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Crisis Group Yemen Update #4
Crisis Group Yemen Update #4
Report 261 / Asia

缅甸:若开邦的政治

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 若开邦当下情势混杂了一系列恶性因素,其中包括根源深长的中央政府与边陲地区的紧张关系、针对穆斯林少数族裔的社群间及宗教间的严重冲突、以及极端贫困和发展欠缺。这引发了2012年的大规模暴力事件以及随后爆发的零星冲突。政治气氛已然处于高温状态,并可能随着缅甸2015年底全国大选的逼近而继续升高。若开邦的形势对缅甸政治转型的整体成功形成了重大威胁,并在政府亟需国际支持和投资之际,使其声誉严重受损。制定任何政策方案的前提是意识到任何简单办法或者快捷途径是不存在的。若开邦所面临的问题根源于数十年的武装暴力、威权统治以及国家——社会冲突。这场危机已经波及全邦以及其中的所有社群。化解危机需要一个持续和多角度的解决方案,并需要在过渡时期提供至关重要的人道主义和保护性干预。

 对若开邦局势的失败处理将会造成全国性影响。缅甸正在将自身重塑为一个与各少数民族和平相处、尊重多元化的更加开放的社会,狭隘且歧视性民粹主义的萌芽将会成长为巨大祸根,为政治解决数十年武装冲突,包括建立一个联邦国家,造成严重困难。

 若开邦最大的族群是信奉佛教的若开族,穆斯林在少数民族中为数不少,其中包括得不到缅甸政府和若开邦承认的罗兴亚人。国际上趋向于将若开族一概视为暴力极端主义分子,而忽略族群内存在的多种观点、忽视若开族本身也是一个长期受压迫的少数民族这一事实、并且很少试图去理解他们的想法和顾虑。这样的态度显然于事无补,因为其强化了若开族四面受敌的心态,并且将复杂现实简单模糊化,而对这一现实的准确把握是寻求可持续解决方案的必要条件。

 与缅甸其他少数民族类似,若开族人的积怨源于长期遭受政府歧视、对本民族事务缺乏政治控制、经济边缘化、人权受侵犯以及在语言和文化表达上受到的限制。然而若开族人积累了数十年的怨愤已经开始变形。自从向新政府的转型以来,在重建社区和重新树立民族身份的过程中,许多若开族人日益将人口数量对比视为最直接和明显的威胁,并由此担心将在自己本邦中成为少数民族。且不论有理与否,此类担忧在若开族社群中无疑十分强烈。

 多年来,穆斯林社群在社会和政治生活中被日益边缘化,而罗兴亚人受害尤甚。很多人长期得不到完整的公民权利,致使生存手段和生活水平严重受损。目前有人正试图通过立法剥夺他们的公民权,此举可能成为导火索。罗兴亚人视公民身份为仅存的与政治的联系纽带和影响政治的手段,失去了公民权,他们很可能得出政治大门已经关闭的结论,并可能由此走向非暴力反抗,甚至有组织暴力的路径。

 缅甸政府当下应对方案的核心包括一个核实无身份证明的穆斯林的公民身份的试点项目,以及一个在更大范围内应对政治、安全和发展问题的“行动计划”,但两者都存在严重问题。政府和若开族人社区拒绝使用“罗兴亚人”这个名称,罗兴亚人同样强烈地反对“孟加拉人”这个称呼,这成了一个死结。这一问题还未得到解决,对穆斯林人的公民身份核实项目就已经开始进行,大部分罗兴亚人可能采取抵制。

 行动计划设想将被授予公民权的人迁移到新的定居点,而非返回他们原本的家园,此举有可能会强化种族隔离。那些被确定为非公民,或拒不接受核实的人,可能会在达成解决方案前不得不暂居营地,这实际上可能会是很长时间。另外,许多穆斯林可能会被赋予入籍公民身份,因此得不到完整公民身份所具有的保障和多项权利。

 公民身份本身并不能自动提升穆斯林人口的权利。卡曼族的困境就是很明显的例子,他们从出生就拥有完整公民身份,而且其土著群体身份也获得了承认,但是由于他们的伊斯兰信仰,许多人被限制在难民营中,没有自由迁徙或返回家园的可能。由此可见,公民身份是改善权利的必要条件,而非充分条件。终结包括迁徙限制在内的歧视政策,改善安全环境与加强法治也同样必不可少。

 若开族佛教徒和穆斯林社区的需求与期望很可能无法调和,缅甸政府因此面临重大挑战。在此环境下,必须在保护穆斯林的基本权利和自由的同时,寻求缓解若开族担忧的途径。打击极端主义思想和仇恨言论的努力也同样重要,否则当下任意表达仇恨观点并据此行动而不受惩罚的大环境将无法得到改善。暴力的倡导者和实施者必须被及时抓捕归案,这在目前很少发生。及时执法不仅能维护正义,还有助于政治稳定和提升实现和平解决方案的可能性。

 政治解决方案可能不会立竿见影,即便如此也不能无所作为。危机的解决不仅对若开邦,而且对全缅甸都至关重要。防止极端主义暴力需要立即启动有公信力的程序,向若开族和穆斯林社区证明政治道路是存在的。更广泛地说,除非缅甸成功地塑造新的国家认同感,以包容这个国家极具多元化的文化、种族和宗教,否则就与全国范围的和平与稳定继续无缘。与此同时,国际社会也必须继续向弱势群体提供亟需的人道主义援助和保护,这可能会持续数年。同样关键的是解决若开邦所有社群都面临的长期贫穷和欠发展问题,公平和有针对性的村级社区发展项目尤为重要。

 仰光/布鲁塞尔,2014年10月22日

Hodeida, September 2018. CRISISGROUP/Peter Salisbury

Crisis Group Yemen Update #4

Below is the fourth weekly update as part of Crisis Group’s Yemen Campaign. This week we look at fighting near the Saudi-Yemeni border and strains on the ceasefire around Hodeida, as well as international developments.

Trendline: The Overlooked Battle for Yemen’s Northern Border

Though the battle for the Red Sea port and city of Hodeida is paused until the UN-brokered deal to demilitarise the area succeeds or collapses, fighting on other fronts has intensified, particularly along the Saudi-Yemeni border.

Since the Hodeida ceasefire took effect in December, the battleground has partly shifted to the northern governorates around the Huthi rebels’ heartland of Saada. According to the Yemen Data Project, an independent data collection initiative that tracks airstrikes in Yemen, Saada governorate has faced more Saudi bombardments than any other part of Yemen since the war began in March 2015, with the majority of strikes taking place near the border.

In particular, fighting has escalated in Baqim and Al-Buqaa, towns located along a main highway to Saudi Arabia, and along the internal border separating Saada governorate from Al-Jawf to the east. Here, tribal fighters backed by Saudi Arabia are pushing westward along a highway that runs along the border from Al-Jawf to Al-Buqaa.

Further west, toward Yemen’s Red Sea coast, some of the fiercest fighting is taking place around the Saudi border in Hajja governorate, namely the port town of Midi and nearby Haradh, close to Al-Tuwal, the main border crossing. In recent weeks, tensions have grown between the Huthis and members of the previously neutral Al-Hajour tribe in the Kushar district of Hajja, just 25km east of Haradh. Hostilities started when the Hajour detained Huthi fighters who had entered tribal territory. This incident triggered a series of tit-for-tat detentions and skirmishes, which now reportedly involve Sawdah tribesmen from neighbouring Amran governorate.

The Huthis and the Yemeni government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi regularly claim major victories against one another in the north while little changes on the ground. But what momentum there is lies with Saudi-backed forces, which have gradually gained territory since late 2016. They have made the most progress in Al-Buqaa, where they have come within 10km of Kitaf, until 2013 the site of a local outpost of Dar al-Hadith, a Salafi religious institute whose members were forced out of Saada by the Huthis in 2014. Some of those fighting the Huthis on the border, and in Hajja and Al-Jawf, are former Dar al-Hadith students. Others come from tribal and military networks affiliated with Islah, Yemen’s main Sunni Islamist political party. Although these are not the only forces arrayed against the Huthis along the northern border, their presence has led the Huthis to paint these battles as a sectarian campaign sponsored by Saudi Arabia.

The Huthis are also defending their home turf that holds meaning for all sides: the Hadi government sees military success in Saada as a way to demoralise the Huthis if they manage to “raise the Yemeni flag in Marran”, as President Hadi has said his forces intend to do. Marran is the Huthi family’s hometown, where government forces killed the movement’s first leader, Hussein al-Huthi, in 2004. If the Hadi government is serious, then it is willing to fight in Saada for a long time to come. For its part, Saudi Arabia says it is trying to defend its border from Huthi encroachment, and restore the authority of the Yemeni government in the north.

Bottom Line: If the Stockholm Agreement brokered in December succeeds in preventing a fight for Hodeida, diplomats hope that a broader political process on the country’s future will soon follow. But fighting in the north could undermine that outcome, as both sides see control of the Saudi-Yemeni border as important leverage. De-escalating violence along the border should therefore be a medium-term priority for the UN and international actors. In the longer term, the Huthis, Saudi Arabia and government of Yemen will need to negotiate a lasting security agreement on the border as part of wider political talks.

Further delays and provocations from the parties could cause at least a temporary resumption of fighting around Hodeida.

Political and Military Developments

Lieutenant General Michael Anker Lollesgaard had an eventful first week as head of the newly formed UN Mission to Support the Hodeida Agreement (UNMHA). He convened the Huthi and government of Yemen delegations to the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) he now heads on a boat moored in Hodeida’s harbour, before sailing south to Aden with the government delegation. After meeting political leaders in the Hadi government’s temporary headquarters, he flew to Sanaa with Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy, for meetings with Huthi officials.

Griffiths and Lollesgaard hope to convince the government and the Huthis to implement a plan put forward by General Patrick Cammaert, the outgoing RCC chair who laid the groundwork for UNMHA, to redeploy front-line forces away from Hodeida city and nearby ports. Both sides appear to accept the proposal. The RCC is due to meet again in the coming days, and initial redeployments from Hodeida and Saleef ports could start shortly after.

On 11 February, Griffiths and Mark Lowcock, the UN humanitarian chief, issued a joint statement urging the Huthis and government of Yemen to permit access to the Red Sea Mills compound on the eastern edge of Hodeida, which holds around 25 per cent of all World Food Programme (WFP) wheat supplies in Yemen. The WFP evacuated staff from the compound in September 2018 as fighting along the Red Sea coast reached the city’s outer limits. UAE-backed Yemeni fighters now control the mills, and the UN has been trying to arrange for access via heavily mined roads crossing the frontline. Lowcock and Griffiths warned that because the UN was unable to access the compound, food for 3.7 million people for a month was “at risk of rotting”. Four days earlier, Lowcock had issued a separate statement calling out the Huthis for failing to clear a path for the UN to reach the mills from Hodeida city, which they still hold.

Some UN officials saw the statements as an attempt to mollify the UAE and Saudi Arabia, who have shown growing signs of frustration at what they perceive as the UN’s failure to criticise the Huthis for violating the Stockholm Agreement and blocking access to Red Sea Mills – and also as a means of pressuring the Huthis.

The Huthis have done some work on demining the area around Red Sea Mills, but have repeatedly voiced concerns that opening the main Sanaa-Hodeida highway would make them vulnerable to coalition-backed attacks. In the meantime, the WFP negotiated access to the compound via an alternative route that did not entail crossing frontlines; a convoy stood ready to travel from Aden to Hodeida to inspect the facility on 13 or 14 February. But senior UN officials cancelled the journey following the two statements from Lowcock and Griffiths, citing unspecified security concerns. The statements angered the Huthis, who perceive a coalition campaign aiming to paint them as the only intransigent party and diminish their concerns about reopening the highway.

The Huthis saw a communique (see below) issued by the Quad – the U.S., the UK, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – on 13 February as further evidence of such a campaign. They fear that attempts to shift the public narrative could become a precursor to a renewed coalition assault on Hodeida if the ceasefire collapses, for which they believe they will be blamed.

The Huthis are doing themselves few favours, however, tightening their grip on all aspects of life in areas they control. Security police affiliated with the movement cracked down on banks this past week, detaining senior staff at the Tadhamon International Islamic Bank, one of the biggest private financial institutions in the country. The Huthis take issue with Sanaa-based banks cooperating with the government of Yemen-run Central Bank of Yemen in Aden over access to a Saudi-funded import credit facility, and hope to extract preferential exchange rates in currency transactions by increasing their control over the main banks.

Economic conditions are barely improving. While the Yemeni riyal gained slightly against the dollar in the week prior to 14 February – trading at around 595-597 to one, compared to 600 to one a week earlier – the Famine Early Warning System is forecasting a deeper decline in the value of the riyal over the course of 2019 due to an ongoing shortage of foreign currency. Meanwhile, the government of Yemen announced that it expects to produce an average of 110,000 barrels per day of oil in 2019 and to export 75,000 barrels per day. At current market prices, that would generate around $1.7 billion in revenues this year, which is insufficient to cover imports.

Bottom Line: A key issue for Lollesgaard is closing the huge trust deficit between the Huthis, the government of Yemen and the coalition. If he can at least get an agreement on the first phase of Huthi redeployments from the Red Sea ports, he would ease current tensions a great deal. Conversely, further delays and provocations from the parties could cause at least a temporary resumption of fighting around Hodeida. Diplomats should carefully calibrate their pressure on the Huthis and should be ready to restrain and pressure both sides if violence around Hodeida worsens. If the current stasis continues, the already catastrophic humanitarian situation is likely to worsen.

Regional and International Developments

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a joint resolution spearheaded by Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA) on 13 February that directs the U.S. to remove its armed forces from “hostilities in or affecting the Republic of Yemen, except United States Armed Forces engaged in operations directed at al-Qaeda or associated forces” within 30 days of enactment. The bill now heads to the Senate, which adopted a similar resolution during the previous Congress. Its prospects are unclear, though proponents have indicated they are hopeful for a narrow victory. The White House said on 11 February that it “strongly opposes” the legislation and that it would veto any similar bill or resolution. Trump administration officials have also indicated that they do not believe U.S. armed forces are engaged in “hostilities” for purposes of war powers legislation.

Separately, reports suggest that the Trump administration does not intend to reissue the certification it made to Congress in September 2018 that the Saudi-led coalition is taking adequate precautions to avoid civilian casualties. Absent such a certification, the U.S. is legally barred from resuming the refuelling support that it suspended in late 2018.

As the U.S. government struggled internally to define the boundaries of its participation in the Yemen conflict, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was at the Quad meeting in Warsaw, where a related conversation was taking place. Beyond boilerplate diplomatic language welcoming recent UN Security Council action on Yemen and expressing support for Griffiths, Quad members issued a communiqué on 13 February. The Quad accused the Huthis of creating bureaucratic hurdles that have prevented the UN from setting up its monitoring mission in Hodeida and interfering in the banking sector. The Quad also discussed efforts to “reduce illicit fuel imports by the Huthis” from Iran and, citing a new UN Panel of Experts report made public the same day, accused Tehran of supplying the Huthis with money, ballistic weaponry and other advanced weapons systems, including unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Quad made no mention of allegations by CNN and Amnesty International earlier in February that the UAE and Saudi Arabia have supplied advanced weapons systems to their local allies, which have reportedly ended up in the hands of jihadist groups, including al-Qaeda, and leaked into the local arms market. The coalition issued a standard denial of the CNN report on 9 February, with the UAE saying it takes all reports of arms leakages “seriously”.

Meanwhile, even as they reaffirm their determination to end the war through diplomacy, UAE officials repeat that their forces are positioned to resume hostilities in Hodeida in case redeployments do not progress. In briefings in late January, coalition officials said they saw the Stockholm Agreement as a stepping stone toward a political process to end the war, so the uptick in bellicose language may well be a means of maintaining pressure on the Huthis. This tactic could backfire, however, if the Huthis respond with bellicosity of their own.

While the UAE and Saudi Arabia are pressing UN Security Council members to be more forceful in their public criticism of the Huthis, the UN sanctions committee for Yemen, composed of Security Council member states is due to renew the sanctions regime on Yemen by 26 February. Members do not expect major changes to the sanctions regime, but worry that the U.S. could attempt to insert new language on Iran.

Bottom Line: Actions and statements by the U.S. Congress and the Quad ended up balancing each other out, apportioning blame to the Huthis and coalition equally for delays in implementing the Stockholm Agreement and the ongoing human suffering in Yemen. Outside players need to keep pressing the Huthis and coalition to end the war, and Congressional action is helpful in this respect.