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  • Author: John Campbell
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: Boko Haram is a radical Islamist movement shaped by its Nigerian context and reflecting Nigeria's history of poor governance and extreme poverty in the north. The movement is unique in that it combines a sectarian, radical Islamic agenda with violence. Its stated goal is the establishment of a sharia state, but it shows little interest in actually governing or implementing economic development. It is based on the fundamentalist Wahhabi theological system and opposes the Islam of the traditional northern Nigerian establishment, which is broadly tolerant. Boko Haram and its more radical splinter, Ansaru, are steadily expanding their area of operations. Kidnapping has become a major source of revenue and is widespread, while attacks have occurred in Lagos and Kano. The government's response has been to treat Boko Haram as a part of the international al-Qaeda movement. Security service abuses are likely a driver of some popular support for or acquiescence to Boko Haram. The struggle between the government and Boko Haram has dire humanitarian consequences. Many people have been internally displaced in northern Nigeria and many refugees have fled to neighbouring countries. The international community may be asked to help provide humanitarian assistance in what is one of the poorest parts of the world.
  • Political Geography: Nigeria
  • Author: David M. Anderson
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The massacre at Mpeketoni in June 2014 signalled a new departure for al-Shabaab in its violent attacks on the Kenyan state. Justifying the attack as retaliation for the extrajudicial killings of Muslim leaders and the general oppression of Muslims, and as an act of war, al-Shabaab dem-onstrated a keen awareness of the sensitive political position of Kenya's Muslim population. Having been founded in a nationalist context in Somalia, al-Shabaab appears now to be rein-venting itself in the context of Kenya's troubled domestic politics. Claims that the Mpeketoni violence was based on local politics only underline the success of al-Shabaab's “reinvention”. The Kenyan state has done little to win support amongst its own Muslim population for its cur-rent invasion of southern Somalia. Its efforts to contain al-Hijra, an al-Shabaab franchise now operating in Kenya, has involved heavy-handed policing, most recently in Operation Usalama Watch, and has seen the killing and “disappearance” of more than 20 Muslim leaders. Kenya's government now needs to rebuild trust with Muslim communities in its north-eastern border areas, and elsewhere, and to seek a consensus against radicalisation. This should involve a reconsideration of policing methods, the creation of opportunities for political dialogue with Muslim leaders, and a more sensitive, culturally appropriate and equitable approach to Muslim communities in general.
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Somalia
  • Author: Ali Bilgic, Daniela Nascimento
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: Although Turkey had no past colonial involvement with African countries, there has been an increasing revival of Turkey's relation with the continent since the end of the 1990s, which reached a peak after 2005. From then on, along with a focus on Central Asia, the Balkans and the Middle East, Turkish foreign policy started shifting its focus to Africa, and as a new donor country Turkey's political and economic relations with sub-Saharan African countries have intensified significantly. This policy brief analyses and discusses the main economic, political, and strategic motivations behind these shifts and priorities, as well as some of the perceptions and current challenges this change in policy faces.
  • Political Geography: Africa, Central Asia, Turkey, Middle East, Balkans
  • Author: Andrey Makarychev, Licínia Simão
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: It was not until 2007 that the concept of development assistance became part of the Russian foreign policy toolkit. This policy brief explains Russia's development assistance policy – mainly towards Africa – as an effect of the country's global commitments and socialisation dynamics, on the one hand, and Moscow's growing interest in exploring the potential of soft power as an indispensable element of its diplomacy, since both aspects are interrelated. The policy brief also looks at the mismatches between Russia's normative discourse in its assistance towards Africa, and the economic and geopolitical interests it pursues simultaneously. This provides room for reflection on the specificities of so-called South-South cooperation, with which the BRICS grouping in particular is often associated.
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, Moscow
  • Author: Tiziana Trotta
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: IEMed/EuroMeSCo
  • Abstract: The United Nations Peace Conference on Syria is due to take place on 22nd January in Geneva. The Syrian Government and opposition will meet for the first time since the outbreak of the conflict in March 2011. Nevertheless, there are very few prospects of finding a satisfactory solution to end the conflict.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, Islam, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Adriana Skorupska, Konrad Zasztowt
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: If Georgia is to remain the leader among post-Soviet countries in terms of successful democratisation, it must conduct an effective decentralisation of power. During its nine years in power, President Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement rather oversaw a consolidation of power. The transfer of power to the Georgian Dream coalition in 2012 raised hopes that real decentralisation might happen. Poland has been engaged for years in the transfer of know-how and best practices in the field of local democracy building to its Caucasian partner. It should continue its support to the government in Tbilisi. This, however, should be combined with a constructive critique of Georgian reformers’ actions.
  • Topic: Communism, Reform, Democracy
  • Author: Beata Ociepka
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Diplomacy has been changing dramatically in recent years as a result of an adjustment to more interconnected and hybrid international relations. One of the signs of this change is more stress put on soft-power tools as public diplomacy. Classic diplomacy has shifted from the domain of politics to the public sphere, where public opinion is formed. Formerly latent diplomacy has become public diplomacy with the effect of a more symmetric conduct of international political communication. Poland’s public diplomacy is conditioned by the country’s size and its status as a “new” EU Member State, but there are lessons to be learned from strategies adopted by other countries in the European Union, particularly in the fields of culture, development aid, and education.
  • Author: Aleksandra Gawlikowska-Fyk, Ryszarda Formuszewicz
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The EU’s new energy and climate framework for 2030 is an exercise in reconciling Europe’s green agenda with its need for renewed competitiveness—as well as the domestic concerns of Member States. As the energy policies of Poland and Germany are shaped by EU policy, the 2030 policy proposal might serve as an opportunity for a shift towards bolstered bilateral cooperation. The conditions for this are twofold: mutual understanding and thinking outside the box. The publication is a part of the project “The German ‘Energiewende’ from Different Perspectives” carried out by the Polish Institute of International Affairs in cooperation with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Poland.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Diplomacy, Energy Policy, Bilateral Relations, European Union
  • Author: Ryszarda Formuszewicz
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The tougher tone in Germany’s policy towards Russia reflects changes in Berlin’s perception of the eastern giant and in its own self-perception as a power willing to play a more active international role. This readiness for leadership could cement Germany’s status as a key international player whilst handing it the influence necessary to secure its own primary economic interests vis-à-vis Russia. However, it will also require Germany to critically address the long-standing premises of its policy towards Russia, and its appetite to overturn old assumptions remains limited. Lessons drawn by Germany now, in particular with regards to the causes of the Ukraine crisis, will prevail as a guideline for its Russia policy, and as such will also be decisive in the prospects for Polish–German cooperation.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Power Politics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, Germany
  • Author: Damian Wnukowski, Artur Gradziuk
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: At the beginning of 2014, the European Union and China launched negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty that would launch the next stage in economic relations between them. Although both approach numerous issues differently, they have also strong incentives to seek compromise. Reaching an agreement on investment topics could be a significant step towards creating a favourable environment for cooperation and resolving most contentious sticking points in bilateral relations in the near future. It could also become a template for future similar EU agreements.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations, China, European Union
  • Political Geography: China, European Union