Showing posts tagged as "Security Sector Reform"

Showing posts tagged Security Sector Reform

23 Apr
Voice of America | N. Korea Threatens South with Special Military Action
North Korea is escalating its war of words against the South Korean government over what the North perceives as insults by the South. Pyongyang is now threatening to turn the heated rhetoric into action, threatening to take “quick action” against South Korea.Senior newscaster Ri Chun Hee, interrupting regular programming on North Korea’s central television station early Monday afternoon, forcefully read an unusual announcement from a unit of the army’s supreme command.The announcer said a special operation would reduce to “ashes in three or four minutes” the supporters of South Korea’s president and their bases utilizing “unprecedented peculiar means and methods.”Pyongyang blames President Lee Myung-bak for insulting the North at a time when the country was mourning its late leader, Kim Jong Il, who died in December, and then during this month’s celebrations marking the centennial of the birth of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il Sung.North Korea often uses belligerent language and threatens violence against South Korean leaders. But some analysts who closely monitor the North’s bombastic rhetoric say the latest message may presage some sort of attack.Daniel Pinkston, the senior analyst in Seoul for the International Crisis Group, says while there is no indication of a mobilization of North Korea’s military, the announcement from Pyongyang is puzzling and worrying.
FULL ARTICLE (VOA) 

Voice of America | N. Korea Threatens South with Special Military Action

North Korea is escalating its war of words against the South Korean government over what the North perceives as insults by the South. Pyongyang is now threatening to turn the heated rhetoric into action, threatening to take “quick action” against South Korea.

Senior newscaster Ri Chun Hee, interrupting regular programming on North Korea’s central television station early Monday afternoon, forcefully read an unusual announcement from a unit of the army’s supreme command.

The announcer said a special operation would reduce to “ashes in three or four minutes” the supporters of South Korea’s president and their bases utilizing “unprecedented peculiar means and methods.”

Pyongyang blames President Lee Myung-bak for insulting the North at a time when the country was mourning its late leader, Kim Jong Il, who died in December, and then during this month’s celebrations marking the centennial of the birth of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il Sung.

North Korea often uses belligerent language and threatens violence against South Korean leaders. But some analysts who closely monitor the North’s bombastic rhetoric say the latest message may presage some sort of attack.

Daniel Pinkston, the senior analyst in Seoul for the International Crisis Group, says while there is no indication of a mobilization of North Korea’s military, the announcement from Pyongyang is puzzling and worrying.

FULL ARTICLE (VOA) 

20 Apr
The Global Post | New approach needed to end Afghanistan’s insurgency
The current effort to negotiate with the insurgency in Afghanistan is not working. Nor is it ever likely to work as long as Washington continues to dominate the process while President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban are dragged along without enthusiasm.
The signs are about as grim as they can be. The Taliban suspended talks in March with US officials in Qatar. There is ever more speculation about an accelerated drawdown of US and NATO forces. The differing parties — from the Afghan government to the Taliban leadership, to key regional and wider international actors — are looking ahead to the intense political competition sure to follow in the wake of NATO’s withdrawal.
In short, Afghanistan is on course for another civil war unless we see a major shift in policy. The only solution, itself a long-shot, is for the UN Security Council to mandate UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to appoint a dedicated team of negotiators to help lead the way toward a political settlement.
More GlobalPost commentary: Sex, drugs and Latin America
No matter how much the US and its NATO allies want to leave Afghanistan, and to leave it relatively secure, it is unlikely that a Washington-brokered power-sharing agreement will hold long enough to ensure that the achievements of the last decade are not reversed. As the recent chilling killings in Kandahar illustrate, US and NATO forces have been transformed in the eyes of many from liberators to occupiers. The vast majority of Afghans view the US in particular as a full party to the country’s decades-long war.
To make matters worse, the Afghan government is so crippled by internal political divisions and external pressures from regional actors like Pakistan and Iran, that it is poorly positioned to cut a deal with leaders of the insurgency. Afghanistan’s security forces are likewise equally unprepared to handle the power vacuum that will occur following the exit of international troops. In the coming years, the government is likely to face even greater challenges to its legitimacy, as regional and global rivalries play out in its backyard.
President Barack Obama’s pursuit of a “responsible end” to the war in Afghanistan will require the US to drop its traditional resistance to UN involvement and recognize that negotiations must be led by a neutral third-party. A lasting peace accord will ultimately require far more structured negotiations, strong guidance and sustained engagement from the UN.
The UN is the only organization capable of drawing together the necessary political support and resources for what will undoubtedly be a lengthy and complex negotiating process followed, if successful, by an equally lengthy supervised implementation phase. As NATO prepares to draw down its forces, coalition partners must begin to incorporate the UN more in the overall dialogue around transition and a negotiation team should be appointed well before the end of 2013, when many decisions around NATO’s continued presence and role will have already been decided.
More GlobalPost commentary: Afghanistan atrocity prompts rethink
Some have suggested the appointment of a UN-backed “super envoy,” tasked with overseeing the negotiations process, but the conflict is too complex for a single envoy, and there is a danger that concentrating too much power in the hands of a single negotiator would result in damaging and long-lasting misunderstandings between critical parties.
The facilitation process should be designed to allow parties to the conflict to draw on a wide range of resources and expertise. The UN Secretary-General should expand consultations with Kabul and key regional and extra-regional players, particularly the US, Pakistan and Iran, on the formal appointment of a mutually acceptable panel of mediators who are internationally recognized and respected for their knowledge of both international and Islamic law and regional political realities. The Security Council should adopt a resolution to appoint a team of negotiators and an individual to lead it as soon as possible.
Hundreds of billions of dollars, thousands of lives and two fraudulent elections later, it has become abundantly clear that the cost of a political settlement in Afghanistan will be very high. The current political order in which Kabul’s political elites dictate provincial realities and corrupt government officials remain unaccountable to their constituents will not survive for long once NATO troops have gone.
What will emerge in the years after 2013-14 will be determined in very large part by what happens right now. Amid the dwindling legitimacy of all the current actors, only the UN has a chance of forging a deal that will avoid the looming new civil war.
Louise Arbour is president of the International Crisis Group. She is the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.
READ ARTICLE (The Global Post) 

The Global Post | New approach needed to end Afghanistan’s insurgency

The current effort to negotiate with the insurgency in Afghanistan is not working. Nor is it ever likely to work as long as Washington continues to dominate the process while President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban are dragged along without enthusiasm.

The signs are about as grim as they can be. The Taliban suspended talks in March with US officials in Qatar. There is ever more speculation about an accelerated drawdown of US and NATO forces. The differing parties — from the Afghan government to the Taliban leadership, to key regional and wider international actors — are looking ahead to the intense political competition sure to follow in the wake of NATO’s withdrawal.

In short, Afghanistan is on course for another civil war unless we see a major shift in policy. The only solution, itself a long-shot, is for the UN Security Council to mandate UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to appoint a dedicated team of negotiators to help lead the way toward a political settlement.

More GlobalPost commentary: Sex, drugs and Latin America

No matter how much the US and its NATO allies want to leave Afghanistan, and to leave it relatively secure, it is unlikely that a Washington-brokered power-sharing agreement will hold long enough to ensure that the achievements of the last decade are not reversed. As the recent chilling killings in Kandahar illustrate, US and NATO forces have been transformed in the eyes of many from liberators to occupiers. The vast majority of Afghans view the US in particular as a full party to the country’s decades-long war.

To make matters worse, the Afghan government is so crippled by internal political divisions and external pressures from regional actors like Pakistan and Iran, that it is poorly positioned to cut a deal with leaders of the insurgency. Afghanistan’s security forces are likewise equally unprepared to handle the power vacuum that will occur following the exit of international troops. In the coming years, the government is likely to face even greater challenges to its legitimacy, as regional and global rivalries play out in its backyard.

President Barack Obama’s pursuit of a “responsible end” to the war in Afghanistan will require the US to drop its traditional resistance to UN involvement and recognize that negotiations must be led by a neutral third-party. A lasting peace accord will ultimately require far more structured negotiations, strong guidance and sustained engagement from the UN.

The UN is the only organization capable of drawing together the necessary political support and resources for what will undoubtedly be a lengthy and complex negotiating process followed, if successful, by an equally lengthy supervised implementation phase. As NATO prepares to draw down its forces, coalition partners must begin to incorporate the UN more in the overall dialogue around transition and a negotiation team should be appointed well before the end of 2013, when many decisions around NATO’s continued presence and role will have already been decided.

More GlobalPost commentary: Afghanistan atrocity prompts rethink

Some have suggested the appointment of a UN-backed “super envoy,” tasked with overseeing the negotiations process, but the conflict is too complex for a single envoy, and there is a danger that concentrating too much power in the hands of a single negotiator would result in damaging and long-lasting misunderstandings between critical parties.

The facilitation process should be designed to allow parties to the conflict to draw on a wide range of resources and expertise. The UN Secretary-General should expand consultations with Kabul and key regional and extra-regional players, particularly the US, Pakistan and Iran, on the formal appointment of a mutually acceptable panel of mediators who are internationally recognized and respected for their knowledge of both international and Islamic law and regional political realities. The Security Council should adopt a resolution to appoint a team of negotiators and an individual to lead it as soon as possible.

Hundreds of billions of dollars, thousands of lives and two fraudulent elections later, it has become abundantly clear that the cost of a political settlement in Afghanistan will be very high. The current political order in which Kabul’s political elites dictate provincial realities and corrupt government officials remain unaccountable to their constituents will not survive for long once NATO troops have gone.

What will emerge in the years after 2013-14 will be determined in very large part by what happens right now. Amid the dwindling legitimacy of all the current actors, only the UN has a chance of forging a deal that will avoid the looming new civil war.

Louise Arbour is president of the International Crisis Group. She is the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

READ ARTICLE (The Global Post) 

10 Apr
Voice of America: Putting Afghans Forces in Charge Raises Concerns
U.S. and Afghan military leaders have called the agreement transferring leadership for night raid operations to Afghan forces a major milestone towards Afghanistan’s sovereignty. But as Some analysts have raised concerns that the process was driven by political expediency and that the Afghan military and judiciary are not capable of fulfilling the agreement. Afghan presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi says the compromise reached Sunday putting night raids under Afghan leadership resolved a source of tension between the Afghan government and U.S. military. He says the “Afghan-ization” of special operations is a big achievement for the country in maintaining stability and the joint struggle against terrorism.Afghan President Hamid Karzai had said the raids by foreign troops are provocative and increase public resentment against international forces. NATO commanders defended the operations, saying they are extremely effective in disrupting insurgent operations and apprehending Taliban and al-Qaida commanders.U.S. and Afghan military leaders say by putting Afghan special forces in charge and requiring an Afghan judge to authorize each night raid operation, the agreement addresses the concerns of both sides.Lack of capabilityBut Samina Ahmed, South Asia security analyst with the International Crisis Group, says the agreement will produce nominal change at best. She says the Afghan forces will continue to rely on the U.S. to direct and support operations, and that the Afghan judiciary lacks the training and authority to ensure that the Afghan special forces, police and local militias protect human rights and follow the rule of law.
FULL ARTICLE (VOA)

Voice of America: Putting Afghans Forces in Charge Raises Concerns

U.S. and Afghan military leaders have called the agreement transferring leadership for night raid operations to Afghan forces a major milestone towards Afghanistan’s sovereignty. But as Some analysts have raised concerns that the process was driven by political expediency and that the Afghan military and judiciary are not capable of fulfilling the agreement. 

Afghan presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi says the compromise reached Sunday putting night raids under Afghan leadership resolved a source of tension between the Afghan government and U.S. military. 

He says the “Afghan-ization” of special operations is a big achievement for the country in maintaining stability and the joint struggle against terrorism.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai had said the raids by foreign troops are provocative and increase public resentment against international forces. NATO commanders defended the operations, saying they are extremely effective in disrupting insurgent operations and apprehending Taliban and al-Qaida commanders.

U.S. and Afghan military leaders say by putting Afghan special forces in charge and requiring an Afghan judge to authorize each night raid operation, the agreement addresses the concerns of both sides.

Lack of capability

But Samina Ahmed, South Asia security analyst with the International Crisis Group, says the agreement will produce nominal change at best. She says the Afghan forces will continue to rely on the U.S. to direct and support operations, and that the Afghan judiciary lacks the training and authority to ensure that the Afghan special forces, police and local militias protect human rights and follow the rule of law.

FULL ARTICLE (VOA)

5 Apr
Foreign Policy: There’s no “I” in Afghan endgame
Talking about talks with the Taliban may still be all the rage in Washington, but in Kabul the silence has been deafening. Ever since Mullah Omar’s Quetta Shura said last month that it was suspending its ”pointless” dialogue with the United States, the Afghan capital has been bracing for the worst. Spring is traditionally the start of the fighting season in Afghanistan, and confusion around reports last week of a failed suicide attack plot at the Ministry of Defense headquarters have set Kabul on edge. Whatever tune the White House is singing these days, Afghans know talk of war and peace is as cyclical as it is seasonal.
This became all the more clear last week after the European representative for the armed faction of Hizb-e Islami, the group led by former Afghan prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, also called off talks with the U.S. Hizb-e Islami’s about-face only a few months after the group sent a delegation to Kabul in December to meet with U.S., NATO, and Afghan officials comes as little surprise to those familiar with Hekmatyar’s protean power plays. The one-time warlord from Kunduz has been playing cat and mouse with Washington and Kabul for years. As the International Crisis Group pointed out in a recent report on political settlement in Afghanistan, Hizb-e Islami’s proposed 15-point peace plan sounded good on paper when it was first presented last year, but persistent internal rivalries within Hizb-e Islami doomed the scheme from the outset.
FULL ARTICLE (Foreign Policy)

Foreign Policy: There’s no “I” in Afghan endgame

Talking about talks with the Taliban may still be all the rage in Washington, but in Kabul the silence has been deafening. Ever since Mullah Omar’s Quetta Shura said last month that it was suspending its ”pointless” dialogue with the United States, the Afghan capital has been bracing for the worst. Spring is traditionally the start of the fighting season in Afghanistan, and confusion around reports last week of a failed suicide attack plot at the Ministry of Defense headquarters have set Kabul on edge. Whatever tune the White House is singing these days, Afghans know talk of war and peace is as cyclical as it is seasonal.

This became all the more clear last week after the European representative for the armed faction of Hizb-e Islami, the group led by former Afghan prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, also called off talks with the U.S. Hizb-e Islami’s about-face only a few months after the group sent a delegation to Kabul in December to meet with U.S., NATO, and Afghan officials comes as little surprise to those familiar with Hekmatyar’s protean power plays. The one-time warlord from Kunduz has been playing cat and mouse with Washington and Kabul for years. As the International Crisis Group pointed out in a recent report on political settlement in Afghanistan, Hizb-e Islami’s proposed 15-point peace plan sounded good on paper when it was first presented last year, but persistent internal rivalries within Hizb-e Islami doomed the scheme from the outset.

FULL ARTICLE (Foreign Policy)

29 Mar
West Africa has seen a wave of military coups in recent years that some citizens welcome as jumpstarts for faltering constitutional democracies. Analysts, however, say coups hurt more than they help.  The 1990s saw a wave of democratization sweep over Africa. In many places, multi-party politics became the norm. Free and fair elections became a reality, not just a dream. People talked of a “new breed” of African leaders.Fast forward to 2012. A generation of autocratic “presidents for life” is nearing extinction. The military dictatorships that so dominated the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s are a thing of the past. Yet, the strong constitutional democracy remains a work in progress. Military juntas proliferate in West AfricaIn the interim, West Africa has seen the rise of a hybrid species: the transitional military junta, democratization by coup d’etat. Coups are being billed as the restart button for constitutional democracies that hit a rough patch, when in fact, experts say, they almost always do more damage than good.International Crisis Group West Africa Director, Gilles Yabi, said very rarely is a coup the best or only option. He said there are exceptions, like Guinea, which in 2009 was emerging from decades of military authoritarian rule, but on the whole coups are dangerous to long-term stability.
FULL ARTICLE (Voice of America)

West Africa has seen a wave of military coups in recent years that some citizens welcome as jumpstarts for faltering constitutional democracies. Analysts, however, say coups hurt more than they help.  

The 1990s saw a wave of democratization sweep over Africa. In many places, multi-party politics became the norm. Free and fair elections became a reality, not just a dream. People talked of a “new breed” of African leaders.

Fast forward to 2012. A generation of autocratic “presidents for life” is nearing extinction. The military dictatorships that so dominated the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s are a thing of the past. Yet, the strong constitutional democracy remains a work in progress. 

Military juntas proliferate in West Africa

In the interim, West Africa has seen the rise of a hybrid species: the transitional military junta, democratization by coup d’etat. 

Coups are being billed as the restart button for constitutional democracies that hit a rough patch, when in fact, experts say, they almost always do more damage than good.

International Crisis Group West Africa Director, Gilles Yabi, said very rarely is a coup the best or only option. He said there are exceptions, like Guinea, which in 2009 was emerging from decades of military authoritarian rule, but on the whole coups are dangerous to long-term stability.

FULL ARTICLE (Voice of America)

27 Mar
Tuareg Strength Complicates Mali junta’s task | Financial Times
By Xan Rice
Nearly a week after renegade soldiers mutinied in Mali the situation remains precarious. The whereabouts of President Amadou Toumani Toure are uncertain. 
FULL ARTICLE (The Financial Times)

Tuareg Strength Complicates Mali junta’s task | Financial Times

By Xan Rice

Nearly a week after renegade soldiers mutinied in Mali the situation remains precarious. The whereabouts of President Amadou Toumani Toure are uncertain. 

FULL ARTICLE (The Financial Times)

22 Mar
The Arab Spring, that is still blowing over the Middle East a year after it began, has had a limited impact on Jordan where a “siege mentality” is hindering much-needed reform, analysts say.The International Crisis Group said Jordan is “dallying with reform”, triggering debate among analysts in the kingdom, but the government insists the process “is on the right track”."The season of Arab uprisings has not engulfed Jordan, but nor has it entirely passed the nation by," the ICG, a Brussels-based think-tank, said in a report it issued last week."Pillars of the regime are showing cracks, and it ultimately will have to either undertake sweeping change or experience far-reaching turmoil."Analysts as well as the powerful opposition Islamists agree, saying the country’s rulers lack the political will to introduce reforms.
FULL ARTICLE (AFP via Channel News Asia)

The Arab Spring, that is still blowing over the Middle East a year after it began, has had a limited impact on Jordan where a “siege mentality” is hindering much-needed reform, analysts say.

The International Crisis Group said Jordan is “dallying with reform”, triggering debate among analysts in the kingdom, but the government insists the process “is on the right track”.

"The season of Arab uprisings has not engulfed Jordan, but nor has it entirely passed the nation by," the ICG, a Brussels-based think-tank, said in a report it issued last week.

"Pillars of the regime are showing cracks, and it ultimately will have to either undertake sweeping change or experience far-reaching turmoil."

Analysts as well as the powerful opposition Islamists agree, saying the country’s rulers lack the political will to introduce reforms.

FULL ARTICLE (AFP via Channel News Asia)

20 Mar
Myanmar’s army has displaced 75,000 ethnic Kachins since last June in an area along the Chinese border, Human Rights Watch said today, in a conflict that may threaten efforts to convince Western nations to lift sanctions.
Myanmar soldiers fired at civilians, raped women and forced children as young as 14 to work as porters on the front lines, New York-based Human Rights Watch said today in an 83-page report. The offensive, which snapped a 17-year ceasefire, runs counter to President Thein Sein’s emphasis on ending ethnic conflicts since he took office a year ago, it said.
“There’s still a long way to go before the people of Burma, particularly those in conflict areas, benefit from recent promises of reform,” Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement, referring to Myanmar by its former name. “The international community should not become complacent about the serious human rights violations still plaguing Burma.”
…
Myanmar has more than 30 armed ethnic minority groups that have resisted central government control since it gained independence from Britain in 1948. The Kachin fighting, which resumed around the time of the 2010 election when the government voided a 1994 ceasefire, “is the most serious threat to peace in Myanmar,” the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in November.
Human Rights Watch called for an independent international probe into the alleged abuses and for aid to reach displaced people in about 30 camps on the border with China. Abuses in the past year included soldiers shooting at women and children in villages, and the gang-rape of women taken from villages, it said.
FULL ARTICLE (Bloomberg)
Photo: Peerapat Wimolrungkarat: Wikimedia Commons

Myanmar’s army has displaced 75,000 ethnic Kachins since last June in an area along the Chinese border, Human Rights Watch said today, in a conflict that may threaten efforts to convince Western nations to lift sanctions.

Myanmar soldiers fired at civilians, raped women and forced children as young as 14 to work as porters on the front lines, New York-based Human Rights Watch said today in an 83-page report. The offensive, which snapped a 17-year ceasefire, runs counter to President Thein Sein’s emphasis on ending ethnic conflicts since he took office a year ago, it said.

“There’s still a long way to go before the people of Burma, particularly those in conflict areas, benefit from recent promises of reform,” Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement, referring to Myanmar by its former name. “The international community should not become complacent about the serious human rights violations still plaguing Burma.”

Myanmar has more than 30 armed ethnic minority groups that have resisted central government control since it gained independence from Britain in 1948. The Kachin fighting, which resumed around the time of the 2010 election when the government voided a 1994 ceasefire, “is the most serious threat to peace in Myanmar,” the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in November.

Human Rights Watch called for an independent international probe into the alleged abuses and for aid to reach displaced people in about 30 camps on the border with China. Abuses in the past year included soldiers shooting at women and children in villages, and the gang-rape of women taken from villages, it said.

FULL ARTICLE (Bloomberg)

Photo: Peerapat Wimolrungkarat: Wikimedia Commons