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  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: As sectarian violence in Iraq has ebbed over the past year, a new and potentially just as destructive political conflict has arisen between the federal government and the Kurdistan regional government in Erbil. This conflict has manifested itself in oratory, backroom negotiations and military manoeuvres in disputed territories, raising tensions and setting off alarm bells in Washington just as the Obama administration is taking its first steps to pull back U.S. forces. A lasting solution can only be political – involving a grand bargain on how to divide or share power, resources and territory – but in the interim both sides should take urgent steps to improve communications and security cooperation, run joint military checkpoints and patrols in disputed territories and refrain from unilateral steps along the new, de facto dividing line, the so-called trigger line.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Arabia, Kurdistan
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Sri Lanka's judiciary is failing to protect constitutional and human rights. Rather than assuaging conflict, the courts have corroded the rule of law and worsened ethnic tensions. Rather than constraining militarisation and protecting minority rights, a politicised bench under the just-retired chief justice has entrenched favoured allies, punished foes and blocked compromises with the Tamil minority. Its intermittent interventions on important political questions have limited settlement options for the ethnic conflict. Extensive reform of the judicial system – beginning with a change in approach from the newly appointed chief justice – and an overhaul of counterproductive emergency laws are essential if the military defeat of the LTTE is to lead to a lasting peace that has the support of all ethnic communities.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Human Rights, Law Enforcement
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Asia, Sri Lanka
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant against President Bashir for atrocity crimes in Darfur has brought Sudan to a new decision point. The longruling National Congress Party (NCP) has defied the court, gained African Union (AU) and Arab League pressure on the Security Council to suspend the case and restricted humanitarian aid in Darfur, putting several million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and others at risk. Darfur rebels have been emboldened, reducing prospects for diplomatic progress. Simultaneously, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the North-South civil war is unravelling. As a new U.S. special representative begins to make his mark, the international community may be ready to sacrifice the justice issue for a quick-fix deal that would ensure elections in 2010. But Sudan will have peace only when its impunity system is dismantled. The right course is to build leverage by strongly backing the ICC so as to persuade the NCP that it will only secure the deferral of Bashir's case by adopting and implementing serious reforms.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Genocide
  • Political Geography: Africa, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), led by its chairman and prime minister, Meles Zenawi, has radically reformed Ethiopia's political system. The regime transformed the hitherto centralised state into the Federal Democratic Republic and also redefined citizenship, politics and identity on ethnic grounds. The intent was to create a more prosperous, just and representative state for all its people. Yet, despite continued economic growth and promised democratisation, there is growing discontent with the EPRDF's ethnically defined state and rigid grip on power and fears of continued inter- ethnic conflict. The international community should take Ethiopia's governance problems much more seriously and adopt a more principled position towards the government. Without genuine multi-party democracy, the tensions and pressures in Ethiopia's polities will only grow, greatly increasing the possibility of a violent eruption that would destabilise the country and region.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Political Economy, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ethiopia
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Three decades of efforts to reunify Cyprus are about to end, leaving a stark choice ahead between a hostile, de facto partition of the island and a collaborative federation between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities living in two constituent states. Most actors agree that the window of opportunity for this bicommunal, bizonal settlement will close by April 2010, the date of the next Turkish Cypriot elections, when the pro-settlement leader risks losing his office to a more hardline candidate. If no accord is reached by then, it will be the fourth major set of UN-facilitated peace talks to fail, and there is a widespread feeling that if the current like-minded, pro-solution Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders cannot compromise on a federal solution, nobody can. To avoid the heavy costs this would entail for all concerned, the two leaders should stand shoulder to shoulder to overcome domestic cynicism and complete the talks, Turkey and Greece must break taboos preventing full communication with both sides on the island, and European Union (EU) states must rapidly engage in support of the process to avoid the potential for future instability if they complacently accept continuation of the dispute. A real chance still exists in 2009-2010 to end.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Conflicts among tribes have claimed several thousand lives in South Sudan in 2009, with the worst violence in and around the vast, often impassable state of Jonglei. Violence often afflicts pastoral communities, but in this area it has taken on a new and dangerously politicised character. With the death toll over the past year exceeding that in Darfur and displacement affecting more than 350,000 people, the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) should recognise the primarily local nature of the conflicts, extend state authority and prove itself a credible provider of security lest the problems become major obstacles on the road to self-determination and beyond. International partners must simultaneously step up their support or risk seeing the South become increasing unstable ahead of national elections and the self-determination referendum.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, Ethnic Conflict, Islam
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Sudan
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Since the announcement of the contested presidential election results on 30 December 2007 giving a second term to Mwai Kibaki, Kenya has been in its worst political crisis since independence. Over 1,000 people have died and 300,000 have been displaced in violence with a serious ethnic character. As former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan conducts negotiations for a political settlement, calm has partly returned, but the situation remains highly volatile. To address the causes of the crisis, it will not be enough for the Annan team to broker a deal on the mechanics of a transitional arrangement between political opponents and schedule negotiations on a reform agenda. A sustainable settlement must address in detail a program of power sharing, constitutional and legal reform and economic policies that convinces the drivers of violence to disarm. For negotiations to succeed, the international community must enhance its pressure, including aid conditionality and threats and application of targeted sanctions against spoilers.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Africa, United Nations
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Sri Lanka is in civil war again, and there are no prospects of a peace process resuming soon. On 2 January 2008, the government announced its withdrawal from a ceasefire agreement with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). This formalised a return to conflict that has been underway since 2006 but also presaged worse to come. The humanitarian crisis is deepening, abuses of human rights by both sides are increasing, and those calling for peace are being silenced. There is no present chance of a new ceasefire or negotiations since the government, despite pro forma statements in favour of a political solution, is dependent on hardliners and appears intent on a military decision. International actors must concentrate for now on damage limitation: protecting civilians from the war's worst effects and supporting those working to preserve Sri Lanka's democratic institutions.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: Asia, Sri Lanka
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: There are strong indications that Uzbek security forces murdered one of Kyrgyzstan's most prominent journalists, Alisher Saipov, in October 2007 during the build-up to Uzbekistan's end of year presidential elections, most likely because of his involvement in Erk (Freedom), a leading exile opposition party. If this is the case, it would appear that the security organs, which are the key to keeping President Islam Karimov in power, are increasingly willing to move against any perceived danger, even if it involves pre-emptive strikes in foreign territory. This may be a sign not only of the ruthlessness of the regime but also of its increasing fragility. At the least it underlines the need for the U.S. and the European Union (EU) to resist the temptation to respond to Karimov's dubious December 2007 re-election with efforts at re-engagement, in the apparent hope of regaining or retaining military bases for Afghanistan operations or of outflanking Russia.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, United States, Europe, Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Afghanistan is not lost but the signs are not good. Its growing insurgency reflects a collective failure to tackle the root causes of violence. Six years after the Taliban's ouster, the international community lacks a common diagnosis of what is needed to stabilise the country as well as a common set of objectives. Long-term improvement of institutions is vital for both state building and counterinsurgency, but without a more strategic approach, the increased attention and resources now directed at quelling the conflict could even prove counterproductive by furthering a tendency to seek quick fixes. Growing tensions over burden sharing risk undermining the very foundations of multilateralism, including NATO's future. The U.S., which is demanding more commitment by allies, must realise that its unilateral actions weaken the will of others. At the same time, those sniping from the sidelines need to recognise that the Afghan intervention is ultimately about global security and do more.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Asia, Taliban