This month, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan issued the Arab world’s first national policy aimed at mitigating and adapting to climate change, the first significant revision to the country’s environmental policy since 2005.
However, the climate change mitigation efforts set forth in the policy involve the water and agricultural sectors, both of which are politically complicated and have histories of organizational fragmentation, weak policy implementation, and largely unsuccessful enforcement of resource efficiency policies.
Jordan’s National Climate Policy could face institutional and implementation challenges due to entrenched elite interests and the population’s support for state services and entitlements.
Without acknowledging the formal and informal mechanisms by which the Jordanian bureaucracy functions, stakeholders will be stymied in implementing the policy, as well as the related reforms in the energy and water sectors.
Often mentioned by policy makers and stakeholders in tandem with Jordan’s climate change vulnerability is the issue of water scarcity. Water scarcity in Jordan has been portrayed as the country’s most critical development challenge. The World Bank ranks Jordan the fourth poorest in the world for water resources, and recent figures indicate that the Jordanian average is 145 cubic meters of water per capita per annum, well below the threshold for absolute water scarcity.
To mitigate this scarcity, Jordan has become a vanguard in the region regarding novel water policies, introducing an unprecedented groundwater regulation by-law in 2002 and embarking on “mega” projects like the Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal and the Disi Water Conveyance Project. However, despite a proliferation of demand-oriented policy instruments, water scarcity mitigation policies are routinely circumvented by water theft and other violations committed by a wide range of offenders, including small-scale entrepreneurs, elites, and large corporate farmers.
The European Union is working to be a visible and relevant actor on Asian security, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) Regional Forum in Brunei in June 2013 presents an important opportunity for the EU to take up a sharply profiled and consistent position on the issues. Catherine Ashton, the EU’s High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, plans to attend; she attended the forum for the first time in Phnom Pehn last year, where she signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, a non-aggression pact created by ASEAN (Ms. Ashton is also speaking this week at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore).
Shortly before last year’s ASEAN regional forum, the EU released updated guidelines to its foreign and security policy in East Asia. While in Phnom Penh, Ms. Ashton and then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a joint statement on security and other issues in the Asia Pacific region.
This suggests that the EU wants to closely coordinate its Asia policy with the United States, which has different strategic interests than China, particularly in Southeast Asia. With this in mind, and as regional stability in the southeast further deteriorates, how should the EU proceed?
A power rivalry between the US and China is increasingly threatening regional stability in East and Southeast Asia. The EU and ASEAN should work together to strengthen their contributions to stabilize Sino-US relations in the Asia Pacific. While ASEAN forms the base for the main multilateral institutions for regional security, the EU is a major global actor with important ties to both China and the US without being a party in the main Asia Pacific security issues.
The European Union should continue to give firm support to ASEAN and related regional multilateral security mechanisms. Doing so requires the EU’s High Representative to attend each year’s ARF. Moreover, the EU should use its voice at the ARF to take up a sharply profiled and consistent position on issues relating to regional stability.
The EU’s position on security matters in East and Southeast Asia should be based on two principles. First, coherence among ASEAN’s member states is essential in order to prevent Southeast Asia from becoming the stage for a Sino-US power struggle through proxy conflict. Second, ASEAN-based multilateral security institutions are indispensable for stable Sino-US relations in the Asia Pacific region. To credibly promote these two principles, it is necessary for Brussels to develop its own criteria for evaluating regional stability. Automatically following Washington’s lead will not be helpful as the US is not a neutral party in regional security matters.
ASEAN can support a greater role for the EU in Southeast and East Asia by promoting EU membership of the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+).
Southeast Asia’s relevance for global peace and stability has grown rapidly in recent years. This is a consequence of widespread uncertainty about the future of great power relations in Asia. Sino-US relations in particular are currently shaping regional security. Since 2010, territorial disputes between various coastal states in the South China Sea have evolved from being primarily a regional issue to becoming a major element in the Sino-US security relationship. Especially in Southeast Asia the spheres of influence of China and the US are overlapping, and it may be expected that both powers will continue to focus on this region in their efforts to strengthen their overall strategic positions.
Last month, the UN Security Council authorized the deployment of 12,640 uniformed personnel to serve in its new peacekeeping mission in Mali. Finding the right mix of military and police capabilities to implement ambitious peacekeeping mandates is never easy. Given the unique operational challenges that the UN force in Mali will face, as well as the political pressures inherent in UN force generation, getting this mix right could prove impossible.
The Council has asked the UN Secretariat to incorporate those African Union troops already on the ground that are “appropriate to UN standards” into the new UN force for Mali. The UN will have to balance this wish with the interests of the UN’s largest troop contributors who may also push for inclusion in the mission. Most importantly, the UN will have to cobble together the actual capabilities that are needed for such a challenging mission. Air assets (transport and attack), horizontal engineering, intelligence analysis, francophone language skills, familiarity operating in desert terrain, and a high tolerance for risk are just some of the capabilities that are needed, yet will surely be in short supply.
Of course, similar headaches occur with every force generation effort. The massive undertaking of generating force from 116 countries for all UN missions, combined with the urgency of deploying every new mission quickly, has limited the ability of the UN to look ahead, plan, and engage member states in the mid- to long-term needs of UN peacekeeping. As a result, force generation is ad hoc and reactive. There is no strategy for force generation; little detailed understanding of what capabilities member states have to offer; and a lack of engagement with member states to improve the capabilities currently offered, or to find those critical capabilities that are always in short supply. If the UN had been doing this for the past five years, generating the right mix of capabilities for Mali might be possible.
The International Peace Institute's latest report analyzes the inherent contradictions–technical vs. political, short-term operational vs. mid-term strategic–in generating forces for UN peacekeeping operations. Based on an evaluation of the UN’s force generation system, we argue that, in spite of the urgent challenges of today, the system must also focus on the important task of strategically planning for tomorrow. The report proposes a set of reforms to address the most critical force generation issues: those related to strategic planning and outreach, incentives, and mechanisms for greater accountability.
Last month, the UN had 92,407 uniformed personnel from 116 different countries serving in 16 different missions around the world (see full list). Getting the personnel and equipment for those missions is not easy. UN missions are often located in unfamiliar and unforgiving environments far away from the countries that contribute the soldiers, police, and related equipment. The missions can be dangerous, and the operational objectives unclear. Military equipment and specialized capabilities that are critical to a UN mission–helicopters, for example–are often badly needed at home, too.
Each mission has unique operational requirements and therefore a different composition of capabilities to be generated, both in terms of personnel (from infantry to engineering to medical units) and equipment (from helicopters to dump trucks to hospital beds). All countries offer different capabilities that have to be matched correctly to the situation. This process, of course, must also happen as quickly as possible. Few countries can get on the ground in short order. Some are able to deploy rapidly but must wait months for internal government decision-making processes or approval from their Parliament. Others can decide quickly but require time to procure equipment and assistance to deploy.
“There is obviously a serious drug problem here; many people are involved at different levels of the politics, of the government, of the army. But I still have difficulties accepting the label of ‘narco-state,’” said José Ramos-Horta, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau.
Mr. Ramos-Horta said that if the international community, especially Europe and the US, believe it is a serious threat, they should provide assistance with preventing Latin American drug cartels from using the country as a transit hub.
Yesterday, the UN Security Council extended the mission's mandate and requested that it help fight organized crime and drug trafficking in the West African nation, which has a history of military coups.
Mr. Ramos-Horta said a key priority of his office is to reform the armed forces and the judiciary and help improve democratic governance in the country. He said the entire military needs reorganizing, a process that will take up to five years. He said that while some soldiers have been involved in the drug trade, "the vast majority of the soldiers and officers are simply people who have been neglected for years" and are living in “unbelievable poor, precarious conditions.”
“In such conditions, is a bit too much to expect that there can be discipline and ethics,” he said.
He said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), particularly Nigeria and Senegal, are best positioned to lead this process, and have already started to put in money to rebuild the barracks.
Mr. Ramos-Horta said that many of the country's highly educated citizens leave for Portugal, Belgium, France, and elsewhere because of Guinea-Bissau's political uncertainty and limited economic opportunities. “If there is a significant re-engagement by the international community to rebuild the country and the institution of the state, there will be no difficulties in bringing back some of these highly educated people,” he said.
Mr. Ramos-Horta said that he sometimes puzzles over why Guinea-Bissau has not descended into anarchy, when so many other impoverished, multi-ethnic African nations have. “There is no civil war here, there is no gang warfare here. There are already naturally good existing social conditions, political conditions, to build a more stable, prosperous future.”
“It's really a magnificent people, and they should be helped and compensated for it, rather than continue to be neglected.”
The interview was conducted by Warren Hoge, Senior Adviser at the International Peace Institute.
Warren Hoge: Our guest today in the Global Observatory is José Ramos-Horta, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau. Guinea-Bissau, one of the world’s poorest countries and currently a hub of international drug traffic with extremely volatile politics and a history of military coups, presents great challenges for the UN. And Mr. Ramos-Horta, the UN’s man there, brings particularly impressive credentials to the job, being a former president and prime minister of his country, Timor-Leste, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1996 for helping bring peace and justice to his own conflicted land.
José, welcome. I want to ask you first about the immediate goals of the mission or of the country. I understand that there is a plan to hold elections. When are those elections, and is there a road map to get to that point, and then also to consolidate things once the elections have been held?
José Ramos-Horta: Elections will be held towards the end of the month of November this year, and this transition period will then end, followed by the second phase of the international engagement, and that will be essentially to help assist in a proactive manner to rebuild the institutions of the state.
It has taken some painstaking efforts on the part of all of us here—not only myself, but particularly efforts by the political leaders here, the transitional president, the transitional prime minister, the National Assembly, political parties—engaged in dialogue to form a transition period road map leading from now until elections in November. It has not been easy, but nothing is easy anywhere when we have so many political parties, differences of opinion, of ambitions, etc.
The situation remains largely calm, although [with] much tension; poverty is wide spread, deep rooted; child malnutrition and health issues are rampant. The United Nations agencies here, from UNICEF to World Food Program (WHO), [are] struggling with very limited resources, trying to help out as much as possible.
Pakistan’s new Muslim League government, led by two-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is facing a bad economy, a paralyzed energy sector, public health threats from polio and measles, and the continuing spread of extremism, said Michael Kugelman, a senior program associate for South and Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Mr. Kugelman said Prime Minister Sharif, who will take office on May 25th, is a businessman able to “invite the IMF to come back in and request another tranche for the IMF,” but he won’t change the culture that is allowing extremists to act with impunity. “I don’t think any civilian leader in Pakistan is in a position to do this,” he said. “Ultimately, this is something that the army, or that the security establishment, has to deal with.”
Mr. Kugelman related a story where masked men beat several girls with iron rods for not having their heads properly covered while the police looked on. “And you’d expect the police to rush in there and deal with it, but nothing happened. And later, one policeman admitted to the Pakistani media that he’d received orders from above to not do anything.”
"When militants commit attacks, perpetrators need to be tracked down and persecuted, but this doesn't happen," he said.
Mr. Kugelman said the military in Pakistan still dictates foreign policy, though its role is changing. “The military is a very different institution than it was 20 years ago, 10 years ago, even 5 years ago," he said. "This election was significant not only because it was the first transfer of power from one democratically elected government to another, but also because it was the first time the military was not really involved with in the elections."
Mr. Kugelman said he didn't think the elections would have much of an effect on US-Pakistan relations. “The question we really need to be asking is what happens later in the year when there’s a transition in the military leadership, when General [Ashfaq Parvez] Kayani retires, and there’s a new military leadership,” he said.
One potential spoiler for US-Pakistan relations is that the local government in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan, could be formed by Imran Khan’s Movement for Justice party. "Imran Khan has very starkly during the campaign expressed very different views on militancy and drones than the US would have wanted," he said. "I think that the United States and other countries are very concerned about the prospects of Imran Khan’s government taking over in that province."
As to why Imran Khan didn’t do better in the elections despite using social media to attract hundreds of thousands of people to his rallies, Mr. Kugelman said it was because social media does not play the same role in Pakistan as it does in Arab Spring countries. “Basically, he was depending on the Facebook generation to sweep him into power, and you can’t do that in Pakistan, because the Facebook generation does not represent the masses. It represents a tiny percentage of the population,” he said.
The interview was conducted by Nadia Mughal, Research Assistant at the International Peace Institute.
Nadia Mughal: We’re pleased to welcome Michael Kugelman, a senior program associate for South and Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, based in Washington D.C. Michael, thank you for speaking to the Global Observatory.
On May 11th, Pakistan held national elections marking its first democratic transition of power from one civilian government to another–a historic milestone, given Pakistan’s turbulent political history. The elections signal the beginning of the Pakistan’s Muslim League government, led by two-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. What are some of the key domestic challenges facing the new national government?
Michael Kugelman: Thank you Nadia, it’s a pleasure to talk with you today.
Let me identify four major domestic challenges facing Sharif as he comes into power. The first one is really the one we hear the most about, and that’s militancy, certainly. Pakistan is no longer a country where there’s extremism in the so-called tribal areas, in the hinterlands, and something that the rest of the country can forget about. We’ve gotten to the point now where its tentacles have spread to all of the major urban areas, from Karachi, the biggest city, which has essentially become a new haven for the Pakistani Taliban, to Punjab, the populous province of Pakistan, the province where the government is headquartered, where the military is headquartered. In the southern parts of Punjab, you have violent sectarian groups all based there. Punjab, of course, happens to be the stronghold of the PML-N party, Nawaz’s party. And militants essentially operate with impunity in Pakistan, so that’s a clear challenge that is going to have to be dealt with.
A second one is the economy, and this is arguably the most immediate challenge. Pakistan, as I understand it, only has about five weeks worth of foreign reserves. It’s in big trouble. So, I think one of the first things Sharif will probably have to do is invite the IMF to come back in and request another tranche for the IMF. That’s going to be key.
The meeting yesterday between presidents Barack Obama and Thein Sein may have been more symbolic than substantive, but it is an important step towards a normal relationship for the United States and Myanmar. It will deepen the engagement of the two countries and move them closer to the broader partnership they want as the transition in the country Washington still calls Burma faces some grave internal challenges.
When Thein Sein took office at the end of March 2011, his inaugural address outlining an ambitious reform agenda was received with scepticism in the United States. But as he brought Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi over to his side, this tone began to change. The April 2012 by-elections saw the National League of Democracy enter Parliament as the largest non-government party. This was the single most important event that led to the reset button being hit on this bilateral relationship. Within the space of about a year, this formerly pariah nation had a new US ambassador and a visit from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and President Obama stopped by to deliver a landmark speech in Yangon. Decades-long sanctions were suspended.
What comes next? For a partnership to eventuate, the US will have to stand by Myanmar as it takes steps forwards–and back–for years to come. It will not always be smiles with the band playing anthems. In the last twelve months, we have seen new political freedoms let loose old hatreds in waves of anti-Muslim violence. This showed there is still much to do to transform this country into the tolerant one of Thein Sein’s televised speeches.
Three interconnected and difficult issues need attention for the country to move forward—citizenship for the Rohingya; building capacity in the police to prevent violence against Muslims; and re-envisioning the country as one that is multi-ethnic, multilingual, and multi-religious.
The transition from authoritarian rule to democracy could take decades. Key waypoints are the 2015 elections, implementing constitutional reforms, and the achievement of true civilian leadership.
The US should engage on a broad range of issues and stop using sanctions as a diplomatic tool. An enduring partnership would involve sustained support for the transition across the spectrum of political interests, and transitional development assistance would expand to include programs for education, health, and the media.
The quick fix to stop violence is a home-grown one. Put simply, President Thein Sein’s strong word needs to be met with firm but not repressive action by local authorities. Violent extremism needs to be punished by the law, whoever commits it.
Beyond this, there are three areas that deserve special attention as Myanmar tries to resolve the underlying ethnic and religious tensions that could threaten its transition. It needs more encouragement and not threats from international policymakers, and where possible, offers of practical help to succeed.
When France’s President François Hollande flew to Timbuktu and Bamako on February 2 to supervise the ongoing Servalmilitary operation, the crowds welcomed him as their savior, chanting his name and waving the French flags that had been widely distributed (some had even painted themselves blue, white, and red). The scene was reminiscent of Benghazi in September 2011 when Libyans cheered the arrival of then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy and UK Prime Minister David Cameron with signs that read, “Vive la France.” (Of course, Benghazi and Libya have now plunged into a security-political turmoil, and no one knows where it will lead.)
At the start of the engagement, French authorities were quick to announce that their troops would withdraw gradually from Mali in early March. However, unsurprisingly, the French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian has since revised France’s position, indicating that the military mission will take longer than expected. Now, it has been decided that French troops will remain in Mali alongside the deployment of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), due to start on July 1. And a number of issues and security problems related to Mali and the Sahel region still remain.
Conventional military operations cannot defeat terrorism and guerrilla warfare, and, on the contrary, may exacerbate the threat by providing more impetus to the terrorists who can in turn rally more support from the local populations. Indeed, civilian casualties often trigger anger among the populations who see no good in a foreign military intervention, as is the case in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Mali’s allies and partners such as France have for a long time turned a blind eye to the internal problems of the country, and the economic aid pledged last week should only be part of a larger assistance plan involving political advice and training.
Mali is the weakest link in a highly vulnerable Sahel region, which means that any lasting and concrete solution must have a regional and holistic approach.
Military interventions can only be seen as a small part of a global political solution in Mali and the Sahel region in general. Mali and the Tuareg population suffer from decades-long socio-political and economic inefficiency, corruption, and a lack of willingness from Bamako to adequately respond to the legitimate demands of the Tuareg living in the north.
The French military intervention may have helped to win back the cities of Gao, Kidal, Timbuktu, and the north of Mali, but, despite killing a large number of terrorists, most members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) have fled Mali and are now hiding in the grey zones of the vast Sahel region stretching from the Atlantic coast to the Red Sea. There are even growing indications that many have found safe haven in southern Libya as well as elsewhere in the contiguous southern areas.
Furthermore, the deaths of AQIM’s leader Abou Zeid and other terrorists, along with the presumed killing of Mokhtar Belmokhtar—the mastermind behind the dramatic attack on the In Amenas gas facility in Algeria in January—will not change the regional landscape instability. Indeed, AQIM’s tentacle body remains well alive, and terrorists who are fighting a typical asymmetrical guerrilla war will continue to hit-and-run either in Mali or in neighboring countries, just as they did in In Amenas. In fact, the recent coup attempt in N’Djamena could well be a response to Chad’s military involvement in Mali.
It is now three months since Hollande’s visit and his call for a dialogue to resolve the Malian crisis, and there remains legitimate doubts about Bamako’s willingness to find a genuine and durable socio-political solution to this ongoing deep-rooted crisis and engage into an open and sincere dialogue, even with the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). Further complicating this equation is that many believe that even if a political dialogue began, it could be a biased political disequilibrium favoring Bamako due to the French military involvement and influence.
Furthermore, it has been reported numerous times by human rights NGOs that the Malian army is taking revenge against the population in the north, especially against the Maures, Tuareg and Songhai. Similarly, the angry Malian population in the south perceives the Tuareg as those responsible for the current crisis in Mali, as well as behind the presence of the terrorists in the country. This can only widen the already dangerous divide between the north and south populations, and it is a serious issue the authorities must deal with quickly to prevent civilian chaos which would greatly undermine any possibility for stability and the unity of Mali.
"I think the EU will not be able to achieve anything with our Central Asian partners if we do not engage long-term and with the necessary patience,” said Patricia Flor, European Union Special Representative (EUSR) for Central Asia.
Ambassador Flor said the Central Asian governments have a long-term view of transformation. “They take their time, they have a slow pace of reform, and sometimes we would encourage them to actually move faster on some of these issues.”
She said the EUSR’s main task is to establish trust between EU and Central Asia. “The EU and its member states are coming from a different sphere in terms of how we organize governments and governance, our understanding of our basic principles and standards and values,” she said. “Therefore, one of the main tasks is to bridge the different mentalities and cultures in a partnership that looks at common interests and how we can establish trust between each other so that we can then engage in such difficult issues like rule of law or civil society.”
Ambassador Flor said the EU has established itself as a trusted interlocutor for mediation between the five Central Asian countries on issues such as water management, but that political will and the ownership of the Central Asian governments are key to solving these issues. Most of the regional issues are trans-boundary, she said, and require the involvement and coordination of neighboring states and regional and international organizations.
She said there is now EU representation in all Central Asian countries, and an EU-Central Asia high-level security dialogue is to take place for the first time this summer. The EU has committed itself to support three of the six confidence building measures of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan.
The interview was conducted by David Muckenhuber, a consultant based at the International Peace Institute's Vienna office.
David Muckenhuber (DM): Our guest today in the Global Observatory is Patricia Flor, the European Union’s Special Representative (EUSR) for Central Asia. She coordinates EU action in Central Asia and oversees the implementation of the EU strategy for Central Asia. Her mandate, which runs from July 1, 2012 until June 30, 2013, is to promote good relations between the EU and Central Asian countries and to strengthen stability, cooperation, democracy, and respect for human rights in the region. She previously served in Kazakhstan, at the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, and as German ambassador to Georgia. Ambassador Flor, thank you for joining us over the phone today in the Global Observatory.
One of the main tasks within your mandate is to oversee the implementation of the EU strategy for Central Asia, which was adopted for the period of 2007 to 2013. How would you evaluate the implementation and success of this strategy so far?
Patricia Flor (PF): First of all, let me clarify that the strategy will not expire. The strategy actually has been reviewed in 2012 and the Council of the EU Foreign Ministers then reaffirmed the validity of the strategy and its main objectives so that it will continue to be in force. The EU foreign ministers added an additional dimension by suggesting the start of a high-level security dialogue between the EU and Central Asia, which is scheduled to take place for the first time this summer. Therefore, no need to worry; the EU has a strategy, it will continue to function, and it does function well.
The International Peace Institute is an independent, international not-for-profit think tank dedicated to promoting the prevention and settlement of conflicts between and within states by strengthening international peace and security institutions. To achieve its purpose, IPI employs a mix of policy research, convening, publishing and outreach.
The killing of health workers in Pakistan has stalled efforts to eradicate polio and brought into sharp relief the challenges in addressing health threats in insecure regions of the world. Read GO articles about health and security >>