More than two months after a massive explosion rocked Beirut, the country’s twin political and economic crises continue to spiral while a COVID crisis descends upon the Mediterranean nation. International aid for repairing billions in damage and bolstering Lebanon’s flailing economy is largely contingent on sweeping political reforms that have yet to materialize. After another Lebanese prime minister resigned last month, President Michel Aoun has called for consultations next week with members of parliament to name a new premier. This comes days before the October 17 anniversary of mass protests that broke out last year, which began as demonstrations against unpopular taxes but rapidly expanded to calls for an overhaul of the country’s sectarian-based political system.
Sudan’s transitional government has signed a peace agreement to end a number of long-standing conflicts and civil wars. USIP’s Susan Stigant says this is a positive sign for democratic progress, as “one of the promises of the revolution was to seek peace,” but cautioned that the real “work only begins once the ink is on the paper.”
For the third time in 15 years protesters in the Kyrgyz Republic capital of Bishkek have seized and set fire to the “White House,” the seat of parliament and presidential staff. The situation is chaotic with multiple political actors claiming to be in charge and the threat of chaos expanding to the provinces. It is a scene all too familiar to Kyrgyzstan in the last 15 years, leading to a cycle of protests and calls for advancing democracy followed by backsliding into authoritarianism. While working to stabilize the situation in the short term, the United States and regional actors should be cognizant of the country’s deep regional and ethnic fault lines and support actors in Kyrgyzstan who will address them so that this time the cycle does not repeat itself.
When Afghan officials and international donors meet next month to consider future aid commitments to Afghanistan, they will face a changed situation from their last gathering four years ago. Then, the focus was on tying financial assistance to government reform in the midst of ongoing war with the Taliban; peace was barely on the agenda. Now, peace talks between the Taliban and the government have begun, and a new Afghan administration is still taking shape with an agreement that resolved the disputed 2019 presidential election. Meanwhile, fighting and casualties remain at unsustainable levels and the country is reckoning with the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences.
At the turn of the century, Pakistan had the highest GDP per capita when compared with India, Bangladesh, and Vietnam. Twenty years later, it is at the bottom of the group. Political upheaval, a violent insurgency fed by the war in Afghanistan, and the inability of successive governments to carry out reforms are to blame for this decline. Today, a polarized political environment and elite intrigue among civilian, judicial, and military institutions has made sustainable economic growth and reforms that much more unlikely. The COVID-19 pandemic has further sharpened the challenge.
The question of how and where Islam should fit into future legal and political frameworks has emerged as a major sticking point in the talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government in Qatar. How this question is resolved will be closely watched by Afghans, who want to ensure their hard-won rights are not sacrificed for the sake of a deal with the Taliban—Afghan women in particular have much at stake. The international community will similarly scrutinize the outcome, and their engagement with Afghanistan after the talks is expected to be conditioned on the contours of any political settlement.
Until the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250 in 2015, the international community had no comprehensive framework with which to address the specific needs and opportunities of a key demographic group—young people. This report presents the findings of a meta-review assessing fifty-one youth projects supported or implemented by USIP between 2011 and 2018 and offers recommendations for continuing to develop and support peacebuilding activities with effective engagement, cooperation, and flexibility among civil society organizations and funders.
After seven decades of civil war and five failed peace efforts, Burma is no closer than before to reaching an agreement that would bring an end to its many conflicts. Analysis of those previous attempts shows that they all foundered on immutable attitudes on both sides. This report suggests that the peace process needs a fresh start, learning from the past and seeking to resolve underlying political disparities while prioritizing community interests and sustainable development.
A significant impediment for the United States is that it continues to narrowly limit its policy options while North Korean capabilities expand unabated. Washington’s window of discourse on North Korea policy largely consists of: Pressure the Kim regime through sanctions; don’t legitimize or reward it until preconditions are met; and don’t make any concessions until the North takes significant denuclearization measures first. To achieve any sustained results, these policy boundaries must be substantially widened to include more realistic and practical measures. We, along with our colleagues at USIP, explored many of these issues in a recent report, “A Peace Regime for the Korean Peninsula.”
Amid the world’s profusion of wars, COVID crisis and turbulent U.S. elections, a reader could overlook the century’s worst eruption of bloodshed between Armenia and Azerbaijan. But the revival this week of war in the Caucasus region should galvanize policymakers in Washington, Europe and Moscow to lean in hard and resurrect vigorous peacemaking for the first time in recent memory. While it’s unclear whether a full resolution can be achieved in any near future, this week’s fighting signals the risk of neglect: a dangerous, wider war.