Iraq’s Election Takes a Tone That’s Hopeful for Democracy

Iraq’s Election Takes a Tone That’s Hopeful for Democracy

Friday, May 11, 2018

By: Sarhang Hamasaeed; James Rupert

As Iraq prepares to vote on May 12, the public debate has been just a bit unusual. Following the country’s war against the Islamic State extremists, candidates are seeking votes with appeals across sectarian lines and more discussion of issues than in any other election campaign. This change is incremental but is one of several that make this a moment to step back and measure Iraq’s evolution since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Despite what Iraqis have suffered over 15 years—or perhaps because of it—the will to democratize is alive and growing. A real meaning of these elections is this: If the United States and the international community can sustain their engagement, Iraq has a chance to stabilize, and to turn back the inevitable future attempts to revive extremist violence.

Democracy & Governance

Could Pakistan’s Protests Undercut Taliban and Extremism?

Could Pakistan’s Protests Undercut Taliban and Extremism?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

By: James Rupert

Tens of thousands of ethnic Pashtuns have held mass protests in Pakistan in the past three months, demanding justice and better governance for their communities. The largely youth-led protests forged an organization, the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (“tahafuz” means “protection”), that has broadened its goals to include democracy and decentralization of power in Pakistan. The movement reflects demands for change among the roughly 30 million Pashtuns who form about 15 percent of Pakistan’s population, the country’s second-largest ethnic community.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Nonviolent Action; Violent Extremism

Tunisia: Democratic but Precarious

Tunisia: Democratic but Precarious

Friday, December 22, 2017

By: James Rupert

Amid central Tunisia’s dry farmlands, the city of Sidi Bouzid bustled one recent day under warm autumn sunshine. Street vendors and shoppers jostled under the roof of a new, open-air market, selling and buying produce or cheap clothes. Seven years after an impoverished street vendor in this city immolated himself and ignited the Arab Spring revolutions, his homeland has achieved a precarious stability. By many measures the Arab world’s only democracy, Tunisia remains hobbled by corruption, unemployment and violent extremism.

Democracy & Governance; Violent Extremism

Afghan Women Defend Their Rights Against the Taliban

Afghan Women Defend Their Rights Against the Taliban

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

By: James Rupert

Afghanistan’s Taliban, determined to capture a major city in the country, have advanced on Kunduz, in the northeast. The Taliban oppose any public role for women in Afghan society and have targeted women’s organizations in Kunduz. But a local journalist and mother, Sediqa Sherzai, for years has run Radio Roshani, a station that broadcasts programs for women’s rights and democracy.

Violent Extremism; Gender; Religion; Nonviolent Action

Afghan Women Defy Taliban in a City on the Edge

Afghan Women Defy Taliban in a City on the Edge

Monday, February 20, 2017

By: James Rupert

Kunduz once bustled as the cotton-mill capital of northeast Afghanistan. Amid Afghanistan’s 39-year-old war, it is now half-empty, fearful and bullet-pocked—a target in the Taliban’s fight to capture a major city. Remarkably, Kunduz also is a stronghold of Afghanistan’s women’s movement, including a handful of women-run radio stations. So when Taliban fighters briefly seized Kunduz in 2015 and attacked it again last year, they tried each time to kill Sediqa Sherzai, a journalist and mother who runs Radio Roshani.

Violent Extremism; Gender; Religion; Nonviolent Action

 Mosul After ISIS: No Clear Plan for Peace

Mosul After ISIS: No Clear Plan for Peace

Monday, October 31, 2016

By: James Rupert

Two weeks into Iraq’s offensive to recapture Mosul from ISIS militants, the government and its fractious allies have not agreed on how to stabilize and govern the disputed region in the aftermath. The threat of new rounds of conflict, even after a recovery of Mosul from ISIS, is highlighted by the weekend’s surprise advance by Shia Muslim militias, which make up one of at least four main rival forces in the assault. The militia units announced that their fighters had begun a drive on the cont...

Violent Extremism; Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue; Fragility & Resilience; Reconciliation

Sri Lanka Steps Carefully in Shaping Courts to Try War Atrocities

Sri Lanka Steps Carefully in Shaping Courts to Try War Atrocities

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

By: James Rupert

The Sri Lankan government expects to decide within six months the shape of special courts to address war crimes committed in the country’s 26-year civil war, its foreign minister said at the U.S. Institute of Peace. The courts will include “international participation”—with foreign professionals perhaps serving as investigators, judges or prosecutors—said Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera. But in a reflection of the political sensitivities of the post-war reconciliation effort, Samaraweera...

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue; Justice, Security & Rule of Law; Democracy & Governance

Urgent Imperative: Get Afghanistan’s Government Working

Urgent Imperative: Get Afghanistan’s Government Working

Thursday, December 10, 2015

By: James Rupert

Ten weeks after the Taliban briefly captured Kunduz, Afghanistan’s fifth-largest city, neither the fractured government nor the country’s political class is showing signs of heeding that wake-up call—or the other flashing warnings that the 14-month-old government is close to failure. While the United States quickly announced the reversal of its planned withdrawal of forces from the country, the factions in Kabul must figure out how to cooperate in governing, and Washington must do all it can to advance that, analysts say.

Violent Extremism; Democracy & Governance