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  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: More than five years after President Pervez Musharraf declared his intention to crack down on violent sectarian and jihadi groups and to regulate the network of madrasas (religious schools) on which they depend, his government's reform program is in shambles. Banned sectarian and jihadi groups, supported by networks of mosques and madrasas, continue to operate openly in Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, and elsewhere. The international community needs to press President Musharraf to fulfil his commitments, in particular to enforce genuine controls on the madrasas and allow free and fair national elections in 2007. It should also shift the focus of its donor aid from helping the government's ineffectual efforts to reform the religious schools to improving the very weak public school sector.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Asia, Karachi
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: When local elections were held in Aceh on 11 December 2006, conventional wisdom (shared by Crisis Group) was that candidates from the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM) would not do well. They might pick up two or three of the nineteen district races, but the biggest prize – the provincial governorship – was almost certainly out of reach. The old Jakarta-linked parties would benefit from deep pockets, established structures and a split in the former insurgency's leadership. Polls just before formal campaigning began showed GAM's governor/deputy governor slate – Irwandi Yusuf and Muhammad Nazar – virtually out of contention. But GAM won overwhelmingly, in what an analyst called “a perfect storm between the fallout from the peace accord and the failure of political parties to understand the changing times”. The challenge now is to govern effectively and cleanly in the face of high expectations, possible old elite obstructionism and some GAM members' sense of entitlement that it is their turn for power and wealth.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil Society, Politics
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The September 2006 coup in Thailand, despite its damage to democratic development, opened the way for improved management of the conflict in the Muslim South. Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont's interim government has overhauled some of its predecessor's worst policies and signalled willingness to address longstanding grievances. But verbal commitments in Bangkok have been difficult to translate into changes on the ground, and relations between security forces and local communities continue to be strained while violence mounts. Thais outside the South have exerted pressure for a return to heavy-handed crackdowns on suspected militants. The government must respond to the escalating attacks, but with care – widespread arbitrary arrests and civilian casualties would only increase support for insurgents.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Asia, Thailand, Bangkok
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: With the formation of an interim legislature incorporating mainstream parties and Maoists, Nepal's peace process hinges on writing a constitution that permanently ends the conflict, addresses the widespread grievances that fuelled it and guards against the eruption of new violence. Most political actors have accepted the Maoist demand for a constituent assembly (CA) tasked with framing a new dispensation, although royalists are worried over the future of the monarchy, which has in effect been suspended. The major challenge is to maintain leadership-level consensus while building a broad-based and inclusive process that limits room for spoilers and ensures long-term popular legitimacy. Recent unrest in the Tarai plains illustrates the dangers of ignoring popular discontent. Key political actors need to prepare more seriously for the CA. Led by the newly established United Nations mission in Nepal (UNMIN), the international community should pressure all sides to abide by their stated commitments and global norms and provide technical assistance to the electoral process.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: Asia, Nepal, United Nations
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After eight months of trying to induce surrenders, the Indonesian police have conducted two major raids this month in Poso, Central Sulawesi, to arrest a group of men, most local members of the terrorist organisation Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), wanted for a range of bombings, beheadings and drive-by shootings. Peaceful efforts had clearly failed but the high death toll from the second raid has turned the wanted men into victims. A jihad that has been largely directed against local Christians could now be focused on the police as a thoghut (anti-Islamic force) and give a boost to Indonesia's weakened jihadi movement. The urgent task now is for the government to work with Muslim leaders to explain in detail who the suspects were and why force was used. It also should examine how police operations were conducted to see if further measures could have been taken to prevent casualties. Authorities likewise need to begin addressing a wide range of local grievances.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia, Switzerland
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Fourteen years of negotiation, led alternately by the UN and Russia, have done little to resolve the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict. There have been some successes on the ground: ceasefire violations are rare, approximately 45,000 internally displaced (IDP) Georgians have returned to homes in the Gali region, the two sides cooperate on operating the Inguri power plant, and a strategic railway through Abkhazia may restart. But the sharp deterioration in Russian-Georgian relations and a Georgian military adventure in the Kodori valley have contributed to a freeze in diplomacy over Abkhazia since mid-2006. In the absence of a new initiative, new violence is a real possibility. Because prospects are bleak for an early comprehensive settlement of the key political issues, in particular final status, the sides and international facilitators should shift their focus in 2007 to building confidence and cooperation in areas where there are realistic opportunities.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia, Georgia, Abkhazia
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: General Pervez Musharraf imposed martial law in Pakistan on 3 November 2007. He suspended the constitution, sacked the chief justice of the Supreme Court and removed other judges of that court who declared his act illegal. Police immediately began arresting lawyers, politicians and human rights activists. Independent television channels were taken off the air and reporting restrictions imposed. Thousands have since been jailed, journalists threatened and protests by lawyers and others suppressed. Replacing dissenting judges with hand-picked appointees, and ruling by decree, Musharraf's objective is to retain personal power by gaining judicial approval for martial law, followed by the creation of a democratic façade through rigged elections. The international community should demand the immediate restoration of constitutional order, the rule of law and the legitimate judiciary, the release of political prisoners and the appointment of an impartial caretaker government to oversee free and fair elections.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Asia
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Most outside observers see only one dimension of conflict in Papua – the Indonesian government vs. the independence movement – but it is much more complex. Tensions among tribal groups and between indigenous Papuans and non-Papuan settlers, as well as competition over political power and access to spoils at the district and sub-district levels, are also important. The issues vary substantially from one region to another. National and international attention has tended to focus on the northern coast and the central highlands, with relatively little on the districts in the south, which have long felt excluded from politics in the Papuan capital, Jayapura.
  • Topic: Environment, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia, Papua, Jayapura
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: While the growing insurgency is attracting increasing attention, long-term efforts to build the solid governmental institutions a stable Afghanistan requires are faltering. Following conclusion of the Bonn process, which created the country's elected bodies, the Afghan government and the international community committed at the London Conference (31 January-1 February 2006) to the Afghanistan Compact, which identified “three critical and interdependent areas or pillars of activity” over five years: security; governance, rule of law and human rights; and social and economic development. The government signed on to realizing a “shared vision of the future” for a “stable and prosperous Afghanistan”, while over 60 nations and international institutions promised to provide the necessary resources and support. A year on, even those most closely associated with the process admit that the Compact has yet to have much impact. Afghans and internationals alike still need to demonstrate the political will to undertake deep-rooted institutional changes if the goals of this shared vision are to be met.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Government, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia, London
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Taliban and other foreign militants, including al-Qaeda sympathisers, have sheltered since 2001 in Pakistan's Pashtun-majority Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), seven administrative districts bordering on south eastern Afghanistan. Using the region to regroup, reorganise and rearm, they are launching increasingly severe cross-border attacks on Afghan and international military personnel, with the support and active involvement of Pakistani militants. The Musharraf government's ambivalent approach and failure to take effective action is destabilising Afghanistan; Kabul's allies, particularly the U.S. and NATO, which is now responsible for security in the bordering areas, should apply greater pressure on it to clamp down on the pro-Taliban militants. But the international community, too, bears responsibility by failing to support democratic governance in Pakistan, including within its troubled tribal belt.
  • Topic: Government, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Asia, Taliban, Tribal Areas