A massive explosion ripped through the Port of Beirut on Tuesday, sending shockwaves through the Lebanese capital, killing over one hundred and injuring thousands. This comes with Lebanon already on the brink of economic collapse, struggling to address a COVID outbreak, and as the trust gap between citizens and the state is wider than ever. Although in the immediate aftermath of the explosion some suggested Lebanon had been attacked, the cause of the explosion is likely much more banal: government negligence resulted in thousands of pounds of explosive chemical material to be improperly stored in the port for years. USIP’s Elie Abouaoun and Mona Yacoubian examine what this demonstrates about the already beleaguered Lebanese government, the long-term implications for the country, and how the international community has responded so far.
Even in brutal and desperate conflict settings, it is possible for people to abandon violence and leave violent groups. Peacebuilders know this well—yet terrorism and counterterrorism policies and practices have often neglected practical ways to address participants in violent extremism and failed to provide them opportunities to reject violence. This report examines how peacebuilding tools can help transform the individual attitudes, group relationships, and social ecosystems and structures needed to facilitate the effective disengagement and reconciliation of former members of violent extremist groups.
With the Israeli-Palestinian peace process at a standstill, USIP’s Ambassador Hesham Youssef talks about a new, diverse quartet of states that can help reinvigorate talks, saying, “joining hands, they can influence both the Arab position and the European position.”
As a struggling, incomplete democracy, Myanmar and its elected leaders face challenges that would confound any country. The best-known involve the military’s uneven loosening of a 50-year dictatorship; ethnic tensions and armed conflicts; the lack of a common national identity; entrenched poverty; and the complications of borders with five nations, including China. Less well known is an emerging threat that touches each of these vital concerns. Over the past three years, transnational networks with links to organized crime have partnered with local armed groups, carving out autonomous enclaves and building so-called “smart cities” to tap into the huge, but illegal, Chinese online gambling market. Myanmar’s leaders at every level and in every sector should pay serious attention to the alarming national implications of these developments.
As COVID starts to surge in Syria, the pandemic poses extraordinary challenges in one of the world’s most complex conflict zones. Nearly a decade of war has left Syria’s health care system in shambles. With supplies and trained personnel scarce, medical providers have struggled to meet the needs of millions of displaced Syrians. Meanwhile, medical workers have not been spared from the violence—despite international condemnation, health care facilities have been targeted by military strikes over 500 times since 2011.
Kashmir has once again emerged as a major flashpoint between South Asia’s nuclear-armed rivals, India and Pakistan. The Indian government’s August 2019 withdrawal of statehood status for the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir region intensified disaffection among separatists and the Kashmiri public. This report explores the strategies India and Pakistan have adopted toward Kashmir in the year since August 2019, and examines a potential road map for resolving the Kashmir conflict.
On August 5, 2019, the government of India revoked the constitutional autonomy of its Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir. This report—based on field interviews, new data collection, and extensive research— focuses on the revitalized insurgency and mass uprising between 2013 and 2019, explains how the Kashmir conflict evolved to a point that contributed to India’s extraordinary political gambit, and lays out both New Delhi’s strategy and the challenges the government faces going forward.
Iraq’s social and political landscape has changed drastically after an escalation of regional and global power competition, the COVID-19-induced health and economic crises, and the unprecedented uprising by peaceful demonstrators in October 2019 that led to formation of a new government. These developments have exacerbated long-standing ten-sions, feeding public distrust in the state and tribal violence in the south. They have also detrimentally affected minority communities, especially in ISIS-affected areas, creating openings for ISIS remnants to step up attacks and contributing to continued internal displacement of over one million persons.
On January 20, a young venture capitalist named Douglas Gan sat down in a Philippine television studio to discuss, in part, an exciting new “Smart City” project his firm had become involved in. Sporting a black hoodie over a white tee-shirt, Gan described how one of his companies, Building Cities Beyond Blockchain, was already at work in Myanmar’s Yatai New City, recording instantaneous property transfers and showing the potential of blockchain technology. It’s a start, the anchor said. Gan agreed.
USIP implemented its Initiative to Measure Peace and Conflict (IMPACT) program first in the Central African Republic and later in Colombia, where it worked directly with peacebuilding organizations to gauge their collective impact on fostering reconciliation in the wake of the 2016 peace accord between the government and FARC rebels. Drawing on the challenges encountered and lessons learned, this report provides suggestions for how future iterations of the IMPACT approach can help policymakers, donors, and practitioners achieve greater and more cost-effective results from the peacebuilding projects they support.