Showing posts tagged as "conflict"

Showing posts tagged conflict

15 Oct
Why ISIS Is Gaining Ground – and So Hard to Beat | Lara Setrakian 
Noah Bonsey, senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, gave us an in-depth explanation of why ISIS has had so much success in Syria and the challenges ahead for degrading its influence.
As of Thursday, the Islamic State (ISIS) had seized 40% of the strategic Syrian border town of Kobani, raising questions about the success of U.S.-led airstrikes meant to stem the group’s advance. The U.N. warned that ISIS could massacre the remaining 500 people trapped in Kobani, while analysts said an ISIS victory there would destabilize both the border region and the Middle East at large.
ISIS now controls roughly one-third of Syrian territory. Its continued spread has sparked a debate over new measures to counter the group, among them the possible creation of a buffer zone in northern Syria – which could require a no-fly zone to protect it.
As part of the strategy behind coalition airstrikes, unveiled last month, the U.S. had said it would rely on moderate rebel groups in Syria – what’s been known as the Free Syrian Army – to fight ISIS on the ground. But in the past couple of days, the White House admitted that those moderate groups are not prepared to take on ISIS and win; they have been outgunned and overwhelmed by the superior weapons, training and resources that ISIS has at hand.
“The U.S. shares some of the blame for the current state of the rebel forces,” said Noah Bonsey, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group.
“Part of the issue here is that the U.S. is coming late into the game … prior to this current stage the U.S. had not invested significant resources in improving capacities.”
Bonsey gave us an in-depth explanation of why ISIS has had so much success in Syria and the challenges ahead for degrading its influence.
FULL INTERVIEW (Syria Deeply)
Photo: Wouter/flickr

Why ISIS Is Gaining Ground – and So Hard to Beat | Lara Setrakian 

Noah Bonsey, senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, gave us an in-depth explanation of why ISIS has had so much success in Syria and the challenges ahead for degrading its influence.

As of Thursday, the Islamic State (ISIS) had seized 40% of the strategic Syrian border town of Kobani, raising questions about the success of U.S.-led airstrikes meant to stem the group’s advance. The U.N. warned that ISIS could massacre the remaining 500 people trapped in Kobani, while analysts said an ISIS victory there would destabilize both the border region and the Middle East at large.

ISIS now controls roughly one-third of Syrian territory. Its continued spread has sparked a debate over new measures to counter the group, among them the possible creation of a buffer zone in northern Syria – which could require a no-fly zone to protect it.

As part of the strategy behind coalition airstrikes, unveiled last month, the U.S. had said it would rely on moderate rebel groups in Syria – what’s been known as the Free Syrian Army – to fight ISIS on the ground. But in the past couple of days, the White House admitted that those moderate groups are not prepared to take on ISIS and win; they have been outgunned and overwhelmed by the superior weapons, training and resources that ISIS has at hand.

“The U.S. shares some of the blame for the current state of the rebel forces,” said Noah Bonsey, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group.

“Part of the issue here is that the U.S. is coming late into the game … prior to this current stage the U.S. had not invested significant resources in improving capacities.”

Bonsey gave us an in-depth explanation of why ISIS has had so much success in Syria and the challenges ahead for degrading its influence.

FULL INTERVIEW (Syria Deeply)

Photo: Wouter/flickr

14 Oct
Bringing Back the Palestinian Refugee Question
Jerusalem/Ramallah/Gaza/Brussels  |   9 Oct 2014
With Palestinians increasingly doubtful that the refugee question can be resolved within a two-state framework, the Palestinian leadership should seek to reinvigorate refugee communities as well as to reclaim its representation of them. When diplomacy emerges from its hiatus, the leadership will be able to negotiate and implement a peace agreement only if it wins refugees’ support or at least acquiescence.
In its latest report, Bringing Back the Palestinian Refugee Question, the International Crisis Group examines what could be done on the Palestinian side, without compromising core Israeli interests, to mitigate the risk that the Palestinian refugee question would derail a future agreement. For most of the 66 years since the Arab inhabitants of historic Palestine were displaced with the establishment of Israel in what Palestinians call the Nakba (catastrophe), the refugee question was at the forefront of the Palestinian national agenda. It no longer is. Refugees feel alienated from the Palestinian Authority (PA), doubt the intentions of Palestinian negotiators, and resent the class structure that the PA and its economic policies have produced.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
Calcified refugee camp leadership committees ought to be renewed by election or selection. While their predicament is largely a reflection of the dysfunction of the overall political system, the relative isolation of the camps could facilitate a more representative local leadership. Given the limited resources of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), credible local leadership is needed.
Palestinian elites, particularly in the West Bank, should combat the notion that refugee political claims can be advanced only by isolating camps from the broader social fabric. Refugees increasingly have come to believe that socio-economic deprivation is not the only way to maintain identity; reinvigorating political structures to better represent them would be more effective and humane.
Donors should continue to fund UNRWA. Its support cannot solve the refugee problem, but the precipitous decline of services could exacerbate it and provoke regional instability. Palestinian political elites should undertake measures to improve daily life for refugees and ensure that economic reforms benefit rather than further marginalise them.
“Only a Palestinian leadership perceived as legitimate, inclusive and representative by all Palestinians will be considered authorised to negotiate a compromise with Israel” says Nathan Thrall, Senior Middle East Analyst. “The lull in talks gives the national movement a chance to reconstruct itself so Palestinians of all sorts, particularly refugees, can influence negotiating positions”.
“The Palestinian leadership, the Israeli government and the international community need to understand that their current approach to the refugee question is a recipe not only for failure and strife, but for further undermining the two-state solution”, says Robert Blecher, Middle East and North Africa Acting Program Director.
FULL REPORT

Bringing Back the Palestinian Refugee Question

Jerusalem/Ramallah/Gaza/Brussels  |   9 Oct 2014

With Palestinians increasingly doubtful that the refugee question can be resolved within a two-state framework, the Palestinian leadership should seek to reinvigorate refugee communities as well as to reclaim its representation of them. When diplomacy emerges from its hiatus, the leadership will be able to negotiate and implement a peace agreement only if it wins refugees’ support or at least acquiescence.

In its latest report, Bringing Back the Palestinian Refugee Question, the International Crisis Group examines what could be done on the Palestinian side, without compromising core Israeli interests, to mitigate the risk that the Palestinian refugee question would derail a future agreement. For most of the 66 years since the Arab inhabitants of historic Palestine were displaced with the establishment of Israel in what Palestinians call the Nakba (catastrophe), the refugee question was at the forefront of the Palestinian national agenda. It no longer is. Refugees feel alienated from the Palestinian Authority (PA), doubt the intentions of Palestinian negotiators, and resent the class structure that the PA and its economic policies have produced.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

  • Calcified refugee camp leadership committees ought to be renewed by election or selection. While their predicament is largely a reflection of the dysfunction of the overall political system, the relative isolation of the camps could facilitate a more representative local leadership. Given the limited resources of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), credible local leadership is needed.
  • Palestinian elites, particularly in the West Bank, should combat the notion that refugee political claims can be advanced only by isolating camps from the broader social fabric. Refugees increasingly have come to believe that socio-economic deprivation is not the only way to maintain identity; reinvigorating political structures to better represent them would be more effective and humane.
  • Donors should continue to fund UNRWA. Its support cannot solve the refugee problem, but the precipitous decline of services could exacerbate it and provoke regional instability. Palestinian political elites should undertake measures to improve daily life for refugees and ensure that economic reforms benefit rather than further marginalise them.

“Only a Palestinian leadership perceived as legitimate, inclusive and representative by all Palestinians will be considered authorised to negotiate a compromise with Israel” says Nathan Thrall, Senior Middle East Analyst. “The lull in talks gives the national movement a chance to reconstruct itself so Palestinians of all sorts, particularly refugees, can influence negotiating positions”.

“The Palestinian leadership, the Israeli government and the international community need to understand that their current approach to the refugee question is a recipe not only for failure and strife, but for further undermining the two-state solution”, says Robert Blecher, Middle East and North Africa Acting Program Director.

FULL REPORT

9 Oct
Central African Republic: A Transition at Risk | Crisis Group
On 26 September 2014, the United Nations Secretary-General convened a high-level meeting on the Central African Republic. The meeting aimed to identify the next steps for the restoration of peace and stability in the country, following the signing of the Brazzaville Cessation of Hostilities agreement on 23 July, the appointment of a new transitional government on 24 August and the transfer of authority from the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA) to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) on 15 September. The meeting was attended by CAR’s President Catherine Samba-Panza and representatives of the five Permanent Members of the Security Council, regional states, regional organisations and international financial institutions. The International Crisis Group sent the following letter to the participants ahead of the meeting.
Letter to the Participants of the High-Level Meeting on the Central African Republic | 26 September 2014
Excellencies,
The Central African Republic’s seven-month-old transition is at risk. The country’s leaders and partners meeting in the special high-level event at the UN General Assembly on 26 September 2014 should redouble efforts to put it back on track.
The July Brazzaville summit, which aimed to end CAR’s de-facto partition, has not stopped the fighting. The main armed groups are in disarray, lack clear leadership, seek to expand their areas of control and pursue banditry as much as politics. They should be contained to allow space for the political process. Political elites in Bangui are divided. The government has become weaker, faces growing popular discontent and has been accused of favouritism, with the choice of a new Prime Minister criticised. Despite a display of unanimity, CAR’s neighbours pursue competing and often ambiguous strategies in the country.
FULL LETTER (In Pursuit of Peace - Crisis Group Blog)
Photo: UN Photo/Cia Pak

Central African Republic: A Transition at Risk | Crisis Group

On 26 September 2014, the United Nations Secretary-General convened a high-level meeting on the Central African Republic. The meeting aimed to identify the next steps for the restoration of peace and stability in the country, following the signing of the Brazzaville Cessation of Hostilities agreement on 23 July, the appointment of a new transitional government on 24 August and the transfer of authority from the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA) to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) on 15 September. The meeting was attended by CAR’s President Catherine Samba-Panza and representatives of the five Permanent Members of the Security Council, regional states, regional organisations and international financial institutions. The International Crisis Group sent the following letter to the participants ahead of the meeting.

Letter to the Participants of the High-Level Meeting on the Central African Republic | 26 September 2014

Excellencies,

The Central African Republic’s seven-month-old transition is at risk. The country’s leaders and partners meeting in the special high-level event at the UN General Assembly on 26 September 2014 should redouble efforts to put it back on track.

The July Brazzaville summit, which aimed to end CAR’s de-facto partition, has not stopped the fighting. The main armed groups are in disarray, lack clear leadership, seek to expand their areas of control and pursue banditry as much as politics. They should be contained to allow space for the political process. Political elites in Bangui are divided. The government has become weaker, faces growing popular discontent and has been accused of favouritism, with the choice of a new Prime Minister criticised. Despite a display of unanimity, CAR’s neighbours pursue competing and often ambiguous strategies in the country.

FULL LETTER (In Pursuit of Peace - Crisis Group Blog)

Photo: UN Photo/Cia Pak

1 Oct
CrisisWatch | A monthly bulletin on current and potential conflicts
September 2014 - Trends
Deteriorated Situations: Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen
Conflict Risk Alerts: Syria
Conflict Resolution Opportunities: Sudan
FULL BULLETIN
INTERACTIVE CONFLICT MAP

CrisisWatch | A monthly bulletin on current and potential conflicts

September 2014 - Trends

Deteriorated Situations: Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen

Conflict Risk Alerts: Syria

Conflict Resolution Opportunities: Sudan

FULL BULLETIN

INTERACTIVE CONFLICT MAP

Crisis Group Says Zimbabwe May Become Failed State | Blessing  Zulu
WASHINGTON DC—The International Crisis Group (ICG) says mounting tensions in Zanu PF over President Robert Mugabe’s succession, First Lady Grace Mugabe’s entrance into mainstream politics, the dire economic crisis and related issues could see Zimbabwe sliding into a failed state.
In its latest report titled ‘Zimbabwe: Waiting for the Future’, the ICG says Zimbabwe’s politics and economy are precarious raising the need for Zanu-PF to address  on President Mugabe’s successor at the party’s elective December congress.
The report says despite “visibly waning capacities, 90-year-old Robert Mugabe shows no sign of wanting to leave office.
"The succession battle within his party is presented as a two-way race between Vice President Joice Mujuru and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, but the reality is more complex. Public battles have intensified, with intimidation and violence a disquieting feature."
FULL ARTICLE (Voice of America)
Photo: Gregg Carlstrom/flickr

Crisis Group Says Zimbabwe May Become Failed State | Blessing  Zulu

WASHINGTON DC—The International Crisis Group (ICG) says mounting tensions in Zanu PF over President Robert Mugabe’s succession, First Lady Grace Mugabe’s entrance into mainstream politics, the dire economic crisis and related issues could see Zimbabwe sliding into a failed state.

In its latest report titled ‘Zimbabwe: Waiting for the Future’, the ICG says Zimbabwe’s politics and economy are precarious raising the need for Zanu-PF to address  on President Mugabe’s successor at the party’s elective December congress.

The report says despite “visibly waning capacities, 90-year-old Robert Mugabe shows no sign of wanting to leave office.

"The succession battle within his party is presented as a two-way race between Vice President Joice Mujuru and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, but the reality is more complex. Public battles have intensified, with intimidation and violence a disquieting feature."

FULL ARTICLE (Voice of America)

Photo: Gregg Carlstrom/flickr

25 Sep
"The Ebola health crisis threatens to become a political crisis that could unravel years of effort to stabilise West Africa. The hardest-hit countries now face widespread chaos and, potentially, collapse. Adding social breakdown to the epidemic would create disaster perhaps impossible to manage."

—From Crisis Group’s latest Statement on Ebola and Conflict in West Africa

18 Sep

Crisis Group’s Central Africa analyst Thibaud Lesueur speaks to Al Jazeera about the UN taking over peacekeeping from African Union in Central African Republic.

FULL Report (Al Jazeera)

17 Sep
Libya’s leaders shelter by the sea as country tilts toward civil war | LAURA KING AND YASMINE RYAN
The seaside hotel that serves as the last redoubt of Libya’s internationally recognized government is named Dar al-Salam, or House of Peace. But beyond the confines of this modest port city nearly a thousand miles from the capital, this country teeters on the brink of civil war.
In the three years since longtime dictator Moammar Kadafi was toppled and slain, the energy-rich North African nation has struggled fitfully to reach some power equilibrium among heavily armed groups, fractured along ideological, regional and tribal lines. But over the last four months, the level of violence has escalated as the various groups fight for influence and riches, and the very notion of Libya as a state is slipping away.
FULL REPORT (Los Angeles Times)
Photo: Nasser Nouri/flickr

Libya’s leaders shelter by the sea as country tilts toward civil war | LAURA KING AND YASMINE RYAN

The seaside hotel that serves as the last redoubt of Libya’s internationally recognized government is named Dar al-Salam, or House of Peace. But beyond the confines of this modest port city nearly a thousand miles from the capital, this country teeters on the brink of civil war.

In the three years since longtime dictator Moammar Kadafi was toppled and slain, the energy-rich North African nation has struggled fitfully to reach some power equilibrium among heavily armed groups, fractured along ideological, regional and tribal lines. But over the last four months, the level of violence has escalated as the various groups fight for influence and riches, and the very notion of Libya as a state is slipping away.

FULL REPORT (Los Angeles Times)

Photo: Nasser Nouri/flickr

12 Sep
U.S. Pins Hope on Syrian Rebels With Loyalties All Over the Map | BEN HUBBARD, ERIC SCHMITT and MARK MAZZETTI
BEIRUT, Lebanon — President Obama’s determination to train Syrian rebels to serve as ground troops against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria leaves the United States dependent on a diverse group riven by infighting, with no shared leadership and with hard-line Islamists as its most effective fighters.
After more than three years of civil war, there are hundreds of militias fighting President Bashar al-Assad — and one another. Among them, even the more secular forces have turned to Islamists for support and weapons over the years, and the remaining moderate rebels often fight alongside extremists like the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.
“You are not going to find this neat, clean, secular rebel group that respects human rights and that is waiting and ready because they don’t exist,” said Aron Lund, a Syria analyst who edits the Syria in Crisis blog for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It is a very dirty war and you have to deal with what is on offer.”
FULL ARTICLE (The New York Times)
Photo: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Liesl Marelli/The National Guard/flickr

U.S. Pins Hope on Syrian Rebels With Loyalties All Over the Map | BEN HUBBARD, ERIC SCHMITT and MARK MAZZETTI

BEIRUT, Lebanon — President Obama’s determination to train Syrian rebels to serve as ground troops against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria leaves the United States dependent on a diverse group riven by infighting, with no shared leadership and with hard-line Islamists as its most effective fighters.

After more than three years of civil war, there are hundreds of militias fighting President Bashar al-Assad — and one another. Among them, even the more secular forces have turned to Islamists for support and weapons over the years, and the remaining moderate rebels often fight alongside extremists like the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.

“You are not going to find this neat, clean, secular rebel group that respects human rights and that is waiting and ready because they don’t exist,” said Aron Lund, a Syria analyst who edits the Syria in Crisis blog for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It is a very dirty war and you have to deal with what is on offer.”

FULL ARTICLE (The New York Times)

Photo: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Liesl Marelli/The National Guard/flickr

11 Sep
Water Pressures in Central Asia
Bishkek/Brussels  |   11 Sep 2014
Growing tensions in the Ferghana Valley are exacerbated by disputes over shared water resources. To address this, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan urgently need to step back from using water or energy as a coercive tool and focus on reaching a series of modest, bilateral agreements, pending comprehensive resolution of this serious problem.
Political rivalries, economic competition, heightened nationalism and mistrust hamper the search for a solution to the region’s growing water and energy needs. In its latest report, Water Pressures in Central Asia, the International Crisis Group examines the impact of water issues on shared border areas in the volatile Ferghana Valley; water shortages in urban areas; and competing water and energy needs among the three riparian states of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The report also analyses the international community’s potential to contribute to national and regional stability in Central Asia.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
Kyrgyzstan is looking at a bleak winter of energy shortages because of low water levels at the Toktogul reservoir and hydropower plant. Energy insecurity and resentment are growing and have proved to be major catalysts in the downfall of successive Kyrgyz administrations. Only mass labour migration and authoritarian tactics have prevented similar upheavals in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Attempts at comprehensive regional solutions have foundered on mistrust. The three countries (and international backers) should act in the Ferghana Valley border areas to end annual competition and conflict over water by seeking step-by-step solutions rather than an all-inclusive resource settlement. If Uzbekistan will not join, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan should work bilaterally.
Uzbekistan’s irrigation system desperately needs modernisation. Researchers suggest that 50 to 80 per cent of water used for agricultural irrigation is lost.
The failure in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to provide basic services greatly increases the perception that their governments are weak and corrupt and provides a rallying point for opposition movements that seek to oust them.
The donor community, including China, the EU and Russia, should support the region in modernising its water infrastructure, building in effective anti-corruption measures and focusing on direct impact at community levels.
“Corruption, hidden interests and inflexible positions in all three states hinder a mutually acceptable solution. A common development strategy focusing on reform of agricultural and energy sectors would be in their interest”, says Deirdre Tynan, Central Asia Project Director, “but such an initiative requires a radical shift in the way regional leaders think”.
“The failure of Bishkek, Dushanbe and Tashkent to resolve cross-border water problems shows a worrying disregard for stability in their common area. Strained ethnic relations and competition over water and land could be a deadly mix. Conflict in this volatile part of Central Asia risks rapid, possibly irreversible regional destabilisation”, says Paul Quinn-Judge, Europe and Central Asia Program Director.
FULL REPORT

Water Pressures in Central Asia

Bishkek/Brussels  |   11 Sep 2014

Growing tensions in the Ferghana Valley are exacerbated by disputes over shared water resources. To address this, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan urgently need to step back from using water or energy as a coercive tool and focus on reaching a series of modest, bilateral agreements, pending comprehensive resolution of this serious problem.

Political rivalries, economic competition, heightened nationalism and mistrust hamper the search for a solution to the region’s growing water and energy needs. In its latest report, Water Pressures in Central Asia, the International Crisis Group examines the impact of water issues on shared border areas in the volatile Ferghana Valley; water shortages in urban areas; and competing water and energy needs among the three riparian states of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The report also analyses the international community’s potential to contribute to national and regional stability in Central Asia.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

  • Kyrgyzstan is looking at a bleak winter of energy shortages because of low water levels at the Toktogul reservoir and hydropower plant. Energy insecurity and resentment are growing and have proved to be major catalysts in the downfall of successive Kyrgyz administrations. Only mass labour migration and authoritarian tactics have prevented similar upheavals in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
  • Attempts at comprehensive regional solutions have foundered on mistrust. The three countries (and international backers) should act in the Ferghana Valley border areas to end annual competition and conflict over water by seeking step-by-step solutions rather than an all-inclusive resource settlement. If Uzbekistan will not join, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan should work bilaterally.
  • Uzbekistan’s irrigation system desperately needs modernisation. Researchers suggest that 50 to 80 per cent of water used for agricultural irrigation is lost.
  • The failure in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to provide basic services greatly increases the perception that their governments are weak and corrupt and provides a rallying point for opposition movements that seek to oust them.
  • The donor community, including China, the EU and Russia, should support the region in modernising its water infrastructure, building in effective anti-corruption measures and focusing on direct impact at community levels.

“Corruption, hidden interests and inflexible positions in all three states hinder a mutually acceptable solution. A common development strategy focusing on reform of agricultural and energy sectors would be in their interest”, says Deirdre Tynan, Central Asia Project Director, “but such an initiative requires a radical shift in the way regional leaders think”.

“The failure of Bishkek, Dushanbe and Tashkent to resolve cross-border water problems shows a worrying disregard for stability in their common area. Strained ethnic relations and competition over water and land could be a deadly mix. Conflict in this volatile part of Central Asia risks rapid, possibly irreversible regional destabilisation”, says Paul Quinn-Judge, Europe and Central Asia Program Director.

FULL REPORT