Mediation Perspectives: Innovative Approaches in the Colombian Peace Process

Photo: flickr/Lucho Molina

The Colombian peace process has advanced steadily without major interruption since it was formally launched in Norway and peace talks between the Colombian government and the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) began in Cuba in late 2012. As with most peace processes, the Colombian process has evolved over time and in stages, with adjustments to the methodologies, focus, and engagement of the stakeholders. A number of these modifications are breaking new ground, particularly with regard to the roles of civil society and the design of strategies for dealing with the past. » More

Pakistan’s IDP Crisis

Image: Al Jazeera English/Wikimedia

Pakistan’s armed forces recently launched another major offensive against foreign and local Islamist militants based in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Operation Zarb-e-Azb represents a break from Islamabad’s recent strategy of negotiating peace with the Taliban, a move that baffled many Pakistanis. It’s also resulted in an upsurge of internally displaced persons (IDPs) fleeing the conflict zones. » More

Is Terrorism an Effective Tool for Obtaining Territorial Concessions?

Image: Menendj/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by SIPRI on 7 July 2014. This blog post is published as part of a collaborative partnership between SIPRI and Economists for Peace and Security (EPS).

Terrorism is an important but complex issue that affects many countries. While we have a good understanding of the determinants behind terror campaigns, very little attention has been paid to the question of whether terrorism is an effective strategy for coercing the targeted country to grant political and territorial concessions. The lack of research is surprising, given that the answer to this question is critical to understanding why terror exists at all, and why it appears to be increasing in many parts of the world. » More

Fear and Loathing in Jos, Nigeria

Image: ArnoldPlaton/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by Mats Utas on 14 July 2014.

Since 2001, Jos, Nigeria is internationally known for intermittent bursts of violent, inter-religious conflict. In addition, for the past several years Nigeria has faced terror attacks by the Islamist group Boko Haram, what many would call the worst violent crisis since independence.

On 20 May 2014, two bombs went off in the center of Jos, killing at least 118 people and injuring 56 more. The area targeted was Terminus Market, arguably the busiest and most densely populated location in town, a market used by all ethnic groups and by Christians and Muslims alike. » More

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Al Qaeda and a Global Revolt

Al-Qaida training manual found in Afghanistan, courtesy of CIA/wikimedia commons

 This article was originally published by openDemocracy on 22 May 2014.

The collapse of Zine el Abidine Ben Ali’s regime in Tunisia in January 2011, soon followed by Hosni Mubarak’s in Egypt, had a profound impact across the Arab world. There was an eruption of protest in Oman, Libya and Bahrain, while an incident in the town of Deraa in southern Syria sparked demonstrations that grew and spread into regular events involving thousands of young people.

Almost from the start, Bashar al-Assad’s regime was determined to maintain power, with severe repression of demonstrations leading to violence, injury and death. As non-violent demonstrations escalated into rebellion, the regime’s response was to use greater force while insisting that the stability of the state itself was being threatened by terrorists.

For almost a year this mantra was pushed insistently. By late 2012 it had become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy: dedicated young jihadists had formed some of the most cohesive elements of the rebellion, attracting recruits from across the middle east and beyond. » More

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