This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood talks to Crisis Group experts Laurel Miller and Andrew Watkins about the Taliban’s recent gains across Afghanistan as U.S. and NATO forces withdraw, what this means for the war’s trajectory and prospects for peace talks.
To accompany this month’s CrisisWatch, Interim President Richard Atwood looks at the dramatic turn of events in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, the danger of new fighting and its implications for Horn of Africa geopolitics.
Pakistan’s stakes in Afghanistan are rising as U.S. and NATO troops prepare to leave. All-out war after the withdrawal could push more Afghan refugees across the border and strengthen Pakistani militants. Islamabad should ratchet up pressure on the Taliban to engage in peace talks.
Across Myanmar, militias are forming to counter deadly repression of demonstrations against the 1 February coup. In response, the military has deliberately targeted civilians, displacing tens of thousands. Outside actors should press the regime to respect international law and allow humanitarian aid to the displaced.
In order to silence opposition to the February coup, Myanmar’s military is vigorously policing the internet as it quashes street protests. Outside powers and technology companies should endeavour to keep the online space free of interference and deny the junta tools of virtual repression.
Peace in the Philippines’ majority-Muslim region requires disarming 40,000 ex-rebels and encouraging economic development where they live. But progress toward these goals, together called “normalisation”, is sputtering. Both Manila and the former insurgents need to hit the accelerator lest the process lose momentum entirely.
Two months after the 1 February coup, Myanmar is in a deep crisis. The military seems bent on imposing its will, using draconian tactics that are only strengthening demonstrators’ will to resist. International actors should stay united in urging the junta to change course.
Myanmar’s military overthrew its newly elected parliament on 1 February, halting the country’s democratic transition and sparking massive protests. External actors should cooperate to prevent a violent crackdown and adopt tailored measures that target coup leaders, without penalising the population or damaging the broader economy.
There was this idea that if you put a lot of resources into [Afghanistan] and a lot of willpower very quickly, that you can make what we otherwise know are long-term generational developments happen on some kind of speedy timeline that fits American policy priorities. And the world doesn't work that way.
My sense is that the Taliban [in Afghanistan] still prefer a political path, albeit one that for all purposes would be a capitulation.
You see a sense of surprise and alarmed reaction from regional powers to the speed of the Taliban advance, but the counterpoint is a lot them saw the writing on the wall as early as [Barack] Obama’s announcement that the US was going to draw down and withdraw nearly a decade ago.
The vast majority of people in Myanmar from all walks of life are opposed to the coup and angry at the regime’s violence against the population.
The Taliban are strengthening their chokeholds around major cities [...] The fall of Kabul is not imminent. The Taliban is not an unstoppable military juggernaut.
It’s hard to downplay the risks in [Myanmar,] a very ethnically diverse country populated with a variety of armed movements and armed actors.
The 1 February coup d’état has pushed Myanmar toward possible state collapse. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2021 – Spring Update, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to channel significant aid to Myanmar, support regional diplomacy, expand targeted sanctions on the regime and ensure that the EU arms embargo is strictly enforced.
Every year Crisis Group publishes two additional Watch List updates that complement its annual Watch List for the EU, most recently published in January 2021. These publications identify major crises and conflict situations where the European Union and its member states can generate stronger prospects for peace. The Spring Update of the Watch List 2021 includes entries on Bolivia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Ukraine and Yemen.
Delays in the decommissioning of Moro rebels and other measures threaten the fragile peace in the newly created Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
Originally published in The Diplomat
This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope talk to researcher Petr Topychkanov about the balance of nuclear power between India and Pakistan, deterrence and nuclear transparency.