The geopolitical significance of the Sahara is becoming painfully clear. Islamist militant groups and transnational criminal networks are operating in the region's most fragile states, exploiting widespread corruption, weak government capacity, crushing poverty, and entrenched social and ethnic tensions. The unrest spills over borders and aggravates protracted regional crises. This insecurity raises urgent concerns for the broader Sahara and the West. Perilous Desert details the sources of instability and what can be done to minimize the threat of simmering conflicts. Leading experts, through comprehensive accounts of the changing landscape, demonstrate how foreign assistance that relies exclusively on counterterrorism will only exacerbate the problems. Solutions require understanding and combatting the roots of the Sahara's many challenges.
Frederic Wehrey is a senior associate in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace focusing on security and political reform in the Gulf and North Africa. He is the author of the forthcoming book Sectarian Politics in the Gulf: From the Iraq War to the Arab Uprisings (Columbia University Press). Anouar Boukhars is an assistant professor of international relations at McDaniel College, Maryland, USA. Peter Cole is working in Libya with Small Arms Survey and was previously a senior Libya analyst at the International Crisis Group. Wolfram Lacher is a researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik), Berlin, Germany. Alex Thurston is a Ph.D. candidate in Religious Studies at Northwestern University, USA.