Political Marginalization of Youth as A Driver For Violent Extremism – Examining the Case of Jordan
Said, Fadi Bashir Ahmed
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Jordan, wedged amid political unrest and conflict, has found itself a hub for extremism both domestically, and across its neighboring borders. Jordanian youth are at the forefront, engaging with radical and extremist groups. This case-study determines factors that motivate youth to join violent extremist groups, focusing on low-levels of civic engagement and youth participation in political life. Moreover, the study outlines the interventions needed to reduce the level of youth participation in violent and extremist groups. Finding that extremism is a multi-dimensional issue, the researcher draws on political, sociological, and psychological theories to explain the drivers and factors that may motivate youth to join violent and extremist groups in Jordan. This study found that a combination of factors led to increased radicalization in Jordan including external political unrest and instability due to conflicts in neighboring Syria and Iraq which lead to a spill-over effect influencing radicalization and the activity of extremist groups in Jordan. Domestically, the influence of Salafis increased, this coupled with high levels of corruption and increasing unemployment rate among youth has increased the vulnerability of youth to ideological and psychosocial radicalization. While these have been found to largely make the country more vulnerable to radicalization, the study found that governance and democracy are key in minimizing extremism, and in the prevention of violent groups in Jordan. To counter extremists efforts Jordan needs to create programs that integrate social education aimed at the economic and social development of youth to minimize and rid of existing groups.