Categories
Uncategorized

Colombia and the Philippines: Worlds Apart but on the Same Path to Peace

 

Colombian Paratroops
Colombian Paratroops. Photo by Ronald Dueñas/Flickr.

In addition to their love for telenovelas, as well as their cuisine and religion borne out of a shared Spanish heritage, Colombia and the Philippines now have one more thing in common. This [month], both countries took another step toward peace with their respective armed groups, which could lead to the end of internal conflicts that are among the oldest in the world. On October 15, the Philippines entered into a peace accord with the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Two days later, Colombia’s government began peace talks in Oslo with the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Each of these presents a unique opportunity for civil society to sustain peace by fostering trust and accountability over issues such as land rights, delivery of social services, political participation at the local and national level, and tolerance for other people’s beliefs.

Categories
Uncategorized

Reviewing Pakistan’s Peace Deals with the Taliban

Former members of the Taliban surrender their weapons. Image by Fraidoon Poya for UNAMA.

By the end of 2014, normal U.S. combat forces are scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan. As this departure date approaches, Afghanistan and its U.S.-led allies continue to explore potential peace deals with the Afghan Taliban. At the same time, the Pakistani government is reportedly considering its own peace talks with factions of the Pakistani Taliban—the conglomerate responsible for daily small-arms and suicide bomb attacks in Pakistani territory.

Since the emergence of the Pakistani Taliban, Islamabad has entered into a handful of peace deals with factions belonging to the group—both written and unwritten—in attempts to placate the militants. Most of these peace deals, however, resulted in the further strengthening of the Pakistani Taliban, and only a few of the agreements lasted beyond a few months. Violence flared not long after the agreements became effective, and the Pakistani Taliban then demanded even further concessions from the government. The only exception was the situation in the Swat Valley, where the government launched an aggressive military operation against the Pakistani Taliban after the peace deal failed to render any results. In that case, the Mullah Fazlullah-led Pakistani Taliban faction was forced to flee the Swat Valley, and that region remains in control of the government today.

This article reviews the key peace agreements reached between Islamabad and various Pakistani Taliban factions, and it assesses whether the deals achieved their objectives.

Categories
Uncategorized International Relations Security

Mindanao’s Memorandum of Disagreement

Young MILF fighter in front of peace poster, Mindanao, Philippines
In support of peace? Young MILF fighter in front of peace poster, Mindanao, Philippines. photo: Mark Navales/flickr

The 2008 Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) was meant to solve the seemingly intractable and bloody conflict raging, for decades, between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). It was meant to give the disenfranchised and marginalized Muslim minority of the southern Philippines a homeland, self-rule and near-equal status with the Philippine central government after centuries of bloodshed. Instead of bringing the conflict, which reflects a centuries-old stuggle, to an almost clinically clean end, the collapse of the MOA-AD in the summer and fall of 2008 revealed the deep fissures at the heart of the conflict and laid bare the government’s inability and unwillingness to push through a potentially momentous peace deal.

The Memorandum of Agreement had, almost overnight revealed itself as little more than a fractured ‘Memorandum of Disagreement’ devoid of real political backing or popular support.