Insurgencies

Is Poverty the Root Cause of Boko Haram Violence?

The notion that poverty is the main cause of terrorism and insurgency is one of the most contentious ideas in global security studies. Those on the left tend to emphasize the connection between violence and the lack of development, while those on the right tend to deny or at least minimize it.

Nigeria Political Violence MapIn recent weeks, this debate has turned to the brutal extremist group known as Boko Haram, based in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno. In early May, 2014, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

Casamance – harmonious name, discordant reality

The Casamance has long been a region in limbo, caught between worlds: today trapped between Senegal and The Gambia, it was subject to both French and Portuguese colonial efforts before the border was negotiated in 1888 between the French colony of Senegal and Portuguese Guinea (now Guinea-Bissau) to the south. The settlement resulted in Portugal losing possession of the Casamance, which was at the time the commercial hub of its colony. – Read More

Separatism in French Polynesia

As previously noted on GeoCurrents, the political entities that comprise the French Republic exhibit a multitude of different administrative designations with varying legal responsibilities. One such possession is French Polynesia, which was officially designated an “overseas country” in 2004, though legally its status is indistinguishable from that of France’s other overseas collectivities. – Read More

Fighting Flares in Bodoland

Eastern Assam in northeastern India has been engulfed in ethnic violence for the past five days, with the indigenous Bodo (pronounced BO-RO) pitted aginst Bengali-speaking Muslims. Fighting flared July 20th after four unidentified men killed four Bodo youths; in retaliation, Bodo gangs attacked local Muslims. Before long, tit-for-tat carnage resulted in some 32 deaths and the burning of approximately 60 villages.  The death tolls will surely mount, as many shooting victim and casualties of knife and sickle attack are currently in critical condition. As many as 70,000… – Read More

The Nasa (Páez) People Take on the Colombian Military and the Leftist Rebels

A recent article in the Chinese news site CRI notes that the indigenous Nasa people of southwestern Colombia have “lashed out at a Colombian Army outpost in southwestern Cauca province, as the military refused to leave their land as requested.” The report goes on to note that some 1,000 people surrounded a military outpost and literally tried to drag the soldiers away. As reported elsewhere, Colombian riot police soon evicted the Nasa demonstrators, and later shot and killed a member of the movement who allegedly refused to stop at an armed checkpoint – Read More

New Video on the LRA (and Rush Limbaugh)

GeoCurrents technical expert Kevin Morton just brought to my attention a viral video, Kony 2012, produced by the organization Invisible Children. The video seeks to use social media to help bring the brutal leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Joseph Kony, to justice before the year is over. This powerful half-hour video has already been viewed more than seven million times on YouTube. Parts of it are difficult to watch, as it includes photos of people who have been horribly disfigured by LRA thugs.

Kony 2012… – Read More

Oil and Arabic-Speakers in Iran’s Troubled Southwest

If Saudi Arabia faces a restive Shia minority in its main oil-producing area (see GeoCurrents Oct. 14, 2011), Iran has a similar challenge. Its foremost oil-producing zone—the southwestern province of Khuzestan (Ahwaz in Arabic)—is the heart of Iran’s dissatisfied Arabic-speaking minority. Fear of unrest in Khuzestan looms large in Iranian security deliberations. Not only does – Read More

Dams and the Ignored Ethnic Conflict of Northern Burma

Recent news reports have trumpeted Burma’s (Myanmar’s) decision to suspend construction of the massive, Chinese-financed Myitsone Dam on the Irrawaddy River in the northern reaches of the country. The Economist magazine, for example, claims that the cancellation provides “mounting evidence that the new government in Yangon is serious about reform.” That assessment may well be – Read More

Insurgency, Sex, and Tribalism in Northeastern India

Map of language and religion in northeastern India

The small Indian state of Tripura was until recently beleaguered by insurgency, much like its neighbors in northeastern India. South Asia Terrorism Portal lists one active terrorist/insurgent group, two proscribed groups, and twenty-two inactive ones. Most have championed indigenous claims to land and autonomy, opposing the Bengali migration that has transformed the state. – Read More

Support for the Baloch Insurgency: Right-wing or Left-wing?

Ralph Peters Alternative Map of the Middle East

A recent (May 14) discussion thread in GeoCurrents takes on the one-dimensional left/right political spectrum. Jim Wilson perceptively notes that he “always like[s] watching political commentators trying to decide whether those who want to roll back the reforms of Deng Xiaoping are the right wing or the left wing of the Chinese Communist Party.” Another – Read More

Geopolitical Complexities in the Twin Insurgencies of Balochistan

Map of Baloch provinces in Pakistan and Iran

Balochistan, spanning the border between Pakistan and Iran, is a deeply troubled region, beset with rebellion and split by a barrier. Pakistan’s Balochistan province has been in rebellion as often as not since the founding of the country. Wikipedia lists five distinct “Balochistan conflicts” since 1948, but it is not always clear when one conflict – Read More

The Iran-Pakistan Border Barrier

Google Earth Image of Iran-Pakistan Barrier

One of the world’s most heavily fortified borders stretches between Iran and Pakistan. The Iran-Pakistan Barrier, currently under construction by the Iranian government, features a three-foot thick (.91 meters), ten-foot high (3.05 meter) concrete wall extending across 700 kilometers of forbidding desert terrain. The actual wall, however, is merely one part of an elaborate system – Read More

Disparate Interpretations—and Misinterpretations—of the Conflict in Ivory Coast

Map of the Division of Ivory Coast in 2007

Understandings of the recent conflict in Ivory Coast (officially, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire) vary significantly among different sectors of the news media. Mainstream sources in the United States often mention the Ivorian Civil War of 2002-07 that effectively divided the country in two (see map), but they focus primarily on the presidential election of 2010 – Read More