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Strategic culture and violent non-state actors: a comparative strategic cultural analysis of Al-Qaida and Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb

Strategic culture and violent non-state actors: a comparative strategic cultural analysis of Al-Qaida and Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb
Strategic culture and violent non-state actors: a comparative strategic cultural analysis of Al-Qaida and Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb
While strategic culture has traditionally been applied to states, this work adds to the emerging literature applying strategic cultural approaches to VNSAs. This analysis goes beyond these ideational approaches by also incorporating the concept of practices. In contrast to Alastair Johnston’s (1995a; 1995b) conception of strategic culture I concur with Colin Gray (1999b) that behaviour cannot be disentangled from culture. Indeed, narrative and behaviour, in the form of practices, are mutually constitutive of strategic culture (Lock 2010; Neumann and Heikka 2005). This study consists of a comparative strategic cultural analysis of two Salafi-Jihadist violent non-state actors: Al-Qaida-central and its franchise, AlQaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), employing concepts of strategic narrative and strategic practices.

AQIM, formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat or GSPC, rebranded as an Al-Qaida franchise in 2007, leading to speculation of a change from its Algeria-centric agenda to an anti-Western agenda. However, this has not been the case. Rather, AQIM has undergone a process of regionalization, expanding its operations beyond Algeria into Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Indeed, the study finds that while their strategic narratives share a number of common themes they are expressed in differing strategic practices. As such, the two organizations have distinct strategic cultures and differing strategic priorities. AlQaida prioritizes the battle against the far enemy, i.e. the West, whereas AQIM prioritizes the struggle against the near enemy, i.e. local regimes, deemed apostate, in the Maghreb-Sahel, primarily Algeria and Mali. Indeed, Al-Qaida primarily employs strategic practices of terrorism against Western civilians, whereas AQIM primarily employs guerrilla practices targeting local security forces.
University of Southampton
Last, Edward David
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Last, Edward David
75d97cf2-aa33-4871-b0c7-4e14e5780800
Glenn, John
d843e423-d1f9-4be5-b667-8e44a42efff2
Howlett, Darryl A
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Last, Edward David (2018) Strategic culture and violent non-state actors: a comparative strategic cultural analysis of Al-Qaida and Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 602pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

While strategic culture has traditionally been applied to states, this work adds to the emerging literature applying strategic cultural approaches to VNSAs. This analysis goes beyond these ideational approaches by also incorporating the concept of practices. In contrast to Alastair Johnston’s (1995a; 1995b) conception of strategic culture I concur with Colin Gray (1999b) that behaviour cannot be disentangled from culture. Indeed, narrative and behaviour, in the form of practices, are mutually constitutive of strategic culture (Lock 2010; Neumann and Heikka 2005). This study consists of a comparative strategic cultural analysis of two Salafi-Jihadist violent non-state actors: Al-Qaida-central and its franchise, AlQaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), employing concepts of strategic narrative and strategic practices.

AQIM, formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat or GSPC, rebranded as an Al-Qaida franchise in 2007, leading to speculation of a change from its Algeria-centric agenda to an anti-Western agenda. However, this has not been the case. Rather, AQIM has undergone a process of regionalization, expanding its operations beyond Algeria into Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Indeed, the study finds that while their strategic narratives share a number of common themes they are expressed in differing strategic practices. As such, the two organizations have distinct strategic cultures and differing strategic priorities. AlQaida prioritizes the battle against the far enemy, i.e. the West, whereas AQIM prioritizes the struggle against the near enemy, i.e. local regimes, deemed apostate, in the Maghreb-Sahel, primarily Algeria and Mali. Indeed, Al-Qaida primarily employs strategic practices of terrorism against Western civilians, whereas AQIM primarily employs guerrilla practices targeting local security forces.

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Published date: May 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 441868
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/441868
PURE UUID: 612a6556-c644-45bc-9ccd-53e5ed1ec81e
ORCID for John Glenn: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-9694-8282

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Date deposited: 30 Jun 2020 16:38
Last modified: 30 Jun 2021 04:01

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Contributors

Thesis advisor: John Glenn ORCID iD
Thesis advisor: Darryl A Howlett

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