Not long ago, my friend and colleague, Hal Ferguson, wrote on this blog about the rise of ISIS and in his opinion the way to defeat ISIS through more effective and inclusive local governance. 

While many might believe a long-standing show of force is seemingly the only option, Hal is correct in that disenfranchisement at the local level drove and is continuing to drive acquiescence and even support for ISIS in some swaths of territory under their control.  Understanding and further examining the role of poor governance as a key driver of violent extremism is imperative to effectively responding to this threat.

What is most alarming now is seeing how ISIS is projecting its mantra of violence outside of the Middle East and into Asia: we have now seen ISIS take credit for recent atrocities in Bangladesh and look specifically to Southeast Asia as a recruiting ground.  Just last week, the group released a four minute professional acapella production targeting Chinese Muslims – be careful, the chorus could stick in your head.  This latest attempt demonstrates the evolution, depth, and to put it frankly, creativity ISIS is employing to foment unrest at a global level.

This group is not an Iraq/Syria problem, nor a Middle East problem, but rather a global issue that speaks directly to IRI’s mission of encouraging democracy in places where it is absent, helping democracy become more effective where it is in danger, and sharing best practices where democracy is flourishing.  We work to build confidence between local communities and their government, including those most at-risk of radicalization and recruitment.  We believe that citizens – all of them – must be engaged and have a respected voice in their constituencies if they are to remain positively involved in a country’s governance; not doing so directly opens the door for other outlets to be considered, outlets that could lead to basic civil disobedience, or more dangerously, groups such as ISIS.

Read part two of this blog HERE.

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