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  • Author: Belquis Ahmadi
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Four decades of political instability, violent conflict, and socioeconomic crisis has had a devastating impact on Afghanistan and its citizens. As this Peace Brief explains, understanding the process of radicalization and the drivers of violent extremism is vital to designing effective counterstrategies.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Terrorism, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Selina Adam Khan
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The December 2014 terrorist attack in Peshawar that killed 132 schoolchildren forced Pakistan to acknowledge the extent of its ongoing problem with radical Islamist militancy. Islamabad, however, has yet to implement a comprehensive deradicalization strategy. In January 2015, it took a formal step in this direction with its twenty-point National Action Plan in response to the Peshawar attack—a step, but only a first step. If deradicalization is to meet with any success in Pakistan, the national narrative itself needs to change.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Author: Querine Hanlon, Joyce Kasee
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Throughout the Maghreb and the Sahel, governments are struggling to manage a security environment fundamentally transformed by the Arab Spring. Within this region, the efforts of governments to secure their territories and civil society organizations to create accountable and transparent security institutions have proceeded almost wholly divorced from each other. This Peace Brief shares key insights from the engagement between official and civil society actors both within and across borders to address these gaps, makes the case for working regionally to address the twin challenges of security and reform, and highlights how community-security partnerships offer one approach to advancing the region’s security and reform agenda.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Islam, Terrorism, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Arab Countries, North Africa
  • Author: William A. Byrd
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Two years ago, the Chicago international summit agreed on long-term targets for the size of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and committed to continued international financial support until 2024. Since then, the ANSF have taken over lead responsibility for Afghanistan's security and have by most accounts performed well, taking substantial casualties but holding their own against the Taliban. However, the ANSF still rely heavily on U.S. financial and logistical support and military "enablers" in such roles as air support, medevac and reconnaissance. The Afghan government's failure to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States during the past eight months has coincided with, and undoubtedly contributed to, declining political support for the international engagement in Afghanistan. Not only has U.S. civilian aid in the current fiscal year been halved, but the White House recently announced a complete U.S. troop pull-out by the end of 2016, except for "normal levels" to protect the U.S. Embassy and oversee military assistance. That is close to a "zero option," albeit in 2016 and not 2014. The announcement raises serious questions about the staying power of international security funding (which would amount to billions of dollars per year into the early 2020s if the Chicago commitments hold); management of security assistance; provision of logistical support and enablers; whether Afghanistan's domestic revenues will grow fast enough to meet its own ANSF funding commitments; and timing of any future ANSF reductions in relation to possible negotiations with the Taliban insurgency. The ANSF (especially the Afghan National Army, or ANA) was largely a creation of the United States, which has advocated for and endorsed its current size and cost. It would be irresponsible to create such a force and then turn around and undermine it.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Cooperation, Terrorism, International Security, Military Strategy, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Chicago
  • Author: Georgia Holmer
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Countering violent extremism efforts strive to prevent at-risk individuals from being recruited into or joining extremist groups. Identifying who is at risk and who poses a threat, however, is a complicated inquiry. In Kenya, as in many other places experiencing violent extremism, the young, the undecided, the coerced and others might—if properly guided—move away from rather than toward violence. Many at risk of becoming involved in violent extremist groups are too quickly categorized as an enemy and given no opportunity to move in a different direction. Empathy is critical both to learning why individuals are vulnerable to engaging in violent extremism and to creating the space and willingness in a community to help those at risk.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Somalia
  • Author: Arif Rafiq
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Sectarian violence between Sunni Deobandi and Shia Muslims in Pakistan has escalated in recent years. Most of this violence is perpetrated by local networks, but the sectarian phenomenon also has important ties to regional security dynamics and transnational terrorist networks. Despite sporadic state crackdowns, Pakistan's leading Sunni Deobandi sectarian militant groups have been able to maintain a persistent presence thanks in part to reluctance among mainstream Pakistani military and political leaders to directly confront groups that are sometimes seen as serving utilitarian political interests. Despite this negligence, Sunni Deobandi militants have also established linkages with terrorist groups that target the Pakistani state, such as al-Qaeda and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Rising conflict in the greater Middle East over the past five years has strengthened the sectarian political narrative in Pakistan and emboldened sectarian militant networks on both sides of the conflict.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Pakistan
  • Author: Moeed Yusuf
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Out of the proposed alternatives for dealing with Pakistan discussed in Washington, one that seems to have gained some traction calls for aggressively playing up Pakistan's civil-military divide by propping up civilians while dealing harshly with the military and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). While normatively attractive, the approach to deal with Pakistan as two Pakistans is unworkable. It grossly exaggerates the U.S.'s capacity to affect institutional change in Pakistan and fundamentally misunderstands what underpins the civil-military dynamic. In reality, any attempt by the U.S. to actively exploit this internal disconnect is likely to end up strengthening right wing rhetoric in Pakistan, provide more space for security-centric policies, and further alienate the Pakistani people from the U.S. A more prudent approach would be one that limits itself to targeted interventions in areas truly at the heart of the civil-military dichotomy and that would resonate positively with the Pakistani people: by continuing to help improve civilian governance performance and by providing regional security assurances to Pakistan.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Corruption, Islam, Terrorism, War, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, South Asia, Washington
  • Author: William Byrd
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This report reflects the author's research interests and several publications on security sector reform from a financial and development perspective. It is intended to lay out key issues and trade-offs in this area, and brings in concepts and tools of public financial management which are applicable to the security sector. The views expressed in this brief do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Institute of Peace, which does not take policy positions.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Chicago
  • Author: William Byrd, David Mansfield
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Opium will continue to be an important part of the Afghan landscape—with political and security as well as economic ramifications. The ongoing security transition (2011-2014) will be accompanied by greater risks to Afghani­stan's polity, security and economy from the illicit drug industry—including through likely further increases in opium production.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Corruption, Crime, Terrorism, War on Drugs, Narcotics Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Hannah Byam, Christopher Neu
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: With a rise in terrorist activity spreading fear through highly publicized attacks, Pakistan's media landscape has increasingly been used as a battleground between those seeking to promote violent conflict and others seeking to manage or deter it. Pakistan's media community has not yet developed an adequate or widely accepted strategy for responding to this context of persistent extremism and conflict. The rapid rise of extremist radio stations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) provinces has paralleled an increase in terrorist attacks, facilitated by affordable access to FM radio, loose government regulation of broadcast media and militant control of pockets in KPK and FATA. Negative media attitudes toward the Pakistan-U.S. relationship often reflect national political differences and market incentives for sensationalist coverage. These attitudes can be transformed through changes in the diplomatic relationship between the countries based on open communication rather than institutional media reform.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Political Violence, Terrorism, Mass Media
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Asia
  • Author: Stephanie Schwartz
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006, supported by the U.S, had the unintentional consequence of fueling splinter insurgent groups including Al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam. Currently Somalia faces a humanitarian crisis with 3.6 million people displaced. Countering the insurgency and alleviating the humanitarian crisis in Somalia demands a creative rethinking of international policy. While the 2008 Dijbouti Accord created a more inclusive Transitional Federal Government (TFG), the international community must weigh whether continued support for the TFG will bring real progress in governance or if it will strengthen popular support for the insurgency. If the international community sees support for the TFG as beneficial, they could consider policies including: Flooding Somalia with development aid and investing in civil society; Expanding the African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission to include representation from other Muslim countries; Finding creative solutions for inter-Somali governance and reconciliation. If the international community calculates that support for the TFG is not beneficial because it will only fuel the insurgency, they should consider a policy of "constructive disengagement," withdrawing support from the TFG and the AU peacekeeping mission, while simultaneously investing in local and regional development projects.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Terrorism, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, China, Ethiopia, Somalia
  • Author: John Dempsey, Noah Coburn
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Stability in Afghanistan will remain elusive unless disputes between individuals and among communities can be resolved through peaceful and equitable means. However, state justice institutions are barely functioning in much of the country and are incapable of meeting many justice and dispute resolution needs of Afghans. Instead, the majority of Afghans turn to traditional justice mechanisms—including tribal councils and village and religious leaders—to address both civil and criminal disputes. In many parts of the country, including areas recently cleared of insurgents, the best way to make signi_cant, visible, short-term (12 to 18 months) gains in peacefully resolving disputes is to work with community-based structures. USIP has drawn important lessons from its work with Afghan partners to implement pilot programs exploring links between the state and traditional justice systems in four provinces across the country (in Nangarhar, Khost, Paktia and Herat). Programs designed to create or strengthen existing links between traditional justice bodies and state institutions can build mutual trust and harness the strengths of each. Donor-funded traditional justice programs need to involve the Afghan government while also accounting for the practical needs of communities to settle disputes in line with their own traditions and procedures, as well as Afghanistan's laws and human rights norms.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia
  • Author: Stephanie Schwartz
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Recent incidences of ethno-religious violence in northern Nigeria have alarmed the international community to the point where Nigeria is now perceived as a potential breeding ground for transnational terrorism and violent religious extremism.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Terrorism, Governance, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: William B. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: President Barack Obama's policy of a conditions-based redeployment in Afghanistan starting in July 2011 leaves him a lot of flexibility. The administration will likely decide to maintain the troop numbers in Afghanistan near the surge level next year, pending another review.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Stephanie Schwartz
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The June 21st Supreme Court decision in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project affirmed the constitutionality of the material support statue which makes it illegal for U.S. citizens and organizations to provide material support, including expert advice or assistance, service or personnel, to designated terrorist organizations regardless of whether the support is intended to promote nonviolence and peace. The material support law and the process of listing terrorist groups provides the U.S. government with an enhanced legal structure to arrest alleged terrorists and prevent terrorist acts. However, it is unclear that the process is effective in practice or that enhancing the government's legal power to prevent acts of terrorism outweighs the unintentional consequences of prohibiting nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from working on the front lines of conflict zones to promote conflict resolution. Looking to the future, NGOs can work with the State Department and Congress to find ways to allow peacebuilding and humanitarian organizations to continue their operations legally, while also not threatening national security.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Humanitarian Aid, Terrorism, Foreign Aid, Law Enforcement, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: United States