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  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Israel and Hamas are locked again in combat likely to yield – beyond tragic life and property loss – a return to a destructive status quo. The immediate triggers were the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli yeshiva students, for which Israel holds Hamas responsible, and the revenge torture and murder of a Palestinian teen by vigilante Israeli Jews. The nature and extent of Hamas's involvement in the initial obscenity remains unclear, but the attack's consequences are anything but. Since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on 8 July, 168 Palestinians have been killed (80 per cent civilians, a fifth of whom were children) and about 1,150 wounded. Some 1,000 rockets have been launched toward Israel, of which about 200 were intercepted by the Iron Dome defence system. Previous rounds ended with each side claiming at best a Pyrrhic victory, because Israel can achieve lasting stability only when Gaza does, and vice versa. Breaking this pattern is even more urgent today, because the stakes of this escalation could be higher.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Islam, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are back on track, with one round of talks in Kuala Lumpur in February 2011 and another scheduled for late April. The obstacles to achieving a final peace are huge, but the administration of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III has at least brought some fresh air to the process. A new government peace panel seems determined to find a way out of a negotiator's nightmare: multiple parties engaged in parallel and sometimes contradictory talks; powerful potential spoilers; and ethnic divisions, feuding clans and divergent political interests among the Bangsamoro – the Muslims of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago – that make unity within the MILF's own constituency elusive.
  • Topic: Islam, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Israel, Philippines, Kuala Lumpur
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Will the next Middle East conflagration involve Israelis and Palestinians? After the serious escalation of the past week in which eight Gazans, including children, were killed in a single day, and the 23 March 2011 bombing in Jerusalem, that took the life of one and wounded dozens, there is real reason to worry. The sharp deterioration on this front is not directly related, nor is it in any way similar to the events that have engulfed the Middle East and North Africa. But the overall context of instability and uncertainty undoubtedly has made a volatile situation even more so. Israelis' anxiety is rising and with it the fear that outside parties might seek to provoke hostilities to divert attention from domestic problems and shift the focus back to Israel. Hamas has been emboldened by regional events and is therefore less likely to back down from a challenge. The combination, as recent days have shown, has proven combustible.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Jerusalem, Gaza, Arab Countries, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Philippine government is experimenting with a creative but risky strategy to bring peace to Mindanao. It has three goals: demonstrate that good governance in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is possible through a two-year reform program; bring separate discussions with two insurgencies, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the much larger, better-armed Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) together; and hammer out the territory and powers of a future Moro “sub-state” in peace talks with the MILF. Until now, the government has not made clear how the three components fit together, but it may reveal its hand – at least in part – in mid-August 2011, when it is widely expected to present a new proposal to the MILF. After President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III took office in June 2010, he said that resolving the conflict in Mindanao was a priority, and the current occupants of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) are determined to find the formula for peace that eluded their predecessors. The idea of “convergence” is the result.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Israel, Philippines
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A year after North Korea shelled an island in the South, killing four people, relations on the peninsula remain tense. South Korea has stepped up its warnings of tough retaliation in the case of further attacks and has frozen most political and economic ties. While Pyongyang has made some efforts to restart talks, it has refused to apologise for the attack and has kept up a torrent of abuse against President Lee Myung-bak, who in turn has maintained his tough line. But the political atmosphere in the South is changing as it enters an election season, with the mood shifting towards a more conciliatory position, including renewed interest in a peace zone in the Yellow Sea.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Defense Policy, Diplomacy, Economics, Bilateral Relations, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Israel, South Korea, North Korea, Pyongyang
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Six months after the collapse of autonomy negotiations between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippines government, low-intensity conflict continues but moves are under way to resurrect talks. It is not clear whether negotiations will resume and if they do, with what agenda. Certainly no settlement is likely during the remaining tenure of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo; the two sides are too far apart, the potential spoilers too numerous, and the political will too weak. The best that can be hoped for is progress around the edges.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, War
  • Political Geography: Israel, Asia, Philippines, Mindanao
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: North Korea says it is preparing to launch an experimental communications satellite using a rocket that is part of its ballistic missile program. This would be in the face of an international outcry, and of what is a strong though not definitive argument that it violates two UN Security Council resolutions. Japan has been most vocally opposed, saying it will shoot down the rocket if it threatens to fall on its territory. But even if the test is successful, it would only slightly increase security risks, while an overblown response would likely jeopardise the Six-Party Talks to end North Korea's nuclear program. What is needed is a calm, coordinated response from the key actors to raise pressure on Pyongyang to return to the talks rather than a divided reaction that only fulfils the North's desire to widen splits among its neighbours.
  • Topic: Security, Weapons of Mass Destruction, International Security
  • Political Geography: Israel, Asia, North Korea
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The motivations for North Korea's second nuclear test are, as with many of its actions, mostly impenetrable. It may be the latest step in an unrelenting drive to become a permanent nuclear state or it could be advertising nuclear wares to potential buyers. It may be driving up the price others will pay for the North to give up its weapons or it might be about ensuring that the military will accept whatever decision Kim Jong-il has made on his successor. Most likely, North Korea's nuclear weapons program serves multiple purposes for the leadership. Whatever the rationale, there are no good options in response. Finding a way to resume talks on ending the nuclear program may appear to reward Pyongyang's bad behaviour, but diplomacy is still the least bad option. At the same time, the UN Security Council's strong and united condemnation of the test in Resolution 1874 must be enforced, while containment of proliferation and deterrence of North Korean provocations need to be boosted.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Israel, Asia, North Korea
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The current reconciliation process between the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah) is a continuation of their struggle through other means. The goals pursued by the two movements are domestic and regional legitimacy, together with consolidation of territorial control – not national unity. This is understandable. At this stage, both parties see greater cost than reward in a compromise that would entail loss of Gaza for one and an uncomfortable partnership coupled with an Islamist foothold in the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) for the other. Regionally, Syria – still under pressure from Washington and others in the Arab world – has little incentive today to press Hamas to compromise, while Egypt and Saudi Arabia are tilting more pointedly toward Fatah. It will take significant shifts in domestic, regional and international attitudes for this to change. Palestine's political-territorial division, now over a year old, is set to endure.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The process that will be launched shortly at Annapolis may not quite be do-or-die for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process but at the very least it is do-or-barely-survive. Positively, a U.S. administration that neglected Middle East peacemaking since taking office appears committed to an intensive effort: it has persuaded both sides to agree to negotiate final status issues – no mean feat after years of diplomatic paralysis and violent conflict. But pitfalls are equally impressive. The meeting, like the process it aims to spawn, occurs in a highly politicised context, with sharp divisions in the Palestinian and Israeli camps. These will make it hard to reach agreement and to sell it to both constituencies and, for the foreseeable future, virtually impossible to implement. Moreover, failure of the negotiations could discredit both leaderships, while further undermining faith in diplomacy and the twostate solution.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries