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State vs non-state armed groups - a political economy of violenceThe early 21st century has witnessed the rise in violent extremism with groups such as Al Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Middle East, the Boko Haram in West Africa, and Al Shabaab in East Africa. The activities of these and other non-state armed groups have created a general state of panic and fear that is spreading beyond their areas of operation to other parts of the political world. Rather than diminishing the influence of these groups, the states' counter extremism strategies seem to be further fuelling the extremism and creating new waves of violence that threatens global security and undermines the very essence of our collective wellbeing. This paper examines the socio-economic and political environment in which these armed groups have thrived and poses the question as to whether the failure of politics and development are to blame for the rise of extremism. The paper proposes a new approach to combating extremism that involves re-connecting people with politics and development. The basic contention of this paper is that there has been a failure of the state to satisfy the wellbeing of its citizens. The paper provides an explanation of, but by no means a justification of, the use of violent extremism in the early 21st century.