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  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The risk of an explosion that could cost thousands of lives in the country and shatter the stability of Southern Africa is growing in Zimbabwe. Political reform is blocked, and virtually every economic indicator continues to trend downward. Inflation, poverty and malnutrition are growing more acute. Party and civil society opponents of President Mugabe's government are yet to tap effectively into the living-standards-based dissatisfaction but it could finally become the spark that sets Zimbabwe toward change. The course is risky but Zimbabwe's splintered opposition needs to come together to formulate a campaign of non-violent resistance that channels this anger and frustration into pressure on Mugabe to keep his word to retire by 2008 and on his ruling ZANU-PF party to negotiate seriously on a transition. The international community, long frustrated at its inability to influence the crisis, should assist, especially by tightening targeted sanctions (U.S./EU) and offering mediation services (South Africa).
  • Topic: Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, South Africa, Zimbabwe
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: With Romania's expected entry into the European Union in 2007, the EU will share a border with Moldova, a weak state divided by conflict and plagued by corruption and organised crime. Moldova's leadership has declared its desire to join the EU, but its commitment to European values is suspect, and efforts to resolve its dispute with the breakaway region of Transdniestria have failed to end a damaging stalemate that has persisted for fifteen years. Young people have little confidence in the country's future and are leaving at an alarming rate. If Moldova is to become a stable part of the EU's neighbourhood, there will need to be much greater international engagement, not only in conflict resolution but in spurring domestic reforms to help make the country more attractive to its citizens.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Europe, Moldova, Eastern Europe, Romania
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: While Kyrgyzstan still struggles to find political stability in the wake of its 2005 revolution, deteriorating conditions in its prison system, known by its Russian acronym GUIN, pose a threat to the fragile state's security and public health. Badly underfunded and forgotten, GUIN has all but lost control over the nearly 16,000 inmates for which it is responsible. Power has passed into the hands of criminal leaders for whom prison populations are armies in reserve. A lack of buffers between prisons and the government has meant that trouble in jails has already led to serious conflicts outside their crumbling walls. The risks of strife in prisons leading to wider political instability is likely to worsen unless the government and donors launch an urgent process of penal reform.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Civil Society, Government
  • Political Geography: Russia, Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Somalia has been drifting toward a new war since the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was formed in late 2004 but the trend has recently accelerated dramatically. The stand-off between the TFG and its Ethiopian ally on the one hand, and the Islamic Courts, which now control Mogadishu, on the other, threatens to escalate into a wider conflict that would consume much of the south, destabilise peaceful territories like Somaliland and Puntland and possibly involve terrorist attacks in neighbouring countries unless urgent efforts are made by both sides and the international community to put together a government of national unity.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ethiopia, Somalia
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A potent cocktail of poverty, crime and corruption is fuelling a militant threat to Nigeria's reliability as a major oil producer. Since January 2006, fighters from a new group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), have fought with government forces, sabotaged oil installations, taken foreign oil workers hostage and carried out two lethal car bombings. MEND demands the government withdraw troops, release imprisoned ethnic leaders and grant oil revenue concessions to Delta groups. The Nigerian government needs to forge far-reaching reforms to administration and its approach to revenue sharing, the oil companies to involve credible, community-based organisations in their development efforts and Western governments to pay immediate attention to improving their own development aid.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Aceh is the only part of Indonesia that has the legal right to apply Islamic law (Shari'a) in full. Since 1999, it has begun slowly to put in place an institutional framework for Shari'a enforcement. In the process, it is addressing hard questions: What aspects should be enforced first? Should existing police, prosecutors and courts be used or new entities created? How should violations be punished? Its efforts to find the answers are being watched closely by other local governments, some of which have enacted regulations inspired by or derived from Shari'a. These moves in turn are sparking a raging debate in Indonesia about what role government at any level should play in encouraging adherence to Islamic law and how far the Islamisation drive will or should be allowed to spread.
  • Topic: Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation and perhaps also its most poorly understood. It has endured six successful and numerous failed military coups, a civil war that cost well over a million lives, three inconclusive transitions to democracy and recurrent factional violence. Despite more than $400 billion in oil revenue since the early 1970s, the economy under performs, and the great majority of citizens have benefited little. More effective institution building is imperative.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Middle East is immersed in its worst crisis in years following the capture of three Israeli soldiers by the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and Lebanese Party of God (Hizbollah) in late June 2006 and early July, Israel's comprehensive offensive throughout the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, and the daily firing of rockets deep into Israel. And horrific as it is, the current toll of death and destruction could reach entirely different proportions should a new threshold be crossed – a Hizbollah rocket that strikes a chemical plant or a heavily populated area in Tel Aviv or Haifa, an Israeli bombing raid resulting in massive casualties, a major ground offensive, or the expansion of the war to Syria or Iran. A political solution to the twin crises of Lebanon and Palestine must be the international community's urgent priority. Waiting and hoping for military action to achieve its purported goals will have not only devastating humanitarian consequences: it will make it much harder to pick up the political pieces when the guns fall silent.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Democratic Republic of Congo's strides toward peace could prove short-lived if the government and donors do not increase efforts to create a transparent and accountable government. State institutions such as parliament, courts, the army and the civil service remain weak and corrupt. The national elections scheduled for 30 July 2006 risk creating a large class of disenfranchised politicians and former warlords tempted to take advantage of state weakness and launch new insurgencies. Donors must initiate new programs in support of good governance that include more funding to strengthen state institutions (in particular parliament and the various auditing bodies), as well as apply more political pressure to make sure reforms are implemented.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Disaster Relief
  • Political Geography: Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: As all eyes are turned toward efforts to stabilise Iraq, the conflict that has been percolating in Kirkuk remains dangerous and dangerously neglected. That struggle is equal parts street brawl over oil riches, ethnic competition over identity between Kurdish, Turkoman, Arab and Assyrian-Chaldean communities, and titanic clash between two nations, Arab and Kurd. Given the high stakes, the international community cannot afford to stand by, allowing the situation to slip into chaos by default. It needs to step in and propose a solution that addresses all sides' core concerns without crossing their existential red lines. The most viable negotiated outcome, which a special UN envoy should mediate between leaders of Kirkuk's communities as well as representatives of the federal government and the Kurdish federal region, would rest on the following provisions: Postponing the constitutionally-mandated referendum on Kirkuk's status which, in today's environment, would only exacerbate tensions; Designating Kirkuk governorate as a stand-alone federal region falling neither under the Kurdish federal region nor directly under the federal government for an interim period; Equitable power-sharing arrangements between Kirkuk's four principal communities; and continued reversal of past abuses, including managed return of those who were forcibly displaced by previous regimes; facilities and compensation for those brought by previous regimes (including their offspring) who agree to leave voluntarily; resolution of property disputes via the established mechanism; and a process by which former Kirkuk districts can either be restored to Kirkuk governorate or remain where they are.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Kurdistan, Kirkuk
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: With stepped-up U.S.-led raids against Muqtada al-Sadr's militia, Jaysh al-Mahdi, and media allegations of the militia's responsibility for widespread and particularly horrendous sectarian killings in Baghdad on 9 July, the Shiite leader and his movement have become more central than ever. The war in Iraq radically reshuffled the country's political deck, bringing to the fore new actors and social forces, none more surprising and enigmatic, and few as critical to Iraq's stability, as Muqtada al-Sadr and the Sadrist movement he embodies. Largely unknown prior to the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime and bereft of resources Shiites typically must possess to assert their authority, Muqtada al-Sadr at first was dismissed as a marginal rabble-rouser, excluded from the political process and, after he flexed his muscles, decreed wanted “dead or alive” by the U.S.-led coalition. Learning the hard way, the U.S. and its allies have had to recognise the reality of the Sadrists' strength.
  • Topic: Democratization, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The first-round victory of Evo Morales in the December 2005 presidential election profoundly altered Bolivia's politics and the way South America's poorest nation is seen abroad. His left-wing Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party rolled over the traditional parties in a landslide that reflected the expectations and desires of a majority of Bolivians for far-reaching socio-economic change, institutional reform and full inclusion of the mostly rural and indigenous poor. If Morales is to succeed, however – and he must if Bolivia is to avoid serious instability and violence – the international community will need to show understanding and offer support as he grapples with explosive issues of nationalisation, constitutional reform, autonomy, drugs and development policy.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: South America, Bolivia
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Peacebuilding cannot succeed if half the population is excluded from the process. Crisis Group's research in Sudan, Congo (DRC) and Uganda suggests that peace agreements, post-conflict reconstruction, and governance do better when women are involved. Women make a difference, in part because they adopt a more inclusive approach toward security and address key social and economic issues that would otherwise be ignored. But in all three countries, as different as each is, they remain marginalised in formal processes and under-represented in the security sector as a whole. Governments and the international community must do much more to support women peace activists.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Debt, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Southern Serbia's Albanian-majority Presevo Valley is a still incomplete Balkan success story. Since international and Serbian government diplomacy resolved an ethnic Albanian insurgency in 2001, donors and Belgrade have invested significant resources to undo a legacy of human rights violations and improve the economy. Tensions are much decreased, major human rights violations have ended, the army and police are more sensitive to Albanian concerns and there is progress, though hesitant, in other areas, such as a multi-ethnic police force, gradual integration of the judiciary, and Albanian language textbooks. Ethnic Albanians appear increasingly intent on developing their own political identity inside Serbia and finding a way to cohabit with Serbs, something that should be encouraged and supported. Nevertheless, the Kosovo status process threatens to disrupt the Presevo Valley's calm.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Kosovo, Balkans, Albania, Southern Serbia
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) signed under African Union (AU) auspices on 5 May 2006 between Sudan's government and the faction of the insurgent Sudan Liberation Army led by Minni Arkou Minawi (SLA/MM) is a first step toward ending the violence but strong, coordinated action is needed if it is to take hold. The document has serious flaws, and two of the three rebel delegations did not accept it. Fighting between rebel and government forces is down somewhat but violence is worse in some areas due to clashes between SLA factions, banditry, and inter-tribal feuds, while the Chad border remains volatile. If the DPA is not to leave Darfur more fragmented and conflict-prone than before, the international community must rapidly take practical measures to shore up its security provisions, improve prospects for the displaced to return home, bring in the holdouts and rapidly deploy a robust UN peacekeeping force with Chapter VII authority.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Darfur
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Instead of healing the growing divisions between Iraq's three principal communities -- Shiites, Kurds and Sunni Arabs -- a rushed constitutional process has deepened rifts and hardened feelings. Without a strong U.S.-led initiative to assuage Sunni Arab concerns, the constitution is likely to fuel rather than dampen the insurgency, encourage ethnic and sectarian violence, and hasten the country's violent break-up.
  • Topic: Government, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries, Kurdistan
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Nepal is in turmoil and the monarchy is in question. King Gyanendra had calculated that his authoritarian moves since October 2002 would return order to a land wracked by Maoist insurgency and political instability but he has failed. The seven months since the royal coup have seen security degenerate under a royal government with no plans for peace and democracy. The Maoists seized the initiative by announcing a unilateral three month ceasefire on 3 September 2005. The international community needs to recognise that its calls for palace/political party reconciliation as the sole path toward stability are unrealistic. New lines need to be explored, beginning with support for the ceasefire and the tentative dialogue underway between the parties and the Maoists.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: Asia, Nepal