Month: August 2014

Re-assessing Post-Cold War Assumptions after Russia’s Gambit in Ukraine

Since April 2014, Russia had been waging a proxy war in eastern Ukraine. Although no war was officially declared, Russia’s covert and overt support was crucial in financing, equipping, providing personnel, and supplying intelligence to the pro-Russian separatists. Russia’s fateful decision to undertake a direct military incursion into southeastern Ukraine has turned what was previously only a proxy war into something undeniably real.

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Operation Barkhane: A Show of Force and Political Games in the Sahel-Sahara

In July 2014, French President François Hollande launched Operation Barkhane; a counter-terrorism effort targeting terrorist groups in Sahel countries. This new mission is the continuation of Operation Serval launched in January 2013. This new operation shows continuity in France’s defence policy, as well as the country’s need to maintain its political influence in Africa by enhancing military operational capacities.

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Security Sector Reform: Past, Present…and Future?

After more than ten years of cobbling together a rather uneven record, SSR processes continue to focus on supporting state security agents who, if not blatant aggressors, have often proven dishearteningly ineffective. The politics of genuine security reform are never frictionless, but they are necessary. And for too long they’ve been the weak link of SSR. An important moment has arrived to take an honest look at the concept of SSR as a whole.

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Security Assistance in Africa: Inside America’s “New Frontier”

Several weeks ago at the US-Africa Leaders Summit, President Obama unveiled the Security Governance Initiative (SGI), a new program designed to address security sector governance and improve security capacity in six African countries. The SGI is the latest in a series of security assistance initiatives that the US has rolled out specifically targeting Africa in an effort to build the capacity of African states to become reliable security and counter-terrorism partners.

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Backgrounder – The Emergence of the Islamic State

The rapid advance in June of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Shām (ISIS) across northern Iraq stunned global security experts and policy makers alike. The collapse and retreat of the Iraqi army demonstrates, more than anything, the abject failure of American policy in the country. After eight years of occupation and over 100 billion USD invested in Iraq’s security infrastructure, the United States has precious little to show for its commitment.

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Against the Odds: The Case for Greater Western Intervention in Syria and Iraq

The Syrian civil war is now in its third year and continues unabated. The ongoing conflict is having unexpected and devastating effects throughout the Middle East, exacerbating tensions in surrounding countries. While Cameron and Obama have already morphed “no military intervention” into “no boots on the ground,” the question remains: what overdue action Western governments can sensibly take to achieve the limited aims of reducing the bloodshed and limiting further conflict escalation?

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Cameroon and the Growing Threat of Boko Haram Contagion

Historically, Boko Haram’s Cameroon-based operations were generally limited to sophisticated kidnappings targeting foreign nationals residing and/or travelling in areas near the Nigerian border. Although skirmishes between Cameroonian troops and suspected Boko Haram militants have occurred on a number of occasions, previous incidents were more a result of the opposing forces running into each other than any deliberate action undertaken by either Boko Haram or the Cameroonian military.

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Timor-Leste: The Continuing Challenge of Police Building and Security Governance

Twelve years after independence, Timor-Leste currently experiences relative political stability. No serious incidents troubled the country since 2006 during the violent clashes between members of the police and the military, or the almost deadly assaults on the Timorese President and Prime Minister in 2008. This relative calm is mainly a result of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão’s “buying peace” policy, but grave human security issues have begun to open up.

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Goodbye Libya, and welcome to the Islamic Emirate of Benghazi?

There are unmistakeable echoes between the recent establishment of ‘the Islamic State’ across northern Iraq and parts of Syria by the Islamist group that now calls itself by the same name. Both have taken advantage of weak or non-existent governance to assert their own sovereignty. While the Ansar al-Sharia may not have formally pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and the global caliphate it seeks to impose, it has done pretty much everything else.

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SSR, Local Ownership, and Community Engagement

Local ownership is widely considered to be one of the core principles of successful security sector reform (SSR) programmes. Nonetheless, a gap remains between policy and practice. Even with recent improvements in promoting local ownership of SSR, the concept remains vague and, at best, narrowly interpreted – both in terms of what ownership constitutes and who the locals are.

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Roadblocks to a Professional Security Sector in South Sudan

South Sudan’s security sector faces a multitude of issues, including lack of funds, lack of equipment, low institutional capacity, as well as poor training and education. As it stands, the government has yet to successfully address two issues crucial for the achievement of a professional security sector: disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR), which would help reduce the size of the armed forces, and ethnic patronage and ethnic imbalance within the army and police.

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Understanding Russia’s Proxy War in Eastern Ukraine

While no war has officially been declared by Moscow, Russia’s covert and increasingly overt support has been crucial in financing, equipping, providing personnel, and supplying intelligence to the pro-Russian separatists. But it was not until rebels shot down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 with a Russian-supplied BUK surface-to-air missile, that many in Western media and policy circles began to acknowledge Moscow’s significant support for the pro-Russian separatists.

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Backgrounder – Turmoil in Eastern Ukraine

Political turmoil in Ukraine is nothing new. One only needs to look at the 2004 Orange Revolution, when citizens mobilized throughout the country to protest the blatant election fraud of the November 2004 presidential elections and the pervasive corruption in their government. Yet Ukraine’s political crisis has intensified during the past year, carrying much broader international implications.

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NATO and Security Governance: A Return to Collective Defence?

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) overall approach to security governance shifted twice during the course of the War on Terror. In response to new geopolitical pressures, NATO adopted a strategic stance that prioritized two different forms of out-of-area operations. A third shift, provoked by the crisis in Ukraine and an increasingly hostile Russia, is now arguably underway.

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Gender Sensitive Police Reform and Political Representation: One without the Other?

In post-conflict settings, security sector reform (SSR) has primarily been a male dominated discourse. However, in the past decade, the significance of female perspectives and their contributive role has become a cornerstone of SSR practice. Despite this recognition, scant attention is paid to the facilitating conditions that would enable implementing bodies, such as the police, to engage in sustainable gender sensitive SSR.

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Breaking Cycle of Impunity in Gaza: Accountability is the Key, the ICC the Best Route

A little over a week ago, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisers on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect (Adama Dieng and Jennifer Welsh, respectively) issued a joint statement on the situation in Gaza. The Special Advisers noted that Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas all shared the responsibility to protect the population in Gaza, and that the international community had a responsibility to assist in protecting the civilian population.

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Consolidating Peace in Mali

Mali faced a serious existential crisis in 2012. Its political institutions all but collapsed following a military coup, even as its sovereignty was under threat by a secessionist insurgency and Islamist military offensive. The French-led stability operation in 2013 may have prevented the country’s immediate collapse, but it did little to alter any of the structural realities that triggered this series of crises in the first place.

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