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  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: More than seven weeks after the most devastating war yet waged in Gaza, its underlying causes remain unresolved. Hamas did not achieve an end to Gaza's closure; Israel did not attain the demilitarisation of the Strip or Hamas. The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) remains unrepresentative and its credibility continues to fade. Fatah's popularity has sunk while Hamas's has increased to levels unseen since its 2006 electoral victory. Small steps toward reconciliation between Hamas and the PLO have been taken, but they are very distant from the end goal of a unified, representative Palestinian leadership. But in reconciliation lies the only hope of achieving a sustainable ceasefire and, more broadly, of bringing Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank under one authority.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Arms Control and Proliferation, War, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Alors que le Nord du Mali connait un inquiétant regain de violence, les négociations de paix à Alger constituent une chance unique de sortie de crise. Mais après deux mois de discussions, la paix semble encore loin. Le gouvernement malien et les groupes armés engagés dans les négociations peinent à trouver un terrain d'entente. Des groupes influents et radicaux qui manquent à la table des négociations sont tentés de faire dérailler le processus par la violence. La résolution du conflit passe par l'articulation complexe d'intérêts divergents qui touchent à la sécurité du Sahara, à la nature de l'Etat malien et aux équilibres locaux entre des communautés divisées. Face aux affrontements armés, la tentation est grande d'aller vite et de signer un accord à minima garantissant la sécurité à court terme. La précipitation est mauvaise conseillère. Il faut se donner les moyens et le temps de construire les fondements d'une paix durable.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Depuis le soulèvement populaire de décembre-janvier 2010-2011, la Tunisie surmonte avec succès ses crises politiques, mais le pays semble moins disposé à absorber le choc d'attaques jihadistes plus importantes. Malgré le dialogue national qui a fortement réduit les tensions et a fait débuter l'année 2014 sur une touche optimiste, l'inquiétude grandit de nouveau. Cette appréhension peut s'expliquer par la montée des violences à la frontière algérienne, le chaos libyen et l'avancée de l'islamisme radical au Moyen-Orient, mais également par le discours antiterroriste ambiant. Caisse de résonnance des conflits qui agitent la région, le pays a besoin d'aborder la question terroriste de manière sereine et dépolitisée, malgré les enjeuxinternationaux. La lutte contre le terrorisme et la lutte contre le crime organisé sont indissociables. Le gouvernement gagnerait ainsi à accompagner ses mesures sécuritaires par des mesures économiques et sociales destinées à ramener les populations frontalières dans le giron de l'Etat.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Arabia
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Confrontation, low-intensity but volatile, between Azerbaijan and Armenia has entered a period of heightened sensitivity. Peace talks on Nagorno-Karabakh bogged down in 2011, accelerating an arms race and intensifying strident rhetoric. Terms like “Blitzkrieg'', “pre-emptive strike'' and ''total war” have gained currency with both sides' planners. An immediate concern is military miscalculation, with implications that could far exceed those of a localised post-Soviet frozen conflict, as the South Caucasus, a region where big powers meet and compete, is now also a major energy corridor. Clashes increasingly occur along the Azerbaijani-Armenian frontier far from Nagorno-Karabakh, the conflict's original focus. Tensions have also spread to areas along the border with the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan where Azerbaijani and Turkish exercised in July. A subsequent firefight produced casualties, and Armenia staged its own war games near the Azerbaijan border in September. Vigorous international engagement is needed to lessen chances of violent escalation during coming weeks and months.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, International Cooperation, War
  • Political Geography: Caucasus, Armenia, Azerbaijan
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Durant les neuf derniers mois, ce qui restait de l'Etat centrafricain s'est effondré avec de graves conséquences humanitaires (400 000 personnes sont déplacées et presque la moitié de la population a besoin d'aide humanitaire). Le gouvernement de transition et la force de sécurité régionale ont été incapables de freiner la chute dans l'anarchie aussi bien en zone rurale qu'en zone urbaine et notamment à Bangui. Après plusieurs mois de passivité et à la suite de tueries, la communauté internationale a pris conscience des conséquences de la faillite de la RCA. Malheureusement, la détérioration de la situation est bien plus rapide que la mobilisation internationale et Bangui est au bord de l'explosion. Dans l'immédiat, le Conseil de sécurité devrait fournir un mandat sous chapitre 7 à la Mission internationale de soutien à la Centrafrique sous conduite africaine (Misca) épaulée par les forces françaises pour rétablir l'ordre dans Bangui dans un premier temps puis se déployer dans d'autres villes. Par la suite, la réconciliation religieuse devrait être privilégiée et des mesures de stabilisation devraient être appliquées.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, Development, Humanitarian Aid, International Cooperation, Peace Studies, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Puntland is the first of Somalia's federal units to attempt transition from clan-based representation to directly-elected government, but poor preparations and last-minute cancellation of local elections in July underline the challenges of reconciling competing clan interests with a democratic constitution. Cancellation pragmatically averted violence, but societal tensions remain unaddressed. The presidential vote by a clan-selected parliament in January 2014 will thus be fraught. Weak political and judicial institutions will struggle to mediate, risking involvement by partisan arms of the state. Direct elections are no panacea for reducing the conflict risks, but hard-won incremental progress on the constitution and local democratisation must not be abandoned. The cancelled ballot's lessons should be instructive for promised elections in the rest of Somalia. Better technical preparations matter, but Puntland's experience shows that donors and other international actors also need to be heedful of local political realities, including support of elites, robustness of institutions and viability of electoral districts.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Civil Society, Democratization, Development, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Although the mayhem following the disputed December 2007 elections seemed an exception, violence has been a com­mon feature of Kenya's politics since the introduction of a multiparty system in 1991. Yet, the number of people killed and displaced following that disputed vote was unprecedented. To provide justice to the victims, combat pervasive political impunity and deter future violence, the International Criminal Court (ICC) brought two cases against six suspects who allegedly bore the greatest responsibility for the post-election violence. These cases have enormous political consequences for both the 2012 elections and the country's stability. During the course of the year, rulings and procedures will inevitably either lower or increase com­munal tensions. If the ICC process is to contribute to the deterrence of future political violence in Kenya, the court and its friends must explain its work and limitations better to the public. Furthermore, Kenya's government must complement that ICC process with a national process aimed at countering impunity and punishing ethnic hate speech and violence.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Government, International Law
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Africa
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: In less than two months, on 9 April, Aceh will go to the polls to elect a governor and vice governor, as well as seventeen district heads and deputies. Despite rhetorical commitments on the part of all contenders to a peaceful election, the potential for isolated acts of violence between now and then is high; the potential for trouble after the results are announced may be even higher, especially if it is a close election. Getting as many trained monitors to Aceh as possible in the coming weeks is critical.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: One year into the Syrian uprising, the level of death and destruction is reaching new heights. Yet, outside actors – whether regime allies or opponents – remain wedded to behaviour that risks making an appalling situation worse. Growing international polarisation simultaneously gives the regime political space to maintain an approach – a mix of limited reforms and escala ting repression – that in the longer run is doomed to fail; guarantees the opposition' s full militarisation, which could trigger all - out civil war; and heightens odds of a regional proxy war that might well precipitate a dangerous conflagration. Kofi Annan' s appointment as joint UN/Arab League Special Envoy arguably offers a chance to rescue fading prospects for a negotiated transition. It must not be squandered. For that, Russia and others must understand that, short of rapidly reviving a credible political track, only an intensifying military one will remain, with dire consequences for all.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: As the 10 April deadline Kofi Annan (the UN and Arab League joint Special Envoy) set for implementation of his peace plan strikes , the conflict ' s dynamics have taken an ugly and worrying turn. Syrians from all walks of life appear dumbfounded by the horrific levels of violence and hatred generated by the crisis. Regime forces have subjected entire neighbourhoods to intense bombardment, purportedly to crush armed opposition groups yet with no regard for civilians. Within the largest cities, innocent lives have been lost due to massive bomb attacks in the vicinity of key security installations. Perhaps most sickening of all have been pictures displaying the massacre of whole families, including the shattered skulls of young children. The first anniversary of what began as a predominantly peaceful protest movement came and went with only scattered popular demonstrations. Instead, there was immeasurable bloodshed.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Armed Struggle, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, United Nations, Syria
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Les Forces démocratiques alliées-Armée nationale de libération de l'Ouganda (ADF-N alu) sont un des groupes armés les plus anciens et les moins connus de l'Est de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC) et le seul de cette région à être considér é comme une organisation terroriste appartenant à la nébuleuse islamiste d'Afrique de l'Est. S'ils ne constituent pas une menace déstabilisatrice comme le Mouvement du 23 mars (M23), ils tiennent cependant tête à l'armée congolaise depuis 2010. Créé en RDC en 1995 et situé aux confins montagneux de la RDC et de l'Ouganda, ce groupe armé congolo-ougandais fait preuve d'une extraordinaire résilience qui tient à sa position géostratégique, son inse rtion dans l'économie transfrontalière et la corruption de s forces de sécurité. Par con- séquent, avant d'envisager toute nouvelle intervention militaire contre les ADF-Nalu, il convient de faire la part du mythe et de la réalité et de réduire sa base socioéconomique tout en proposant une offre de démobilisation et de réinsertion à ses combattants.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The April 2011 general elections – if credible and peaceful – would reverse the degeneration of the franchise since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999, yield more representative and legitimate institutions and restore faith in a democratic trajectory. Anything similar to the 2007 sham, however, could deepen the vulnerability of West Africa's largest country to conflict, further alienate citizens from the political elite and reinforce violent groups' narratives of bad governance and exclusion. Flawed polls, especially if politicians stoke ethnic or religious divides, may ignite already straining fault lines, as losers protest results. Despite encouraging electoral preparations, serious obstacles remain. Many politicians still seem determined to use violence, bribery or rigging to win the spoils of office. In the remaining weeks, national institutions, led by the Independent National Election Commission (INEC), should redouble efforts to secure the poll's integrity, tackle impunity for electoral crimes, increase transparency and bolster safeguards, including by publicising results polling station by polling station and rejecting bogus returns.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil Society, Democratization, Human Rights, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Depuis plus de cinq ans, alors que la rébellion armée de l'Est du Tchad et la crise du Darfour focalisent l'attention, le Nord-ouest du pays a suscité peu d'intérêts. Cependant, l'ampleur de plus en plus grande du trafic international de drogues et du terrorisme dans la bande sahélo-saharienne, l'émergence d'un islamisme combattant dans les pays voisins, l'intensification des ressentiments intercommunautaires et l'érosion des mécanismes de justice traditionnelle, la sous-administration et l'abandon qui caractérisent la politique gouvernementale à l'égard de cette région, risquent de devenir des facteurs de déstabilisation. Les autorités tchadiennes doivent changer de mode de gouvernance dans cette région et désamorcer les différentes sources de tensions ou les risques de déstabilisation avant que ceux-ci n'atteignent un seuil critique.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Islam, Insurgency, Narcotics Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Nearly a year after the crackdown on anti-establishment demonstrations, Thailand is preparing for a general election. Despite government efforts to suppress the Red Shirt movement, support remains strong and the deep political divide has not gone away. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's roadmap for reconciliation has led almost nowhere. Although there have been amateurish bomb attacks carried out by angry Red Shirts since the crackdown, fears of an underground battle have not materialised. On the other side, the Yellow Shirts have stepped up their nationalist campaigns against the Democrat Party-led government that their earlier rallies had helped bring to power. They are now claiming elections are useless in “dirty” politics and urging Thais to refuse to vote for any of the political parties. Even if the elections are free, fair and peaceful, it will still be a challenge for all sides to accept the results. If another coalition is pushed together under pressure from the royalist establishment, it will be a rallying cry for renewed mass protests by the Red Shirts that could plunge Thailand into more violent confrontation.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The conflict in Indonesian Papua continues to defy solution, but some new ideas are on the table. A spike in violence in July and August 2011 underscores the urgency of exploring them. The government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should move quickly to set up a long-delayed new Papua unit with a mandate that includes political issues. That unit should look at a set of political, social, economic, legal and security indicators produced in July by a Papua Peace Conference that could become a framework for more enlightened policies. Taken together, they represent a vision of what a peaceful Papua would look like. The conference participants who drafted them, however, were almost all from Papuan civil society. For any real change to take place, there needs to be buy-in not just from Jakarta but from the increasingly large constituency of Papuan elected officials who have influence and resources at a local level.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Development, Peace Studies, Developing World
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Papua
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Haiti's porous land and sea borders remain susceptible to drug trafficking, smuggling and other illegal activities that weaken the rule of law and deprive the state of vital revenue. Post-quake insecurity underscores continued vulnerability to violent crime and political instability. Overcrowded urban slums, plagued by deep poverty, limited economic opportunities and the weakness of government institutions, particularly the Haitian National Police (HNP), breed armed groups and remain a source of broader instability. If the Martelly administration is to guarantee citizen safety successfully, it must remove tainted officers and expand the HNP's institutional and operational capacity across the country by completing a reform that incorporates community policing and violence reduction programs.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Crime, Natural Disasters
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: En dépit d\'une nette amélioration, la situation de la Côte d\'Ivoire reste fragile. Le transfèrement à La Haye de l\'ancien président Laurent Gbagbo inculpé par la Cour pénale internationale (CPI), douze jours seulement avant les élections législatives du 11 décembre 2011, a alourdi l\'atmosphère politique. Au lendemain de ces élections marquées par une très forte abstention, le pays est toujours exposé à de sérieuses menaces. La faiblesse et le déséquilibre de l\'appareil de sécurité et l\'exercice d\'une justice à deux vitesses confortent les extrémistes dans leurs convictions et constituent les deux principaux défis que le pouvoir doit relever dans les prochains mois. Si le vote s\'est déroulé dans le calme, la campagne qui l\'a précédé a été marquée par des incidents qui ont rappelé que la violence politique est toujours d\'actualité. L\'installation d\'une nouvelle Assemblée marque une nouvelle étape dans la normalisation, mais le pays n\'est pas pour autant sorti de l\'ornière.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Corruption, Government, Law
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The failure of President François Bozizé and his close circle to follow through with many of the concessions agreed on during the Inclusive Political Dialogue risks exacerbating the many conflicts in the Central African Republic (CAR) and stalling national reconciliation. Those December 2008 talks made a valuable contribution to both reducing levels of violence and shaping the long-term reform agenda. The promised integration of rebel leaders into civilian political life, the precedent of decision-making by consensus and a concrete set of agreements that included rebel disarmament and security sector reform were welcome steps towards greater stability. To ensure these gains are not undone by another political crisis, however, the president must abandon the uncompromising attitude he displayed through much of 2009 and the government must quickly resolve new conflicts in the north east and prepare credible elections. Otherwise, donors should suspend financial support to a regime that is largely dependent on foreign aid.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Since the decisive military victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Sri Lanka has made little progress in reconstructing its battered democratic institutions or establishing conditions for a stable peace. Eight months later, the post-war policies of President Mahinda Rajapaksa have deepened rather than resolved the grievances that generated and sustained LTTE militancy. While the LTTE's defeat and the end of its control over Tamil political life are historic and welcome changes, the victory over Tamil militancy will remain fragile unless Sinhalese-dominated political parties make strong moves towards a more inclusive and democratic state. The emergence of retired General Sarath Fonseka to challenge Rajapaksa in the 26 January presidential election has opened new space to challenge repressive government policies. But neither has offered credible proposals for political reforms that would address the marginalisation of Tamils and other minorities. Whoever wins, donor governments and international institutions should use their development assistance to support reforms designed to protect the democratic rights of all of Sri Lanka's citizens and ethnic communities.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Peace Studies, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Sri Lanka
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: As the Philippine election on 10 May 2010 draws nearer, voters in central Mindanao are focused on the political fallout from the “Maguindanao massacre”; clan politics; the new automated election system; and whether any agreement between the Philippines government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is possible before President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo leaves office on 30 June.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Philippines, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Indonesia and Timor-Leste have done much to normalise relations ten years after the end to Indonesian rule in the former province, but the goodwill between capitals is not yet matched by full cooperation on the border. The costs are greatest in Oecusse, Timor-Leste's isolated enclave inside Indonesian West Timor. Negotiators have so far failed to agree on two segments of Oecusse's border, leaving open the risk that minor local disputes could be politicised and escalate into larger conflicts. Without a final demarcation, steps to improve management of the porous border have stalled. Initiatives that would promote exchanges and lessen the enclave's isolation remain unimplemented. As the bonds between the two nations grow, they should prioritise this unfinished business. Leaving it unresolved can only promote crime, corruption and the possibility of conflict.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Bilateral Relations, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Jama'ah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), led by Indonesia's bestknown radical cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, has been an enigma since its founding in 2008. An ostensibly aboveground organisation, it has embraced individuals with known ties to fugitive extremists. It has welcomed many members of the militant Jema'ah Islamiyah (JI) but clashed with the JI leadership over strategy and tactics. It preaches jihad against Islam's enemies but insists it stays within the law – though it rejects man-made laws as illegitimate. It is a mass membership organisation but wholly dependent on Ba'asyir, without whom it would quickly disintegrate. It has become an important element in the network of Indonesian jihadi groups but has been the target of harsh criticism from some erstwhile allies. Understanding JAT's nature, its many faces and the ideological rifts it has generated helps illuminate the weakness and divisions within the Indonesian jihadi movement today. It also highlights the ongoing but probably diminishing influence of Ba'asyir.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Politics, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: President Álvaro Uribe's eight-year military campaign against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has taken a heavy toll on Colombia's largest insurgent organisation. The government is now working to consolidate security gains by expanding state presence in several of the formerly most conflict-ridden regions. This strategy faces numerous challenges, not least because FARC's command and control structure has not collapsed. The insurgents are adapting to military pressure through guerrilla warfare tactics, aggressive recruitment among rural populations, broadened involvement in drug trafficking and alliances with other armed groups and drug trafficking organisations. Colombia's next president, Juan Manuel Santos, will take office on 7 August. As part of an integrated conflict resolution strategy, his government must increase the country's law enforcement and military capability against all illegal armed groups, including FARC. It also has to strengthen institutions, expand the rule of law, rigorously protect human rights, reduce poverty and design the political/negotiations component of a successful conflict resolution strategy. Security consolidation can only take root if Colombia tackles its pervasive problems of organised violence, criminality and illegality in an integrated manner.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The deadly conflict in Thailand's predominantly Malay Muslim South is at a stalemate. Although military operations might have contributed to the reduction in violence, the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has made little effort to tackle the political grievances that drive the insurgency. A limited unilateral suspension of hostilities offered by rebels has met no significant response. Draconian laws that grant security forces sweeping powers remain imposed while justice for serious cases of past abuse remains unaddressed and torture of suspects continues. As bloody anti-government protests in Bangkok distracted the nation in early 2010, the death toll in the six-year-long insurgency steadily climbed. The conflict in the Deep South remains on the margins of Thai politics and unresolved. A paradigm shift is needed to acknowledge that assimilation of Malay Muslims has failed and that recognition of their distinct ethno-religious identity is essential. Dialogue with insurgents and reform of governance structures remain two missing components of a comprehensive political solution.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Asia, Thailand, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Six months after the collapse of autonomy negotiations between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippines government, low-intensity conflict continues but moves are under way to resurrect talks. It is not clear whether negotiations will resume and if they do, with what agenda. Certainly no settlement is likely during the remaining tenure of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo; the two sides are too far apart, the potential spoilers too numerous, and the political will too weak. The best that can be hoped for is progress around the edges.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, War
  • Political Geography: Israel, Asia, Philippines, Mindanao
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A year after the near-fatal shooting of President José Ramos-Horta, security in Timor-Leste is strikingly improved. Armed rebels are no longer at large. The atmosphere on the streets of Dili is far less tense. The government does not seem to be facing any serious political threat to its survival. It has, at least temporarily, been able to address several of the most pressing security threats, in large part by buying off those it sees as potential troublemakers. Nevertheless, the current period of calm is not cause for complacency. Security sector reform is lagging, the justice system is weak, the government shows signs of intolerance towards dissenting voices, and it has not got a grip on corruption. These problems, which have been at the root of the instability facing Timor-Leste since independence, must be tackled if the country is to escape the cycle of conflict.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Asia, Vienna
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The military junta that took control of the country just hours after President Conté's death on 23 December 2008 has tightened its grip on power. The self-proclaimed president, Moussa Dadis Camara, and his group of midranking officers calling itself the National Council for Democracy and Development (Conseil national pour la démocratie et le développement, CNDD), have shown few signs of moving towards elections by the end of 2009 as promised. As Guinea's dire economic prospects erode popular support, the junta, unpracticed in governing, is also in danger of resorting to authoritarian measures. With the risk of a counter-coup from dissatisfied army elements still present, a democratic transition at best faces a long and difficult road. Concerted national and international pressure is urgently needed to produce a return to civilian rule, even before elections if the junta begins to stall on preparations for a vote.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Human Rights, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Africa, Guinea
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A series of crises in 2008 have increased the potential for serious trouble in Haiti this year. The politically motivated, violent April riots against high living costs caused widespread disruption and suffering, toppled the government of Prime Minister Jacques-Édouard Alexis and forced postponement of a donor conference. In August and September, four tropical storms and hurricanes killed 800, affected nearly one million, exacerbated food shortages and pushed yet more Haitians into poverty. Extensive damage was caused to infrastructure and agriculture. The global financial crisis is making it difficult for donors to meet commitments and reducing diaspora remittances. President René Préval and Prime Minister Michèle Pierre-Louis, who took office in September 2008, need to secure the support of donors and parliament quickly for a wide-ranging stabilisation strategy or risk political instability and violence. These are major challenges in a year in which parliamentary elections will be held and constitutional reform is on the agenda.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Development, Disaster Relief, Economics, Politics, Post Colonialism, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Caribbean, Haiti
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Seven years after the U.S.-led intervention in Afghanistan the country is still at war against extremists and has developed few resilient institutions. A policy review by the Obama administration has reopened debate about how to defeat the forces of violent global jihadism – al-Qaeda and its Taliban protectors – in Afghanistan and in neighbouring Pakistan. In most cases, the ideas on offer – from declaring victory and pulling out, to negotiating with the insurgents, to organising regional conferences, to prioritising relationships with favoured individuals and allies over the development of strong democratic institutions – have been tried at least once in the past two decades, with no success: we know now what not to do.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Central Asia
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Tensions in Aceh are high as elections approach, although they have receded somewhat from a peak in mid-February. The murders of three former combatants of the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM), other shootings and numerous grenade attacks over the last two months – all with unidentified perpetrators – have set the province on edge, and there remains a risk of sporadic, low-level violence before and after general elections on 9 April. Disputes over the results, with 44 parties competing for seats in district, provincial and national legislatures using a new and complicated system of voting, are also likely. There is little danger in the short term of violence escalating out of control, let alone a return to armed conflict, but the underlying causes of the tensions are not just election-related and need to be addressed if peace is to be preserved in the long term.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia, Australia/Pacific, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Reversing a decades-long trend of environmental destruction is essential to Haiti's development, social and economic stability and, ultimately, security. Instability and violent conflict are not attributable solely to environmental degradation. But they are made more likely by the latter's interaction with such factors as weak institutions and governance, political fragility, pervasive and extreme poverty, vulnerability to natural disasters, rapid population growth, urban overcrowding and social and economic inequality. Concerted national effort and international support is required to stop deforestation and land erosion; reduce energy shortages and charcoal dependence; address rural and urban pollution, including the absence of a solid waste collection and recycling system; and strengthen an inadequate capacity to cope with natural disasters.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Post Colonialism
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Indonesia has earned well-deserved praise for its handling of home-grown extremism, but the problem has not gone away. In April 2009, ten men involved in a jihadi group in Palembang, South Sumatra, were sent to prison on terrorism charges for killing a Christian teacher and planning more ambitious attacks. Their history provides an unusually detailed case study of radicalisation - the process by which law-abiding individuals become willing to use violence to achieve their goals. The sobering revelation from Palembang is how easy that transformation can be if the right ingredients are present: a core group of individuals, a charismatic leader, motivation and opportunity. Another ingredient, access to weapons, is important but not essential: the Palembang group carried out its first attack with a hammer and only later moved to making bombs.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The assassinations of the chief of defence staff, General Batista Tagme Na Wai, on 1 March 2009 and Presi- dent Joao Bernardo Nino Vieira early the next day have plunged Guinea-Bissau into deep uncertainty. National Assembly Speaker Raimundo Pereira was quickly sworn in as interim president pending the election the constitution requires. That the killings occurred only months after the acclaimed November parliamentary elections, however, indicates that, in current circumstances, the democratic process cannot cope with the rule of the gun, as well as the extent to which the military's use of force has overwhelmed state institutions. Without outside help to end military involvement in politics and impunity, it may be impossible to halt a slide into further violence. Elites need to stand up to the military, but they require support. The international community should work for an international or hybrid commission of inquiry into the killings. Security system reform needs to be improve d by better international coordination and creation of a national commission with enhanced autonomy.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence
  • Political Geography: Africa, Guinea-Bissau
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Le 4 mars 2007, les deux principaux protagonistes de la crise ivoirienne signaient l'accord politique de Ouagadougou (APO). Ce compromis a, dans un pre-mier temps, apporté un environnement de paix en Côte d'Ivoire. La ligne de démarcation entre les deux pro-tagonistes a été démantelée. Un nouveau gouvernement a été formé et les bases ont été jetées pour apporter une réponse aux deux questions-clés du conflit : l'identité et la citoyenneté ivoiriennes et la légitimité du pouvoir. Mais, plus de deux ans après son adoption, l'APO va mal. Une sortie de crise sera possible uniquement si les engagements pris dans la capitale burkinabé sont enfin suivis d'effets. Sortir la Côte d'Ivoire de sa décen-nie de crise ne nécessitera pas seulement l'organisation d'élections crédibles mais impliquera également des progrès significatifs dans le processus de désarmement ainsi qu'une véritable réunification de l'administration. Ceci demandera la remobilisation de la facilitation burkinabé et une pression accrue des partenaires inter-nationaux sur les acteurs du conflit.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Democratization, Peace Studies, Post Colonialism
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 17 July 2009, suicide bombers attacked two hotels in the heart of a Jakarta business district, killing nine and injuring more than 50, the first successful terrorist attack in Indonesia in almost four years. While no one has claimed responsibility, police are virtually certain it was the work of Noordin Mohammed Top, who leads a breakaway group from Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the regional jihadi organisation responsible for the first Bali bombing in 2002. One of the hotels, the Marriott, was bombed by Noordin's group in 2003; this time, a meeting of mostly foreign businessmen appears to have been the target. The restaurant of the nearby Ritz-Carlton was also bombed.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The semi-autonomous north-eastern Somali region of Puntland, once touted as a success of the “building blocks” approach to reestablishing national stability and widely viewed as one of the most prosperous parts of Somalia, is experiencing a three-year rise in insecurity and political tension. At its roots are poor governance and a collapse of the intra-clan cohesion and pan-Darood solidarity that led to its creation in 1998. Intra-Darood friction has eroded the consensual style of politics that once underpinned a relative stability. The piracy problem is a dramatic symptom of deeper problems that, left untreated, could lead to Puntland's disintegration or overthrow by an underground militant Islamist movement. A solution to the security threat requires the Puntland government to institute reforms that would make it more transparent and inclusive of all clans living within the region.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia, Puntland
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: More than a month after the 17 July 2009 hotel bombings in Jakarta, Noordin Mohammed Top remains at large, but his network is proving to be larger and more sophisticated than previously thought. Not only was it responsible for coordinated bombings at two luxury hotels in the heart of Jakarta's business district, but it also was apparently contemplating a car bomb attack on President Yudhoyono's residence. As more information comes to light, it looks increasingly likely that Noordin sought and received Middle Eastern funding. While the extent of foreign involvement this time around remains unclear, recruitment in Indonesia has proved disturbingly easy. The salafi jihadi ideology that legitimises attacks on the U.S. and its allies, and Muslims who associate with them, remains confined to a tiny fringe, but that fringe includes disaffected factions of many different radical groups and impressionable youths with no history of violence.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Indonesia, Asia, Jakarta
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The killing of at least 160 participants in a peaceful demonstration, the rape of many women protestors, and the arrest of political leaders by security forces in Conakry on 28 September 2009 showed starkly the dangers that continued military rule poses to Guinea's stability and to a region where three fragile countries are only just recovering from civil wars. The military junta, the National Council for Democracy and Development (Conseil national pour la démocratie et le développement, CNDD), is denying its evident responsibility and playing for time by offering what it calls a “national union government” to opposition parties. But with the mood on the streets hardening against the junta, worse trouble is likely unless combined domestic and international pressure is applied to force the soldiers from power.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Africa, Guinea
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The stalled electoral process has plunged Somaliland into a serious political crisis that presents yet another risk of destabilisation for the region. If its hard-won political stability collapses under the strain of brinkmanship and intransigence, clan leaders might remobilise militias, in effect ending its dream of independence. The political class must finally accept to uphold the region's constitution, abide by the electoral laws and adhere to interparty agreements such as the electoral code of conduct and memorandum of understanding signed on 25 September 2009, so as to contain the crisis and permit implementation of extensive electoral reforms. International partners and donors should keep a close watch on developments and sustain pressure for genuinely free and fair general elections in 2010.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: President Hugo Chávez's victory in the 15 February 2009 referendum, permitting indefinite re-election of all elected officials, marked an acceleration of his “Bolivarian revolution” and “socialism of the 21st century”. Chávez has since moved further away from the 1999 constitution, and his government has progressively abandoned core liberal democracy principles guaranteed under the Inter-American Democratic Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The executive has increased its power and provoked unrest internally by further politicising the armed forces and the oil sector, as well as exercising mounting influence over the electoral authorities, the legislative organs, the judiciary and other state entities. At the same time, Chávez's attempts to play a political role in other states in the region are producing discomfort abroad. The September 2010 legislative elections promise to further polarise an already seriously divided country, while unresolved social and mounting economic problems generate tensions that exacerbate the risk of political violence.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Venezuela
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The number of Islamists in Kyrgyz and Kazakh prisons is small but growing, in both size and political significance. Well-organised Islamist proselytisers, mostly imprisoned on charges of religious extremism, are consolidating their position within the informal structures of power behind prison walls. Incarcerating determined activists is providing them with the opportunity to extend their influence among convicts, at first inside prison and then on their release. Problems within jails in Central Asia have been known to seep outside the prison walls; the expansion of radical Islamist thought within prisons is likely to have serious consequences. The paradox of the situation is that, in private at least, political leaders in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are intensely aware that the best way to defeat extremism is to address woeful social and economic conditions, fight the systemic top-to-bottom corruption that besets all the region's regimes, and in the words of one regional leader, “give people a future”.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Asia, Kyrgyzstan
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Sudan is sliding towards violent breakup. The main mechanisms to end conflicts between the central government and the peripheries – the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the Darfur Peace Agreement and the East Sudan Peace Agreement – all suffer from lack of implementation, largely due to the intransigence of the National Congress Party (NCP). Less than thirteen months remain to ensure that national elections and the South Sudan self-determination referendum lead to democratic transformation and resolution of all the country's conflicts. Unless the international community, notably the U.S., the UN, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council and the Horn of Africa Inter-Government Authority on Development (IGAD), cooperate to support both CPA implementation and vital additional negotiations, return to North-South war and escalation of conflict in Darfur are likely.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Middle East, South Sudan
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Armenia's flawed presidential election, the subsequent lethal crackdown against a peaceful protest rally, the introduction of a state of emergency and extensive arrests of opposition supporters have brought the country to its deepest crisis since the war against Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh ended in 1994. The situation deprives Serzh Sarkisian, scheduled to be inaugurated as president on 9 April 2008, of badly needed legitimacy and handicaps prospects for much needed democratic reform and resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict alike. Unless the U.S., EU and others with significant diplomatic leverage over the regime in Yerevan exert pressure, Armenia is unlikely to make progress on either. The Sarkisian administration must urgently seek credible dialogue with the opposition, release prisoners detained on political grounds, stop arrests and harassment of the opposition and lift all measures limiting freedom of assembly and expression. Unless steps are taken to address the political crisis, the U.S. and EU should suspend foreign aid and put on hold negotiations on further and closer cooperation.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Political Violence, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Armenia, Azerbaijan