Military and civilian agencies have worked more closely in recent years to prevent or reduce violent conflict, build the capacities of governments and strengthen national security. Still, lessons from the field show that more needs to be done to improve mutual understanding and cooperation among the array of organizations providing assistance. Lack of understanding has led to duplication of effort, inefficient use of limited resources and unintended consequences.
Democracies and democracy advocates should welcome this week’s tenuously hopeful sign in Algeria’s announcement that the 10-week-old military junta in Niger has accepted Algiers’ offer to mediate in a transition to civilian, constitutional rule. Still, Algeria’s government and the junta left unclear the extent of any agreement on mediation, notably disagreeing on a basic element: the duration of a transition process. Algeria can bring significant strengths to a mediating role. In stepping forward from what most often has been a cautious posture in the region, Algeria creates an opportunity that international partners should seek to strengthen.
A five-year parliamentary term just concluded in Pakistan, marking the third such term since the country's 2008 transition from military rule. These past five years were marred by domestic political tumult and an outsized — at times decisive — military role in politics. During this period, Pakistan witnessed two ruling coalitions with different prime ministers: the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and allied parties from August 2018 to April 2022, followed by the Shehbaz Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and allies from April 2022 until this week. Top political leaders also faced legal issues — most recently, Khan was convicted for illegally selling state gifts and disqualified from contesting the election.
The People’s Liberation Army, which celebrated its 96th birthday on August 1, is one of the largest, most potent and fast-growing militaries in the world. Chinese leader Xi Jinping has made it a goal for the PLA to “modernize” by 2035 and to be a “world-class” military power by mid-century. In 2014, China’s Navy overtook the U.S. Navy to become the largest military fleet in the world — although the U.S. Navy is still considered to be more powerful. While China is notoriously opaque about its level of defense spending, it is widely believed that China has the largest defense budget in the world other than the United States.
To increase understanding of these changes and their impacts, USIP convened a working group consisting of experts from NATO countries and from NATO’s formal partner countries in the Indo-Pacific: Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, which are informally known as the Indo-Pacific Four (or IP4).
In May 2021, USIP created the Bipartisan Senior Study Group for the Sahel comprised of 12 current and former high-level U.S. officials, renowned academics and prominent Africa experts. The senior study group aims to generate new insights into the complex challenges facing the Sahel region, including food security, human rights, security assistance, private sector development and job creation — as well as great power competition. The senior study group will provide original recommendations to the U.S. government and governments in the Sahel region to improve foreign assistance, resolve conflict and support lasting peace.
In today’s era of strategic competition between the United States and China, crises are more likely than ever in the Indo-Pacific region. Effective mechanisms are therefore needed to prevent such crises from escalating into armed conflict. To this end, USIP is examining crisis communication mechanisms and negotiations between China and its regional neighbors to identify common issues and themes across countries to provide lessons that can be learned and shared.