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Showing posts for "Joshua Kurlantzick"

What is Duterte’s Strategy Toward the Abu Sayyaf?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
duterte-abu-sayyaf Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a news conference in Davao after Norwegian national Kjartan Sekkingstad was freed from the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf Islamist militant group in Jolo, Sulu in southern Philippines on September 18, 2016. (Lean Daval Jr/Reuters)

Having already launched a grim, brutal war on drugs that has reportedly led to thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of arrests, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is now turning his eye to southern Philippines, where a collection of insurgent groups/terrorist organizations/bandits have wreaked havoc for decades. (Southeast Asia is also now home to more piracy attacks than any other region of the world, and the waters of the southern Philippines are part of this massive piracy problem.) Read more »

Where Next for Cambodian Politics?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
kem-sokha-cambodia Kem Sokha (C), leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), greets his supporters during his speech at the CNRP headquarters in Phnom Penh, on September 9, 2016. (Samrang Pring/Reuters)

Over the past two years, Cambodia’s government has steadily ramped up the pressure on the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), as well as on any civil society activists and journalists who question the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). In just the past year, security forces have cracked down on demonstrators holding regular Monday protests, while the government has pursued criminal charges against opposition leaders Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy. In July, someone murdered prominent activist Kem Ley in broad daylight at a gas station, and while police have arrested one suspect, the motive for why he would kill the activist remains murky. Read more »

Will Aung San Suu Kyi’s Visit Spark U.S. Investment in Myanmar?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
National League for Democracy (NLD) party leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at Union Parliament in Naypyitaw, Myanmar March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun National League for Democracy (NLD) party leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at Union Parliament in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on March 15, 2016. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Later this week, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi will visit Washington, as part of a broader trip to the United States that will include addressing the United Nations General Assembly. In addition to meeting President Obama, Vice President Biden, and several senators and congresspeople, Suu Kyi reportedly will appear at a dinner hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council. There, she plans to outline Naypyidaw’s economic strategies, and likely make a pitch to potential U.S. investors in sectors ranging from mining to telecommunications. Read more »

What Aung San Suu Kyi Hopes to Gain From Her U.S. Visit

by Joshua Kurlantzick
aung-san-suu-kyi-u-s-visit Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at the ASEAN-India Summit in Vientiane, Laos on September 8, 2016. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Later this week, Myanmar State Counselor, and de facto head of government, Aung San Suu Kyi travels to the United States. She will address the United Nations General Assembly and will meet with President Barack Obama in the White House this Wednesday. She also will hold meetings with a range of other U.S. officials, Myanmar specialists, and companies. As James Hookaway of the Wall Street Journal notes, the trip clearly solidifies Aung San Suu Kyi’s role as de facto head of government, although she is not technically president. Read more »

Great Promise, but Still Huge Obstacles to Myanmar Peace

by Joshua Kurlantzick
panglong-peace-conference State Counsellor of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi addresses the opening ceremony of the 21st Century Panglong Conference in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on August 31, 2016. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Over the past week, Myanmar has held its eagerly awaited national peace conference in Naypyidaw, the capital. Adding to the weight of expectations, United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon attended the conference, and told participants, “There is a long road ahead, but the path is very promising.” But the conference itself has delivered mixed results. Read more »

Obama’s Visit to Laos: Part 2—The Legacy of the War

by Joshua Kurlantzick
obama-laos-part 2 A fence made of collected American bomb shells is seen in a Hmong village near Phonsavan in Xieng Khouang province on October 29, 2007. (Tim Chong/Reuters)

In my previous blog post, I noted that the bilateral relationship between the United States and Laos remains limited, and will likely remain very limited for years to come. Sure, Laos is the chair of ASEAN this year, which gives the tiny country some influence, but Laos remains a minor destination for U.S. investment, and a country of more strategic relevance to China, Vietnam, and Thailand (among others) than to the United States. U.S. assistance to Laos is primarily focused on humanitarian areas. Read more »

The Indonesia Model for Combating Radicalism

by Joshua Kurlantzick
indonesia-islamic-state-current-history Muhammad Fachry (2nd L), also known as Tuah Febriansyah, who is accused of supporting Islamic State, is escorted by a policeman as he arrives for his trial at West Jakarta court in Jakarta, on February 9, 2016. (Beawiharta/Reuters)

In early May, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, three countries that often have trouble cooperating on transnational challenges, and have long disputed some of their adjacent waters made a major announcement. They would begin coordinated patrols at sea, and would launch a tri-country hotline to discuss kidnappings and other militant activities. The announcement came after ten Indonesian sailors had been kidnapped in the southern Philippines by the Abu Sayyaf, a militant group operating in the lawless deep south. Read more »

Obama Makes the First U.S. Presidential Visit to Laos: Part 1

by Joshua Kurlantzick
obama-laos-part 1 U.S. President Barack Obama welcomes Laos President Choummaly Sayasone upon his arrival at Sunnylands for a 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Rancho Mirage, California on February 15, 2016. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Next week, President Obama will arrive in Laos for the first visit of a U.S. president to the country. He comes to Laos for the U.S.-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, for the East Asia Summit, and also for bilateral meetings with several of Laos’s leaders. The tiny communist country, the current chair of ASEAN, selected new leaders—in its typically opaque way—earlier this year. According to some reports, Laos’s new leaders are eager to move the country away from its growing dependence on China for trade and aid, and are seeking to shift Laos back toward its historically closer relations with Hanoi, which was the patron of Laos’s communist party during the Indochina wars. Read more »

What to Expect at Aung San Suu Kyi’s Peace Conference

by Joshua Kurlantzick
aung-san-suu-kyi-xi-jinping Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (L) and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping (R) poses for the media before a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, on August 19, 2016. (Rolex Dela Pena/Reuters)

Next week, Aung San Suu Kyi and a host of other dignitaries, including United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon, will preside over a major peace conference in Naypyidaw. The conference is billed as a kind of sequel to the Panglong conference, held in February 1947, and presided over by Aung San Suu Kyi’s father, Aung San. At the original Panglong, Aung San, then essentially interim head of the government, and many ethnic minority leaders agreed to work together in a national government. Read more »

Cambodia’s Democratic Transition Has Collapsed, With Dangerous Consequences

by Joshua Kurlantzick
cambodia Tens of thousands of people attend a funeral procession to carry the body of Kem Ley, an anti-government figure and the head of a grassroots advocacy group, "Khmer for Khmer" who was shot dead on July 10, to his hometown, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on July 24, 2016. (Samrang Pring/Reuters)

As Cambodia prepares for national elections in two years, its politics have veered dangerously out of control. Even though young Cambodians are demanding political alternatives and accessing more information outside of state media, the country’s transition toward two-party politics has collapsed. The government’s brutal tactics of the 1990s and early 2000s, when political activists were routinely murdered and opposition parties nearly put out of business, have returned. Young Cambodians may be left with no outlet for their grievances, creating a potentially explosive situation, especially given the promise of reform and dialogue just a few years ago. Read more »