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  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Small Arms Survey
  • Abstract: The Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, FDLR)—including its armed wing, the Forces Combattantes Abacunguzi (Abacunguzi Fighting Forces, FOCA)1—is among the most enduring armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Several members of the group’s top leadership are suspected of involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, making the FDLR’s continued presence in the DRC a recurring point of contention between Kinshasa and Kigali and a source of tensions for the Great Lakes region as a whole (Omaar, 2008, pp. 65– 66, 236–312). Maj. Gen. Sylvestre Mudacumura, the group’s military commander, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes committed in the DRC itself (ICC, 2012). The group’s presence has also led to the emer- gence of local armed groups that claim to protect communities, further complicating security dynamics in the eastern DRC (Debelle and Florquin, 2015, p. 206).
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Genocide, Armed Struggle, War Crimes
  • Political Geography: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda
  • Author: Milan Vaishnav
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) historic victory in India’s 2014 general election prompted declarations of a watershed in the behavior of the Indian voter. Upon closer inspection, the reality is more nuanced. On some parameters, such as voting based on economic and ethnic considerations, there were indeed discernible changes. However, the empirical evidence suggests these shifts were well under way before 2014. In other areas—namely, support for regional parties, dynastic politicians, and candidates associated with criminal activity—contemporary voters demonstrated much greater continuity with the past.
  • Topic: Democratization, Demographics, Ethnic Conflict, Political Economy, Governance
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR) is longterm and characterised by sporadic surges of violence against a backdrop of state disintegration, a survival economy and deep inter-ethnic cleavages. Armed groups (including the anti-balaka and the ex-Seleka) are fragmenting and becoming increasingly criminalised; intercommunal tensions have hampered efforts to promote CAR’s national unity and mend its social fabric. Unfortunately, the roadmap to end the crisis, which includes elections before the end of 2015, presents a short-term answer. To avoid pursuing a strategy that would merely postpone addressing critical challenges until after the polls, CAR’s transitional authorities and international partners should address them now by implementing a comprehensive disarmament policy, and reaffirming that Muslims belong within the nation. If this does not happen, the elections risk becoming a zero-sum game.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Arms Control and Proliferation, Democratization, Ethnic Conflict, Political Economy, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Zoltan Barany
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Burma’s upcoming elections will be a test of how much the country’s political scene has changed since the generals’ tentative liberalisation programme began five years ago. The National League for Democracy, led by democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, is likely to win big. Still, it may not get the two-thirds of the parliamentary seats open for competition that it needs to form a government. If it does not, it ought to blame itself, for the NLD has been unwilling to enter into coalitions either with much-respected civic organisations or with the increasingly vocal and well-organised ethnic parties. At the same time, the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party has led a smart campaign just short of breaking the electoral laws. Both the USDP and ethnic parties might do better than expected and cost the NLD – dominated and controlled by Suu Kyi – a crucial opportunity to advance democracy.
  • Topic: Democratization, Ethnic Conflict, Political Economy, Authoritarianism, Reform
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia
  • Publication Identifier: 978-88-98650-63-7
  • Publication Identifier Type: DOI
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Sam Khazai
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: As events in late December 2013 and early 2014 have made brutally clear, Iraq is a nation in crisis bordering on civil war. It is burdened by a long history of war, internal power struggles, and failed governance. Is also a nation whose failed leadership is now creating a steady increase in the sectarian divisions between Shi'ite and Sunni, and the ethnic divisions between Arab and Kurd.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Insurgency, Fragile/Failed State, Governance, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Carlo Koos
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Studies have found that politically deprived groups are more likely to rebel. However, does rebellion increase the likelihood of achieving political rights? This article proposes that rebellion helps ethnic groups to overcome deprivation. I illustrate this by using a "typical" case (the Ijaw's struggle against the Nigerian government) to demonstrate how ethnic rebellion increases the costs for the government to a point where granting political rights becomes preferable to war. Further, I exploit time-series-cross-sectional data on deprived ethnic groups to show that rebellion is significantly associated with overcoming deprivation. The statistical analysis shows that democratic change is an alternative mechanism.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Poverty, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Africa, Dhaka
  • Author: Ana Villellas
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The Kurds in Syria, Turkey and Iraq face complex challenges. Among the current Kurdish realities, the emergence of Kurdish self-governing areas in northern Syria controlled by what is considered to be the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) generates considerable uncertainty. The complex civil war in Syria and antagonism between the Kurdish Democratic Union Party and a fragmented Kurdish political spectrum generate many questions as to the future of these Kurdish areas in Syria. In the case of Turkey, old and new internal and regional factors have threatened the dialogue under way between Turkey and the PKK. These include the lack of clear state policies to resolve the conflict, Turkey's current internal crisis, the complications of cross-border dynamics, and the mutual impact of the Kurdish questions in Syria and Turkey. In Iraq, tensions continue between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the country's central administration. The consolidation of Kurdish autonomy – with new elements such as the energy agreement between Erbil and Ankara – continues to generate uncertainty in a context where many issues remain unresolved.
  • Topic: Civil War, Economics, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Jessica Lewis
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Anbar is not the only front in Iraq on which Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), now operating as the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), is fighting in 2014. ISIS has also established a governorate in Diyala. Its spokesman has named the province the central front in the sectarian conflict he has urged. The security situation and sectarian tension in Diyala province are grave. ISIS has returned to fixed fighting positions within Muqdadiyah, Baqubah, and the Diyala River Valley. Shi'a militias are now active in these areas as well. Increasing instances of population displacement demonstrate the aggregate effect of targeted violence by both groups. It is important to estimate the effects of this displacement and the presence of armed groups within Diyala's major cities in order to understand how deteriorated security conditions in this province will interfere with Iraq's upcoming parliamentary elections. Furthermore, violence in Diyala has historically both driven and reflected inter-ethnic and inter-sectarian violence in other mixed areas of Iraq, including Baghdad. Diyala is therefore a significant bellwether for how quickly these types of violence will spread to other provinces.
  • Topic: Security, Ethnic Conflict, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: With the Syrian regime and opposition locked in a see-saw battle, Kurdish forces have consolidated control over large portions of the country's north. Their principal players, the Democratic Union Party (Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat, PYD) and its armed wing, the People's Protection Units (Yekîneyên Parastina Gel, YPG), now dominate three large, non-contiguous enclaves of Kurdish-majority territory along the Turkish border, over which the PYD proclaimed in November 2013 the transitional administration of Rojava (Western Kurdistan). Kurdish governance is unprecedented in Syria and for the PYD, an offshoot of the Turkish Kurdish insurgent movement PKK, from which it draws ideological, organisational and military support. But it is unclear whether this is a first step toward stability and the Kurdish aspiration for national recognition, or merely a respite while the civil war focuses elsewhere. The PYD alone will not determine the fate of Syria's north, but it could greatly increase its chances by broadening its popular appeal and cooperating with other local forces.
  • Topic: Security, Ethnic Conflict, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Myanmar's first census in over 30 years, an ambitious project conducted in April 2014 with technical advice from the UN and significant funding from bilateral donors, has proved to be highly controversial and deeply divisive. A process that was largely blind to the political and conflict risks has inflamed ethnic and religious tensions in this diverse country. The release of the inevitably controversial results in the coming months will have to be handled with great sensitivity if further dangers are to be minimised.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Governance
  • Political Geography: Asia, Myanmar