31 Mar 2020

Expert Roundtable on Salafi jihadi armed groups

De-escalation trajectories and dialogue engagement – Workshop report

On December 11, 2019, the Berghof Foundation hosted a confidential expert workshop on “Salafi jihadi armed groups – (De)escalation trajectories and dialogue engagement”, with funding and support by the German Foundation for Peace Research and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.


Karin Göldner-Ebenthal, Véronique Dudouet


This workshop aimed to discuss findings and policy implications from a two-year research project based on in-depth interviews with experts and practitioners in/on Mali, Syria and Somalia. It also offered a space for peer-exchange and mutual learning between organisations active in the field of dialogue engagement with Salafi-jihadi armed groups, including governments, international organisations and INGOs.

Discussions addressed questions such as: What are specific ‘ripeness’ factors and entry-points for dialogue with Islamist armed groups, in order to reduce violence or pave the way for a peaceful political settlement? What is the role of ideology and religious-based dialogue in incentivizing behavioural de-escalation? What strategies are helpful in fostering a conducive environment for engagement, while mitigating spoiling behaviour within the (global) Salafi jihadi scene? What are future options for dialogue engagement by local bridge-builders as well as international third parties? This workshop report summarises the content and outcomes of these discussions.

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