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  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The situation in Rakhine State contains a toxic mixture of historical centre-periphery tensions, serious intercommunal and inter-religious conflict with minority Muslim communities, and extreme poverty and under-development. This led to major violence in 2012 and further sporadic outbreaks since then. The political temperature is high, and likely to increase as Myanmar moves closer to national elections at the end of 2015. It represents a significant threat to the overall success of the transition, and has severely damaged the reputation of the government when it most needs international support and investment. Any policy approach must start from the recognition that there will be no easy fixes or quick solutions. The problems faced by Rakhine State are rooted in decades of armed violence, authoritarian rule and state-society conflict. This crisis has affected the whole of the state and all communities within it. It requires a sustained and multi-pronged response, as well as critical humanitarian and protection interventions in the interim.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Post Colonialism, Religion, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Asia, Myanmar
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Bangladesh could face a protracted political crisis in the lead-up to the 2013 elections unless Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government changes course and takes a more conciliatory approach towards the political opposition and the military. In December 2008, following two years of a military-backed caretaker government, the Awami League (AL) secured a landslide victory in what were widely acknowledged to be the fairest elections in the country's history. The hope, both at home and abroad, was that Sheikh Hasina would use her mandate to revitalise democratic institutions and pursue national reconciliation, ending the pernicious cycle of zero-sum politics between her AL and its rival, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Three and a half years on, hope has been replaced by deep disillusionment, as two familiar threats to Bangladesh's democracy have returned: the prospect of election-related violence and the risks stemming from an unstable and hostile military.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, Asia
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Bangladesh is under military rule again for the third time in as many decades. Although the caretaker government (CTG) insists its plans to stamp out corruption and hold general elections by December 2008 are on track, its achievements have been patchy, and relations with the major political parties are acrimonious. Efforts to sideline the two prime ministers of the post-1990 democratic period have faltered (though bot h are in jail), and the government has become bogged down in its attempts to clean up corruption and reshape democratic politics. Even if elections are held on schedule, there is no guarantee reforms will be sustainable. If they are delayed, the risk of confrontation between the parties and the army-backed government will grow. There is an urgent need for all sides to negotiate a peaceful and sustainable return to democracy.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, Asia
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The North Caucasus (Russian) Republic of Dagestan has avoided large-scale violence despite its proximity to Chechnya but is now suffering from escalating street warfare. Several hundred local and federal security forces, administrators, politicians, ministers and journalists have been killed since 2003. The militant Islamist organisation Shariat Jamaat is responsible for much of the violence. Some of its leaders fought in Chechnya, but its extremist propaganda is also attracting unemployed Dagestani youth. This home-grown extremism, espousing jihadi theology and employing terrorist methods, is a new phenomenon. Police efforts to end the street war have been ineffective and in some instances counter-productive. While supporting loyal local elites, Moscow can help halt the increase in violence if it implements an efficient anti-corruption policy and reintegrates youth into the economic and political system.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Civil Society, Corruption, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia, Moscow
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The government of Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej is struggling for political survival and has handed the military full responsibility for tackling the violent insurgency in the Muslim-dominated Deep South, which has claimed more than 3,000 lives in the past four years. The military has restructured its operations and has made headway in reducing the number of militant attacks, but temporary military advances, though welcome, do nothing to defuse the underlying grievances of the Malay Muslim minority. For that to happen, the otherwise preoccupied government needs to find the will and energy to undertake a serious policy initiative.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Government, Islam
  • Political Geography: Asia, Thailand
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Street protests are threatening to bring down the government led by the People Power Party (PPP) just nine months after it won a decisive victory in general elections. Clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters have left one dead and 42 people injured. Mass action is hurting the economy, including the lucrative – and usually sacrosanct – tourism industry. The replacement of Samak Sundaravej with Somchai Wongsawat as prime minister is unlikely to defuse tensions. The immediate need is to restore the rule of law and authority of the government – not because it is perfect, but for the sake of stability and democracy. In the medium and longer term, the priorities must be to resolve political differences through democratic processes and to address the root causes of the current divisiveness, including the gap between the urban rich and the rural poor. Overthrowing the government – by street protesters or a military coup – will do nothing to resolve the political polarisation that is tearing Thailand apart.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Government
  • Political Geography: Asia, Thailand, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Sri Lanka's government must address the security needs and land-related grievances of all ethnic communities in its Eastern Province or risk losing a unique opportunity for development and peace. Muslims, Tamils and Sinhalese all feel weak and under threat, and recent ethnic violence could easily worsen. The government must devolve real power to the newly elected provincial council, end impunity for ongoing human rights violations and work to develop a consensus on issues of land, security and power sharing with independent representatives of all communities, including those from opposition parties.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention
  • Political Geography: Asia, Sri Lanka
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Pakistan's return to civilian government after eight years of military rule and the sidelining of the military's religious allies in the February 2008 elections offer an opportunity to restore the rule of law and to review and repeal discriminatory religious laws that restrict fundamental rights, fuel extremism and destabilise the country. Judicial reforms would remove the legal cover under which extremists target their rivals and exploit a culture of violence and impunity. Ensuring judicial independence would also strengthen the transition to democracy at a time when it is being undermined by worsening violence.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Asia
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 14 October 2008 the Supreme Court of the Philippines declared a draft agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippines government unconstitutional, effectively ending any hope of peacefully resolving the 30-year conflict in Mindanao while President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remains in office. The Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD or MOA), the culmination of eleven years' negotiation, was originally scheduled to have been signed in Kuala Lumpur on 5 August. At the last minute, in response to petitions from local officials who said they had not been consulted about the contents, the court issued a temporary restraining order, preventing the signing. That injunction in turn led to renewed fighting that by mid-October had displaced some 390,000.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Asia, Philippines
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Azerbaijan wants to create a strong army to regain Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts, either by improving its negotiating leverage with Armenia or going back to war. It has exponentially increased its military budget, though it has not so far gained clear superiority over Armenian forces. If the new military is to be not only stronger but also better governed, however, it needs deep reforms to make it less corrupt and personality driven, more transparent and better directed. So far there has been insufficient political will either to do the part that should involve increasing democratic and civilian control or to break the habit of treating the army as above all an instrument with which to protect elite interests.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, NATO
  • Political Geography: Asia, Armenia, Azerbaijan