Extremist movements — such as ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban and al-Shabab — fuel, and often stem from, instability and violent conflict and present a complex challenge. The U.S. Institute of Peace works to understand the underlying causes of violent extremism and helps develop localized and viable solutions by providing research, training and expertise to practitioners and policymakers. From examining the critical role of women in combating violent extremism in Afghanistan to exploring the dynamics of radicalization in Kosovo, USIP seeks to reduce this ever-shifting threat.
Looking at the maneuvers by Iran and the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen from afar, the battlefield looks a lot like a black-and-white contest for regional power. But as the U.S. considers escalating its role in the conflict—and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis visits Riyadh this week—it is essential to understand how local realities can get lost in a proxy war.
The U.S. Institute of Peace has operated on the ground in Iraq since 2003 and in Afghanistan since 2002, as well as in Libya, Nigeria, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen. As a small, agile institution, USIP works with local leaders and the U.S. government, including the military, to stabilize areas devastated by ISIS, end cycles of revenge, and address the root causes of radicalization, including corrupt and abusive governance.
The United States launched its first air strikes against forces backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since the country’s civil war began six years ago, in retaliation for a chemical-weapons attack that killed more than 80 civilian men, women and children. Elie Abouaoun, who is director of Middle East and North Africa programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace and is based in the region, examines the strategic implications, and USIP President Nancy Lindborg, who has worked for nearly 30 years on humanitarian crises and areas affected by conflict, comments on the factors that prompted the U.S. attack.