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Category archive for: Conflict & Security

Why Boko Haram is the world’s deadliest terror group

Written by Vincent Hiribarren.

On Christmas Eve 2015 the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, was publicly confident that his country had “technically won the war” against the Islamist group Boko Haram. Less than two months into 2016, and the group is still wreaking havoc across northern Nigeria and beyond.

Since the beginning of the year, the group has killed more than 100 people and continued to drive many more from their homes as they flee for their safety. Its most recent atrocity was the February 10 suicide attack on a refugee camp near Maiduguri that killed 58 people. Continue reading Why Boko Haram is the world’s deadliest terror group

The End of Turkey’s Kurdish ‘Peace Process’?

Written by Aytac Kadioglu.

Turkey’s Kurdish peace process was cut off by two catastrophic incidents in July 2015: the Suruc suicide bombing took place during a press statement outside the Amara Culture Centre which claimed 32 lives and two police officers were murdered by the PKK in their home. These incidents were the beginning of a terrifying escalation of violence. Hundreds of militants belonging to the insurgent Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), many Turkish security officers and civilians lost their lives in subsequent security force operations and PKK attacks as of 2016. Continue reading The End of Turkey’s Kurdish ‘Peace Process’?

The Enduring Lessons of the 1991 Gulf War

Written by Louise Kettle.

Twenty five years ago saw the beginning of Operation Desert Storm; an intervention in the Middle East to remove Iraqi occupying forces from annexed Kuwait. The operation was a US-led coalition of the largest international deployment of troops since the Second World War.

Unlike the US-led coalition twelve years later into Iraq, the operation was completed with permission and political and economic support from Arab countries. Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Syria also contributed militarily to the effort. Continue reading The Enduring Lessons of the 1991 Gulf War

What can Pakistan do to counter violent campaign against educators?

Written by Katharine Adeney.

The latest attack on a university in Pakistan – this one, in a bitter twist of irony, named after a champion of peace, secularism and non-violence, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan who was known as “Frontier Gandhi” – is both symbolic as well as indicative of the continuing struggle within the power structures of Pakistan.

Just after 9am Pakistani time (4.14am GMT) on January 20, four men wearing suicide vests attacked the university in Charsadda, about 40km from Peshawar in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly known as North-West Frontier Province). The death toll has topped 30 people but is expected to rise, perhaps to as high as 70. Scores were also injured. Soldiers were quickly deployed to the scene. The army formally announced that the attack was over five-and-a-half hours later at 10.38 GMT – and also announced the deaths of the four attackers. Continue reading What can Pakistan do to counter violent campaign against educators?

Is the Iraqi army a lost cause?

Written by Jon Moran.

Building an army in a short space of time is a very difficult task. To be sure, there are some impressive examples. Cromwell’s republican New Model Army was put together while the English Civil War was already underway; Washington’s army of US Independence quickly wore down and beat the British in the 18th century; Napoleon’s revolutionary army was born from the French Revolution and swept all Europe before it; the Red Army of the Soviet Union was forged from the chaos of its defeat in World War I.

But the list of failures is just as spectacular. The South Vietnamese Army boasted billions of dollars, up-to-date equipment and state-of-the-art training, but couldn’t control even South Vietnam itself. It ultimately surprised observers only by holding on as long as it did after the Americans left. Continue reading Is the Iraqi army a lost cause?

A New World Order: The importance of the 1991 Gulf War

Written by Louise Kettle.

Twenty five years ago, on 17th January 1991, the offensive operations of the Gulf War began. A coalition of 39 countries launched a campaign to roll back the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein. The war saw the deployment of around 45,000 British forces, the largest since the Second World War.

Throughout the previous year, tensions between Kuwait and Iraq had escalated. The bitter Iran-Iraq war had left Iraq in severe economic difficulties with its per capita income halved and an estimated $67 billion worth of damage to infrastructure. In addition, Baghdad had borrowed around $80 billion from other countries and, following the war, foreign debt servicing and defence costs consumed seven-eighths of Iraq’s oil export revenue. Continue reading A New World Order: The importance of the 1991 Gulf War

President Nkurunziza of Burundi still has a choice: war criminal or peace bringer?

Written by Catherine Gegout.

A leaked UN memo to the Security Council has warned that a peacekeeping force in the African nation of Burundi would be unable to stop large-scale violence should it erupt in an ongoing crisis caused by president Nkurunziza’s election for a third term.

However it is not too late for Nkurunziza to choose his legacy: either be remembered as a war criminal facing prison or death, or renowned for solving a dangerous political situation. A new round of peace talks is due to take place this month but Burundi’s government recently announced there had been “no consensus” on a date. Continue reading President Nkurunziza of Burundi still has a choice: war criminal or peace bringer?

Jakarta attacks: is Islamic State’s presence in South-East Asia overstated?

Written by Scott Edwards.

A series of deadly suicide bombings and shootings in Jakarta have killed at least seven people, and been claimed by Islamic State (IS).

At first glance, this seems to confirm that long-held worries of a full-blown IS campaign in South-East Asia were well-founded – but viewed in context, the picture looks rather different.

IS is undeniably active to some extent in Indonesia and South-East Asia more broadly, and it is known to have recruited fighters from the region. It was recently reported that two suicide bombers who mounted attacks in Syria and Iraq were from Malaysia. South-East Asia has an enormous Muslim population, and its states have long had trouble with separatist or terrorist Islamist organisations such as Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf. That makes the prospect of a domestic struggle with IS in Indonesia all the more alarming. Continue reading Jakarta attacks: is Islamic State’s presence in South-East Asia overstated?

What is going on in Ukraine now?

Written by Lance Spencer Davies.

On the face of it, the conflict in Ukraine seems to have stabilised somewhat. Sporadic shelling aside, the last few months of 2015 saw the “hot” phase of the conflict in eastern Ukraine wind down to a relative calm.

Both parties’ forces have been slowly withdrawing in accordance with the latest ceasefire agreement, and while there were some isolated clashes between the opposing parties over the Christmas period, they haven’t derailed the current plans. Indeed, German Chancellor Angela Merkel remains optimsitic about achieving progress in the negotiations. Continue reading What is going on in Ukraine now?

A year after Charlie Hebdo, France is still searching for answers

Written by Emile Chabal.

France has had a tumultuous time in the year since two brothers opened fire in the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 11, before going on to murder another five people in Paris. Just ten months later, the November 13 attacks showed that the threat of terrorism had not receded.

And just weeks after the second major attack, the far-right’s onward march in regional elections suggested that a significant proportion of the electorate had sought refuge in a language of fear and revenge after everything they had seen in 2015.

These growing anxieties were reflected at the highest level of the political system. Continue reading A year after Charlie Hebdo, France is still searching for answers