Categories
Government Security Conflict

“Water Wars” Unlikely, But Failure of Cities Could Cause Conflict: Interview with Ben Crow

USS Bonhomme Sailors connect potable water to berthing and messing barge
USS Bonhomme Sailors connect potable water to berthing and messing barge. Photo: Official U.S. Navy Page/flickr.

Because of a broadening of actors involved in water security, and decreases in irrigation demand in some areas, so-called ‘water wars’ will likely be avoided, though the failure of governments to provide basic municipal services in cities could be a source of conflict, said Ben Crow, professor and department chair of sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

“It’s quite possible that the failure of governments to provide access to water and sanitation, and, more broadly, to the rights of city living, could be a cause of instability and lack of government legitimacy,” he said.

Categories
International Relations Security Development Conflict

Local Aid Works Better in Somalia

World Food Programme trucks in Somalia
World Food Programme trucks in Somalia. Photo: UN World Food Programme/Peter Casier/flickr.

Somalia could fall into the same trap as Afghanistan and Iraq where massive influxes of aid create a short-term boom in the economy but don’t necessarily lay the groundwork for sustainable growth, said Aisha Ahmad, assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto and chief operation officer of the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation, an internationally renowned organization in Somalia that has provided emergency relief to people throughout the civil war.

Ms. Ahmad said Mogadishu’s current stability is mostly due to the “green zone” established by the international community, and because aid sometimes doesn’t reach rural areas, desperate people are now drawn to the capital, “creating a number of new humanitarian and security concerns that we haven’t seen thus far.”

“Once you leave the green zone, the situation changes dramatically, and you’ll see a lot of the old militia coming out of the bush the minute you leave the capital city going into Afgooye corridor,” she said.

Categories
International Relations Conflict

Coercive Sanctions and Military Threats Push Iran Closer to the Nuclear Threshold

The former US embassy in Tehran
The former US embassy in Tehran. Photo: Örlygur Hnefill/flickr.

Iran’s nuclear activities are being portrayed in an alarmist and irrational way in the United States, and political rhetoric only pushes Iran closer to creating a nuclear weapon, said David Cortright, Director of Policy Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and an expert on nuclear dangers and sanctions.

The international community needs to do everything possible to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons capability, said Mr. Cortright in a phone interview with the Global Observatory, cautioning that “…it’s a very dangerous game, because the very act of threatening military action against Iran is likely to eventually motivate them to go ahead and build the bomb.”

Categories
Security Human Rights Conflict

Shocking Satellite Photos Open New Avenues for Conflict Prevention and Response

Before-and-after images posted by Human Rights Watch show buildings destroyed or severely damaged by violence that began on March 20, 2013 in Meiktila, Myanmar.
Before-and-after images posted by Human Rights Watch show buildings destroyed or severely damaged by violence that began on March 20, 2013 in Meiktila, Myanmar.

Within a week after sectarian riots and arson attacks tore through central Myanmar, conflict monitors and human rights advocates could see the damage via satellite images and tally the number of buildings burned and acres destroyed. In the not-so-distant past, similar data collection required weeks or months of field surveying and interviews with victims and observers; in some cases, post-conflict documentation was delayed for years by government prohibitions on investigations, as well as ongoing violence and safety risks. But the use of geospatial technology such as satellite imagery is rapidly changing human rights monitoring and conflict prevention work, making detailed documentation of violence and rights abuses possible almost in real-time.