Walsh School of Foreign Service

GOVT 5694 Africa:Conflict Management Challenges

Charles Villa-Vicencio (new window)

Friday 11:00am to 1:30pm

There is a growing restlessness in Africa not seen since the collapse of colonialism. Jihad militancy is a part of this. This militancy and its impact on the continent and global peace is underestimated by the West, not least because of its preoccupation with Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. This course gives attention to the identity of al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb, Boko Haram in North-eastern Nigeria, al-Shabaab in Somalia, the Mulathameen Brigade (the “Masked Ones”) in Algeria, Ansar al-Dine in Mali, Séléka in the Central African Republic and Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia. These are groups that have emerged from a long history of the ‘Africanization of Islam and the Islamization of Africa’. Their defining characteristics are typified in a devotion to fundamentalist, apocalyptic religious belief and a commitment to armed struggle. Considered against the background of the Africa Renaissance, revitalized by the birth of democracy in South Africa, and the Afro-Arab Spring epitomized in the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, attention is given in the course to the particularities of the groups under review. The impact of the West on African states, including its support for some oppressive regimes against which rebel groups are fighting, is considered. Attention is also given to the influence of western-based Christian fundamentalist groups operative in some African countries, which need to be understood against a strident Arab perspective on the Christian crusades. Having endured for 200 years, some see the crusades as continuing in mutated form. A pause of 800 years is more than a distant memory, if the fight is for the purity of an Islamic world order, within which defeat is not an option. This partly explains what the West interprets as the medievalism of the Islamic State. These and other reasons for the support of rebel groups in the Islamic world and different parts of Africa are investigated and — viewed from a conflict resolution perspective – questions are asked concerning realistic options (military, political, socio-economic, cultural-religious and theological) for countering the violence and organized terror of extremism in Africa?