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  • 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: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A controversial bill defining the role and functions of Indonesian intelligence agencies has top priority in the Indonesian parliament. It was originally scheduled for enactment in July 2011 but will now be delayed until September or October. It would be better to put the bill on hold even longer until there is a more comprehensive assessment of security needs and how to address them.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Development, Intelligence
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Clashes on 11 September between Muslims and Christians in Ambon, capital of Maluku province, and sporadic incidents thereafter raised fears of a return to the communal fighting that wracked the region from 1999 to 2002. This time, an extraordinary effort by grassroots “peace provocateurs” and local officials largely kept the violence from spreading further in Maluku. But the unrest triggered efforts by extremists elsewhere to manipulate communal tensions, apparently motivating the bombing of a church in Solo, Central Java on 25 September.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Post Colonialism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: More than ten years after the formation of Timor-Leste's army and the demobilisation of the guerrilla force that fought for independence, the struggle continues about how to pay tribute to the veterans. The increasingly wealthy state has bought off the threat once posed by most dissidents with an expensive cash benefits scheme and succeeded in engaging most veterans' voices in mainstream politics. This approach has created a heavy financial burden and a complicated process of determining who is eligible that will create new tensions even as it resolves others. A greater challenge lies in containing pressures to give them disproportionate political influence and a formal security role. A careful balance will need to be struck between paying homage to heroes while allowing a younger generation of leaders to grow up to replace them. Failure could block the generational transfer of power necessary for the state's long-term stability.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Democratization, Economics, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Myanmar will shortly hold its first elections in twenty years. Given the restrictive provisions of the 2010 Political Parties Registration Law that bar anyone serving a prison term from membership in a political party, many imprisoned dissidents will be excluded from the process, unless they are released in the near future. Aung San Suu Kyi – whose suspended sentence and house arrest possibly exclude her also – has condemned the legislation, and her National League for Democracy (NLD) has decided not to participate and has, therefore, lost its status as a legally-registered party. There has rightly been much international criticism of the new constitution and of the fact that the elections will not be inclusive, but the political and generational shift that they will bring about may represent the best opportunity in a generation to influence the future direction of the country.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • 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: 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: 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