Mali – Can Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb Be Stopped?

Mali begins Touareg dialogue. Image by Flickr user Magharebia (CC BY 2.0).

Mali begins Touareg dialogue. Image by Flickr user Magharebia (CC BY 2.0).

A solution to the crisis in Mali seems to be vanishing as time goes by. It is now five months since the country was divided into two parts: southern Mali is ruled by a fragile [fr] government whereas the north, which includes the historic cities of Timbuktu and Gao, falls under the influence of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb‘s (AQIM) and their expansion across the Sahel. » More

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Combatting Cocaine Production in Bolivia, Colombia and Peru

Destroying coca plants in the lush mountains in Medellin, Colombia. Photo by Viewpress. Copyright Demotix (05/30/2012)

Destroying coca plants in the lush mountains in Medellin, Colombia. Photo by Viewpress. Copyright Demotix (05/30/2012)

The coca plant is native to the Andes. Its bush has been cultivated and traditionally consumed by local people for centuries. Many products and the leaves themselves can be legally purchased in Peru and Bolivia.

However, coca leaves are also the raw material for the production of cocaine. As a result, Peru, Colombia and Bolivia are the three largest illegal cocaine producing countries in the world.

According to the UNODC World Drug Report 2012 there was an overall decline in global production of cocaine between 2006 and 2010. This was in part due to the reduction of coca bush cultivation in Colombia. In spite of this, the report also underlines that in the same period coca bush cultivation and cocaine production actually increased in Bolivia and Peru. » More

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Pakistan: The Long Road to Peace and Security

Flags flying in Pakistan on the occasion of Independence Day. Flickr photo by Ejaz Asi, CC BY-NC 2.0

As Pakistan enters its 66th year of independence, -it is a good time to take stock of the country’s internal security dynamics in order to understand how these impact upon the overall security and stability of South Asia.

According to the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies’ (PIPS) Pakistan Security Report, 2011 [pdf], while the country continues to rank “among the most volatile regions in the world”, there has been some improvement in its overall security situation, especially since the later part of 2011. The report states:

“The last half of the year 2011 was a period of comparative peace in Pakistan in terms of internal armed conflict, acts of terrorism and the consequent casualties. A decrease in the number of suicide attacks and drone strikes were the major contributing factors… the security situation is slowly improving as violence has decreased 24 percent in the last two years.” » More

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Maritime Row with China Forces Philippines to Upgrade Defense

Philippine Marines during an amphibious assault training exercise. Image by Wikimedia Commons.

Philippine Marines during an amphibious assault training exercise. Image by Wikimedia Commons.

A maritime dispute with China has forced the Philippines to review its defense capabilities. Tension arose earlier this year when Beijing and Manila accused each other of illegally occupying the waters near the disputed Scarborough Shoals in the South China Sea.

The government has already dispatched several diplomatic missions seeking military agreements or cooperation with various countries in the Asia-Pacific. » More

Russia’s War Games Make Georgia Nervous

Russian Military Exercise 2010. Photo by George Malets. Copyright Demotix (08/26/2010)

Russian Military Exercise 2010. Photo by George Malets. Copyright Demotix (08/26/2010)

In June and July Russia held several military exercises with its regional partners. There are more to come in August and September. Of course, none of the planned events are quite as extensive as the one that an Iranian news agency falsely reported on June 19th, in a bit of wishful thinking. There won’t be joint war games involving 90,000 troops held in Syria by Russia, China and Iran.

Even then, the exercises are numerous and heavily concentrated in Central Asia. In June there was Peaceful Mission-2012 [ru], held by five Shanghai Group countries (Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan) in Tajikistan. There were 2000 troops involved in the antiterrorist themed war game, of which Russia contributed 350. » More

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