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EU efforts on counter-terrorism - Capacity-building in third countries

19-12-2017

In the European Union (EU), responsibility for counter-terrorism lies primarily with Member States. However, the role of the EU itself in counter-terrorism has grown significantly in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks that have hit Europe in the post-'9/11' era. The cross-border aspects of the terrorist threat call for a coordinated EU approach. Moreover, the assumption that there is a connection between development and stability, as well as internal and external security, has come to shape the ...

In the European Union (EU), responsibility for counter-terrorism lies primarily with Member States. However, the role of the EU itself in counter-terrorism has grown significantly in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks that have hit Europe in the post-'9/11' era. The cross-border aspects of the terrorist threat call for a coordinated EU approach. Moreover, the assumption that there is a connection between development and stability, as well as internal and external security, has come to shape the EU's actions beyond its own borders. In the context of terrorism, the EU has an extensive toolkit of human and financial resources that support third countries in managing or mitigating terrorist threats. A key element of EU action is capacity-building in partner countries, to ensure local ownership, a sustainable assistance model and the full use of local expertise for challenges that are geographically distinct. The EU's external capacity-building efforts in counter-terrorism include security sector reform (SSR)-associated measures, such as strengthening the rule of law, improving the governance of security providers, improving border management, reforming the armed forces, and training law enforcement actors. As part of the EU's multifaceted assistance, efforts to curb terrorist funding and improve strategic communications to counter radicalisation and violent extremism complement SSR-related activities. Soft-power projects funded through the Commission's different funding instruments, coupled with both military and civilian common security and defence policy missions provide the framework through which the EU tries to address both the root causes and the symptoms of terrorism and radicalisation.

Saudi Arabia in the Western Balkans

17-11-2017

The Gulf States, along with other external players, have raised their profile in the Western Balkans in recent years. While most have set out on an economic quest, Saudi Arabia is considered to have a more ideological approach, seeking a strong role among the region's Muslims. In the 1990s Bosnian war, it provided significant aid for the Muslim cause and has stayed in the region to expand its influence, introducing stricter interpretations of Islam that are gradually taking root there.

The Gulf States, along with other external players, have raised their profile in the Western Balkans in recent years. While most have set out on an economic quest, Saudi Arabia is considered to have a more ideological approach, seeking a strong role among the region's Muslims. In the 1990s Bosnian war, it provided significant aid for the Muslim cause and has stayed in the region to expand its influence, introducing stricter interpretations of Islam that are gradually taking root there.

Countering Terrorist Narratives

15-11-2017

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, provides an overview of current approaches to countering terrorist narratives. The first and second sections outline the different responses developed at the global and European Union levels. The third section presents an analysis of four different approaches to responding to terrorist narratives: disruption of propaganda distribution, redirect ...

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, provides an overview of current approaches to countering terrorist narratives. The first and second sections outline the different responses developed at the global and European Union levels. The third section presents an analysis of four different approaches to responding to terrorist narratives: disruption of propaganda distribution, redirect method, campaign and message design, and government communications and synchronisation of message and action. The final section offers a number of policy recommendations, highlighting five interrelated ‘lines of effort’ essential to maximising the efficiency and effectiveness of counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism strategic communication.

Autor externo

Dr Alastair Reed, International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT), The Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael, Leiden University’s Institute for Security and Global Affairs (ISGA) Dr Haroro J. Ingram, International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT) Joe Whittaker, International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT), Cyberterrorism Project, Swansea University, Leiden University’s Institute for Security and Global Affairs (ISGA)

The financing of the ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

11-09-2017

Threatening both its caliphate project and its sources of funding, the series of military setbacks that the so-called Islamic State group (IS) as suffered for several months have called into question the group’s very existence. That is not to say that its offensive capabilities will be neutered – the organisation will remain able to employ ’low-cost‘ terrorist attacks to target civilians throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe, America or Asia. In mobilising Member States to fight against terrorism ...

Threatening both its caliphate project and its sources of funding, the series of military setbacks that the so-called Islamic State group (IS) as suffered for several months have called into question the group’s very existence. That is not to say that its offensive capabilities will be neutered – the organisation will remain able to employ ’low-cost‘ terrorist attacks to target civilians throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe, America or Asia. In mobilising Member States to fight against terrorism, the European Parliament’s role is crucial. Individually, Member States have an important part to play in effectively implementing common decisions. Their varying levels of engagement, as well as the progress they have made in confronting the financing of terrorism and especially IS, should be considered. An annual reporting framework should be put into place to better evaluate the measures taken by both Member States and the Commission in this area.

Autor externo

Agnès LEVALLOIS, Associate researcher, FRS, France; Jean-Claude COUSSERAN, Associate researcher, FRS, France; Cartographical support: Lionel KERRELLO, Owner, Geo4I, France

ISIL/Da'esh: From Mosul to Mosul

13-07-2017

In June 2014, ISIL/Da'esh took over the city of Mosul in Iraq, and from there declared the advent of an Islamic State. Three years later, in July 2017, after nine months of battle involving Iraqi security forces, popular militias and Kurdish troops, ISIL/Da'esh has been expelled from its Iraqi stronghold, adding to the past two years' severe territorial losses. This is an important victory; however, it does not yet represent the eradication of a terrorist group that still has many supporters.

In June 2014, ISIL/Da'esh took over the city of Mosul in Iraq, and from there declared the advent of an Islamic State. Three years later, in July 2017, after nine months of battle involving Iraqi security forces, popular militias and Kurdish troops, ISIL/Da'esh has been expelled from its Iraqi stronghold, adding to the past two years' severe territorial losses. This is an important victory; however, it does not yet represent the eradication of a terrorist group that still has many supporters.

Qatar: Rising tension in the Gulf

09-06-2017

On 5 June 2017, several Arab nations, including Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), simultaneously announced that they were severing ties with Qatar, a fellow member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Accusing Qatar of supporting and financing 'terrorism and extremism' in the region, the above countries announced that they would halt all land, air and sea traffic with Qatar, expel its diplomats and ask Qatari citizens to leave their territory within 14 days. Oil prices ...

On 5 June 2017, several Arab nations, including Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), simultaneously announced that they were severing ties with Qatar, a fellow member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Accusing Qatar of supporting and financing 'terrorism and extremism' in the region, the above countries announced that they would halt all land, air and sea traffic with Qatar, expel its diplomats and ask Qatari citizens to leave their territory within 14 days. Oil prices rose initially as markets responded nervously to the worst crisis to involve the GCC since its creation in 1981, but then dropped again. Any escalation in the crisis would likely lead to more sustained increases in oil and gas prices.

The EU and terrorism [What Think Tanks are thinking]

02-06-2017

Terrorist attacks in major cities – notably in Paris, Nice, Brussels, Berlin and, most recently, Manchester – have shocked Europeans, highlighting the security challenges for open democracies that result, inter alia, from conflicts in the Middle East and Africa and religious radicalisation at home. In response, the European Union is pushing ahead with its Security Union concept to boost cooperation among Member States and use synergies in combatting terrorism. This note offers links to recent commentaries ...

Terrorist attacks in major cities – notably in Paris, Nice, Brussels, Berlin and, most recently, Manchester – have shocked Europeans, highlighting the security challenges for open democracies that result, inter alia, from conflicts in the Middle East and Africa and religious radicalisation at home. In response, the European Union is pushing ahead with its Security Union concept to boost cooperation among Member States and use synergies in combatting terrorism. This note offers links to recent commentaries and reports from major international think tanks on terrorism in Europe and the EU's response to it.

Syrian crisis: Impact on Iraq

03-04-2017

The Syrian crisis, which began with anti-government protests before escalating into full-scale civil war, has had a huge impact on neighbouring Iraq. From its stronghold in the Syrian town of Raqqa, the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' (ISIL/Da'esh), which originated in Iraq, was able to over-run a third of Iraq's territory in 2014, sowing death and destruction in its path and leading to the internal displacement of over 3 million Iraqis today. It is estimated that as many as 11 million Iraqis ...

The Syrian crisis, which began with anti-government protests before escalating into full-scale civil war, has had a huge impact on neighbouring Iraq. From its stronghold in the Syrian town of Raqqa, the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' (ISIL/Da'esh), which originated in Iraq, was able to over-run a third of Iraq's territory in 2014, sowing death and destruction in its path and leading to the internal displacement of over 3 million Iraqis today. It is estimated that as many as 11 million Iraqis ─ almost a third of the population ─ may need humanitarian assistance this year to deal with the effects of continuous conflict and economic stagnation. Moreover, a quarter of a million Syrians have sought refuge in Iraq from the war raging in their country. Most have settled in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), increasing the population of this autonomous region by nearly 30 % over the past few years. The ─ mostly Kurdish ─ Syrian refugees were well received by the government of the Kurdish Region, which gave Syrians the right to work in the region and to enrol in public schools and universities. Nevertheless, the large influx of refugees has placed strains on the local economy and host communities, and on public services. Prices and unemployment have increased while wages have tumbled. Economic growth in the KRI has slowed, while the poverty rate has more than doubled. The international community has stepped in to assist Iraq in its fight against ISIL/Da'esh and to help the country deal with the humanitarian crisis caused by the unprecedented displacement of Iraqis, and Syrian refugees. As a result of concerted military efforts, ISIL/Da'esh now occupies less than 10 % of Iraqi territory. At the same time, funds and substantial amounts of humanitarian aid have been poured into the country, to support the displaced and facilitate their return to areas over which the Iraqi State has re-established control. The EU is a leading partner in the effort to mitigate the impact of the Syrian crisis on its Iraqi neighbours.

Syrian crisis: Impact on Turkey - From mediation to crisis management

03-04-2017

After decades of mistrust between Ankara and Damascus, a solid partnership emerged in the 2000s. Turkey considered Syria to be the key to its influence in the Middle East. However, when protests started in 2011, the Turkish authorities launched repeated attempts at mediation, without success, leading to clear hostility on the part of the Turkish leadership towards the Syrian president. The Turkish objectives for Syria are several: settling the conflict, ensuring that the future arrangement excludes ...

After decades of mistrust between Ankara and Damascus, a solid partnership emerged in the 2000s. Turkey considered Syria to be the key to its influence in the Middle East. However, when protests started in 2011, the Turkish authorities launched repeated attempts at mediation, without success, leading to clear hostility on the part of the Turkish leadership towards the Syrian president. The Turkish objectives for Syria are several: settling the conflict, ensuring that the future arrangement excludes President Assad, creating a safe zone along the Turkish border and avoiding autonomy for Kurds in Syria. This led to military intervention to secure the borders in 2015, and a recent partnership with Russia and Iran in order to find a peace settlement, even if the three patrons of the recent Astana talks have diverging views about the future. For Turkey, Syria is an international problem but also an internal one, as it has been hit by deadly terrorist attacks by the Kurdish PKK and ISIL/Da'esh in the past two years. Another dimension of the Syrian issue for Ankara is the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey: with more than 3 million people making Turkey the country with the largest refugee population in the world. In December 2015, the EU signed a deal with Turkey to stem the flow of refugees heading to Europe, and the EU began to deliver a major €6 billion package to help Turkey cope with the crisis.

Communicating Europe in third countries

15-03-2017

Work on implementing the EU's global strategy for 2016-2017 includes stepping up public diplomacy efforts as one of the priority areas. A number of factors motivated this move. Firstly, the substantial resources committed for relief and recovery assistance to Syrian refugees and their host communities in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt have had little impact on public awareness of the existing European cooperation programmes. The visibility of EU funds has also been limited in ...

Work on implementing the EU's global strategy for 2016-2017 includes stepping up public diplomacy efforts as one of the priority areas. A number of factors motivated this move. Firstly, the substantial resources committed for relief and recovery assistance to Syrian refugees and their host communities in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt have had little impact on public awareness of the existing European cooperation programmes. The visibility of EU funds has also been limited in the 10 EU strategic partner countries, where the profile of EU programmes is still low. Secondly, the need for a strategic EU approach to communication also results from intensified propaganda and disinformation campaigns seeking to discredit the EU and eventually undermine its position. Thirdly, effective EU communication in third countries plays a key role in countering jihadist propaganda in the EU's neighbourhood and its spilling over into EU territory. This briefing has been adapted from an earlier one prepared for the annual meeting of EU Ambassadors and Members of the European Parliament on 'Support to democracy in third countries: the EU's added value', held in September 2016.

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