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Showing posts for "Joshua Kurlantzick"

Is Rakhine State Home to a Growing Insurgency?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
rakhine-rohingya The ruins of a market which was set on fire are seen at a Rohingya village outside Maugndaw in Rakhine state, Myanmar on October 27, 2016. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Rakhine State, where violence has been escalating for two months after Rohingya militants allegedly attacked a border guard post on October 9, is spiraling into chaos. As I noted in a recent post, the government of Aung San Suu Kyi seems unable, or unwilling to control security forces operating in northern Rakhine State, where they have been numerous reports of reprisal killings, beatings, and house-burnings against Rohingya in the weeks since October 9. The Myanmar government reportedly has made parts of northern Rakhine State off-limits to journalists and aid groups, making it hard to assess the true state of damage there. Read more »

What Does the Bloodshed in Rakhine State Tell Us?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
myanmar-rakhine Locals protest against former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who is visiting in his capacity as the Myanmar government-appointed Chairman of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, near Sittwe airport, Rakhine state, Myanmar on December 2, 2016. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

The ongoing bloodshed in Rakhine State, where security forces reportedly are engaging in a rising pattern of abuses against Rohingya, seems to be worsening. International human rights groups have warned that violence is escalating, and Kofi Annan, head of an international commission to study conditions in Rakhine State, this week told reporters he was “deeply concerned” with reports of dozens of Rohingya killed in the state in recent weeks, according to the New York Times. Human rights groups have warned that security forces are targeting groups of Rohingya for extrajudicial executions and also are blocking aid shipments to areas of northern Rakhine State. Read more »

Philippine Politics Become Even More Dangerous

by Joshua Kurlantzick
duterte-2 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte salutes during the change of command for the new Armed Forces chief at a military camp in Quezon city, Metro Manila, on December 7, 2016. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

Since the election, last spring, of President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines has witnessed the effects of increasingly demagogic politics on its culture and institutions. While Duterte has won praise domestically and internationally for some of his efforts, including plans to resolve the southern insurgency and strategies to reduce economic inequality in the Philippines, he also has increasingly personalized politics, while dramatically undermining the rule of law. Campaigning as a demagogue, he has often governed as a demagogue, brooking little opposition and overseeing bloody policies. Read more »

Moving Forward in Southeast Asia

by Joshua Kurlantzick
duterte-speech-airport Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks after arriving from Malaysia at Davao International airport in Davao city in southern Philippines, November 11, 2016. (Lean Daval, Jr./Reuters)

Although Southeast Asia was not mentioned often during the presidential campaign, the new U.S. administration will face several imminent regional challenges. For one, the relationship between the United States and the Philippines has deteriorated significantly since the election of President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this year. Duterte has publicly blasted U.S. officials and U.S. policy in the region, suggested he wants to move Philippine foreign policy closer to China, and threatened to scale down joint military exercises. Duterte expressed seeming approval of Trump’s election, presenting a possibility to restore closer ties, but the fact that Trump—a figure with some similar characteristics as Duterte—was elected will probably not change the Philippine president’s underlying anti-American worldview. Read more »

For Clues About Trump, Look Around the World

by Joshua Kurlantzick
trump-1 U.S. President elect Donald Trump reacts to a crowd gathered in the lobby of the New York Times building after a meeting in New York, U.S., on November 22, 2016. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

In the wake of Donald Trump’s stunning electoral victory, many American political analysts are arguing that his presidency has virtually no precedent, and so it is impossible to know how he might govern. Unlike all presidents since Dwight Eisenhower, Trump was never an elected politician, and even Eisenhower had extensive experience with government and public policy. Trump has few clear views on most policy issues, and has repeatedly disdained the norms of American politics. Even within the Republican Party leadership, which now wields more power in Washington than any one party in decades, there is deep confusion over how the president will lead. Read more »

Southeast Asia Responds to the U.S. Election

by Joshua Kurlantzick
trump-southeast-asia A newspaper seller prepares her stall with articles dominated by the election of U.S. Republican Donald Trump, in Jakarta, Indonesia on November 10, 2016. (Beawiharta/Reuters)

While the incoming U.S. presidential administration focuses on domestic issues that drove the presidential campaign, from health care to tax reform, U.S. relations with Southeast Asia are likely to be mostly forgotten. Southeast Asian states were not a focus of the campaign, although the presidential candidates did condemn the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which included much of Southeast Asia and is now almost surely dead. Even the South China Sea, the most critical security issue in the region, received only occasional mentions on the campaign trail. Read more »

What is Happening in Western Myanmar?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
western-myanmar-rohingya Men walk at a Rohingya village outside Maugndaw in Rakhine state, Myanmar on October 27, 2016. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Over the past month, the situation in western Myanmar’s Rakhine State, which has been extremely volatile since an eruption of violence in the early 2010s, has deteriorated once again. Following an attack on police outposts near the border with Bangladesh in early October, which killed at least nine policemen, the state is on edge. Some human rights groups have reported that the security forces and police, as well as individuals, are striking back at ethnic Rohingya, since militant Rohingya Muslims were believed to be behind the killings of the police. Read more »

Is the U.S.-Philippines Relationship Spinning Out of Control?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
duterte-cipher-brief Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte interacts with reporters during a news conference upon his arrival from a four-day state visit in China at the Davao International Airport in Davao city, Philippines on October 21, 2016. (Lean Daval Jr./Reuters)

Over the past six months, the U.S.-Philippines relationship has become increasingly strained and, at times, confused, as new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has made a series of emphatic statements suggesting he wants to downgrade the bilateral relationship. U.S. officials, meanwhile, have struggled to make sense of his comments and to determine whether they accord with actual Philippine policy. Read more »

A New Approach to Thailand’s Insurgency

by Joshua Kurlantzick
insurgnency-southern-thailand A view of the scene of a car bomb attack in Thailand's Narathiwat province, south of Bangkok on August 11, 2010. (Stringer/Reuters)

The three southernmost provinces of Thailand, near the Malaysian border, have been battered by an insurgency dating, in its current iteration, to 2001. More than 6,500 people have died as the insurgents’ actions have become increasingly brutal: setting off bombs near hospitals, beheading victims, and murdering families and children. Since August 2016, the Thai insurgents also have begun trying to strike with bombing attacks nationwide, threatening a large-scale civil conflict in the kingdom. Read more »

Instability Rising Again in Western Myanmar

by Joshua Kurlantzick
maungdaw-myanmar Police forces prepare to patrol in Maungdaw township at Rakhine state, northeast Myanmar, on October 12, 2016. (Stringer/Reuters)

Rakhine State, in western Myanmar, has been rocked by violence over the past five years. As the Myanmar government transitioned from a military junta to a quasi-civilian regime and, now, to a government led by the National League for Democracy (NLD), gangs and paramilitaries have repeatedly attacked Rohingya communities. Over 140,000 Rohingya have been driven from their homes in Rakhine State, with many winding up in camps that are little more than barren internment centers. Read more »