Economic and environmental crises such as poverty and famine are often blamed for driving conflict, but the relationship is complicated. The U.S. Institute of Peace works to better understand the connections between violence, economics and the environment. The Institute then uses these insights to identify effective peacebuilding interventions that prevent or end violence during an economic or environmental crisis.
After nearly a decade of civil war and strife, Syria’s long-troubled economy is in tatters with spiraling hyperinflation, food shortages, and widespread unemployment. The Syrian pound has less than a fifth of the currency’s value from this time last year. These economic woes have led to new protests in areas long controlled by the regime. Amid this economic turmoil, the U.S. Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act comes into force today, targeted at key internal and external pillars of support for the Assad regime. USIP’s Mona Yacoubian looks at what led to the economic collapse, how the regime is responding to the protests, and the implications of the new U.S. sanctions.
From almost the moment Myanmar detected its first case of COVID-19 on March 23, China jumped to aid its neighbor to the south. China’s army, navy, and government agencies, as well as companies, showered nearly every level of Myanmar’s government and military with health assistance. The question for Myanmar civil society groups was whether the help came with strings attached. On May 21, they got their answer: After a phone call between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Myanmar’s President U Win Myint about COVID-19 response and Chinese assistance, Xi moved to a second agenda item—the implementation of 33 cooperative economic agreements signed during his historic visit to Myanmar in January. Of particular concern: co-construction of the multi-billion-dollar China-Myanmar Economic Corridor.
A year ago, Chinese leaders committed themselves to cleaning up their act in pursuit of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)—Beijing’s plan to connect China to the world largely through infrastructure projects. The BRI had become synonymous with environmental degradation, corruption, and lack of transparency, and China’s top officials pledged new approaches. The Belt and Road Initiative, they said, would become “open, green, and clean” as it worked with partner countries to build public works, deepen trade linkages, and advance financial and development policy connections around the world.
The U.S. Institute of Peace supports programs and research that contribute to the mission of promoting enduring peace in South Asia. The institute provides analysis, capacity development and resources to individuals and institutions working to prevent, mitigate, and resolve violent conflict. In Pakistan, USIP awards funding in three categories, ranging from projects that test new, experimental ideas to supporting local and international organizations on policy relevant research.