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  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia’s only even nominal parliamentary democracy, faces growing internal and external security challenges. Deep ethnic tensions, increased radicalisation in the region, uncertainty in Afghanistan and the possibility of a chaotic political succession in Uzbekistan are all likely to have serious repercussions for its stability. The risks are exacerbated by leadership failure to address major economic and political problems, including corruption and excessive Kyrgyz nationalism. Poverty is high, social services are in decline, and the economy depends on remittances from labour migrants. Few expect the 4 October parliamentary elections to deliver a reformist government. If the violent upheavals to which the state is vulnerable come to pass, instability could spread to regional neighbours, each of which has its own serious internal problems. The broader international community – not just the European Union (EU) and the U.S., but also Russia and China, should recognise the danger and proactively press the government to address the country’s domestic issues with a sense of urgency.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: Asia, Kyrgyzstan
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Nepal is entering a new phase in its fitful peace process, in which its so-called "logical conclusion" is in sight: the integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants and the introduction of a new constitution. The Maoists, the largest party, are back in government in a coalition led by the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist), UML party. Negotiations, although fraught, are on with the second-largest party, the Nepali Congress (NC), to join. Agreement is being reached on constitutional issues and discussions continue on integration. None of the actors are ramping up for serious confrontation and few want to be seen as responsible for the collapse of the constitution-writing process underway in the Constituent Assembly (CA). But success depends on parties in opposition keeping tactical threats to dissolve the CA to a minimum, the government keeping them engaged, and the parties in government stabilising their own precariously divided houses. It will also require the Maoists to take major steps to dismantle their army.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Asia, Nepal
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Nepal's peace process has moved into a phase of definitive progress. More than five years after the ceasefire, the parties have reached a deal on the Maoist fighters, who will leave the cantonments and enter the army or civilian life. An unofficial deal sets out power-sharing arrangements until the next election. The parties are focusing on the critical task of writing a new constitution, which promises a deep restructuring of the state to become more representative and decentralised. Challenges remain, including from continuously evolving coalition dynamics and divisions within parties. There will also have to be further discussions on the combatants. As the parties discuss federalism, which of all peace process issues goes most to the heart of ordinary Nepalis' expectations and anxieties, groups within and outside the Constituent Assembly will see their options narrow, which could strain the process. Yet, this is still the best chance the parties have had to reach formal closure on the war and to institute some of the fundamental changes they promised, provided they have the courage to make far-sighted compromises.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Politics, Armed Struggle, Governance
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Asia, Nepal
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The North Caucasus (Russian) Republic of Dagestan has avoided large-scale violence despite its proximity to Chechnya but is now suffering from escalating street warfare. Several hundred local and federal security forces, administrators, politicians, ministers and journalists have been killed since 2003. The militant Islamist organisation Shariat Jamaat is responsible for much of the violence. Some of its leaders fought in Chechnya, but its extremist propaganda is also attracting unemployed Dagestani youth. This home-grown extremism, espousing jihadi theology and employing terrorist methods, is a new phenomenon. Police efforts to end the street war have been ineffective and in some instances counter-productive. While supporting loyal local elites, Moscow can help halt the increase in violence if it implements an efficient anti-corruption policy and reintegrates youth into the economic and political system.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Civil Society, Corruption, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia, Moscow
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: South Korea's electoral politics has made a turn to the right that is likely to lead to closer security ties with the U.S. and some other important adjustments in foreign policy and has already strained relations with the North. The shift toward the Grand National Party (GNP), evident in President Lee Myung-bak's victory in late 2007, was completed when it won a majority in the 18th National Assembly in the 9 April 2008 elections. Those elections were dominated by domestic concerns, especially the economy; foreign policy and inter-Korean relations were near the bottom of voters' interests. The GNP's legislative agenda will include deregulation and privatisation, intended to revitalise business. Although generally supportive of Lee on foreign policy, the new assembly may cause him problems, particularly over unpopular economic liberalisation and deregulation proposals. Opposition to these, which have already produced a major political crisis, may have an impact on wider security concerns.
  • Topic: Government, International Cooperation, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Three years after the 15 August 2005 signing of the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM), Aceh is politically vibrant but on edge. The sources of unease are several. As preparations get underway for the April 2009 parliamentary elections with 44 parties – six local, 38 national – in contention, the military is worried about Partai Aceh, the GAM party, winning control of local legislatures and challenging Jakarta's authority. Partai Aceh is worried about overt or covert interference from Jakarta, and smaller parties are worried about intimidation by Partai Aceh. Election officials are concerned a dispute between Jakarta and Aceh over candidate requirements could delay the polls, and other struggles with the central government are brewing. Everyone is worried about the health of Governor Irwandi Yusuf, a GAM leader with unparalleled ability to manage competing demands in post-conflict Aceh, who suffered a sudden illness – officially undisclosed but widely reported as a slight stroke – in August.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Politics
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Pakistan's return to civilian government after eight years of military rule and the sidelining of the military's religious allies in the February 2008 elections offer an opportunity to restore the rule of law and to review and repeal discriminatory religious laws that restrict fundamental rights, fuel extremism and destabilise the country. Judicial reforms would remove the legal cover under which extremists target their rivals and exploit a culture of violence and impunity. Ensuring judicial independence would also strengthen the transition to democracy at a time when it is being undermined by worsening violence.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Asia
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 19 December 2007, South Koreans elected Lee Myung-bak as their president. Barring sensational developments in a scandal investigation that still dogs him, Lee, the candidate of the conservative Grand National Party (GNP or “Hannaradang”) will be inaugurated on 25 February 2008 to replace Roh Moo-hyun, who is limited by the constitution to a single five-year term. A former top executive of the Hyundai conglomerate, he has pledged to be an “economic president who will revive the economy with his practical business experience”. Although he has ideological differences with his liberal predecessor, he is unlikely to make dramatic changes in foreign or security policy.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: President Musharraf faces the most serious challenge to almost eight years of military rule. Opposition has gathered momentum following his failed attempt to remove the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Moderate political parties, all segments of civil society and the public at large are vociferously demanding restoration of democracy and rule of law and the military's withdrawal from politics. The choice is not whether a transition will come but whether it will be peaceful and orderly, through free and fair elections, or violent. Musharraf and the high command are tempted to retain their power at all costs. Several of their options - particularly emergency - could portend disaster. Rigged or stalled elections would destabilise Pakistan, with serious international security consequences. Especially the U.S., needs to recognise its own interests are no longer served by military rule (if they ever really were) and use its considerable leverage to persuade the generals to return to the barracks and accept a democratic transition through free and fair parliamentary, followed by presidential, elections this year.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Asia
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: When local elections were held in Aceh on 11 December 2006, conventional wisdom (shared by Crisis Group) was that candidates from the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM) would not do well. They might pick up two or three of the nineteen district races, but the biggest prize – the provincial governorship – was almost certainly out of reach. The old Jakarta-linked parties would benefit from deep pockets, established structures and a split in the former insurgency's leadership. Polls just before formal campaigning began showed GAM's governor/deputy governor slate – Irwandi Yusuf and Muhammad Nazar – virtually out of contention. But GAM won overwhelmingly, in what an analyst called “a perfect storm between the fallout from the peace accord and the failure of political parties to understand the changing times”. The challenge now is to govern effectively and cleanly in the face of high expectations, possible old elite obstructionism and some GAM members' sense of entitlement that it is their turn for power and wealth.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil Society, Politics
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: With the formation of an interim legislature incorporating mainstream parties and Maoists, Nepal's peace process hinges on writing a constitution that permanently ends the conflict, addresses the widespread grievances that fuelled it and guards against the eruption of new violence. Most political actors have accepted the Maoist demand for a constituent assembly (CA) tasked with framing a new dispensation, although royalists are worried over the future of the monarchy, which has in effect been suspended. The major challenge is to maintain leadership-level consensus while building a broad-based and inclusive process that limits room for spoilers and ensures long-term popular legitimacy. Recent unrest in the Tarai plains illustrates the dangers of ignoring popular discontent. Key political actors need to prepare more seriously for the CA. Led by the newly established United Nations mission in Nepal (UNMIN), the international community should pressure all sides to abide by their stated commitments and global norms and provide technical assistance to the electoral process.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: Asia, Nepal, United Nations
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Pro-democracy demonstrations and a general strike across Nepal in recent weeks mark a decisive shift in the country's political equations and probably signal the approaching end of King Gyanendra's direct rule. A successful popular movement could advance the search for peace but will depend on strong political party leadership in dealing with the Maoists; a messy transition would bring its own risks. Although domestic events will determine the speed and direction of political change, international players should us e their influence to establish practical plans to help stabilise the situation and build a more lasting foundation for peace. This briefing argues for the early formation of a Contact Group (consisting of India, the U.S. and UK, working with the UN) and a complementary Peace Support Group (other key donors and international financial institutions) to form a common front on strategy and tactics to maximise international influence in assisting Nepal's escape from its worsening conflict.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, India, Asia, Nepal, United Nations
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 11 December 2006 local elections will take place in Aceh, the once war-torn region of Indonesia where exguerrillas are now running for office. The logistical challenges have been huge, particularly in registering so many people displaced by the December 2004 tsunami. But the political challenge has been even greater: how to ensure that the elections facilitate the transition of the former insurgency, the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM) from an armed struggle to a political movement, thereby reinforcing its 15 August 2005 peace agreement with the Indonesian government. A rift that has emerged within the GAM leadership has complicated that transition.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Aceh is the only part of Indonesia that has the legal right to apply Islamic law (Shari'a) in full. Since 1999, it has begun slowly to put in place an institutional framework for Shari'a enforcement. In the process, it is addressing hard questions: What aspects should be enforced first? Should existing police, prosecutors and courts be used or new entities created? How should violations be punished? Its efforts to find the answers are being watched closely by other local governments, some of which have enacted regulations inspired by or derived from Shari'a. These moves in turn are sparking a raging debate in Indonesia about what role government at any level should play in encouraging adherence to Islamic law and how far the Islamisation drive will or should be allowed to spread.
  • Topic: Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Although the dangers are evident, the international community continues to support General Pervez Musharraf because of his perceived cooperation in the war on terror, ignoring unconstitutional constraints on the civilian opposition. However, the military's refusal to cede real power to civilians and its marginalisation of moderate parties has boosted religious extremists. Instability is worsening, and sectarian conflict threatens to spin out of control. Lacking robust international support for a democratic transition, mainstream parties struggle to survive, subjected to coercion and violence. They can be the most effective safeguard against the religious lobby's manifestly anti-Western agenda, but only if allowed to function freely in a democratic environment. They need outside help but must also get more serious about reforming themselves.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Asia
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After drifting toward crisis for much of 2004, the outlook for stability across the Taiwan Strait has improved. Constraints on Taiwan pursuing pro-independence initiatives that risk conflict with China will likely remain strong through to the end of President Chen Shui-bian's term of office in 2008. These include a reinvigorated political opposition and Chinese initiatives that have won some poplar support in Taiwan and weakened the drive for independence. Most importantly, the U.S. appears determined to deter not only a Chinese attack but also provocative Taiwan independence moves.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Taiwan, Asia
  • Publication Date: 06-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: In the last decade, Taiwan has moved slowly but surely away from its commitment to the idea of 'one China', the proposition, long agreed on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, that Taiwan and the mainland are parts of one country. This has led to steadily mounting tension between Taiwan and China, for both of whom the issue goes to the heart of their sense of identity. While the prospect of an outbreak of war across the Strait remains distant, action is needed by all relevant parties to contain and reverse the situation.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia