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Asian Conflicts Report - The Geopolitics of Extremism: ISIS in Asia

Asian Conflicts Report


Kumar Ramakrishna

Thomas Koruth Samuel

Charithie Joaquin

Dina Afrianty

Khuram Iqbal

Suba Chandran

Release Date:

August 2015

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From the Editors

Europe’s interest in Asian security dynamics is growing. Beyond the mechanised ritual of summitry and academic seminars, an increasingly outward looking security community in Europe is interested in a more nuanced and granular understanding of Asia. And, while Europe’s past is not necessarily Asia’s future, there are important lessons for policy practitioners in the intersection of nationalism and conflict prevention.

It is this growing confluence of interests and outlook between Asia and Europe that gave impetus for the revival of the Asian Conflicts Report (ACR), which was originally established by the Council for Asian Terrorism Research (CATR). The GCSP is pleased to become the new institutional home for the ACR, and are committed to building on the strong network of security scholars and practitioners that are the foundation of the wider international security community created by the CATR. 

The new ACR remains committed to its original mission: to present timely and relevant research and analysis on issues related to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region written by both established regional experts and new and emerging scholars, journalists, and analysts from around the world.

It is our intention to provide a forum not only for new issues, but also for new ideas that challenge the conventional wisdom. Nothing is off the table. It is our hope that the Asian Conflicts Report 2.0 will break new ground, focusing not only on where we have been and where we are, but also on where we are going.

In this spirit, for this inaugural issue, we asked several of our previous authors to provide their insight into the current and emerging implications of the transformation of violent extremism from the old, frankly stodgy al-Qaeda focus on franchised terrorism to a new, dynamic model led by, but certainly not limited to, Islamic State. This new breed of violent extremism focuses not only on terrorism as tool to bring change in the distant future, but also on creating an extremist army capable of capturing and holding territory and establishing a new Islamic caliphate, now. What our experts, from India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Singapore, clearly show is that this new, more virulent version of violent extremism has the potential to change the strategic landscape as fundamentally as did al-Qaeda on 11 September 2001, even in countries that, at present, seem relatively free from Islamic State influence.


Dr Carl Ungerer is Head of the Leadership, Crisis and Conflict Management Programme at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP). Caroline F. Ziemke-Dickens, PhD, is a historian and global security analyst working in Wellington, New Zealand. Dr. Katy Oh Hassig is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and Asian Specialist at the Institute for Defense Analyses.