Category: Backgrounder

Backgrounder – Security sector reform, professionalization and the shift to external defense in the Philippines

After decades of preoccupation with internal stability, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is shifting its focus to external defense as a response to the developing situation in the South Chine Sea. This backgrounder offers a brief history of professionalization in the Philippines and discusses its importance in the AFP’s shift to external defense.

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Backgrounder – Security Sector Reform in Kazakhstan

With the notable exception of Afghanistan, the region of Central Asia has historically been underrepresented by the security sector reform (SSR) field. The record of SSR in Central Asia shows that reforms in limited parliamentary democracies face a different set of challenges and opportunities than SSR programs in fragile and conflict-affected states. The experiences of restrained reform in the region are nonetheless instructive.

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Al-Shabaab Beyond Somalia

On the 10th of July, two separate hotels were attacked in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, which resulted in the death of 5 people. This latest attack was organized and carried out by Al-Shabaab, a militant group which is closely linked to Al-Qaeda. In order to conceptualize the political implications of al-Shabaab’s militant activities, this new backgrounder analyzes the origins of the group and the gradual expansion of its violent enterprise into neighboring states.

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The Security Sector Dimension of Colombia’s Peace Talks

This backgrounder will explore the larger military dimension of the peace process and how it remains a major sticking point towards reaching a final and sustainable peace agreement. The first section will examine the challenges of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of such decentralized guerilla organization. The second section will explore the military fundamental distrust of the peace process and possible explanations for their ongoing resistance to a final agreement.

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Factors behind South Sudan’s Persistent Insecurity

Although the civil war that began in December 2013 is largely a product of a political/military power struggle, the general insecurity in South Sudan stems from numerous, intertwined factors. All of these factors have to be addressed for South Sudan to find long-lasting and sustainable peace. This backgrounder will briefly examine the major factors responsible for insecurity in South Sudan.

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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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Backgrounder – Boko Haram and Political Instability in Nigeria

Boko Haram’s activities have been escalating steadily in Nigeria; the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in Borno earlier this year being the most recent indicator of the group’s growing threat to Nigeria’s political stability. Indeed, the group is viewed by many experts as a direct challenge the state’s corrupt nature and its general inability to address the expanding economic North-South disparity within Nigeria.

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Political and Economic Reforms in Burma/Myanmar

Although China dominated much of the discussion at the 2014 ASEAN Summit, the gathering of the Southeast Asian nations in Myanmar provided the host country an opportunity to showcase the progress it has made since the implementation of key political and economic reforms. Despite these efforts, the country’s political system continues to be fragile and uncertainty over the role of its security sector remains.

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