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  • Author: Benjamin R. Young
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: North Korea serves as a mutually beneficial partner for many African governments. Although these ties are often viewed solely through the lens of economic and security interests, this report shows Pyongyang's deep historical connections and ideological linkages with several of the continent’s nations. North Korea–Africa relations are also bolstered by China, which has been complicit in North Korea’s arms and ivory trade, activities providing funds that likely support the Kim regime’s nuclear ambitions and allow it to withstand international sanctions.
  • Topic: History, Governance, Sanctions, Democracy, Solidarity
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Patricia M. Kim
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: As strategic competition between the United States and China intensifies, preventing a destabilizing arms race and lowering the risk of military, especially nuclear, confrontation is critical. The essays in this volume—based on a series of workshops convened by USIP’s Asia Center in late 2020—highlight both the striking differences and the commonalities between U.S. and Chinese assessments of the root causes of instability and the drivers of conflict in the nuclear, conventional missile and missile defense, space, cyberspace, and artificial intelligence realms.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Nuclear Weapons, Science and Technology, Peace, Artificial Intelligence, Strategic Competition, Strategic Stability
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Andrew Watkins
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The U.S. and Afghan governments have, at various times, intentionally pursued strategies of “divide and defeat” in an attempt to fragment and weaken the Taliban. These approaches have proved ineffective and, as long as peace efforts are being pursued, should be discontinued. Contrary to lingering narratives from earlier eras of the Afghan conflict, the Taliban today are a relatively cohesive insurgent group and are unlikely to fragment in the near term. This has not happened by accident: the Taliban’s leadership has consistently, at times ruthlessly, worked to retain and strengthen its organizational cohesion. To this day, the group is unwilling to cross internal “red lines” that might threaten that cohesion. The literature on insurgency and negotiated peace suggests that only cohesive movements are capable of following through and enforcing peace agreements. Many of the feared scenarios of Taliban fragmentation, including the defection of “hard-liners” or mass recruitment by the Islamic State, do not correspond to current realities on the ground. Fragmentation of the Taliban is not impossible, and the group is certainly far from monolithic, but ideological rifts are not a sufficient explanation of why this has taken place in the past—or might again. By studying what makes the Taliban cohesive and what has caused instances of its fragmentation, all parties invested in an Afghan peace process might be better equipped to negotiate with the Taliban under terms the movement would be willing to accept, even if it has not defined those terms publicly. This report examines the phenomenon of insurgent fragmentation within Afghanistan’s Taliban and implications for the Afghan peace process. This study, which the author undertook as an independent researcher supported by the Asia Center at the U.S. Institute of Peace, is based on a survey of the academic literature on insurgency, civil war, and negotiated peace, as well as on interviews the author conducted in Afghanistan in 2019 and 2020.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Taliban, Conflict, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: China has embarked on a grand journey west. Officials in Beijing are driven by aspirations of leadership across their home continent of Asia, feelings of being hemmed in on their eastern flank by U.S. alliances, and their perception that opportunities await across Eurasia and the Indian Ocean. Along the way, their first stop is South Asia, which this report defines as comprising eight countries—Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka—along with the Indian Ocean (particularly the eastern portions but with implications for its entirety). China’s ties to the region are long-standing and date back well before the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Alliance, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, South Asia, India, Asia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives
  • Author: Matt Ferchen
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The outsized ambitions and scale of the China-Venezuela political and financial relationship in the twenty-first century have meant that its failures and disappointments have been correspondingly large. This report explores how the nations came to be involved, how each side has responded to Venezuela’s extended economic and political crisis, and the implications for the future of the bilateral relationship and for China’s aspirations to be a leader and agent of international development.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Relations, Development, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South America, Venezuela
  • Author: David Scott Mathieson
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Armed conflict in Myanmar’s Rakhine State between the Arakan Army and the Tatmadaw, the national army, has escalated sharply in the past two years. This development has been largely eclipsed, however, by the continuing international focus on the human rights crisis of the Rohingya Muslim minority. As this report explains, if this new conflict continues to expand in scope and ferocity, the hope of repatriating Rohingya refugees will recede into the future and the rest of the country will suffer from the increasing violence and destabilization.
  • Topic: Armed Forces, Minorities, Refugees, Ethnic Cleansing, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: Van Jackson
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: To help U.S. policymakers better manage the myriad risks they face on the Korean Peninsula, this report assesses whether and how to pursue national security diplomacy with North Korea. This concept of engagement responds to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020 regarding the benefits and risks for U.S. national security. Persistent engagement with North Korea’s national security elites, the report argues, is a policy wager with a large potential upside and very little cost and risk.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Migration, National Security, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Yonho Kim
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: More than one in five North Koreans have cell phones, and increasingly rely on them to conduct financial transactions. Many of these transactions involve trading cell phone airtime, or “phone money,” for goods and services, and even for offering bribes. This report examines the potential for airtime trading to evolve into a formal mobile money system, which could enhance market activity and stability while providing opportunities for the country to engage with the international community.
  • Topic: Economics, Environment, Science and Technology, Communications
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea
  • Author: La Ring, Khin Sandar Nyunt, Nist Pianchupat, Shaazka Beyerle
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The National League for Democracy’s decisive victory in Myanmar’s 2015 elections inspired hopes of a full transition from military rule and an opening of civil space. Neither has materialized, and the groups working to advance social, political, and economic change in Myanmar continue to face significant challenges. Focusing on three cases of organized nonviolent action in Kachin, Mandalay, and Yangon, this report explores the divide that has opened between civil society and the NLD government and the rifts emerging within civil society itself.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Nonviolence , Donors
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: Jacob Stokes
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: China’s foreign policy is expanding in scope and depth and now reaches across the globe. Yet its diplomatic efforts focus on its own complex neighborhood. To advance these interests, China’s leaders practice an interlocking set of foreign affairs activities they refer to as “periphery diplomacy.” This report details the main tools Beijing uses to engage the countries with which it shares borders, assesses the campaign’s effectiveness, and lays out the implications for peace and security in Asia.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Diplomacy, Peace
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Laura Barber
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Sudan's decades-long economic relationship with China has almost always been dominated by oil. Yet this relationship has changed significantly in the past decade—first with the loss of oil reserves when South Sudan became an independent nation in 2011, and more recently due to the ouster of longtime ally President Omar al-Bashir. This report, based on interviews with policy officials, diplomats, industry and security experts, and others, examines China’s evolving commercial and political interests in this vital nation in the Horn of Africa.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Relations, Geopolitics, Conflict, Transition
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Sudan, Asia
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Red Sea arena—which this report defines as the eastern and western shores of the Red Sea, from the Arabian Peninsula to Egypt and the Horn of Africa, and the strategic waterways that run between, including the Red Sea, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, and the Suez Canal—has long been a center of political turbulence, regional rivalries, and geopolitical interest. Historic political transitions currently underway in Sudan and Ethiopia, burgeoning economic investments amid fragility and debt in the Horn, continued conflict and humanitarian crisis in Yemen, Middle Eastern rivalries and their impact on regional conflict dynamics, and the growing presence of China have further heightened geopolitical interest in this arena. This report focuses on China’s influence and activities in the region and its relationships with twelve Red Sea arena states: Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Yemen.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Environment, Geopolitics, Conflict
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Red Sea
  • Author: Jason Tower, Priscilla Clapp
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Seeking to profit from China's lucrative but illegal gambling market, a shady web of actors has begun building resort cities in Myanmar’s Karen State to cater to Chinese gamblers. This report casts light on the actors behind Myanmar’s illegal gambling sector, their linkages to Chinese government entities and to Myanmar's armed groups and military, and how their actions could upend Myanmar’s prospects for peace.
  • Topic: Crime, Economics, Transnational Actors, Gambling, Peace
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: Nat Kretchun
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Through the successive regimes of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and Kim Jong Un, North Korea has maintained near-total control over the information that reaches its citizens. Now, as more and more North Koreans use networked devices such as smartphones, the regime is employing modern forms of censorship and surveillance to control information and curtail freedom of expression. This report argues that the United States and its allies need a new information strategy to end the social isolation of the North Korean people and improve their long-term welfare.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Communications, Authoritarianism, Media, News Analysis, Peace
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Humayan Hamidzada, Richard Ponzio
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In its 2017 strategy for South Asia, the Trump administration called on Pakistan to reduce support for the Taliban and encourage them to enter into peace negotiations. Yet as crucial as Pakistan will be to peace in Afghanistan, a similarly persuasive argument can be made for Afghanistan’s northern neighbors—the Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. In this Special Report, Humayun Hamidzada and Richard Ponzio examine the vital economic and political roles these countries can play to support a just and lasting peace in Afghanistan and the region.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Taliban, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan
  • Author: James Schwemlein
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Great power politics is resurgent in South Asia today. China’s growing military ambition in the region is matched in financial terms by its Belt and Road Initiative, the largest and most advanced component of which is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. What remains unclear is how the United States should navigate the new dynamic. This report, which is based on research and consultations with experts worldwide, addresses the question of how the India-Pakistan rivalry will play into the emerging great power competition.
  • Topic: Economics, Power Politics, Infrastructure, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, China, South Asia, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This is the second in the Senior Study Group (SSG) series of USIP reports examining China’s influence on conflicts around the world. A group of fifteen experts met from September to December 2018 to assess China’s interests and influence in bringing about a durable settlement of the North Korean nuclear crisis. This report provides recommendations for the United States to assume a more effective role in shaping the future of North Korea in light of China’s role and interests. Unless otherwise sourced, all observations and conclusions are those of SSG members.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Nuclear Weapons, Conflict, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Mashail Malik, Niloufer Siddiqui
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Pakistan’s 2018 elections marked just the second time in history that power transferred peacefully from one civilian government to another after a full term in office. Although the initial months of campaigning were relatively free of violence, the two weeks before polling were dangerous for campaigners and voters alike, and the elections provided a platform for some parties to incite violence, particularly against Pakistan’s minority sects. This report provides a deep examination of how exposure to political violence in Pakistan’s largest city affects political behavior, including willingness to vote and faith in the democratic process.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Minorities, Elections, Violence, Peace, Voting
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, Asia, Karachi
  • Author: Marc Lanteigne
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Despite its growing status as a major economic and military power, China continues to be a strong supporter of UN peacekeeping operations. China is not only the second-largest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping (after the United States), it has roughly 2,500 personnel deployed in ongoing missions, including in active combat zones in Mali and South Sudan—far more than any other permanent member of the UN Security Council. This Special Report examines what China hopes to gain from its participation in UN peacekeeping, as well as the challenges it will face as its troops find themselves in more dangerous “peace enforcement” situations.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, United Nations, Peacekeeping, Peace
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Mali, South Sudan
  • Author: Jean-Pierre Cabestan
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Chinese troops have been stationed in Mali for the last half-decade as part of the UN-mandated stabilization force. Deployed after rebel groups overran large portions northeastern Mali in 2013, it was just the second time Beijing had ever contributed combat troops to a UN peacekeeping mission. This Special Report examines how China is using its peacekeeping activities in Mali as an opportunity to train troops and test equipment in a hostile environment—and as a way of extending its diplomatic reach and soft power in Africa and beyond.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, United Nations, Peacekeeping, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Asia, Mali