Saturday, 18 September 2021
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Africa

By Jamie Ingram

The UK called a meeting of the UN Security council on 16 November 2010 to address concerns over violence relating to the forthcoming referendum on South Sudanese independence on 6 January 2011. The meeting aimed to demonstrate to the North Sudanese government that the international community is paying close attention to the country and will not permit the situation to regress into violence. This was just the latest visible sign of concern over the situation in Sudan, coming shortly after the visit of a high level UN panel to the country between 10-15 October to closely examine the situation and a statement from US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton condemning the Northern government. Clinton stated that there was only one possible outcome of the referendum, South Sudan's secession, and that any attempts by the North to interfere would be unacceptable.

Sudan's divisions are strikingly evident in both its geography and history. The deserts of the North are in stark contrast to the savannah and jungles of the South, while the populations of these two regions are just as varied. The North is predominantly Arabic speaking and Islamic while the South is populated by English speaking black Africans. After the British gained control in 1899 both regions were ruled from Khartoum in the North. Since gaining independence in 1956 Sudan has been racked by bloody civil wars between the North and South. The first civil war began in 1955 before Sudan even gained independence and ended in 1972; half a million died. The second civil war began in 1983 and lasted until the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005 after over 1.9 million civilians had died. Exploitation of the Nile by the North at the expense of the South was a major cause of the conflagration

The CPA resulted in the promise to hold a referendum for South Sudanese independence in January 2011, but difficulties surround the process and tension is rife. The precise delimitation of South Sudanese territory has proven to be extremely difficult, especially regarding the Abyei region. These boundaries were to be delimited by the Abyei Boundary Commission (ABC) but the findings of their 2005 report were rejected by the Northern Government. Eventually the boundary dispute was referred to the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration which ruled on the delimitation of Abyei's boundaries on 22 July 2009. In addition to the referendum on Southern independence, Abyei is due to hold an election in which its population will vote on whether they wish to be part of South Sudan or remain with the North.

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By Scott Stewart

STRATFOR is currently putting the finishing touches on a detailed assessment of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), the al Qaeda-inspired jihadist franchise in that country. As we got deeper into that project, one of the things we noticed was the group's increasing reliance on criminal activity to fund its operations. In recent months, in addition to kidnappings for ransom and extortion of businessmen which have been endemic in Iraq for many years the ISI appears to have become increasingly involved in armed robbery directed against banks, currency exchanges, gold markets and jewelry shops.

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By Scott Stewart

On the afternoon of Sunday, May 30, an Aeromexico flight from Paris to Mexico City was forced to land in Montreal after authorities discovered that a man who was on the U.S. no-fly list was aboard. The aircraft was denied permission to enter U.S. airspace, and the aircraft was diverted to Trudeau International Airport in Montreal. The man, a Somali named Abdirahman Ali Gaall, was removed from the plane and arrested by Canadian authorities on an outstanding U.S. warrant. After a search of all the remaining passengers and their baggage, the flight was allowed to continue to its original destination.

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By Adam Dempsey, Research Associate, UK Defence Forum

Over the past few years American and European counterterrorism officials have grown increasingly wary of the threat posed by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). EUROPOL's 2008 Terrorism Situation and Trend Report said that France, Italy, Spain and Portugal all considered AQIM as a threat to their national security. Because of its proximity to the Maghreb Italy believes it is a particularly attractive transit route for AQIM into Europe. Despite initially limiting its activities to North Africa AQIM has declared that all Western states are targets. The increasing confidence of AQIM will require a robust counter-terror response on both a global and regional level. Yet recent regional initiatives appear to be compromised by an imbalance of appropriate tools and geopolitical rivalry.

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By Juan Camilo Castillo

A new type of insurgency

Since the end of the Cold War, the notions of low intensity conflicts, armed non-state actors and unconventional warfare have gained a significant attention from the media, policy-makers and the academic world alike. In the post 9/11 strategic environment, these concepts have gained an overarching significance when thinking about international security and stability, especially, when placed in the context of ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Certainly, when we revise the idea of an insurgency carrying out an active campaign where guerrilla tactics and terrorism are the tools of choice, it is difficult to separate the notion of violence as a core vehicle for political outcomes. As noted by journalist Robert Taber (in reference to Clausewitz's famous line) "guerrilla warfare" becomes politics through other means. Therefore, normally speaking an insurgency has always been associated with a political cause. For example, the Taliban and Al-Qaida in Iraq want to set up Islamist emirates in their areas of operations, the Tamil Tigers seek the creation of a Tamil Homeland, Shining Path in Peru and FARC in Colombia seek to establish a Maoist and Communist regimes respectively, and so the list goes on.

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By Andrew Mok

Today marks 10 years since British troops landed in Freetown and intervened in Sierra Leone's civil war. This product of the Blair government's "ethical foreign policy" was a "short and sweet" success not repeated since. Yet, in the aftermath of Iraq and Afghanistan, the spearhead strategy that worked in Sierra Leone is a useful template for future British interventions. A small, short, and limited insertion of a "spearhead" to open the way for a larger multi-lateral force is politically feasible and fits well with UK capabilities, just the option Britain needs after two protracted, messy counterinsurgencies.

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By Andrew Mok

When a little-known logistics officer emerged as leader of Guinea's 2008 coup, some were hopeful that his clique of military officers would finally bring democratic governance to Conakry. Dadis Camara's bloody suppression of opposition protests last September dimmed those hopes, but not the international and domestic calls for immediate transition to civilian government via democratic elections.

This democratic zeitgeist has bred a new intolerance for extra-legal military coups from Madagascar to Mauritania. However, it places an ill-conceived faith in the miraculous power of a quick transition to procedural elections and civilian rule. Such transitions have not prevented further instability and coups in West Africa.

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By Adam Dempsey, Research Associate, UK Defence Forum

Debates have polarised around whether China is engaged in a project of resource exploitation withAfrica for its own needs, or if it is offering the continent an opportunity to focus on trade rather than Western aid. Chinese arms sales to African states provide fuel for both sides of the debate. Yet they also contribute to challenges to the security of the continent. The international community should consider opportunities or strategies to counter Chinese arms sales to Africa.

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James Wood Forsyth Jr. and B. Chance Saltzman

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan dominate security discourse. With thousands of lives lost and billions of dollars spent, few issues merit more attention. Yet it is worthwhile to remember that these wars, like all wars, will end. And when they do, policy makers will come to terms with a harsh, albeit forgotten, reality: The ruling of distant peoples, as George Kennan so aptly put it, is not "our dish." TheUnited States should steer clear of "an acceptance of any sort of paternalistic responsibility to anyone be it in the form of military occupation, if we can possibly avoid it, or for any period longer than is absolutely necessary." Simply put, intervention might have been our fate, but it should not be our policy.

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In a recent article in Foreign Policy magazine, Niall Ferguson, Lawrence A Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and the author of "War of the World" and "The scent of money" made the following predictions:

Just as the Great Depression led to global political crises, so could the latest financial crisis. He argues that three factors made for lethal organised violence in the last century: ethnic disintegration; empires in decline: and economic volatility.

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