. (2020, January 3). Retrieved from BBC News: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-50987123
News, B. (2020). Lake Chad attack: 'Dozens of fishermen' killed near Cameroon border. BBC News.
News, B. (2020). Lake Chad attack: 'Dozens of fishermen' killed near Cameroon border. BBC News.
Okpi, A. (2018, August 29). Africa Check. Retrieved from Africa Check: https://africacheck.org/reports/nigerias-economy-services-drive-gdp-but-oil-still-dominates-exports/
Rawls, J. (1933). Political Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press.
Smith, D. (2009). Nigeria Islamist group leader killed in police custody. The Guardian.
Solomon, H. (2012). Counter-Terrorism in Nigeria: Responding to Boko Haram. The Rusi Journal, 6-11.
Thomson, V. (2012). Boko Haram and Islamic Fundamentalism in Nigeria. Global Security Studies, 46-57.
UNDP, U. N. (2017). Journey to Extremism in Africa: Drivers. Incentives and the Tipping Point for Recruitment. new York: United Nations Development Programme.
Yusuf, M. (2009, July 31).(BBC News, Interviewer)
▲ A demonstration in Beirut as part of 2019 protests [Wikimedia Commons].
ESSAY / David España Font
A shared feeling has been rising across the globe for the last three years, but with special strength during the last six months. The demonstrations since February in Algeria, since September in Egypt, Indonesia, Peru or Haiti, and in Chile, Iraq or Lebanon since October are just some manifestations of this feeling. The primary objective of this essay will not be to find a correlation among all demonstrations but rather to focus on the Lebanese governmental collapse. The collapse of the Lebanese government is one example of the widespread failure most politicians in the Middle East have to meet public needs.[i]
Regarding the protests that have been taking place in Egypt and the Levant, it is key to differentiate these uprisings from the so-called Arab Spring that took place in 2011, and which caused a scene of chaos all over the region, leading to the collapse of many regimes. [ii] The revolutionary wave from 2011, became a spark that precipitated into many civil wars such as those in Libya, Yemen or Syria. It is important to note that, the uprisings that are taking place at the moment are happening in the countries that did not fall into civil war when the Arab Spring of 2011 took place.
This essay will put the focus on the issue of whether the political power in Lebanon is legitimate, or it should be changed. Are the Lebanese aiming at a change in leadership or rather at a systemic change in their political system? This essay id divided into four different parts. First, a brief introduction summarizes the development of the October demonstrations. Second, it throws a quick overview into recent political history, starting from the formation of the Lebanese state. Third, it will approach the core question, namely which type of change is required. Finally, a brief conclusion sums up the key ideas.
2. October 2019
On Thursday October 17th, thousands of people jumped into the streets of Beirut to protest against political corruption, the nepotism of the public sector and the entrenched political class. There hadn't been a manifestation of public discontent as big as this one since the end of the civil war in 1990. The demonstration was sparked by the introduction of a package of new taxes, one of which aimed at WhatsApp calls. [iii] Roads were blocked for ten days in a row while citizens kept demanding for the entire political class to resign. Although, apparently, the demands were the same as those forwarded in 2011, the protests might have been looking more for a change in the whole political system than for mere changes in leadership.
It must not be forgotten the fact that Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, warned that such protests could lead to another civil war and that the right to demonstrate had to be abolished as soon as possible. He literally stated: "I'm not threatening anyone, I'm describing the situation. We are not afraid for the resistance; we are afraid for the country."[iv] Certainly, a change in the political power could make such a power notably stronger, Hezbollah is now enjoying the weakness of the Lebanese political power and prefers to maintain the status quo.
This arising conflict must be analysed bearing in mind the very complicated governmental structure which seems to be very effective towards conflict avoidance, but not towards development and progress. The country is governed by a power-sharing system aimed at guaranteeing political representation for all the country's 18 sects. [v] Lebanon's government is designed to provide political representation of all Lebanese religious groups, the largest ones being the Maronites, the Shiite and the Sunni. The numbers of seats in the Parliament is allotted among the different denominations within each religion. The President must always be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni and the Speaker of Parliament as Shiite.[vi]
Therefore, it goes without saying that the structure of the political power is designed for survival rather than for coexistence. Each representative is inclined to use his position in favour of the interest of the sects that he belongs to instead of that of the national, common interest. There is no chance for common policies to be agreed as long as any of these interfere with the preferences of any one of the sects.
3. A quick overview into recent history
Since the end of the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire managed to control all the region today known as Levant and Egypt. However, the area known as Mount Lebanon remained out of its direct influence[vii]. The region became a self-governed area controlled by powerful Christian Maronite families. Because the Ottoman Empire did not allow European Christians to settle in the territory and benefit from trading activities, the Europeans used the Lebanese Maronites as their commercial representatives. [viii] This was one of the main ways how the European legacy penetrated the region, and one of the reasons that explains why Christians in Lebanon and Syria had a good command of French even before the arrival of the French mandate, and why they became, and still are, richer than the Muslims.
Following World War I, the League of Nations awarded France the mandate over the northern portion of the former Ottoman province of Syria, which included the region of the Mount Lebanon. This was a consequence of the signature in 1916 of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, by which the British and the French divided the Middle East into two areas put under their control. The British would control the South, and the French the North.[ix]
In 1920 the French carved out the region of Lebanon from their mandated area. The region would later be granted the independence in 1943. The means of such demarcation had as primary objective the guarantee and protection of the Christian's free and independent existence in the Muslim Arab world, not even the protection of their rights but rather the recognition of their existence. Since the very first moment of Lebanon's establishment as a separate territory from Syria, Sunni Muslims rejected the very idea of a Lebanese state which was perceived as an act of French colonialism with the objective of dividing and weakening what was perceived to be the united Arab Nation.[x]
Because the preservation of the greater Lebanon was the primary objective for the Christians and they were not going to give up that objective for the sake of a united Arab Nation, a gap between the Maronite and the Sunni communities opened that had to be closed. The legal agreement that came up from efforts in this sense came to be known as the National Pact of 1943 "al-Mithaq al-Watani."[xi] At the heart of the negotiations was on the one hand the Christians' fear of being overwhelmed by the Arab countries, and on the other hand the Muslims' fear of Western hegemony. In return for the Christian to accept Lebanon's "Arab face," the Muslim side agreed to recognize the independence and legitimacy of the Lebanese state in its 1920 boundaries and to renounce aspirations for union with Syria.[xii]
With hindsight, the pact may be assessed as the least bad political option that could be reached at this time. However, as mentioned earlier, this pact has led to a development of the governmental structure that doesn't lead to political construction and development but rather to mere survival.
4. Change in leadership or systemic change?
The issue at stake is very much related to the legitimacy that could be given to the Lebanese political power. In order to tackle this issue, a basic approach to these terms is a must.
The concept of political power is very vague and might be difficult to find a set definition for it; the basic approach could be "a power exercised in a political community for the attainment of the ends that pertain to the community."[xiii] In order to be political, power inherently requires legitimacy. When the power is fully adapted to the community, only then this power can be considered a political power and therefore, a legitimate power. [xiv ] While it is possible to legitimize a power that is divided into a wide variety of sects, it cannot be denied that such power is not fully adapted to the community, but simply divided between the different communities.
Perhaps, the issue in this case is that there cannot be such a thing as "a community" for the different sects that conform the Lebanese society. Perry Anderson[xv] states that in 2005, the Saudi Crown reintroduced the millionaire Rafik Hariri into the Lebanese politics getting him to become prime minister. In return, Hariri had to allow the Salafists to preach in Sunni villages and cities, up to the point that his son, Saad, does not manage to control the Sunni community any longer. How is it possible to avoid such a widespread division of sects in a region where politics of influence are played by every minimally significant power?
Furthermore, in order to be legitimate, power must safeguard the political community. However, going deeper into the matter, it is essential that a legitimate power transcends the simple function of safeguarding and assumes the responsibility of maintaining the development of the community. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, in this case there might be no such thing as a community; therefore, the capacity of the political power in this specific case, legitimacy might be link to the idea of leading the idea of building and developing such idea of community under one united political entity. Possibly, the key to achieve a sense of community might be the abolition of confession-based politics however...is it possible?
Additionally, another reason for which I do not believe that there is a full politicisation of the state is because it has still not transitioned from power, understood as force, into power understood as order. The mere presence of an Iranian backed militia in the country which does have a B degree of influence on the political decisions doesn't allow for such an important change to happen. In the theory, the state should recover the full control of military power however, the reality is that Lebanon does need the military efforts of the Shiite militia.
Finally, a last way to understand the legitimacy of the power can be through acceptance. Legitimacy consists on the consent given to the power, which implies the disposition to obey of the community, and the acceptance of the capacity to force, of the power[xvi]. Until now there has been acceptance. However, being these protests the biggest ones seen since the end of the civil war, it is an important factor to bear in mind. It might be that these protests delegitimize the political power, or they might simply reflect the euphoric hit that many of these events tend to cause before disappearing.
After three months since the beginning of the protests, it seems that steps have been taken backwards rather than forwards. Could Hariri's resignation mean a step forward towards the construction of the community and the abolition of the sectarian division?
The key idea is the nature of the 1943 agreement. The Pact's core idea was to help overcome any philosophical divisions between the two main communities, the Christian and the Sunni. The Christians were not willing to accept a united Arab Nation with Syria, and the Muslims were not willing to be fully ruled by the Christians. However, 80 years later, the importance of confessionalism in the political structure is still there, it has not diminished.To sum up, there are two additional ideas to be emphasised. One is that Lebanon was created in order to remain a non-Muslim state in an Arab world, the second one is that the principal reason for stating that the political powers in the Arab world have so little legitimacy is because of the intrusion of other regional powers in the nation's construction of a community and the persistent war that is being fought between the Sunni and the Shiite in the region in
[CIA ( 2019). World Factbook (p. Lebanese government). USA.
[vi] CIA (2019). World Factbook (p. Lebanese government). USA.
[vii] Hourani, A. (2013). A history of the Arab peoples (p.). London: Faber and Faber.
[viii] el-Khazen, F. (1991). The Communal Pact of National Identities: The Making and Politics of the 1943 National Pact [Ebook] (1st ed., pp. 7, 13, 14, 49, 52,). Oxford: Centre for Lebanese Studies, Oxford. Retrieved from
[ix] Taber, A. (2016). The lines that bind (1st ed.). Washington: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
[x] el-Khazen, F. (1991). The Communal Pact of National Identities: The Making and Politics of the 1943 National Pact [Ebook] (1st ed., pp. 7, 13, 14, 49, 52,). Oxford: Centre for Lebanese Studies, Oxford. Retrieved from
[xi] el-Khazen, F. (1991). The Communal Pact of National Identities: The Making and Politics of the 1943 National Pact [Ebook] (1st ed., pp. 7, 13, 14, 49, 52,). Oxford: Centre for Lebanese Studies, Oxford. Retrieved from
[xii] Thomas Collelo, ed. Lebanon: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1987.
[xiii] Zemsky, B. (2019). 2000 [Blog].
[xiv] Cruz Prados, A. (2000). Ethos y Polis ( 2nd ed., pp. 377-400). Pamplona: EUNSA.
[xv] Mourad, S. The Mosaic of Islam: A Conversation with Perry Anderson (1st ed., pp. 81-82). Madrid: Siglo XXI de España Editores, S. A., 2018.
[xvi] Jarvis Thomson, J. (1990). The Realm of Rights (1st ed., p. 359). Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
▲ US border patrol vehicle near the fence with Mexico [Wikimedia Commons].
ESSAY / Gabriel de Lange
I. Current issues in the Northern Triangle
In recent years, the relationship between the Northern Triangle Countries (NTC) -Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador- and it's northern neighbours Mexico and the United States has been marked in mainstream average for their surging migration patterns. As of 2019, a total of 977,509 individuals have been apprehended at the Southwest border of the US (the border with Mexico) as compared to 521,093 the previous year (years in terms of US fiscal years). Of this number, an estimated 75% have come from the NTC. These individuals are typically divided into three categories: single adults, family units, and unaccompanied alien children (UAC).
As the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) reports, over 65% of the population of the NTC are below 29 years of age. This is why it is rather alarming to see an increasing number of the youth population from these countries leaving their homes and becoming UAC at the border.
Why are these youths migrating? Many studies normally associate this to "push factors. The first factor being an increase in insecurity and violence, particularly from transnational organised crime, gangs, and narco-trafficking. It is calculated that six children flee to the US for every ten homicides in the Northern Triangle. The second significant factor is weak governance and corruption; this undermines public trust in the system, worsens the effects of criminal activity, and diverts funds meant to improve infrastructure and social service systems. The third factor is poverty and lack of economic development; for example in Guatemala and Honduras, roughly 60% of people live below the poverty line.
The other perspective to explain migration is through what are called "pull factors." An example would be the lure of economic possibilities abroad, like the high US demand for low-skilled workers, a service that citizens of NTC can provide and be better paid for that in their home countries. Another pull factor worth mentioning is lax immigration laws, if the consequences for illegal entry into a country are light, then individuals are more likely to migrate for the chance attaining better work, educational, and healthcare opportunities.
II. US administrations' strategies
A. The Obama administration (2008-2015)
The Obama administration for the most part used the carrot and soft power approach in its engagement with the NTC. Its main goals in the region being to "improve security, strengthen governance, and promote economic prosperity in the region", it saw these developments in the NTC as being in the best interest of US national security.
In 2014, in the wake of the massive surge of migrants, especially UACs, the administration launched the reform initiative titled the Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity (A4P). The plan expanded across Central America but with special focus on the NTC. This was a five year plan to address these "push factors" that cause people to migrate. The four main ways that the initiative aims to accomplish this is by promoting the following: first, by fostering the productivity sector to address the region's economic instability; second, by developing human capital to increase the quality of life, which improves education, healthcare and social services; third, improving citizen security and access to justices to address the insecurity and violence threat, and lastly, strengthening institutions and improving transparency to address the concerns for weak governance and corruption.
This initiative would receive direct technical support and financing from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). In addition, major funding was to be provided by the US, which for the fiscal years of 2015-2018 committed $2.6 billion split for bilateral assistance, Regional Security Strategy (RSS), and other regional services. The NTC governments themselves were major financiers of the initiative, committing approximately $8.6 billion between 2016-2018.
The administration even launched programs with the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The principle one being the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), with a heavy focus on the NTC and it's security issues, which allotted a budget of $1.2 billion in 2008. This would later evolve into the larger framework of US Strategy for Engagement in Central America in 2016.
The Obama administration also launched in 2015 the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which currently allows individuals who were brought to the US as children, and have unlawful statuses to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation. It is a policy that the Trump administration has been fighting to remove these last few years.
Although the Obama administration was quite diplomatic and optimistic in its approach, that didn't mean it didn't make efforts to lessen the migration factors in more aggressive ways too. In fact, the administration reportedly deported over three million illegal immigrants through the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the highest amount of deportations taking place in the fiscal year of 2012 reaching 409,849 which was higher than any single one of the Trump administration's reported fiscal years to date.
In addition, the Obama administration used educational campaigns to discourage individuals from trying to cross into the US illegally. In 2014 they also launched a Central American Minors (CAM) camp targeting children from the NTC and providing a "safe, legal and orderly alternative to US migration". This however was later scrapped by the Trump Administration, along with any sense of reassessment brought about by Obama's carrot approach.
Number of apprehensions and inadmissibles on the US border with Mexico [Source: CBP].
B. The Trump administration (2016-present)
The Trump administration's strategy in the region has undoubtedly gone with the stick approach. The infamous "zero tolerance policy" which took place from April-June 2018 is a testimony to this idea, resulting in the separation of thousands of children from their parents and being reclassified as UAC. This was in an attempt to discourage individuals in the NTC from illegally entering the US and address these lax immigration laws.
From early on Trump campaigned based on the idea of placing America's interests first, and as a result has reevaluated many international treaties and policies. In 2016 the administration proposed scaling back funds for the NTC through the A4P, however this was blocked in Congress and the funds went through albeit in a decreasing value starting with $754 million in 2016 to only $535 million in 2019.
Another significant difference between the two administrations is that while Obama's focused on large multi-lateral initiatives like the A4P, the Trump administration has elected to focus on a more bilateral approach, one that goes back and forth between cooperation and threats, to compliment the existing strategy.
Towards the end of 2018 the US and Mexico had announced the concept of a "Marshal Plan" for Central America with both countries proposing large sums of money to be given annually to help improve the economic and security conditions in the NTC. However in this last year it has become more apparent that there will be difficulties raising funds, especially due to their reliance on private investment organisations and lack of executive cooperation. Just last May, Trump threatened to place tariffs on Mexico due to its inability to decrease immigration flow. President López Obrador responded by deploying the National Guard to Mexico's border with Guatemala, resulting in a decrease of border apprehensions by 56% on the US Southwest border. This shows that the stick method can achieve results, but that real cooperation cannot be achieved if leaders don't see eye to eye and follow through on commitments. If large amount of funding where to be put in vague unclear programs and goals in the NTC, it is likely to end up in the wrong hands due to corruption.
In terms of bilateral agreements with NTC countries, Trump has been successful in negotiating with Guatemala and Honduras in signing asylum cooperative agreements, which has many similarities with a safe third country agreement, though not exactly worded as such. Trump struck a similar deal with El Salvador, though sweetened it by granting a solution for over 200,000 Salvadorans living in US under a Temporary Protection Status (TPS).
However, Trump has not been the only interested party in the NTC and Mexico. The United Nations' ECLAC launched last year its "El Salvador-Guatemala-Honduras-Mexico Comprehensive Development Program", which aims to target the root causes of migration in the NTC. It does this by promoting policies that relate to the UN 2030 diary and the 17 sustainable development goals. The four pillars of this initiative being: economic development, social well-being, environmental sustainability, and comprehensive management of migratory patters. However the financing behind this initiative remains ambiguous and the goals behind it seem redundant. They reflect the same goals established by the A4P, just simply under a different entity.
The main difference between the Obama and Trump administrations is that the A4P takes a slow approach aiming to address the fundamental issues triggering migration patterns, the results of which will likely take 10-15 years and steady multi-lateral investment to see real progress. Meanwhile the Trump administration aims to get quick results by creating bilateral agreements with these NTC in order to distribute the negative effects of migration among them and lifting the immediate burden. Separately, neither strategy appears wholesome and convincing enough to rally congressional and public support. However, the combination of all initiatives -investing effort both in the long and short run, along with additional initiatives like ECLAC's program to reinforce the region's goals- could perhaps be the most effective mechanism to combat insecurity, weak governance, and economic hardships in the NTC.
 Nowrasteh, Alex. "1.3 Percent of All Central Americans in the Northern Triangle Were Apprehended by Border Patrol This Fiscal Year - So Far". Cato at Library. June 7, 2019. Accessed November 8, 2019.
 N/A. "Northern Triangle: Building Trust, Creating Opportunities." Inter-American Development Bank. Accessed November 5, 2019.
 Orozco, Manuel. "Central American Migration: Current Changes and Development Implications." The Dialogue. November 2018. Accessed November 2019.
 Arthur, R. Andrew. "Unaccompanied Alien Children and the Crisis at the Border." Center for Immigration Studies. April 1, 2019. Accessed November 9, 2019.
 Members and Committees of Congress. "U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America: Policy Issues for Congress." Congressional Research Service. Updated November 12, 2019. November 13, 2019.
 N/A. "Budgetary Resources Allocated for the Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity." Inter-American Development Bank. N/A. Accessed November 10, 2019.
 Schneider, L. Mark. Matera, A. Michael. "Where Are the Northern Triangle Countries Headed? And What Is U.S. Policy?" Centre for Strategic and International Studies. August 20, 2019. Accessed November 11, 2019.
 Nagovitch, Paola. "Explainer: U.S. Immigration Deals with Northern Triangle Countries and Mexico." American Society/Council of Americans. October 3, 2019. Accessed November 10, 2019.
 Nagovitch, Paola. "Explainer: U.S. Immigration Deals with Northern Triangle Countries and Mexico." American Society/Council of Americans. October 3, 2019. Accessed November 10, 2019.
 Press Release. "El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico Reaffirm their Commitment to the Comprehensive Development Plan." ECLAC. September 19,2019. Accessed November 11, 2019.
▲ Operations in cyberspace may be part of a hybrid warfare status conducted by state or non-state actors [Pixabay].
essay / Ana Salas Cuevas
Hybrid threat is a term that encompasses all subject of coordinated actions to influence the decision making of states, making use of political, economic, military, civilian and information means. These actions can be carried out by both state and non-state actors.
The term "Grey Zone" is used to determine the boundary between peace and war. It is a new tactic that has nothing to do with the real war that pits armies of different states against each other. Hybrid warfare consists of achieving results by directly influencing society by demoralizing it. It is an undoubtedly effective tactic and much simpler for the attacking countries, since both the economic and human investment is less than in real warfare. Resources such as propaganda, manipulation of communications, economic blockades, etc., are used. And since there is no strict international legislation in relation to these conflicts, many countries consider these actions as tolerable subject .
Introduction: The hybrid threat
The term hybrid threat became popular after the 2006 clash between Israel and Hezbollah to designate "the integration of unconventional and irregular tactics, techniques and procedures, mixed with terrorist acts, propaganda and connections with organized crime".
The essential goal of the hybrid threat is to achieve results without resorting to real war, confronting societies and not armies, almost completely breaking down the distinction between combatants and citizens. The military goal takes a back seat.
The actions carried out within this subject of conflicts are focused on the employment of means such as cyber-attacks, disinformation and propaganda. They have as goal the exploitation of economic, political, technological and diplomatic vulnerabilities, breaking communities, national parties, electoral systems and producing a great effect on the energy sector. These actions are not random, they are planned and organized. These attacks are not linear in nature. They can have direct consequences elsewhere. For example, the drone strike on wells in Saudi Arabia in September 2019 had a direct impact on the global Economics .
Cyberspace has become a novel aspect of this scenario. Thanks largely to the technological and information revolution, we are now facing a changing world order, in which the information provided by the media is accessible to anyone from anywhere in the world. It is no coincidence, therefore, that the Internet is one of the most important fronts when talking about hybrid warfare. In this field, the rules are not clearly established and States and non-State actors have a greater margin for action compared to the classic power of States. Fake news, disinformation and opinion-based facts are instruments at anyone's fingertips to influence public order.
Through manipulation in these areas, the hybrid enemy manages to considerably weaken one of the most important pillars of the State or community at which its actions are aimed: the trust of citizens in its institutions.
Ambiguity is one of the distinguishing characteristics of activity in the cyber domain. The hybrid enemy not only exploits to its advantage the difficulty inherent in the global network in attributing hostile actions to a particular actor, but reinforces it through the use of hybrid strategies such as synchronization.
Cyberterrorism and hacktivism
As we have just seen, cyberspace is one of the preferred domains of the hybrid enemy. In it, he will frequently resort to cyberthreats, a cross-cutting threat that is very difficult to attribute authorship to. In most cases, it is not possible to substantiate it reliably, and in most cases there are only suspicions, making it very difficult to obtain proof. These cyberthreats can be divided into four blocks, which we will analyze one by one.
First of all, cyber espionage has as goal the political, economic and military spheres. Numerous states routinely resort to cyber espionage. These include China, Russia, Iran and the United States. States can carry out cyberespionage actions directly, using their intelligence services, or through interposed agents such as companies influenced by these states.
Secondly, cybercrime, in most cases committed for profit, and whose impact on the global Economics is estimated at 2% of the world's GDP. The main targets of cybercrime are information theft, fraud, money laundering, etc. It is often carried out by terrorist organizations, organized crime and hackers.
Thirdly, cyberterrorism, whose main objectives are to obtain information and all subject communications to citizens. The main agents, as can be deduced, are terrorist organizations and intelligence agencies.
Cyberterrorism has a number of advantages over conventional terrorism, and is that it guarantees greater security over anonymity, in addition, there is a greater cost-benefit ratio and in the geographical scope there is a great advantage in terms of delimitation. In Spain, a reform of terrorist crimes was given through Organic Law 2/2015, in which articles 571 to 580 of the Penal Code were reformed in their entirety. At the same time, Organic Law 1/2015 also approved the reform of the Criminal Code, affecting more than 300 articles.
Finally, in fourth place, hacktivism, whose main targets are web services, along with the theft and unauthorized publication of information. When hacktivism is used for the benefit of terrorism, it becomes terrorism. The Islamic terrorist group DAESH, for example, uses cyber means to recruit fighters to its ranks. Two groups stand out as agents, the group "Anonymus" and "Luizsec," in addition to the intelligence services themselves.
Cyberterrorism has very specific aims: to subvert the constitutional order, to seriously disrupt social peace and to destroy our global model . It is an emerging threat of leave probability, but high impact. The main problem of all this is the little existing legislation on the matter, but which is gradually emerging; for example, in 2013 the starting point was given with the publication of a communication of the committee of the European Union on security - the "European Union Cybersecurity Strategy"-, from which every 5 years the strategies must be reviewed. This is in addition to Regulation 2019/881 of the European Parliament and committee (EU) of 17 April 2019.
The concept of the gray zone has recently been coined in the field of strategic programs of study to describe the framework of hybrid enemy action. The term describes an alternative state of tension to war, operating at a stage of formal peace.
The conflict in the gray zone is centered on civil society. Its cost, therefore, falls directly on the population. It operates in any case within the limits of international legality. The protagonist is generally a State of major international importance (a power) or a non-State actor of similar influence.
The actions of an enemy operating in the gray zone are aimed at dominating certain "zones" that are of interest to it. The types of response within what is defined as a gray zone will depend on the threat faced by the country in question.
Legal point of view
If we speak from a legal point of view, it is more accurate to use the term hybrid warfare, only when there is a declared and not a covert armed conflict.
Indeed, a major problem arises from the difficulty of applying the appropriate national or international legislation to hybrid threat actors. The actors involved, as a rule, deny hybrid actions and try to escape the legal consequences of their actions, taking advantage of the complexity of the legal system. They act by skirting the boundaries, operating in unregulated spaces and never exceeding the legal thresholds.
Hybrid threat responses
The response to the hybrid threat can take place in different, but not mutually exclusive, spheres. In the military sphere, even a direct military confrontation can be conceived, which can be seen as "tolerable" if it avoids a confrontation with a great power such as the United States or China. In the same way, these military confrontations are respected because of the defenselessness of the occupied territories in the face of the threat that the occupying state intends to prevent.
In the economic sphere, response makes it possible to impose on an enemy the costs of subject financial, which are sometimes more direct than military responses. In this field, one way of adopting non-provocative defensive measures is through the imposition of immediate and formal economic sanctions on an aggressor.
An example of this is the economic sanctions that the United States imposed against Iran for considering this country as a nuclear threat. To this end, it is important to highlight the background of this issue.
In 2015, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran's nuclear program was signed, committing Iran to comply with agreement and the United States to remove the economic sanctions imposed. However, in 2018 Trump announced the withdrawal of the agreement and the reinstatement of sanctions. In the course of these developments, various countries have spoken out on these unilateral decisions taken by the U.S. government. China and Russia, for their part, have expressed their disagreement, making official statements in favor of Iran.
The Iranian case is a clear example of an economic response on the gray zone, in which we see how States use this element of power to deny the aggressor's participation in different institutions or agreements and to control its zone of influence.
The United States, like many other powers, finds this status of superiority a decisive advantage in conflicts within the gray zone. Due to the importance of the financial and political power of the United States, the rest of the countries, including the European Union, cannot but accept this subject of unilateral actions.
In closing, we can conclude that hybrid activity in the gray zone has important consequences for society as a whole in one or more States, and produces effects that can be global in scope.
Hybrid threats primarily affect civil society and can produce a demoralizing effect that can lead to the psychological collapse of a state. The employment of this tactic is often referred to as "formal peace". Although there is no direct confrontation between armies, this technique is much more effective since the attacking country does not need to invest as much money, time and people as in real warfare. In addition, the application of international law or the intervention of third countries in the conflict is minimal, as many consider this subject actions as "tolerable".
Undoubtedly, gray zone and hybrid threats have become the new military technique of our era due to their effectiveness and simplicity. However, there should be tighter control so that this subject of such harmful military techniques no longer goes unnoticed.
A characteristic aspect of hybrid warfare is the manipulation of communications and the use of propaganda. With these actions it is possible to sow the distrust of citizens in their institutions, as is happening today in the relationship between China and the United States, weighed down by American statements to the press about the plan presented by Xi Jinping in 2014 on the New Silk Road, and which denote a high Degree distrust and rejection towards the Empire of the Center.
It is therefore desirable that States and international institutions establish "rules of the game" for this subject of actions and thus maintain world order and peace.
A first essay of this text was presented as a communication at the XXVII International Course on Defense held in Jaca in October 2019.
Carlos Galán (2018). Hybrid threats: new tools for old aspirations. 2019, from Real high school El Cano. Website.
Lyle J. Morris, Michael J. Mazarr, Jeffrey W. Hornung, Stephanie Pezard, Anika Binnendijk, Marta Kepe (2019). Gaining Competitive Advantage in the Grey Zone. 2019, from RAND CORPORATION. Website.
Josep Barqués (2017). Towards a definition of the "Grey Zone" concept. 2019, from high school Español de programs of study Estratégicos. Website.
Javier Jordán (2017). Hybrid warfare: a catch-all concept. 2019, from University of Granada. Website.
Javier Jordan (2018). International conflict in the grey zone: a theoretical proposal from the perspective of offensive realism. 2019, from Revista Española de Ciencia Política. Website.
Javier Jordan (2019). How to counter hybrid strategies. 2019, from University of Granada. Website.
Guillem Colom Piella (2019). The hybrid threat: myths, legends and realities. 2019, from high school Español de programs of study Estratégicos. Website.
Murat Caliskan (2019). Hybrid warfare through the lens of strategic theory. 2019, from Defense & Security Analysis, 35:1, 40-58. Website.
Rubén Arcos (2019). EU and NATO confront hybrid threats in centre of excellence. 2019, from Jane's Intelligence Review. Website
Publisher: Geert Cami Senior Fellow: Jamie Shea Programme Manager: Mikaela d'Angelo Programme Assistant: Gerard Huerta publisher: Iiris André, Robert Arenella Design: Elza Lőw. (2018). HYBRID AND TRANSNATIONAL THREATS. 2019, by Friends of Europe. Website.
An interview with Seyed Mohammad Marandi, University of Tehran (2019). Iranians will not forget the hybrid war against Iran. 2019, from Saker Community Latin America. Website.
 This idea became popular among the defense community after the presentation of the essay "Conflict in the 21st Century". Guillem Colom Piella (2019). The hybrid threat: myths, legends and realities. 2019, from high school Spanish Strategic programs of study .
 Reform of terrorism offenses through organic law 2/2015. group of programs of study in International Security (GESI), University of Granada.
 Joint Communication to the European Parliament, to the committee, to the committee Wuropean Economic and Social and to the committee of the Regions. ˝European Union Cybersecurity Strategy: an open, safe and secure cyberspace˝.
▲ View of Doha, the capital of Qatar, from its Islamic Museum [Pixabay].
essay / Sebastián Bruzzone Martínez
I. Introduction. Qatar, emirate of the Persian Gulf
In ancient times, the territory was inhabited by the Canaanites. From the 7th century AD onwards, Islam settled in the Qatari peninsula. As in the United Arab Emirates, piracy and attacks on the merchant ships of powers sailing along the Persian Gulf coast were frequent. Qatar was ruled by the Al Khalifa family from Kuwait until 1868, when at the request of the Qatari sheikhs and with financial aid from the British, the Al Thani dynasty was established. In 1871, the Ottoman Empire occupied the country and the Qatari dynasty recognised Turkish authority. In 1913, Qatar gained autonomy; three years later, Amir Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani signed a treaty with the UK to establish a British military protectorate in the region, while maintaining the amir's absolute monarchy.
In 1968, the UK withdrew its military force, and the Truce States (UAE, Qatar and Bahrain) organised the Federation of the Emirates of the Persian Gulf. Qatar, like Bahrain, gained independence from the Federation in 1971, proclaimed a constitution provisional, signed a treaty of friendship with the UK and joined the Arab League and the UN.
The Constitution provisional was replaced by the 2003 Constitution of 150 articles, submitted to a referendum and supported by 98% of the electorate. It entered into force as the fundamental rule on 9 April 2004. It recognises Islam as the official religion of the state and Sharia law as source of law (art. 1); the provision for adherence to and respect for international treaties, covenants and agreements signed by the Emirate of Qatar (art. 6); hereditary rule by the Al Thani family (art. 8); executive institutions such as the committee of Ministers and legislative-consultative institutions such as the committee Al Shoura or committee of the Ruling Family. Also included are the possibility of regency through the Trustee Council (arts. 13-16), the institution of the prime minister appointed by the emir (art. 72), the emir as head of state and representative of the state in Interior, Foreign Affairs and International Office (arts. 64-66), a sovereign wealth fund (Qatar Investment Company; art. 17), judicial institutions such as local courts and the Supreme Judicial committee , and its control over the unconstitutionality of laws (137-140), among other aspects.
It also recognises rights such as private property (art. 27), equality of rights and duties (art. 34), equality of persons before the law without discrimination on grounds of sex, race, language or religion (art. 35), freedom of expression (art. 47), freedom of the press (art. 48), impartiality of justice and effective judicial protection (134-136), among others.
These rights recognised in the Qatari Constitution must be consistent with Islamic law, and thus their application is different from what is observed in Europe or the United States. For example, although article 1 recognises democracy as the state's political system, political parties do not exist, and trade unions are banned, although the right of association is recognised by the Constitution. Similarly, 80% of the country's population is foreign, with these constitutional rights applying to Qatari citizens, who make up the remaining 20%.
Like the other countries in the region, oil has been a transforming factor in Qatar's Economics . Today, Qatar has a high standard of living and one of the highest per capita GDPs in the world, and is an attractive destination for foreign investors and luxury tourism. However, in recent years Qatar has been experiencing a diplomatic crisis with its Persian Gulf neighbours due to a number of factors that have condemned the Arab country to regional isolation.
II. The instability of the al thani family
The government of the Emirate of Qatar has suffered great instability due to internal disputes within the Al Thani family. Peter Salisbury, Middle East expert at Chatham House, the Royal high school of International Affairs in London, spoke of the Al Thanis in an interview for the BBC: "It's a family that initially (before finding oil) ruled a small, insignificant piece of land, often seen as a small province of Saudi Arabia. But it managed to carve out a position for itself in this region of giants". 
In 1972, in a coup d'état, Ahmed Al Thani was deposed by his cousin Khalifa Al Thani, with whom Qatar pursued an international policy of non-intervention and the search for internal peace, and maintained a good relationship with Saudi Arabia. He remained in power until 1995, when his son Hamad Al Thani dethroned him while he was away on a trip to Switzerland. The Saudi government saw this as a bad example for other countries in the region also ruled by family dynasties. Hamad boosted exports of liquefied natural gas and oil, and dismantled an alleged Saudi plan to reinstate his father Khalifa. The countries of the region began to see the 'little brother' grow economically and internationally very fast under the new emir and his foreign minister Hamam Al Thani.
The family is structured around Hamad and his wife Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned, who has become an icon of fashion and female prestige among the international nobility, on a par with Rania of Jordan, Kate Middleton and Queen Letizia (the couple is close to the Spanish royal family).
Hamad abdicated to his son Tamim Al Thani in 2013. The latter's ascension was a short-lived breath of hope for the international Arab community. Tamim adopted a very similar international policy stance to his father, strengthening rapprochement and economic cooperation with Iran, and increasing tension with Saudi Arabia, which proceeded to close Qatar's only land border. Similarly, according to a WikiLeaks leak in 2009, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan accused Tamim of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. On the other hand, the economic, political, social and even staff rivalry between Qatar's Al Thani and Saudi Arabia's Al Saud goes back decades.
In my view, stability and family hierarchy in dynastic nations is a crucial factor to avoid internal power struggles that consequently have great negative effects on the country's society. Each person has different political, economic and social ideas that take time to implement. Frequent changes without an objective culmination end up being a terribly destabilising factor. Internationally, the country's political credibility and rigidity can be undermined when the emir's son stages a coup while his father is on holiday. Qatar, aware of this, sought legislative security and rigidity in article 148 of its constitution by prohibiting the amendment of any article within ten years of its coming into force entrance .
In 1976, Qatar claimed sovereignty over the Hawar Islands, controlled by the Bahraini royal family, which became a focus of conflict between the two nations. The same happened with the artificial island of Fasht Ad Dibal, which prompted the Qatari military to raid the island in 1986. It was abandoned by Qatar in a peace deal with Bahrain agreement .
III. Alleged support to terrorist groups
This is the main reason why neighbouring states have isolated Qatar. Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Libya and the Maldives, among others, cut diplomatic and trade relations with Qatar in June 2017 over its alleged funding and support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which it considers a terrorist organisation. In 2010, WikiLeaks leaked a diplomatic grade in which the US called Qatar the "worst in the region in subject cooperation to eliminate funding for terrorist groups."
The Muslim Brotherhood, which originated in 1928 with Hassan Al Bana in Egypt, is a political activist and Islamic movement, with principles based on nationalism, social justice and anti-colonialism. However, within the movement there are various strands, some more rigorous than others. The founders of the Muslim Brotherhood see the Education of society as the tool most effective way to achieve state power. For this reason, the movement's indoctrinators or evangelists are the most persecuted by the authorities in countries that condemn membership of group. It has a well-defined internal structure, headed by the supreme guide Murchid, assisted by an executive body, a committee and an assembly.
From 1940 onwards, the paramilitary activity of group began clandestinely with Nizzam Al Khas, whose initial intention was to achieve Egyptian independence and expel the Zionists from Palestine. They carried out attacks such as the assassination of Egyptian Prime Minister Mahmoud An Nukrashi. The creation of this special section sentenced final the reputation and violent character of the Muslim Brotherhood, which continued its expansion around the world in the form of Tanzim Al Dawli, its international structure.
Khaled Mashal, a former leader of the militant organisation Hamas, is in exile in Qatar's capital, Doha, and the Taliban of Afghanistan has a political office. Importantly, most Qatari citizens are followers of Wahhabism, a puritanical version of Islam that seeks the literal interpretation of the Qur'an and Sunnah, founded by Mohammad ibn Abd Al Wahhab.
During the post-Arab Spring political crisis in 2011, Qatar supported the Muslim Brotherhood's electoral efforts in North African countries. The Islamist movement saw the revolution as a useful means to gain access to governments, taking advantage of the power vacuum. In Egypt, Mohamed Mursi, linked to the movement, became president in 2013, although he was overthrown by the military. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain negatively characterised the support and saw it as a destabilising Islamist element. In those countries where it was unsuccessful, its members were expelled and many took refuge in Qatar. Meanwhile, in neighbouring countries in the region, alarms were raised and every pro-Islamist move by the Qatari government was closely followed.
Similarly, Dutch sources and human rights lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld accused Qatar of financing the Al Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda involved in the war against Al Assad, declared a terrorist organisation by the United States and the UN. The Dutch lawyer claimed in 2018 to have the necessary evidence to prove the flow of Qatari money to Al Nusra through companies based in the country and to hold Qatar judicially responsible before the court in The Hague for the victims of the war in Syria. It is important to know that, in 2015, Doha obtained the release of 15 Lebanese soldiers, but in exchange for the release of 13 detained terrorists. Other sources claim that Qatar paid 20 million euros for the release of 45 Fijian blue helmets kidnapped by Al-Nusra in the Golan Heights.
According to the BBC, in December 2015, Kataeb Hezbollah or the Islamic Resistance Movement of Iraq, recognised as a terrorist organisation by the United Arab Emirates and the United States, among others, kidnapped a group group of Qataris who went hunting in Iraq.  Among the hunters on the group were two members of the Qatari royal family, the cousin and uncle of Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar's foreign minister since 2016. After 16 months of negotiations, the hijackers demanded a chilling $1 billion from the Qatari ambassador to Iraq to free the hostages. According to Qatar Airways officials, in April 2017 a Qatar Airways plane flew to Baghdad with the money to be delivered to the Iraqi government, which would act as an intermediary between Hezbollah and Qatar. However, business has never commented on the facts. The official version of the Qatari government is that the terrorists were never paid and the release of the hostages was achieved through a joint diplomatic negotiation between Qatar and Iraq.
Qatar's funding of the armed Hamas group in the Gaza Strip is a fact of life. In November 2018, according to Israeli sources, Qatar paid fifteen million dollars in cash as part of a agreement with Israel negotiated by Egypt and the UN, which would cover a total of ninety million dollars split into several payments, with the intention of seeking peace and reconciliation between the political parties Fatah and Hamas, considered group terrorist by the United States.
IV. Qatar's relationship with Iran
Qatar has good diplomatic and commercial relations with Iran, which is mainly Shiite, and this is not to the liking of the Quartet (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain), which is mainly Sunni, especially Saudi Arabia, with whom it has an obvious confrontation - subsidiary, not direct - over the predominant political and economic influence in the Persian region. In 2017, in his last visit to Riyadh ( visit ), Donald Trump called on the countries of the region to isolate Iran because of the military and nuclear tension it is experiencing with the United States. Qatar acts as an intermediary and turning point between the US and Iran, trying to open the way for dialogue in relation to the sanctions implemented by the American president.
Doha and Tehran have a strong economic relationship around the oil and gas industry, sharing the world's largest gas field, the South Pars-North Dame, while Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have followed the US lead in their foreign policy agendas towards Iran. One of the Quartet's conditions for Qatar to lift the economic and diplomatic blockade is the cessation of bilateral relations with Iran, which were reinstated in 2016, and the establishment of trade conduct with Iran in accordance with US sanctions.
V. Al Jazeera television network
Founded in 1996 by Hamad Al Thani, Al Jazeera has become the most influential digital media in the Middle East. It positioned itself as a promoter of the Arab Spring and was present in the climates of violence in different countries. As a result, it has been criticised by Qatar's antagonists for its positions close to Islamist movements, for acting as a mouthpiece for the fundamentalist messages of the Muslim Brotherhood and for being a vehicle for Qatari diplomacy. Its closure was one of the requirements requests made by the Quartet to Qatar to lift the economic blockade, the transit of people and the opening of airspace.
The US accuses the network of being the mouthpiece of extremist Islamic groups since the former head of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, began to disseminate his communiqués through it; of being anti-Semitic in nature; and of adopting a position favourable to the armed Hamas group in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In 2003, Saudi Arabia, after several failed attempts to cause the closure of the Qatari television network, decided to create a competing television station, Al Arabiya TV, initiating a disinformation war and vying over which of the two has the most reliable information.
VI. Washington and London's position
On the one hand, the United States seeks to have a good relationship with Qatar, as it has the large military base of Al-Udeid, which has an excellent strategic position in the Persian Gulf and more than ten thousand troops. In April 2018, the Qatari emir visited Donald Trump at the White House, who said that the relationship between the two countries "works extremely well" and considers Tamim a "great friend" and "a great gentleman". Tamim Al Thani has stressed that Qatar will not tolerate people who finance terrorism and confirmed that Doha will cooperate with Washington to stop the financing of terrorist groups.
The contradiction is clear: Qatar confirms its commitment to fighting the financing of terrorist groups, but its track record does not back it up. So far, the small country has demonstrably helped these groups in one way or another, through political asylum and protection of its members, direct or indirect funding through controversial negotiation techniques, or by promoting political interests that have not been to the liking of its great geopolitical rival, Saudi Arabia.
The United States is the great mediator and impediment to direct confrontation in the tension between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Both countries are members of the United Nations and allies of the US. Europe and American presidents have been aware that a direct confrontation between the two countries could prove fatal for the region and their commercial interests related to oil and the Strait of Hormuz.
On the other hand, the UK government has remained aloof in taking a position on the Qatar diplomatic crisis. Emir Tamim Al Thani owns 95 per cent of The Shard building, eight per cent of the London Stock Exchange and Barclays bank, as well as flats, stocks and shares in companies in the UK capital. Qatari investments in the UK capital total around $60 billion.
In 2016, former British Prime Minister David Cameron showed his concern about the future when the London mayoralty was occupied by Sadiq Khan, a Muslim who has appeared on more than one occasion alongside Sulaiman Gani, an imam who supports the Islamic State and the Muslim Brotherhood.
VII. Civil war in Yemen
Since foreign military intervention in Yemen's civil war began in 2015, at the request of Yemeni President Rabbu Mansur Al Hadi, Qatar has aligned itself with the states of the committee Cooperation for the Arab States of the Gulf (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), backed by the United States, the United Kingdom and France, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), backed by the US, the UK and France, to create an international coalition to help restore Al Hadi's legitimate power, which has been under siege since the coup d'état by Houthis and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdala Saleh. However, Qatar has been accused of clandestinely supporting the Houthi rebels, and the rest of the committee countries view its actions with great caution.
Today, the Yemeni civil war has become the largest humanitarian crisis since 1945. On 11 August 2019, South Yemeni separatists, backed by the United Arab Emirates, which initially supports al-Hadi's government, seized the port city of Aden, storming the presidential palace and the military instructions . The president, in exile in Riyadh, has described the attack by his allies as a coup against the institutions of the legitimate state, and has received direct support from Saudi Arabia. After days of tension, the Southern Movement separatists left the city.
The Emirates and Saudi Arabia, along with other neighbouring states such as Bahrain and Kuwait, of Sunni belief, seek to halt the advance of the Houthis, who dominate the capital, Sana'a, and a possible expansion of Shi'ism promoted by Iran through the conflict in Yemen. Similarly, there is a strong geopolitical interest in the Strait of Bab el Mandeb, which connects the Red Sea with the Arabian Sea and is a major alternative to the flow of trade in the Strait of Hormuz, off the coast of Iran. This interest is shared by France and the US, which seeks to eliminate the presence of ISIS and Al Qaeda in the region.
The day after the capture of Aden, and in the midst of Eid Al-Adha celebrations, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed met in Mecca with Saudi King Salman bin Abdelaziz and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in an apparent effort to downplay the significance of the event, call on the warring parties in the city to safeguard Yemen's interests, and reaffirm regional cooperation and unity of interest between the UAE and Saudi Arabia.  The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi has posted on his official Twitter accounts comments and photographs from meeting in which a positive attitude can be seen on the faces of the leaders.
Conversely, if the partnership and understanding on the Yemen issue between the two countries were complete, as they claimed, there would be no need to create an apparently 'ideal' image through official communications from the Abu Dhabi government and the publication of images on social media.
Although the UAE supports the separatists, the latest developments have caused a sense of mistrust, raising the possibility that the southern militias are disregarding Emirati directives and starting to run a diary of their own to suit their own particular interests. Foreign sources are also beginning to speak of a civil war within a civil war. Meanwhile, Qatar remains close to Iran and cautious about status in the southwest of the Arabian Peninsula.
▲ Dubai Air Visa [Pixabay].
essay / Sebastián Bruzzone Martínez
I. ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
In ancient times, the territory was inhabited by Arab tribes, nomadic farmers, artisans and traders, accustomed to plundering merchant ships of European powers that sailed along its coasts. Islam became established in the local culture in the 7th century AD, and Sunni Islam in the 11th century AD. Beginning in 1820, the United Kingdom signature with the rulers or sheikhs of the area a peace treaty to put an end to piracy. In 1853, both parties signed another agreement whereby the UK established a military protectorate in the territory. And in 1892, due to the pretensions of Russia, France and Germany, they signed a third agreement which guaranteed a monopoly on trade and exploitation only for the British. The Emirate zone was renamed from "Pirates' Coast" to " Trucial States " (the present seven United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain).
During World War I, the airfields and ports of the Gulf played an important role in the development conflict in favor of the United Kingdom. At the end of World War II in 1945, the League of Arab States (Arab League) was created, formed by those who enjoyed some colonial independence. The organization attracted the attention of the Truce States.
In 1960, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was created, with Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Venezuela as founders and headquartered in Vienna, Austria. The seven emirates, which would later form the United Arab Emirates, joined in 1967.
In 1968, the United Kingdom withdrew its military force from the region, and the Truce States organized the Federation of Emirates of the Persian Gulf, but it failed when Qatar and Bahrain became independent. In the following years, the exploitation of the enormous oil wells discovered years earlier began.
In 1971, six Emirates became independent from the British Empire: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Qaywayn and Fujairah, forming the federation of the United Arab Emirates, with a legal system based on the 1971 constitution. Once consolidated, they joined the Arab League on June 12. The seventh emirate, Ras Al-Khaimah, joined the following year.
After the 1973 oil crisis, the UAE began to accumulate enormous wealth, because OPEC members decided not to export any more oil to the countries that supported Israel during the Yom Kippur war. Today, 80-85% of the UAE population is immigrant. The UAE became the third largest oil producer in the Middle East, after Saudi Arabia and Libya.
II. POLITICAL AND LEGAL SYSTEM
By the constitution of 1971, the United Arab Emirates is constituted as a federal monarchy. Each State is governed by its emir (degree scroll ). Each emirate has great political, legislative, economic and judicial autonomy, each having its own executive councils, always in correspondence with the federal government. There are no political parties. The federal authorities are composed of:
committee Supreme of the Federation or of Emirs: it is the supreme authority of the State. It is composed of the governors of the 7 Emirates, or those who replace them in their absence. Each Emirate has one vote in the deliberations. It establishes the general policy in the matters entrusted to the Federation, and studies and establishes the objectives and interests of the Federation.
President and Vice-President of the Federation: elected by the Supreme committee from among its members. The President exercises, by virtue of the Constitution, important powers such as the presidency of the Supreme committee ; signature of laws, decrees or resolutions ratified and issued by the committee; appointment of the President of the committee of Ministers and of the Vice President and ministers; acceptance of their resignations or their suspension from office at proposal of the President of the committee of Ministers. The Vice President exercises all presidential powers in his absence.
By tradition, not recognized in the Emirati Constitution, the sheikh of Abu Dhabi is the president of the country, and the sheikh of Dubai is the vice-president and Prime Minister.
Thus, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Sheikh of Abu Dhabi, has been President of the United Arab Emirates since 2004, and Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Sheikh of Dubai, has been Prime Minister and Vice President since 2006.
committee of Ministers: composed of the President of the committee of Ministers, the Vice President and the Ministers. It is the executive body of the Federation. Supervised by the President and committee Supreme, its mission statement is to manage the internal and external affairs, which are of skill of the Federation by virtue of the Constitution and federal laws. It has certain prerogatives such as monitoring the implementation of the general policy of the Federal State at home and abroad; proposing draft federal laws and forwarding them to the Supreme committee of the Federation; supervising the execution of federal laws and resolutions, and the implementation of international treaties and conventions signed by the UAE.
Federal National Assembly: what would resemble a congress, but is a consultative body only. It is composed of 40 members: twenty elected by the eligible citizens, by census suffrage, of the UAE through general election, and the other half by the rulers of each Emirate. In December 2018, the president, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, issued a decree providing for fifty percent of the Federal National Assembly (or FNC) to be filled by women, with the intention of "further empowering Emirati women and strengthening their contributions to the country's development ." It is distributed with seats: Abu Dhabi (8); Dubai (8); Sharjah (6); Ras Al Khaimah (6); Ajman (4); Umm Al Quwayn (4); and Fujairah (4). Federal and financial bills are submitted to it before being submitted to the President of the Federation for submission to the Supreme committee for ratification. The Government is also responsible for notifying the Assembly of international covenants and treaties. The Assembly studies and makes recommendations on matters of a public nature.
The Federal Administration of Justice: The judicial system of the United Arab Emirates is based on Sharia or Islamic law. The Constitution's article 94 states that justice is the basis of government and reaffirms the independence of the judiciary, stipulating that there is no authority over judges except the law and their own conscience in the exercise of their duties. The federal justice system is composed of courts of first instance written request and courts of first instance and courts of appeal (civil, criminal, commercial, contentious-administrative...).
There is also a Federal Supreme Court, consisting of a president and vocal judges, with powers such as reviewing the constitutionality of federal laws and unconstitutional acts.
In addition, the local Administration of Justice will hear all judicial cases that do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Administration. It has three levels: first level written request, appeal and cassation.
The Constitution provides for the existence of an Attorney General, who presides over the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office, which is responsible for submitting statements of position in crimes committed in accordance with the provisions of the Code and procedure criminal of the Federation.
For promote the understanding between federal and local administrations, a Judicial Coordination committee , chaired by the Minister of Justice and composed of presidents and directors of the State's judicial bodies, has been in place since 2007. 
It is important to know that the Constitution of the Federation has guarantees of reinforcement and protection of human rights in its chapter III of freedoms, rights and public obligations, such as the principle of equality on the grounds of extraction, place of birth, religious belief or social position, although it does not mention gender, and social justice (art. 25); freedom of citizens (art. 26); freedom of opinion and guarantee of the means to express it (art. 30); freedom of movement and residency program (art. 29); religious freedom (art.32); right to privacy (arts. 31 and 36); rights of the family (art. 15); right to social welfare and social security (art. 16); right to Education (art. 17); right to health care (art. 19); right to work (art. 20); right to association and to form associations (art. 33); right to property (art. 21); and right to complain and right to litigate before the courts (art. 41)..
At first glance, it seems that these rights and guarantees contained in the 1971 Emirati Constitution are similar to those that would be found in a normal European and Western Constitution. However, they are nuanced and not as effective at internship. On the one hand, because most of them include references to the specific and applicable law, saying"...within the limits set by law; in accordance with the provisions set by law; or in cases where so provided by law". In this way, the legislator will ensure that these rights are consistent and compatible with Sharia or Islamic law, or with political interests, as the case may be.
On the other hand, these rights and guarantees fully protect Emirati nationals. Considering that 80-85% of the population is foreign, 15% of the total population of the State would be protected in a fully constitutional manner. By Federal Law No. 28/2005 concerning the status staff, the law applies to all citizens of the State of the United Arab Emirates provided that there are no special provisions for non-Muslims among them specific to their confession or religion. Likewise, its provisions apply to non-nationals when they are not obliged to comply with the legislation of their own country.
procedure L egal safeguards include the Federal Criminal Code (Act No. 3/1987); the Criminal Code (Act No. 35/1992); the Federal Act on the Regulation of Prison Reform Institutions (No. 43/1992); the Federal Act on the Regulation of Labor Relations (No. 8/1980); the Federal Act on Combating Trafficking in Persons (No. 51/2006); the Federal Act on the Status of staff (No. 28/2005); the Federal Act on Juvenile Offenders and Homeless Persons (No. 9/1976); Federal Act on Publications and Publishing (No. 15/1980); Federal Act on the Regulation of Human Organs (No. 15/1993); Federal Act on Associations Declared to be in the Public Interest (No. 2/2008); Federal Act on Social Welfare (No. 2/2001); Federal Act on Pensions and Social Insurance (No. 7/1999); Federal Act on Environmental Protection and development (No. 24/1999); and Federal Act on the Rights of Persons with Special Needs (No. 29/2006).
Military service of 9 months is compulsory for university men between 18 and 30 years of age, and of two years for those who do not have programs of study higher education. For women, it is optional and subject to the agreement of their tutor. Although the country is not a member of NATO, the Emirates has decided to join the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) coalition, and to provide arms assistance in the war against the Islamic State.
In terms of international treaty guarantees and international cooperation, the UAE has made a great effort to include in its Constitution laws and principles protected by the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, being a member of the UN and adhering to its treaties: International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1974), Convention on the Rights of the Child (1997), UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (2007), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (2004); UN Convention against Corruption (2006), among others.
It has also ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the Arab Charter on Human Rights, and organizational conventions at work. It is a member of WHO, ILO, FAO, UNESCO, UNICEF, WIPO, World Bank and IMF. They are also linked by cooperation agreements with more than 28 international organizations of the United Nations carrying out advisory, technical and ministerial tasks.
They are members of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic lecture , strengthening and promoting Arab efforts in their regional activities and programs.
The Emirati police maintain public order and state security. The Ministry of Interior places human rights at the forefront of its priorities, focusing on justice, equality, fairness and protection. Members of the police force must commit to 33 standards of conduct before taking up their post. The Ministry of the Interior provides administrative units for citizens to monitor police activity and take the necessary measures. However, there is a certain distrust of foreigners towards the police. Most complaints come from Emirati nationals.
The Ministry of the Interior should provide diplomatic and consular missions with lists including data of their nationals held in penitentiary institutions.
III. SOCIAL SYSTEM
The Emirati government has promoted civil societies and national institutions such as the Emirates Human Rights association (under Federal Law No. 6/1974), the General Women's Federation, association of Jurists, association of Sociologists, association of Journalists, General Administration of Human Rights Protection attached to the General Headquarters of the Dubai Police, Dubai Charitable Foundation for the Care of Women and Children, National Commission to Combat Human Trafficking, Social Support Center of the Abu Dhabi Police General Administration , Zayed Charities Institution, average Emirates Red Moon, Family Institution development , and the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation for Charitable and Humanitarian Works, and the Marriage Fund, among many others.
It is important to note that the development of political participation is following a progressive process. To date, there is a full and general election to designate half of the members of the Federal National Assembly, by census suffrage, for Emirati citizens and by publication of lists.
Also, the importance of women in the Emirati society is growing thanks to the legislative and legal measures taken by the government to empower women, through membership of the committee of development Social of the committee Economic and Social, to provide opportunities for women to actively participate in the development sustainable, and the integration of women in government and private-business sectors (with women accounting for 22.5% of the Assembly, 2006; expected to be 50% as of 2019 by decree), and promoting female literacy to equalize it with male literacy. However, despite being signatories to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, at internship they suffer discrimination in marriage and divorce proceedings. Fortunately, the Emirati legislation providing for the mistreatment of wives and minor children by the husband or father was abolished as long as the aggression did not exceed the limits allowed by Islamic law. Also, once married, women must obey their husbands and be authorized by them to take up employment. Likewise, cohabitation between unmarried men and women and sexual relations outside marriage are forbidden under penalty of imprisonment. Polygamy is present even in the royal family.
As in the rest of the Arab countries, homosexuality is considered a serious crime and punishable by fines, imprisonment and deportation in the case of foreigners, although enforcement is very weak.
The media play an important role in Emirati society. They are supervised by the National Media committee , which acts largely as a censor. They have reached a high technical and professional level in the journalistic sector, hosting more than a thousand specialized companies in the Dubai average City. However, journalism is controlled by the Federal Law on Press and Publications of 1980, and the Charter of Honor and the Morals of the Journalistic Profession, which the heads of essay have signed. For example, some news that may be unfavorable to Islam or the government would never be published in domestic newspapers, but would be published in foreign newspapers (case of Jordan's Haya). Since 2007, by a decree of the committee of Ministers, the imprisonment of journalists in case they made mistakes during the exercise of their professional duties was prohibited. However, it ceased to be applied with the entrance enforcement of the Law against cybercrime adopted in 2012.
The government is making efforts to improve the conditions of work, because the UAE is convinced that human beings have the right to enjoy adequate living conditions (housing, working hours, means, labor courts, health insurance, protective guarantees in labor disputes at the international cooperative level...) However, the "Sponsor" or "Kafala" system , by which a employer exercises the sponsorship of its employees, is still in force. Thus, there are cases in which the sponsor retains the passports of its employees during the term of the contract, which is illegal, but they have never been investigated and punished by the government (case of the Saadiyat Island construction project ), despite being a signatory to the UN conventions on work .
The latest report on development Human corresponding to 2018, ranks the United Arab Emirates 34th out of 189 countries. Spain is ranked 26th. The State has ensured free and quality Education up to the university stage for all Emirati citizens, and the integration of disabled people. University and higher Education centers have been positively encouraged by the government, such as the United Arab Emirates University, Zayed University, or New York University in Abu Dhabi. Healthcare has improved considerably with the construction of hospitals and clinics, lowering fees mortality rates and increasing life expectancy, standing at 77.6 years (2016). The State allocates money from the public coffers to social care for the most disadvantaged sectors of the Emirati population and for the elderly, widows, orphans or the disabled. It has also ensured that citizens have decent housing through government agencies such as the Ministry of Public Works, the Zayed Housing Program that offers interest-free mortgage loans, the Abu Dhabi Mortgage Agency loan , the Mohammed bin Rashid Institution for Housing that provides loans, and the Sharjah Public Works Agency.
In terms of religion, approximately 75% of the population is Muslim. Islam is the official religion of the United Arab Emirates. The government follows a tolerant policy towards other religions, and prohibits non-Muslims from interfering with the Islamic Education . Evangelization of other religions is prohibited, and the internship of these religions must be carried out in authorized places.
On February 3, 2019, at the beginning of the Year of Tolerance, Pope Francis was received with the highest honors in Abu Dhabi by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President and Emir of Dubai Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, and Ahmed al Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University and main Islamic theological reference, being the first time that the head of the Catholic Church set foot on the Arabian Peninsula. Likewise, the Pope officiated a mass in Zayed Sport City in front of 150,000 people, saying in his homily: "let us be an oasis of peace". The event was described by Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, as "a historic moment for religious freedom".
There are projects for the development of remote regions, which seek to modernize the infrastructures and services of those areas of the State that are farthest from population centers. Also, by virtue of Federal Law No. 47/1992, the Marriage Fund was created, whose goal purpose is to encourage marriage between citizens and promote the family, which according to the government is the basic unit and fundamental pillar of society, by offering financial subsidies to citizens with limited resources to help them meet wedding expenses and contribute to achieving family stability in society.
Since 1973, the UAE has undergone a huge transformation and modernization thanks to the exploitation of oil, which accounted for 80% of GDP at that time. In recent years, with the knowledge that in less than 40 years oil will run out, the government has diversified its Economics into financial services, tourism, commerce, transportation and infrastructure, with oil and gas making up only 20% of the national GDP.
Abu Dhabi accounts for 90% of the oil and gas reserves, followed by Dubai, and in small quantities in Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah. The country's oil policy is carried out through the Supreme Petroleum committee and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). The main foreign oil companies operating in the country are BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Total, Petrofac or Partex, and the Spanish company CEPSA, of which the Emirati sovereign wealth fund Mubadala owns 80% of business.
The borrowing capacity of financial companies was strongly negatively affected during the economic crisis of 2008. The entrance of large foreign private capital came to a standstill, as did investment in the property and construction sectors. The fall in property values forced liquidity to be restricted. In 2009, local companies were seeking moratorium agreements with their creditors on $26 billion in debt. The Abu Dhabi government provided a $5 billion bailout to reassure international investors.
Tourism and infrastructure is a success story for the country, especially in Dubai. 4 ] The construction of luxury tourist attractions such as the Palm Islands and the Burj al-Arab, and the good weather most of the year, has attracted Westerners and people from all over the world. According to the Emirati government, the tourism industry generates more money than oil does today. Major investments are being made in renewable energy, notably through Masdar, the government's business , which has project Masdar City underway, the creation of a city powered solely by renewable energy.
V. DYNASTIES AND ROYAL FAMILIES. THE AL NAHYAN DYNASTY
The United Arab Emirates consists of seven Emirates and is ruled by six families:
Abu Dhabi: by the Al Nahyan family (Al Falahi House)
Dubai: by the Al Maktum family (Al Falasi House)
Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah: by the Al Qassimi Family
Ajman: by the Al Nuaimi family
Umm Al Quwain: by the Al Mualla Family
Fujairah: by the Al Sharqi family
It is important to know the terminology used in the family tree of the Emirati royal families: "Sheikh" means sheikh, and an emir is degree scroll nobiliary attributed to sheikhs. In the composition of the names, the proper name of the descendant is placed first, followed by the infix "bin" meaning "of", plus the proper name of his father, and the surname of the family. The infix is "bint" for women.
For example: Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the father of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
It is common for marriages to take place between the ruling families of the different Emirates, intertwining dynasties, but the husband's surname will always prevail over the wife's in the name of the children. Contrary to the great European monarchies in which the reign is transmitted from fathers to sons, in the Emirate families the power is transmitted first between brothers, by appointment, and as second resource, to the sons. These positions of power must be ratified by the Supreme committee .
The Al Nahyan family of Abu Dhabi is a branch of the Al Falahi House. This is a royal house belonging to Bani Yas and is related to the Al Falasi House to which the Al Maktoum family of Dubai belongs. Bani Yas is known to be a very old tribal confederation of the Liwa Oasis region. There are few historical data about its exact origin. The Al Nahyan royal family is incredibly large, as each of the brothers has had several children and with different women. The most important and recent governors of Abu Dhabi would be those who have been in power since 1971, when the UAE consolidated as a country, ceasing to be a Truce State and British protectorate. They are:
Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1918-2004): was governor of Abu Dhabi from 1966 until his death. He collaborated closely with the British Empire to maintain the integrity of the territory in the face of Saudi Arabia's expansionist pretensions. He is considered the Father of the Nation and founder of the United Arab Emirates, along with his counterpart Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum of Dubai. Both pledged to form a Federation together with other rulers after the British military withdrawal. He was the first president of the United Arab Emirates, and was re-elected four times: 1976, 1981, 1986 and 1991. Zayed was characterized as sympathetic, peaceful and united with neighboring emirates, charitable in terms of donations, relatively liberal and permissive of private means. He was considered one of the richest men in the world by Forbes magazine, with a net worth of twenty billion dollars.
He died at the age of 86 and was buried at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. He was succeeded at position by his first-born son Khalifa as ruler and ratified president of the UAE by the Supreme committee .
He had six wives: Hassa bint Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Sheikha bint Madhad Al Mashghouni, Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi, Mouza bint Suhail bin Awaidah Al Khaili, Ayesha bint Ali Al Darmaki, Amna bint Salah bin Buduwa Al Darmaki, and Shamsa bint Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan; and thirty children, of whom some are as follows:
Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1948-present): eldest son of the above, whose mother is Hassa bint Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, is the current governor of Abu Dhabi and president of the United Arab Emirates. His wife is Shamsa bint Suhail Al Mazrouei, with whom he has eight children. He also holds other positions: Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, chairman of the Supreme Petroleum committee , and chairman of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. He was educated at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the UK. Previously, he was appointed Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi; Head of the Abu Dhabi Defense department , which would become the Emirates Armed Forces; Prime Minister, Abu Dhabi Chief of Staff, Minister of Defense and Finance; Second Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive committee . Dubai's Burj Khalifa is named after him, as he paid the money needed to complete its construction. He intervened militarily in Libya by sending the Air Force along with NATO, and pledged support for the democratic uprising in Bahrain in 2011.
According to a WikiLeaks leak, the U.S. ambassador describes him as "distant and uncharismatic character". He has been criticized for his spendthrift character (purchase of the Azzam yacht, scandal of the construction of the palace and purchase of territories in the Seychelles, the Panama Papers and the revelation of properties in London and front companies...).
In 2014, according to the official version, Khalifa suffered a stroke and underwent surgery. According to the government, he is stable, but has virtually disappeared from the public eye.
Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1961-present): brother of Khalifa, but whose mother is Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi. He is the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, deputy supreme commander of the Armed Forces, and entrusted with the execution of presidential affairs, receptions of foreign dignitaries and political decisions due to the President's poor health. Also, like Khalifa, he was educated at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He has been an Officer in the Presidential Guard and a pilot in the Air Force. He is married to Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, and has nine children.
He has been characterized by his activist foreign policy and against Islamist extremism, and charitable character (partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for vaccines in Afghanistan and Pakistan). International governments such as France, Singapore and the United States have invited Mohammed to various events and bilateral dialogues. He has even met with Pope Francis twice (Rome, 2016; Abu Dhabi, 2019), promoting the Year of Tolerance.
At subject economic, he is the Chairman of the Mubadala sovereign wealth fund and Head of Abu Dhabi's committee for the development Economic. He has C billion-dollar economic stimulus projects for the country's modernization in the energy and infrastructure sectors.
She has also promoted women's empowerment by welcoming a delegation of women officers from the Arab Women's Military and Peacekeeping Program, who are preparing for UN peace operations. She has encouraged the presence of women in public services, and has pledged to meet regularly with female representatives of the country's institutions.
Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1955-present): Zayed's second son. He has six children. He is the son of Shamsa bint Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan. He was educated at Millfield School and Sandhurst Military Academy like his two previous brothers. He is the third deputy prime minister of the UAE, a member of the Supreme Petroleum committee and a member of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.
Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1963-present): fifth son of Zayed, whose mother is Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi. He is married to Shamsa bint Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Nahyan. He was educated at the Sandhurst Military Academy. He held the position of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs until 2009. He is currently the emir's representative in the western region of Abu Dhabi. He is graduate in Political Science and Business Administration from the United Arab Emirates University.
Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan (1951-present): son of Mubarak bin Mohammed Al Nahyan. He is the current head of the UAE Ministry of Tolerance since 2017. From 2016 to 2017, he served as Minister of Culture and development of knowledge. Also, he devoted years of his life to the establishment of higher Education centers such as UAE University (1983-2013), technical school of Technology (1988-2013), and Zayed University (1998-2013). Also, he is the chairman of Warid Telecom International, a business Telecommunications, and the chairman of group Abu Dhabi Banking, Union National Bank and United Bank Limited, among other companies.
Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1972-present): Ninth son of Zayed, whose mother is Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi. He is married to Al Jazia bint Saif bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, with whom he has five children. He has held the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates since 2006 at position . He holds a degree in Political Science from the United Arab Emirates University, graduate . During his tenure, the UAE has seen a great expansion in its diplomatic relations with countries in South America, South Pacific, Africa and Asia, and a consolidation with Western countries. He is a member of the country's National Security committee , Vice Chairman of the Permanent committee of Borders, Chairman of the National Media committee , Chairman of the board of Directors of the Emirates Foundation for Youth development , Vice Chairman of the board of Directors of the Abu Dhabi Fund for the development and Member of the board of the high school of National Defense. He was Minister of Information and Culture from 1997 to 2006, and Chairman of Emirates average Incorporated.
Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1970-present): eighth son of Zayed, whose mother is Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi. He is married to two wives, Alia bint Mohammed bin Butti Al Hamed, and Manal bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, with whom he has six children in total. He has held the positions of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs of the UAE since 2009. He is chairman of the committee Ministerial Services, Emirates Investment Authority and Emirates Racing Authority. He is a member of the Supreme Petroleum committee and the Abu Dhabi Investment committee . He was educated at Santa Barbara Community College in the United States, and holds a B.A. in International Affairs from the United Arab Emirates University. He chairs the National Documentation Center and research and the Abu Dhabi Fund for development. He was Chairman of First Gulf Bank until 2006.
He has a developed business vision. He is the owner of the English soccer team Manchester City, and co-owner of New York City of the MLS, an American professional soccer league. He is a member of the board of directors of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority board , has a 32% stake in Virgin Galactic, a 9.1% stake in Daimler, and owns Abu Dhabi average Investment Corporation, through which he owns the English newspaper The National.
position Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan(1968-present): twelfth son of Zayed, whose mother is Mouza bint Suhail Al Khaili. He has been Deputy Prime Minister since 2009 and Minister of Interior since 2004. His role is to ensure the internal protection and national security of the UAE. He holds a degree in Political Science from the United Arab Emirates University, graduate . He was Director General of the Abu Dhabi Police in 1995, and Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior in 1997, until his appointment as Minister.
Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1965-present): fifth son of Zayed, whose mother is Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi. He is married to Mozah bint Mohammed bin Butti Al Hamed, with whom he has five children. He holds the post of Minister of National Security of the UAE, Vice Chairman of the Executive committee of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Chairman of the Emirates Identity Authority.
Nasser bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1967-2008): son of Zayed, whose mother is Amna bint Salah Al Badi. He was president of the department Planning and Economics of Abu Dhabi, and was an officer of the royal security. According to the official version, he died at the age of 41 when the helicopter in which he was traveling with his friends crashed off the coast of Abu Dhabi. He was buried at the Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Mosque, and three days of mourning were declared throughout the UAE.
Issa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1970-present): son of Zayed, whose mother is Amna bint Salah Al Badi. He is a prestigious real estate developer in the city of Dubai, but does not occupy any political position in the government of the Emirates. He starred in a case in which, allegedly, in a leaked video, he himself tortured two Palestinians who were his business partners. The Emirati court declared in a final judgment that Issa was innocent because he was the victim of a conspiracy and sentenced the Palestinians to five years' imprisonment for drug use, recording, publication and blackmail. International observers sharply criticized the Emirati judicial system and called for an overhaul of the country's penal code.
From my point of view, and with the experience of having lived in the country, the United Arab Emirates is a very unknown country for the Spanish youth and has incredible professional opportunities due to the demand for foreign work , a very high quality of life at an affordable price, as salaries are quite high, and a strong and modernized Administration and institutions. The culture shock is not very big, as the State makes sure to avoid discriminatory situations, unlike other Arab countries. I can say with full conviction that cultural tolerance is real. However, foreigners should keep in mind that it is not a western country, and it is recommended to respect the customs of the nation regarding dress, sacred places and public performances, and to know the basic Emirati law.
 report National committee of Human Rights at the United Nations General Assembly A/HRC/WG.6/3/ARE/1, September 16, 2008.
 Constitution of the United Arab Emirates of 1971.