Food and Security: the role of natural resource exploitation and management in Jihadist quest for social legitimation
Natural resources and the control over them deeply influence the development, reinforcement and the legitimization of non-state armed groups, in particular jihadist organisations.
In fact, the jihadist phenomenon gradually succeeded in co-opting the socio-economical discomfort in part of the Arab-Islamic world and sub-Saharan Africa thanks to a peculiar expansion strategy.
The popular legitimacy and support to jihadist groups and their ability to provide educational and welfare services both come from the skills that terrorist networks have shown in defending the interests of marginalized communities and in controlling the access to natural resources, including soil, water, crop and livestock.
Thus, the key to neutralize the jihadist phenomenon and depriving it of its fundamental popular support lies in destroying such mechanisms of growth of legitimacy and control over natural resources.
To counter the expansion of jihadist organizations and to support stabilization and conflict prevention mechanisms, a long-term strategy is needed. Interventions aimed at favouring economic development, better management of natural resources, restoration and improvement of community - based structures for the resolution of social conflicts could break the link between resources exploitation and jihadist legitimation and significantly weaken the terrorist networks linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.