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Month: April 2016

Murder of LGBTQ+ editor highlights danger facing all rational voices in Bangladesh

Written by Ibtisam Ahmed. 

The murder of Xulhaz Mannan, the founder and editor of Bangladesh’s first and only LGBTQ+ magazine, Roopban, has drawn the world’s attention to the violence directed against the country’s outspoken supporters of equal rights. His death at the hands of six assailants sent a wave of fear through the community, and has prompted others to go into hiding.

This situation speaks to two closely connected crises. On the most obvious level, it highlights the stigma and danger faced by the LGBTQ+ community and its supporters – and at the same time, it’s part of a larger threat to rational thought and speech that has been mounting for several years.

Hardman Rodrigo Duterte closes in on the Philippine presidency

Written by Pauline Eadie.

As the Philippines careers towards the May 2016 presidential elections, it looks as if one of the country’s toughest politicians may be about to sweep to power. Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte is currently leading in the polls despite a series of outlandish and outrageous remarks – most recently, a vow to kill his children if they take drugs – and it seems as if it may be too late for any of his challengers to pull off an upset.

Why Libya’s collapse into chaos is not an argument against intervention

Written by Aidan Hehir.

Libya is mired in crisis – a “shit show” according to President Obama. Many have declared that the 2011 intervention shouldn’t have been launched , and that the Libya campaign is reason enough to put an end to the practice of “humanitarian intervention”.

These arguments are superficially convincing, but they presume a counterfactual history with little supporting evidence – and ultimately amount to an intellectual dead end.

Philippines 2016: Election Day is All Souls Day

Written by Kevin H.R. Villanueva.

Politics is performance and the Philippine presidential election is a stage. Binay, Duterte, Roxas, Poe and Defensor-Santiago will each play many parts: they will tap into our deepest desires, draw out our dissatisfactions and lay bare our discords as a people. They will have their exits and their entrances. And in three overlapping character scripts – throughout the last stretch of this campaign – they will keep us mesmerized.

Philippines 2016: Regional Party Building and for Women in Politics

Written by Rosalie Arcala Hall

Following the anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in March 2015, the matter regarding the stymied passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) bill was suddenly thrown in the Philippine Presidential campaign limelight. Liberal Party candidate Mar Roxas made an appearance at Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao with a media entourage as did Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban candidate Rodrigo Dueterte. United Nationalist Alliance candidate Jejomar Binay shortly made a public pronouncement vowing to support the passage of the BBL. However, these policy pronouncements made during campaigns should not be taken seriously; they are not bellwethers of the fate of the negotiated settlment on the Bangsamoro issue. Political parties, which are mere campaign vehicles for Presidential wannabes, do not map specific policy preferences. Past Presidential candidates have historically looked at the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as areas where local power brokers can be depended upon to deliver votes. Clan dominance in local electoral outcomes and the datu system (e.g. locked-in electorate via force, intimidation or familial connections, pre-determined set of candidates) have lubricated thisnational-local bargain for decades. Autonomy issues have never been prominent among voters outside Manila. For women, the first-past-the post, winner take all scheme and the party-list system have only marginally served as empowerment vehicle. Muslim women in elected posts are overwhelmingly tied up with their clans as substitute/stand-ins for termed out male relatives; their number well below the national average of 10% of total elected posts.

Philippine Elections 2016: Much Ado About Nothing?

Written by Vladimir Guevarra.

Well that’s awkward. Some of my friends on Facebook have started attacking each other in defence of their preferred candidate for President of the Philippines. Some of the arguments are rather formal and more measured (“I choose X because of his achievements, including…”), some are moralistic (“I’m surprised some ‘Christians’ would condone a foulmouthed candidate”) while some are downright personal (“I should not be defending him from hypocrites like you!”). Note: Those brickbats are not against me.

So. Like wow. Chill. I found myself having to broker peace between two friends because it would be such a shame if their camaraderie sours on account of the elections. But so far, no peace yet.

Jeremy Corbyn could transform the Brexit debate – but does he want to?

Written by Charles Lees.

The tone of the debate ahead of the European Union referendum on June 23 has been shrill and disappointing. As with the 2014 Scottish independence referendum campaign, arguments on both sides have been simplistic, focusing on voters’ fears rather than their hopes, and appealing to their worst – rather than their best – natures.

British voters are being badly served by their political elites and also by a Westminster-focused media that is largely transfixed by process rather than substance. For there is much of substance to talk about. As my University of Bath colleague Aurelien Mondon recently argued: “debating the future of Europe is essential. But when will we start?”

Fight against Islamic State in Iraq is becoming a major ground war

Written by Paul Rogers.

As the authorities in Western Europe face up to the increased risk of attacks from Islamic State (IS), arrests have been made in Britain and security operations in Belgium and France, all point to intensive government action against the “new” domestic IS threat.

The popular media narrative is that this is a desperate move from IS as it retreats in Iraq and Syria – but security professionals take a very different view.

Should America be focusing on ISIS when North Korea poses an existential threat?

Written by Simon Reich

It is understandable that Americans focus their attention on the Middle East. The media supplies a daily stream of news about America’s continued war with the Islamic State, or ISIS. And the recent attacks in Europe and San Bernardino, have made terrorism a major issue in this year’s election, whether initiated by Jihadists recruited from at home or abroad.

Poll numbers at the end of last year suggested that a majority of Americans think that President Obama is not taking the threat from ISIS seriously enough. They believe that an overwhelming use of force would end the threat. Indeed, a more recent poll suggested that a plurality of those questioned believe the U.S. is losing the war on terrorism.

Philippines 2016: The Bangsamoro Peace Process Beyond May

Written by Julia Palmiano Federer.

The current peace process between the Government of the Philippines and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was dealt a large blow in late January 2016 with the non-passage of a diluted version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). The BBL is a bill slated to transform central elements of theComprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) into law and thereby establishing a new Bangsamoro political entity that would replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The passing of the BBL was envisioned as a mid-way point in the implementation of the CAB, jumpstarting processes of popular ratification and election of a governing body by 2016. However, it became fraught with questions regarding its constitutionality and eventually failed to pass in the House of Representatives of the 16th Congress. It remains pending in the 16th Congress until 30 June, as the Senate cannot support it without the approval of the House of Representatives. The enormity of the bill’s non-passage is compounded by the upcoming general elections on 9 May 2016 and accompanying change in administration. Once Congress reconvenes after the election, the bill will have to be re-filed, rendering the future of the peace process uncertain.