From Afghanistan to Sudan, women in conflict areas are increasingly turning to technology to build peace and reduce gender inequality. Just as smart phones and mobile internet facilitate key functions of daily life, they also bring the world women’s voices once confined to the home or marketplace. It is a development with tremendous promise that the international community needs to support by widening access to technology, reducing social barriers to it and providing training that boosts proficiency.
Taliban and Afghan representatives agreed early this week to a basic, albeit non-binding, roadmap for intra-Afghan negotiations aimed at ending the 18-year war. Since the U.S. resumed direct talks with the Taliban last September, the two sides have focused on the withdrawal of foreign forces and the steps the Taliban will take against terrorists on Afghan soil. Meanwhile, intra-Afghan talks on a political roadmap have yet to get off the ground. After months of seeming stasis, this week’s Doha meeting has injected renewed hope. USIP’s Scott Smith looks at what happened this week, what it means for Afghan women, and the next steps in the peace process.
After Saddam Hussein’s ouster in 2003, Iraq’s new leaders struggled to chart a democratic course after decades of dictatorship. It suffered through a civil war, political turmoil, widespread economic corruption, sectarian tensions and an extremist insurgency, led by the Islamic State, that seized a third of the country.
The weeks of peaceful protests by millions of Hong Kong residents opposed to the erosion of their civil liberties turned violent Monday. After days of aggressive police crackdowns that injured protesters and drew criticism from international human rights groups, hundreds of protesters bashed through doors into the city’s legislature yesterday. USIP specialists discuss the escalation of the conflict between residents and the city’s authorities—and the implications for one of the territory’s largest protest movements since Britain handed it over to Chinese control two decades ago.
Nadia Murad, the sad-eyed, soft-spoken Nobel laureate and voice of the Yazidi genocide, warned that her people along with Christians and other minorities are slowly disappearing from Iraq. Faced with challenges that include uncertain security, lack of health care, stalled reconstruction and inability to leave refugee camps, Yazidis and other minority groups urgently need international help if they are to survive as components of Iraq’s national character, she said.
The people of Burma will head to the polls in late 2020 to elect more than 1,100 representatives to national, state, and regional legislative bodies. During a recent field assessment, the U.S. Institute of Peace confirmed that the risk of election-related violence is surprisingly low considering the ongoing conflicts and multitude of grievances. However, hate speech, disinformation, and intense competition between parties could create violent incidents, particularly during the campaign period. Early efforts to promote peaceful elections need to start now as the window for effective prevention will soon be closed.
Protests during the 2011 Arab uprisings triggered one of the deadliest wars of the early 21st century. It produced one of the gravest humanitarian crises, as hundreds of thousands were killed, millions fled their homes, and more than half the population relied on aid for daily sustenance.
News coverage of President Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has focused significantly on the optics of their televised encounter at the demarcation line separating North and South Korea. But according to two senior U.S. experts—Ambassador Joseph Yun, the former U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, and Frank Aum, who served as advisor for North Korea to four U.S. defense secretaries—the announced plan for a resumption of working-level talks is potentially significant.
President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are set to have an “extended meeting” on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan this week. The summit comes amid an escalating trade dispute and a recent U.S. decision to ban five Chinese tech companies from buying U.S. equipment without government approval. Beyond trade and technology issues, Trump and Xi are expected to discuss nuclear negotiations with North Korea—following Xi’s meeting last week with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un—and increased U.S.-Iran tensions. USIP’s Patricia Kim and Jacob Stokes analyze how the trade dispute has impacted the bilateral relationship and prospects for cooperation between Washington and Beijing.
The confrontation between the United States and Iran has shifted again as President Trump and the administration announced financial sanctions against Iran’s supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and other Iranian officials. Within days, the crisis has spun from attacks on oil tankers to an Iranian missile strike on a U.S. military surveillance drone, all centered around the Persian Gulf, the economic artery for about a third of the world’s oil. Hours after President Trump announced the latest sanctions, USIP’s Robin Wright—who directs the Institute’s Iran Primer project—discussed where the crisis stands, and where it could turn.