Showing posts tagged as "mark schneider"

Showing posts tagged mark schneider

17 Dec
Responding to the Humanitarian, Security, and Governance Crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR)
The Central African Republic is a collapsed state today, with more than 613,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), including close to a quarter of the capital city’s population, and another 230,000, who also have fled their homes and now are refugees in neighboring countries, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Virtually none of those displaced are in secure or controlled sanctuaries. Instead they are hiding in the bush or in make-shift quarters with no one fully responsible for their safety. In fact, they are easy targets in the still chaotic security situation in Bangui and many other cities as the French Sangaris rescue operation is just being deployed. Sangaris has yet to be tightly coordinated with the African Union peacekeeping operation MISCA, authorized under Chapter VII by the Security Council, which only comes into being this Thursday (19 December).
Read Mark’s full testimony here.

Responding to the Humanitarian, Security, and Governance Crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR)

The Central African Republic is a collapsed state today, with more than 613,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), including close to a quarter of the capital city’s population, and another 230,000, who also have fled their homes and now are refugees in neighboring countries, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Virtually none of those displaced are in secure or controlled sanctuaries. Instead they are hiding in the bush or in make-shift quarters with no one fully responsible for their safety. In fact, they are easy targets in the still chaotic security situation in Bangui and many other cities as the French Sangaris rescue operation is just being deployed. Sangaris has yet to be tightly coordinated with the African Union peacekeeping operation MISCA, authorized under Chapter VII by the Security Council, which only comes into being this Thursday (19 December).

Read Mark’s full testimony here.

15 Nov
Afghan security agreement needed | Mark Schneider
Kabul is waiting for President Hamid Karzai’s promised Loya Jirga, where the country’s political elite would examine whether to approve the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) authorizing a U.S. military presence after the 2014 transition. Most are betting that Karzai will soon call the country’s elders together to bless the agreement. Some fear his message will be to kill it.
Just weeks ago, Secretary of State John Kerry and Karzai stood before the press corps in Kabul promising that the long-discussed Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) was a done deal, save a few tiny details. The photo-op belied the reality that Kabul is not quite ready to commit to a deal that would exempt U.S. soldiers from prosecution in Afghan courts. Within hours, Karzai backpedalled, stating that a Loya Jirga was required before the agreement could be signed.
Support for the agreement is not universal in Kabul or in Washington. For some in D.C., including liberals within President Obama’s own party, the preference is to get all U.S. military out of Afghanistan immediately. For some in Karzai’s camp, giving U.S. troops immunity from prosecution in Afghanistan is unacceptable.
Both camps should remember Iraq. Failure to reach a similar status of forces agreement resulted in a departure of virtually all U.S. forces, and the country has endured rising sectarian violence ever since. Afghanistan has the added threat of a still dangerous insurgency with al Qaeda links and sanctuary in Pakistan.
The BSA guarantees critical U.S. and international military support post 2014. So why is Kabul hedging? When I visited weeks ago, almost everyone I spoke with agreed it was needed – from warlords, to human rights workers, politicians, police, teachers and doctors. They wanted it approved and signed sooner rather than later because they realized that without foreign troops, their country’s security would be at risk.
But after a year of negotiations, Karzai seems stuck on the same two questions: What security guarantees will the U.S. offer if Pakistan continues to provide sanctuary to the Taliban, and why shouldn’t U. S. soldiers be tried in Afghanistan if they commit crimes there?
Karzai says he has grounds for his hesitation. Just weeks ago, he was incensed when U.S. troops dragged a Pakistani Taliban leader to Bagram Airfield for questioning after the Afghans reportedly convinced him to engage in peace talks. He also pointed to U.S. and NATO air strikes that Kabul claimed violated past accords and caused more civilian casualties. 
Karzai still believes the U.S. needs him more than he or Afghanistan needs the U.S. He thinks the U.S. determination to degrade “core” al Qaeda and deny it a friendly government in Kabul remain a paramount U.S. interest—and he may be right—but not without a BSA. 
What Kabul may not recognize is that, without a deal, Washington political forces continue to build against sending more money and troops to Afghanistan. Some in D.C. already argue that al Qaeda is so weak that no further expenditures of lives or treasure are justified.
Yet, in both Kabul and Washington, many doubt that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) will be ready to contain the Taliban without U.S. and NATO partners a year from now. Since January, the Taliban has upped the tempo of attacks against Afghan civilian and military targets. A BSA would force the Taliban to decide whether to keep fighting or accept a negotiated settlement conditioned on the redlines of ending the armed struggle, severing links to al-Qaeda and respecting the core of the Afghan constitution, including its protection for individual and women’s rights.
The BSA also has strategic and political implications. An agreement would give the political class some security that the next government can actually govern despite the ongoing insurgency, slow the rush of local capital to the Gulf and other “safer” investments, and encourage ethnic powerbrokers to support a national structure rather than their own regional fiefdoms. It would also incentivize the U.S., World Bank and others to fulfill their commitments of aid dollars, technical help and diplomatic presence.
Finally, a BSA would enable President Obama to avoid the charge that the U.S. abandoned Afghanistan a second time. The prospect of Taliban and al Qaeda forces tightening their grip on regional centers would leave U.S. leaders with unpalatable options: unauthorized drone strikes and Special Forces raids. The sooner both sides sign on the dotted line, the better for everyone.
FULL ARTICLE (The Hill) 
Photo: NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/Flickr

Afghan security agreement needed | Mark Schneider

Kabul is waiting for President Hamid Karzai’s promised Loya Jirga, where the country’s political elite would examine whether to approve the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) authorizing a U.S. military presence after the 2014 transition. Most are betting that Karzai will soon call the country’s elders together to bless the agreement. Some fear his message will be to kill it.

Just weeks ago, Secretary of State John Kerry and Karzai stood before the press corps in Kabul promising that the long-discussed Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) was a done deal, save a few tiny details. The photo-op belied the reality that Kabul is not quite ready to commit to a deal that would exempt U.S. soldiers from prosecution in Afghan courts. Within hours, Karzai backpedalled, stating that a Loya Jirga was required before the agreement could be signed.

Support for the agreement is not universal in Kabul or in Washington. For some in D.C., including liberals within President Obama’s own party, the preference is to get all U.S. military out of Afghanistan immediately. For some in Karzai’s camp, giving U.S. troops immunity from prosecution in Afghanistan is unacceptable.

Both camps should remember Iraq. Failure to reach a similar status of forces agreement resulted in a departure of virtually all U.S. forces, and the country has endured rising sectarian violence ever since. Afghanistan has the added threat of a still dangerous insurgency with al Qaeda links and sanctuary in Pakistan.

The BSA guarantees critical U.S. and international military support post 2014. So why is Kabul hedging? When I visited weeks ago, almost everyone I spoke with agreed it was needed – from warlords, to human rights workers, politicians, police, teachers and doctors. They wanted it approved and signed sooner rather than later because they realized that without foreign troops, their country’s security would be at risk.

But after a year of negotiations, Karzai seems stuck on the same two questions: What security guarantees will the U.S. offer if Pakistan continues to provide sanctuary to the Taliban, and why shouldn’t U. S. soldiers be tried in Afghanistan if they commit crimes there?

Karzai says he has grounds for his hesitation. Just weeks ago, he was incensed when U.S. troops dragged a Pakistani Taliban leader to Bagram Airfield for questioning after the Afghans reportedly convinced him to engage in peace talks. He also pointed to U.S. and NATO air strikes that Kabul claimed violated past accords and caused more civilian casualties. 

Karzai still believes the U.S. needs him more than he or Afghanistan needs the U.S. He thinks the U.S. determination to degrade “core” al Qaeda and deny it a friendly government in Kabul remain a paramount U.S. interest—and he may be right—but not without a BSA. 

What Kabul may not recognize is that, without a deal, Washington political forces continue to build against sending more money and troops to Afghanistan. Some in D.C. already argue that al Qaeda is so weak that no further expenditures of lives or treasure are justified.

Yet, in both Kabul and Washington, many doubt that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) will be ready to contain the Taliban without U.S. and NATO partners a year from now. Since January, the Taliban has upped the tempo of attacks against Afghan civilian and military targets. A BSA would force the Taliban to decide whether to keep fighting or accept a negotiated settlement conditioned on the redlines of ending the armed struggle, severing links to al-Qaeda and respecting the core of the Afghan constitution, including its protection for individual and women’s rights.

The BSA also has strategic and political implications. An agreement would give the political class some security that the next government can actually govern despite the ongoing insurgency, slow the rush of local capital to the Gulf and other “safer” investments, and encourage ethnic powerbrokers to support a national structure rather than their own regional fiefdoms. It would also incentivize the U.S., World Bank and others to fulfill their commitments of aid dollars, technical help and diplomatic presence.

Finally, a BSA would enable President Obama to avoid the charge that the U.S. abandoned Afghanistan a second time. The prospect of Taliban and al Qaeda forces tightening their grip on regional centers would leave U.S. leaders with unpalatable options: unauthorized drone strikes and Special Forces raids. The sooner both sides sign on the dotted line, the better for everyone.

FULL ARTICLE (The Hill) 

Photo: NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/Flickr

15 Aug
West Africa: Where Navies Are Not Enough - Fighting Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea | Mark Schneider & Thierry Vircoulon
Johnny Depp may be the best-known pirate in theatres, and Somali pirates remain dangerous in the Indian Ocean, but the pirates causing oil companies and Lloyds of London sleepless nights are raiding ships in Africa’s Gulf of Guinea that carry near 30 per cent of all U.S. oil imports.
In the first half of 2013, the London based International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre recorded three times more incidents in the Gulf of Guinea than off the Somali coast. The area of operations was widened on 15 July, when in the latest raid pirates seized a Turkish tanker off the coast of Gabon.
FULL ARTICLE (allAfrica)
Photo: U.S. Department of Defense Current Photos/Flickr

West Africa: Where Navies Are Not Enough - Fighting Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea | Mark Schneider & Thierry Vircoulon

Johnny Depp may be the best-known pirate in theatres, and Somali pirates remain dangerous in the Indian Ocean, but the pirates causing oil companies and Lloyds of London sleepless nights are raiding ships in Africa’s Gulf of Guinea that carry near 30 per cent of all U.S. oil imports.

In the first half of 2013, the London based International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre recorded three times more incidents in the Gulf of Guinea than off the Somali coast. The area of operations was widened on 15 July, when in the latest raid pirates seized a Turkish tanker off the coast of Gabon.

FULL ARTICLE (allAfrica)

Photo: U.S. Department of Defense Current Photos/Flickr

19 Jun
Examining Prospects for Democratic Reform and Economic Recovery in Zimbabwe
On Monday, 18 June, Crisis Group’s Senior Vice President, Mark Schneider, testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His complete testimony can be found here.
The uncontested constitutional referendum in March enabled Zimbabweans to participate in a voting process without fear of retribution. The pending parliamentary and presidential balloting is another matter. SADC remains the point vehicle for pressing for conditions on the ground to allow for credible elections and a process with integrity, including adequate domestic and international monitoring of all aspects of the process. The U.S. should support those efforts.
Watch the video of the hearing on the Senate website.

Examining Prospects for Democratic Reform and Economic Recovery in Zimbabwe

On Monday, 18 June, Crisis Group’s Senior Vice President, Mark Schneider, testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His complete testimony can be found here.

The uncontested constitutional referendum in March enabled Zimbabweans to participate in a voting process without fear of retribution. The pending parliamentary and presidential balloting is another matter. SADC remains the point vehicle for pressing for conditions on the ground to allow for credible elections and a process with integrity, including adequate domestic and international monitoring of all aspects of the process. The U.S. should support those efforts.

Watch the video of the hearing on the Senate website.

Open Letter to U.S. Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Russ Feingold
The Enough Project and a coalition of human rights experts, including Crisis Group’s Senior Vice President Mark Schneider, congratulate Special Envoy Russ Feingold on his appointment as U.S. Special Envoy to the African Great Lakes region and call on him to lead the efforts for stability and peace in central Africa.
Read the open letter here.
Photo: JD Lasica/Flickr

Open Letter to U.S. Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Russ Feingold

The Enough Project and a coalition of human rights experts, including Crisis Group’s Senior Vice President Mark Schneider, congratulate Special Envoy Russ Feingold on his appointment as U.S. Special Envoy to the African Great Lakes region and call on him to lead the efforts for stability and peace in central Africa.

Read the open letter here.

Photo: JD Lasica/Flickr

16 May
Venezuela: A House Divided
Caracas/Bogotá/Brussels  |   16 May 2013
Legal challenges to the close 14 April presidential election and the government’s reluctance to commit to a full review cast a shadow over the sustainability of the new administration in an already deeply polarised Venezuela.
Venezuela: A House Divided, the latest briefing from the International Crisis Group, examines the presidential election triggered by the death of President Hugo Chávez. Nicolás Maduro, Chávez’s chosen successor, won by a margin of less than 1.5 per cent over Henrique Capriles of the Democratic Unity alliance. The opposition has claimed irregularities and filed a court challenge after the electoral commission refused to conduct a full audit. The judiciary and other key institutions have been hollowed out in the fourteen years of Chávez’s rule, creating uncertainty about whether the transition to the post-Chávez era can be accomplished smoothly.
The briefing’s major findings and recommendations are:
An already polarised country is now clearly divided into two almost equal sides that appear irreconcilable. Dialogue and reconciliation are essential to maintain stability, but doubts surrounding the election must be clarified for this to happen.
The power vacuum produced by Chávez’s death is a source of potential instability. An extremely personalised political regime has been replaced by an unpredictable collection of group and even individual interests. The Chávez government dismantled important elements of democracy and the rule of law over the past fourteen years, and the costs are now being paid by the population, with homicide rates among the highest in the world and rising economic dislocation.
Venezuela’s government should recognise that the sharp division of the electorate necessitates consensus building, not a partisan agenda. It should build bridges to the opposition, the private sector and civil society, conduct dialogue to reduce tensions and avoid violence.
The international community has been mostly indifferent or silent about the deterioration of democracy and rule of law in Venezuela. It is time for stronger messages, particularly from neighbours and partners such as Brazil and regional organisations, regarding the need to avoid regional instability by resolving the political impasse peacefully and promoting democracy, rule of law and human rights, as well as offering mediation assistance if requested.
“There is a potentially dangerous gulf between the regime’s insistence that the election result be recognised as a condition for accepting the opposition, and the opposition’s understandable insistence that it can accept the election results only after a full and transparent review”, says Javier Ciurlizza, Crisis Group’s Latin America and Caribbean Program Director. “If the worst is to be avoided, the moderates (or pragmatists) on both sides need to find a way to bridge that chasm”.
“Venezuela urgently needs to reconstruct its social and political fabric in the post-Chávez era”, says Mark Schneider, Vice President and Special Adviser on Latin America. “It needs to avoid political violence and accept democratic checks and balances in addressing the huge challenges of crime and economic deterioration”. 
FULL BRIEFING

Venezuela: A House Divided

Caracas/Bogotá/Brussels  |   16 May 2013

Legal challenges to the close 14 April presidential election and the government’s reluctance to commit to a full review cast a shadow over the sustainability of the new administration in an already deeply polarised Venezuela.

Venezuela: A House Divided, the latest briefing from the International Crisis Group, examines the presidential election triggered by the death of President Hugo Chávez. Nicolás Maduro, Chávez’s chosen successor, won by a margin of less than 1.5 per cent over Henrique Capriles of the Democratic Unity alliance. The opposition has claimed irregularities and filed a court challenge after the electoral commission refused to conduct a full audit. The judiciary and other key institutions have been hollowed out in the fourteen years of Chávez’s rule, creating uncertainty about whether the transition to the post-Chávez era can be accomplished smoothly.

The briefing’s major findings and recommendations are:

  • An already polarised country is now clearly divided into two almost equal sides that appear irreconcilable. Dialogue and reconciliation are essential to maintain stability, but doubts surrounding the election must be clarified for this to happen.
  • The power vacuum produced by Chávez’s death is a source of potential instability. An extremely personalised political regime has been replaced by an unpredictable collection of group and even individual interests. The Chávez government dismantled important elements of democracy and the rule of law over the past fourteen years, and the costs are now being paid by the population, with homicide rates among the highest in the world and rising economic dislocation.
  • Venezuela’s government should recognise that the sharp division of the electorate necessitates consensus building, not a partisan agenda. It should build bridges to the opposition, the private sector and civil society, conduct dialogue to reduce tensions and avoid violence.
  • The international community has been mostly indifferent or silent about the deterioration of democracy and rule of law in Venezuela. It is time for stronger messages, particularly from neighbours and partners such as Brazil and regional organisations, regarding the need to avoid regional instability by resolving the political impasse peacefully and promoting democracy, rule of law and human rights, as well as offering mediation assistance if requested.

“There is a potentially dangerous gulf between the regime’s insistence that the election result be recognised as a condition for accepting the opposition, and the opposition’s understandable insistence that it can accept the election results only after a full and transparent review”, says Javier Ciurlizza, Crisis Group’s Latin America and Caribbean Program Director. “If the worst is to be avoided, the moderates (or pragmatists) on both sides need to find a way to bridge that chasm”.

“Venezuela urgently needs to reconstruct its social and political fabric in the post-Chávez era”, says Mark Schneider, Vice President and Special Adviser on Latin America. “It needs to avoid political violence and accept democratic checks and balances in addressing the huge challenges of crime and economic deterioration”. 

FULL BRIEFING

30 Apr

Watch Mark Schneider, Crisis Group’s Senior Vice President and Special Adviser on Latin America, discuss UN accountability in Haiti on CBC News 

2 Apr
Mexico must curb cartel violence | Houston Chronicle 
By Mark Schneider
While the White House’s attention turned to a violent Middle East last week, right next door a vital ally faces a bloody challenge: In Mexico, 3,000 drug-cartel murders have been carried out in just the 100 days since the country’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, took office.
The new president has announced plans to address this problem - and to break with the policies of his predecessor, Felipe Calderón. The devil will be in the details, but Peña Nieto’s broad program is a important start.
Cartel murders since 2006 have surpassed 70,000 - nearly 20 times more than NATO combat deaths after a decade in Afghanistan.
When Calderón took office, he turned to the military, eventually enlisting 40 percent of the country’s soldiers in the fight. The rationale seemed clear: No other force appeared capable, given a paltry national police force and state and local forces unable to take on cartels armed with assault weapons and grenade launchers (often purchased in the United States.) But the military, once a universally respected institution, was not ready for this new task, and soon faced charges of abusing human rights.
The International Crisis Group’s new report, “Peña Nieto’s Challenge: Criminal Cartels and Rule of Law in Mexico,” traces the rise of the cartels under Calderón, the initial responses and the way forward being charted by Mexico’s new president.
The loss of Mexican lives has been extreme; the economic losses are, perhaps, immeasurable. Cartels terrorize enough of rural Mexico to transport large quantities of drugs the entire length of the country on their way to U.S. consumers, to steal oil from pipelines (as much as $4 billion worth each year) and to extort and kidnap for profit.
FULL ARTICLE (Houston Chronicle)
Photo: Flickr/Knight Foundation

Mexico must curb cartel violence | Houston Chronicle 

By Mark Schneider

While the White House’s attention turned to a violent Middle East last week, right next door a vital ally faces a bloody challenge: In Mexico, 3,000 drug-cartel murders have been carried out in just the 100 days since the country’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, took office.

The new president has announced plans to address this problem - and to break with the policies of his predecessor, Felipe Calderón. The devil will be in the details, but Peña Nieto’s broad program is a important start.

Cartel murders since 2006 have surpassed 70,000 - nearly 20 times more than NATO combat deaths after a decade in Afghanistan.

When Calderón took office, he turned to the military, eventually enlisting 40 percent of the country’s soldiers in the fight. The rationale seemed clear: No other force appeared capable, given a paltry national police force and state and local forces unable to take on cartels armed with assault weapons and grenade launchers (often purchased in the United States.) But the military, once a universally respected institution, was not ready for this new task, and soon faced charges of abusing human rights.

The International Crisis Group’s new report, “Peña Nieto’s Challenge: Criminal Cartels and Rule of Law in Mexico,” traces the rise of the cartels under Calderón, the initial responses and the way forward being charted by Mexico’s new president.

The loss of Mexican lives has been extreme; the economic losses are, perhaps, immeasurable. Cartels terrorize enough of rural Mexico to transport large quantities of drugs the entire length of the country on their way to U.S. consumers, to steal oil from pipelines (as much as $4 billion worth each year) and to extort and kidnap for profit.

FULL ARTICLE (Houston Chronicle)

Photo: Flickr/Knight Foundation

26 Mar
Myanmar on edge after new eruption of interreligious violence | LA Times
By Emily Alpert
The Meiktila violence echoes clashes last year in the western state of Rakhine, where hundreds were slain in riots between majority Rakhine Buddhists and minority Rohingya Muslims. The bloodshed has marred hopes for Myanmar, also known as Burma, as it takes steps toward democratic reform.
The International Crisis Group has suggested that ethnic unrest might actually be a byproduct of reform, by allowing all kinds of causes “unprecedented space to organize that has been denied for decades.”
“This probably represents the most significant challenge to the democratic reform process underway in Myanmar,” said Mark Schneider, senior vice president of the group. “While the government was able to reestablish order, it’s clear that the underlying problems have not yet been dealt with.”
FULL ARTICLE (LA Times)
Photo: No_Direction_Home/Flickr

Myanmar on edge after new eruption of interreligious violence | LA Times

By Emily Alpert

The Meiktila violence echoes clashes last year in the western state of Rakhine, where hundreds were slain in riots between majority Rakhine Buddhists and minority Rohingya Muslims. The bloodshed has marred hopes for Myanmar, also known as Burma, as it takes steps toward democratic reform.

The International Crisis Group has suggested that ethnic unrest might actually be a byproduct of reform, by allowing all kinds of causes “unprecedented space to organize that has been denied for decades.”

“This probably represents the most significant challenge to the democratic reform process underway in Myanmar,” said Mark Schneider, senior vice president of the group. “While the government was able to reestablish order, it’s clear that the underlying problems have not yet been dealt with.”

FULL ARTICLE (LA Times)

Photo: No_Direction_Home/Flickr

20 Mar
Crisis Group presenta informe sobre narco en México | Rumbo
La organización International Crisis Group (ICG) presentó su informe “El desafío de Peña Nieto: los carteles criminales y el Estado de Derecho en México”, en el cual destaca los acuerdos logrados por el nuevo presidente de México con los partidos políticos y la necesidad de seguir el plan de prevención del delito.
El documento de cerca de 50 páginas hace un recuento de las diferentes acciones que han llevado los últimos tres gobiernos mexicanos, incluído el actual, así como de las muertes en el país adjudicadas a esta lucha.
La investigación señala la importancia de que Peña Nieto mantenga el plan de seguridad que anunció al inicio de su mandato para no acer en discordancias como ocurriera con Vicente Fox y Felipe Calderón, sus antecesores.
ARTICULO COMPLETO (Rumbo)
Foto:  Jesús Villaseca Pérez/Flickr

Crisis Group presenta informe sobre narco en México | Rumbo

La organización International Crisis Group (ICG) presentó su informe “El desafío de Peña Nieto: los carteles criminales y el Estado de Derecho en México”, en el cual destaca los acuerdos logrados por el nuevo presidente de México con los partidos políticos y la necesidad de seguir el plan de prevención del delito.

El documento de cerca de 50 páginas hace un recuento de las diferentes acciones que han llevado los últimos tres gobiernos mexicanos, incluído el actual, así como de las muertes en el país adjudicadas a esta lucha.

La investigación señala la importancia de que Peña Nieto mantenga el plan de seguridad que anunció al inicio de su mandato para no acer en discordancias como ocurriera con Vicente Fox y Felipe Calderón, sus antecesores.

ARTICULO COMPLETO (Rumbo)

Foto:  Jesús Villaseca Pérez/Flickr