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  • Author: Engin Yüksel
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: Recent Turkish interventions in parts of Syria, Iraq and Turkey itself, look like pushing various Kurdish armed forces and political groupings towards ‘defeat’ via a concerted regional strategy that combines battlefield action with repression and co-optation. But the ‘anti-terrorist’ frame and tactics that Ankara uses in a bid to solve its Kurdish problem feature many sticks and no compromises to improve Kurdish collective minority rights. It is likely that this approach will inhibit peaceful resistance and fail to reduce support for armed groups like the PKK and PYD despite their own authoritarian practices. Moreover, Turkey’s new regional militarism risks escalating conflict across the Middle East because of the complex international and transnational contexts in which Ankara’s interventions take place.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Non State Actors, Conflict, Kurds
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Susanne Wolfmaier, Janani Vivekananda
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: The Hague Declaration is a six-point plan covering a call for an institutional mechanism on climate and security within the UN system, for a process to develop a climate security risk assessment in Lake Chad, and for concrete action in two of the most vulnerable post-conflict countries: Mali and Iraq. It is also a commitment by a growing community of practice to systematically address security risks related to climate change - from analysis to action, built on the conviction that everyone must work together to address and manage risks and threats before they arise. This briefing note by Susanne Wolfmaier and Janani Vivekananda presents the outcome of a survey by the Planetary Security Initiative on the objectives with the Hague Declaration, its achievements so far, and the gaps in and challenges to progress that still need to be overcome.
  • Topic: Security, Climate Change, Treaties and Agreements, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Mali, Global Focus, The Hague
  • Author: Tobias von Lossow
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: With the liberation of Mosul from so-called Islamic State (IS) in November 2017, Iraq entered – once again – a post-conflict period. In his Policy Brief Tobias von Lossow analyses how shrinking water quantities and acutely declining water quality pose tremendous challenges in the process of rebuilding the country: Dam building in Turkey and Iran has contributed to a remarkably reduced water inflow of the Euphrates and Tigris; Iraqi water installations had been in very poor condition before IS used water as a weapon and further damaged infrastructure; Tigris River’s waterflow upstream of Baghdad requires careful coordination between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and central government; extremely salinised water resources and environmental degradation in the Marshes risk the extinction of agricultural activities and livelihoods in that area. To address these challenges, technical measures will be important, and necessary – for instance, investment in water infrastructure. But that will not be nearly enough, as the water issue has the potential to accelerate re-emerging social divisions and political fragmentation and thus undermine Iraq’s stability and security. The political implications of water policies must be carefully taken into account in Iraq’s postconflict process and should complement technical efforts in this crucial sector. The basin-wide protection of the supply infrastructure could serve as a technical as well as a political entry point for water cooperation in the region.
  • Topic: Natural Resources, Water, Infrastructure, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Nancy Ezzeddine, Erwin van Veen
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: It has become clear since Iraq’s May 2018 elections that many of the armed groups that make up the country’s Al-Hashd al-Sha’abi (aka Popular Mobilization Forces) intend to fully integrate into the Iraqi Security Forces and/or disband at some point now that the fight against the Islamic State (IS) has reached a much lower level of intensity. Several groups are less likely to do so, however, including those linked with Iran. Although all 50+ Hashd groups have been brought under the legal purview of the Iraqi state, in practice a number continue to operate autonomously. The fragmented nature of both the Iraqi state’s coercive capabilities and the country’s political landscape will make it difficult, in the short term, to compel reluctant groups to integrate into state security forces or disband. Pushing for enforcement of such compliance risks violence and is best avoided. At the same time, using a broad set of indicators to monitor Hashd-related events and incidents based on open, online sources, this policy brief provides substantial evidence that some Hashd groups are using their autonomy to strengthen their power base in ways that will complicate achieving greater integration in the future. Our research suggests that policy makers in Baghdad and Western capitals should support four initiatives that can help limit this risk without triggering large-scale violence: Gradually establish a direct, incentive-based relationship between Hashd fighters and the state to shift the loyalties of fighters over time. Tighten local command, control and coordination mechanisms of all state security actors to compartmentalise the way in which Hashd groups operate, especially locally. Ensure that (international) reconstruction funds have strong in-built safeguards and standards that reduce corruption and do not contribute to the growing penetration of the Iraqi economy by armed actors, e.g. by contracting them. Address the root causes of the emergence of IS to remove the rationale for some Hashd groups to retain arms (and to make Iraq safer).
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Conflict, Militias
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East