Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro doing the "gun gesture" in 2019. | Photo: flickr, Palácio do Planalto | CC BY 2.0

Bolsonaro gunning at Brazilian democracy

In Brazil, September 7th is Independence Day, traditionally celebrated with civil and military parades in the capital Brazilia and many other cities. What was intended to foster national pride and unity threatens to damage that very unity this year, as President Bolsonaro wants to turn the events into a show of strength signalling his will to win in the 2022 elections by a coup d’état if necessary. 

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There are different user types in digital gamified radicalization processes. | Photo: Unsplash, Axville | Free use

As You Like It: User Types in Digital Gamified Radicalization Processes

Since the Christchurch attack in 2019, it is explored how games, gaming spaces, gamification, and violent extremism are potentially linked and how gaming-related content may influence digital radicalization processes. However, both the theoretical and empirical basis to understand this influence are underdeveloped. This blog post adds to the theoretical foundation of a “gamification of radicalization” by presenting five ideal user types and their potential interaction with gamified extremist content.

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Security forces stand at the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan
August 3, 2021: Pakistan is setting up a wire fence on the border with Afghanistan to prevent all illegal crossings. The wire is expected to be completed until 2022. | Photo: picture alliance / AA, Muhammed Semih Ugurlu

Withdrawal of US Forces from Afghanistan: Security Implications for Pakistan

With the Afghan Taliban taking control of the country in the aftermath of the withdrawal of US forces, neighboring Pakistan appears to be worried over the likely security implications. This blog post highlights how the situation in Afghanistan might affect the security situation in Pakistan.

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A view of Covid-19 patients in Ibn Jarrah hospital at quarantined Kayravan province of Tunis, Tunisia on June 22, 2021 (Photo: picture alliance/abaca/AA/Yassine Gaidi).
A view of Covid-19 patients in Ibn Jarrah hospital at quarantined Kayravan province of Tunis, Tunisia on June 22, 2021 (Photo: picture alliance/abaca/AA/Yassine Gaidi).

Is the Worst Yet to Come? Consequences of the COVID-19 Crisis and its Management in the Maghreb

Soon after the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns were raised about its potential to exacerbate violent extremism and radicalization. Based on the findings of a EuroMeSCo Policy Study and focusing on the Maghreb states, this Spotlight argues that while the pandemic undoubtedly had serious consequences, there is so far no empirical evidence of a direct “COVID effect” on the activities of violent extremists beyond references to the pandemic in propaganda. In light of this, the article makes the case for broadening the debate to also take more indirect aspects such as the states’ crisis management and the emerging socioeconomic consequences into account.

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Seven Magic Mountains near Las Vegas, USA
Finding the right balance is key: the Seven Magic Mountains near Las Vegas, USA | Photo: Natosha Benning | Free use

Governing Evaluations. Internationally Shared Challenges in Evaluating Preventive Measures Against Extremism

Evaluating programs to prevent and counter violent extremism (P/CVE) is an emerging field without established recipes for success. While institutional setups and actors differ internationally, many countries face similar challenges in establishing organizational structures for evaluation. There is a lot that can be learned from peer exchanges across borders. Examining common challenges such as balancing the dual goals of learning and accountability, creating funding structures that encourage quality outcomes, and executing proper targeting and timing can help make deliberate decisions about the structures governing P/CVE evaluation.

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Magic art against radicalization and extremism? Fiction-based storytelling is a promising strategy in P/CVE. | Photo: Unsplash, Ashkan Forouzani. | Free use

Telling tales against the dark arts: How fictional storytelling could support narrative campaigns against extremism

While Harry Potter and his friends could use their magic abilities to defend the world against the dark arts, efforts against radicalization and extremism in the real world must rely on non-magic skills, most prominently (strategic) communications. Narrative campaigns challenging extremist ideas and propagating positive, alternative visions are an increasingly important tool in the efforts to prevent and counter radicalization. So far, however, such campaigns have largely omitted fictional elements, despite ample evidence that fictitious stories hold considerable persuasive power and have inherent benefits that could support narrative efforts against extremism.

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Under the heading of the “Green Revolution”, agriculture has been industrialized for higher yields. | Photo: Unsplash, James Baltz | Free use

Why will so many Scientists Boycott the UN Food Systems Summit?

At the upcoming Food Summit, the United Nations take a necessarily hard look at the world’s food systems. “Not hard enough”, claim an increasing number of food and agricultural scientists who are losing their patience with the globalized system of agribusiness and its failure to deliver for the world’s poor and the environment.

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Helmet and Flack Jackets of U.N. Peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. | Photo: flickr, UN Photo/Marie Frechon | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Give Peacekeeping a Chance in Afghanistan

The withdrawal of U.S. military in Afghanistan is underway and the security situation is increasingly worsening. This blog explains why, unlike counterinsurgency, peacekeeping could actually work to stabilize the country as it is based on the consent of the parties of the civil war.

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Symbolic picture: newly elected president, Guillermo Lasso (center) is leaving the inauguration ceremony arm in arm with Guadalupe Llori (right), indigenous leader and newly elected president of the National Assembly. | Photo: Flickr, Asamblea Nacional del Ecuador | CC BY-SA 2.0

Moving past the Pro-Correa / Anti-Correa divide in Ecuadorian politics: The indigenous Pachakutik party as a third force

On May 24, the day he took office as Ecuador’s new president, Guillermo Lasso,  was seen leaving the ceremony next to Guadalupe Llori, indigenous leader and newly elected president of the National Assembly. Lasso, a conservative politician and former banker, had won the runoff against Andrés Arauz, the candidate supported by the political movement of former president Rafael Correa, who had governed the country between 2007 and 2017. Yet, Ecuador’s new political landscape offers a chance to move beyond the polarization between Correa supporters (Correístas) and opponents (Anti-Correístas). A key sociopolitical force in this regard is the indigenous movement and its political organization, Pachakutik.

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"Venezuela wants peace" | Photo: Flickr, Wilfredor | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The EU, Venezuela, and democracy promotion: A rejoinder to Elliott Abrams’ comments

In his blog post “The EU and Venezuela: More Bad Advice”, published on the website of the Council on Foreign Relations, Elliott Abrams critically reviews my thoughts on “A New Framework for Dealing with Venezuela: From Democracy to Conflict Resolution”. In this piece, I argued that the EU should shift from what I call the “democracy framework” to a “framework of peace mediation and conflict resolution”. Abrams’ comments give me the opportunity to clarify some issues and tease out key differences between his approach and the one I am arguing for.

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