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15 de junio, 2021

ENSAYOPaula Mora Brito  [Versión en inglés]

El terrorismo en el Sahel es una realidad ignorada que afecta a millones de personas. No es de extrañar que la región sea una de las más afligidas por esta práctica. Sus complejas características geográficas dificultan el control de las fronteras (especialmente las del desierto del Sáhara), y la falta de homogeneidad cultural y religiosa, junto a los continuos retos económicos y sociales, agravados por la pandemia del COVID-19, hacen de la región un escenario frágil y conveniente para los grupos terroristas. Además, los países occidentales (principalmente Francia) están presentes en la zona, provocando cierto rechazo en lo relativo a su intervención a los ojos de la población saheliana. Aunque los datos sobre esta problemática son escasos, lo que dificulta su estudio, este artículo tratará de ampliar los conceptos y conocimientos sobre el terrorismo en el Sahel, ampliando su espectro geográfico, para mostrar la vida cotidiana de sus habitantes desde hace varios años. Se pondrá el foco del análisis en la intervención occidental en la lucha contra el terrorismo. 

El fenómeno terrorista 

El terrorismo es un concepto controvertido, pues está sujeto a la interpretación individual: mientras unos condenan a un grupo por el uso de violencia indiscriminada bajo un objetivo político/social/económico, otros consideran a sus integrantes héroes de la libertad. Solamente su fin define esta actividad: coaccionar e intimidar la intención general sobre una cuestión. Se desarrolla bajo diferentes formas: por el ámbito geográfico (regional, nacional o internacional) o por su objetivo (etno-nacionalista, ideología política y/o económica, religioso o asuntos concretos). Es por ello que cada uno posee unas características distintas. 

El terrorismo religioso, como resaltó Charles Townshend en su libro Terrorism: A very short introduction, posee unas características propias. Citando a Hoffman, explica que el objetivo transciende más allá de la política debido a que se considera una demanda teológica. Es una relación bilateral entre los fanáticos y Dios, en la que no cabe posibilidad de diálogo o entendimiento, solo el establecimiento de la demanda. Esta concepción conlleva a que sea un terrorismo internacional, aunque empiece a nivel regional o nacional, pues el grupo de “enemigos” es más amplio. El mesianismo es el motor de esta actividad, y el martirio su arma más potente. La muerte proveniente de la lucha, se presenta como un acto sagrado y refleja la certeza de los integrantes de estos grupos a su ideología.

Occidente tiene dificultades para abordar estas amenazas, pues entiende el mundo de manera secular. Sin embargo, los Estados en los que se desarrollan estos grupos, la religión representa la nación, los valores y el estilo de vida: el individuo es religión y viceversa. Como dijo Edward Said: “El arraigado Occidente, es ciego ante los matices y al cambio en el mundo islámico”. Y es que el terrorismo religioso islámico surge como una respuesta al colonialismo y a la práctica de soft power en las culturas árabes e islámicas, que se ha reforzado a través de la corriente del fundamentalismo islámico. 

El terrorismo en el Sahel

El Sahel (“borde, costa” en árabe) es una ecorregión que hace de transición entre el norte y el sur del continente africano, así como de oeste a este, con un área total de 3.053.200 km², constituyendo un cinturón de 5.000 km. Está compuesto por Senegal, Mauritania, Malí, Argelia, Burkina-Faso, Níger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudán, Eritrea y Etiopía. Se trata de una zona privilegiada, pues el desierto se entiende como una vía de comunicación.

El área cuenta con 150 millones de habitantes, de los que el 64% son menores de 25 años y mayoritariamente islámicos suníes. En 2018, el último año que hay datos sobre estos países, la tasa de mortalidad anual por cada 1.000 personas era de 8,05, un índice muy alto comparado con el 2,59 de España en el 2019. La tasa de alfabetización de adultos (mayores de 15 años), de las que solo hay datos de siete de los diez países, es de un 56,06 %. En realidad, es muy desigual: mientras que Argelia posee un 81,40%, Níger o Malí tienen un 35%. La tasa sobre la incidencia de la pobreza sobre la base de la línea de pobreza nacional es de del 41,15% (solo cuatro países tienen datos del 2018). La esperanza de vida es de 63 años.

El territorio encara una crisis económica, política y social. El Sahel es una de las regiones más pobres del mundo, con el norte de Nigeria como uno de los territorios con la mayor cantidad de población extremadamente pobre del planeta. La situación empeoró este año con una caída histórica del precio de las materias primas (más del 20%), que representan un 89% de sus exportaciones. La crisis medioambiental dificulta el desarrollo económico. 

El cambio climático ha provocado que el aumento de temperaturas vaya a un ritmo 1,5 veces más rápido que el de la media mundial, lo que ha multiplicado las sequías (de una cada diez años a una cada dos). La inestabilidad política de algunos países, como el Golpe de Estado del 2012 en Malí, dificultan su desarrollo económico. 

En este contexto, la inseguridad se ha incrementado desde los ataques del 2004 en el Borno, estado de Nigeria que hace frontera con Camerún y Chad, por parte del grupo terrorista islámico Boko Haram. La actividad terrorista se ha extendido a través de la dirección de Al-Qaeda en el Magreb Islámico (AQIM), presentes en el norte de Malí, el este de Mauritania, Níger y el oeste de Chad. Esto ha propiciado una crisis demográfica, provocando que 4,2 millones de personas se hayan desplazado y más de un millón se vea incapaz de encontrar trabajo. El programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo estima que, de hoy a 2050, más de 85 millones de sahelianos se verán obligados a emigrar. 

La mayoría de ataques tienen lugar en las triple frontera de Malí, Burkina-Faso y Níger; y la de Níger, Nigeria y Chad. Desde el Tratado de Berlín de 1885, las fronteras africanas han supuesto un grave problema ya que fueron una imposición europea que no respetó la realidad tribal y étnica de muchas regiones, obligando y creando una nación de la que sus habitantes no se sienten parte. Esta realidad se reflejó con el caso de Malí, mostrando la fragilidad preexistente de la región. 

AQMI ha dividido en katibas (ramas) el Sahel: la Yahia Abou Ammar Abid Hammadu, que se establece entre el sur de Argelia y Túnez y el norte de Níger; y Tarik Ben Ziyad, activa en Mauritania, el sur de Argelia y el norte de Mali. La primera, es conocida por ser más “terrorista”, mientras que la segunda es más bien “criminal”. Esto se debe al mayor grado de crueldad empleado por la Hammadu, pues siguen el takfirismo (guerra contra los musulmanes “infieles”) de Zarqawi (ISIS). 

Se apoderan de los territorios a través de negociaciones, en los que establecen un mercado de trafico ilegal. Una vez adquirida un área, establecen sus asentamientos, sus campamentos de entrenamiento y preparan sus próximos atentados. Otro medio de financiación es el secuestro. Es una forma de subyugar, humillar y conseguir ingresos de Occidente. La necesidad de dinero, a diferencia de una organización criminal, no es para el enriquecimiento personal de los componentes, sino para seguir financiando la actividad: comprar lealtades, armas, etc. Del reclutamiento no existen datos de su desarrollo, condiciones, ni objetivos por edades, clase ni sexo.

Las características geográficas y sociopolíticas de la ecorregión han obligado a AQMI ha desarrollar su capacidad de adaptación, como la subdivisión del grupo (Boko Haram), que muestra que ya no necesitan una base física fija como en los años 90s (AQ en Afghanistán). Además, se ha registrado un cambio de estrategia, pues estos grupos están aumentando en un 250%, sus ataques a organizaciones internacionales o infraestructuras del gobierno, y decreciendo los atentados a civiles. Esto puede ser una nueva forma de atraer a los locales pues se promocionan como protectores frente al abuso estatal.

En el 2019 hubo una media de 69,5 ataques mensuales en el Sahel y el Magreb, y el pasado mes de marzo se registraron 438 fallecidos. En 2020 ha disminuido la actividad debido al COVID-19. El terrorismo trae inseguridad política y social, así como económica, pues los inversores no se ven atraídos para hacer negocios en una zona inestable, provocando el mantenimiento de la precariedad. Esto provoca y/o mantiene el subdesarrollo de un estado, ocasionando un gran flujo de migración. Se entra entonces en el círculo vicioso del subdesarrollo y pobreza.

Para España, el suceso más reciente e impactante tuvo lugar el pasado 28 de abril de 2021, cuando los periodistas David Beriain y Roberto Fraile fueron asesinados en Burkina-Faso por la Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin, Grupo de Apoyo al Islam y a los Musulmanes en español; un grupo terrorista vinculado a Al-Qaeda.

La reciente y repentina muerte del presidente chadiano Idris Déby Itno, el 19 de abril de 2021, a manos de los Combatientes del Frente para el Cambio y la Concordia en el Chad (FACT por sus siglas en inglés Fighters of the Front for Change and Concord in Chad), ha aumentado aún más la inestabilidad en la región. El presidente de las últimas tres décadas luchaba contra este grupo rebelde, creado en 2016 en Libia, que pretendía arrojar a Déby y al régimen dinástico de Chad. Desde que se produjo este suceso, masivas protestas han cubierto las calles de Chad, pidiendo una transición democrática en el país, a lo que el ejército ha respondido matando a algunos de los manifestantes. Este levantamiento se debe a lo que a los chadianos les parece una repetición de su historia y la violación de la constitución de la nación. El ejército chadiano había anunciado la formación de un Consejo de Transición, que duraría 18 meses, bajo el liderazgo de Mahamat Idriss Déby, el hijo del anterior presidente. El problema es que su padre, en 1999, creó el mismo órgano político y prometió lo mismo. Sin embargo, sus promesas no se cumplieron. El Consejo Militar de Transición suspendió la Constitución, en la que se establece en su Título Decimoquinto que el presidente transnacional debe ser el presidente de la Asamblea Nacional.

La situación del Chad es clave en la lucha contra el terrorismo en el Sahel. El país se encuentra entre el Sahel y el Cuerno de África. La retirada o el debilitamiento de las tropas en las fronteras del país suponen un gran riesgo no sólo para Chad, sino también para sus vecinos. Los países fronterizos con el Chad, se verán expuestos a los violentos ataques de los grupos terroristas, ya que Chad cuenta con la mayor fuerza conjunta del G5 Sahel. El país es el estabilizador de la región. Al este, impide que la inestabilidad política sudanesa se extienda por las fronteras. Al sur, Chad ha sido el nuevo hogar de más de 500.000 refugiados que provienen de la República Centroafricana y su enorme crisis migratoria. Al oeste, contrarresta principalmente a Boko Haram, que ahora es un actor importante en Níger y Nigeria. Al norte, contrarresta a los grupos rebeldes libios. Es importante entender que, aunque Libia no forme parte del Sahel, su inestabilidad resuena con fuerza en la región, ya que el país es el nuevo centro de los grupos terroristas en el Sahel, como parece demostrar la muerte del expresidente. El país se ha convertido en la plataforma de lanzamiento de los grupos terroristas de África que pretenden imponer su voluntad en todo el continente. Queda por ver lo que ocurre en Chad, porque cambiará por completo el actual paradigma saheliano.

La lucha occidental contra el terrorismo

Existen iniciativas institucionales para abordar estas cuestiones regionales de forma conjunta, como el grupo G5 Sahel, compuesto por Mauritania, Mali, Níger, Burkina- Faso y Chad, contando con el apoyo de la Unión Africana, la Unión Europea, las Naciones Unidas o el Banco Mundial, entre otros.

También hay ayuda internacional a la región, principalmente de Francia y la Unión Europea. Desde 2013, a petición del gobierno de Malí, el gobierno francés puso en marcha la Operación "Serval" con el objetivo de expulsar a los grupos terroristas en el norte de Malí y otras naciones del Sahel. Le sucedió un año después la Operación "Barkhan", que se centra en la asistencia a los Estados miembros del G5 del Sahel, tratando de proporcionar los recursos y la formación necesarios para que estos países puedan gestionar su propia seguridad de forma independiente. En esta Operación también participan España, Alemania, Estonia y el Reino Unido. El año pasado, 2020, se puso en marcha la Task Force "Takuba", compuesta por fuerzas especiales francesas y estonias, en el cinturón Sáhara-Sahel. A día de hoy, Francia ha desplegado 5.100 militares, ha entrenado a más de 7.000 soldados del G5 Sahel, ha desplegado 750 actividades de entrenamiento o apoyo al combate y tiene 75 oficiales de cooperación en la región.

Francia también ha liderado la intervención internacional en el Sahel. En 2012, en el Consejo de Seguridad de las Naciones Unidas promovió la Resolución 2085 para subrayar la necesidad de asistencia internacional en la región. En 2017, Francia fue la precursora de la Misión Multidimensional Integrada de Estabilización de las Naciones Unidas en Malí (MINUSMA), creada en virtud de la Resolución 2391 para prestar asistencia al gobierno de Malí en la estabilización de su país. Cuenta con más de 15.000 efectivos civiles y militares que prestan apoyo logístico y operacional.

La Unión Europea también ha participado a través de tres misiones principales en el marco de la Política Común de Seguridad y Defensa (PCSD): Misión de Formación de la Unión Europea (EUTM) Malí, EUCAP Sahel Malí y EUCAP Sahel Níger. La primera se creó en 2013 para formar y asesorar a las fuerzas armadas malienses. También coopera con los Estados miembros del G5 Sahel para mejorar el control de las fronteras. Las otras dos son misiones civiles cuyo objetivo es formar a la policía, la gendarmería y la guardia nacionales, así como asesorar las reformas de seguridad del gobierno nacional. La EUCAP Sahel Níger se creó en 2012 y sigue en vigor. En cuanto a la EUCAP Sahel Malí, se creó en 2014 y se ha prolongado hasta 2023. Además, Francia y la Unión Europea también contribuyen financieramente a la región. El año pasado, la Unión Europea aportó 189,4 millones de euros a la región. Francia aportó alrededor de 3.970 millones de euros durante 2019-2020.

Sin embargo, la incertidumbre por la muerte de Déby ha reconfigurado la percepción local de la intervención occidental, principalmente la francesa. Las protestas que han tenido lugar estas últimas semanas en el Chad también han supuesto una acusación a Francia por respaldar al consejo militar en contra de la voluntad del pueblo. Junto con la Unión Africana y la Unión Europea, Macron declaró en el funeral de Déby "Francia nunca podrá hacer que nadie cuestione (...) y amenace, ni hoy ni mañana, la estabilidad y la integridad de Chad", tras las promesas de Mahamat de "mantenerse fiel a la memoria" de su padre. Estas declaraciones fueron entendidas por los chadianos como que Mahamat seguirá el estilo de liderazgo de su padre y que a Francia no le importa la opresión que ha sufrido el pueblo durante décadas. Es en este punto donde Francia se arriesga a sólo preocuparse por la estabilidad que aportaba Chad en la región, sobre todo en sus intereses geopolíticos en lo que respecta especialmente a Libia y África Occidental. Quizás por ello Macron sintió la necesidad de aclarar una semana después sus palabras: "Seré muy claro: apoyé la estabilidad y la integridad de Chad cuando estuve en N'Djamena. Estoy a favor de una transición pacífica, democrática e inclusiva, no estoy a favor de una sucesión", dijo. No obstante, los sahelianos se están cansando de ser las marionetas de los juegos occidentales, como se ha demostrado este año en Malí con las protestas de los habitantes contra la presencia militar francesa en el país. Occidente debe mostrar su compromiso real con el fomento de los derechos humanos presionando por una transición democrática mientras mantiene su lucha contra el terrorismo.

En conclusión, el terrorismo religioso islamista ha ido en aumento en los últimos años como contrapunto al poder de Estados Unidos en la Guerra Fría. El Sahel es uno de los escenarios predominantes de estas actividades, ya que es una zona con inestabilidad político-económica preexistente que los terroristas han aprovechado. El terrorismo está cambiando sus formas de actuar, mostrando su adaptabilidad en términos de geografía, métodos de actuación y adquisición de recursos. Francia ha demostrado ser el líder de la iniciativa occidental en la región y ha hecho progresos en la misma. Sin embargo, Occidente, especialmente los países europeos, deben empezar a prestar más atención a las causas de los problemas de esta región, recopilando datos y conociendo su realidad. Sólo entonces podrán abordar estos problemas con eficacia, ayudando a las instituciones regionales existentes, buscando soluciones a largo plazo que satisfagan a la población.

Categorías Global Affairs: África Seguridad y defensa Ensayos

Gacaca trials, a powerful instrument of transitional justice implemented in Rwanda [UNDP/Elisa Finocchiaro]
 

ESSAY /  María Rodríguez Reyero

One of the main questions that arise after a conflict comes to an end is what the reconstruction process should be focused on. Is it more important to forget the past and heal the wounds of a community or to ensure that the perpetrators of violence are fairly punished? Is the concept of peacebuilding in post-conflict societies compatible with justice and the punishment for crimes? Which one should prevail? And most importantly, which one ensures a better and more sustainable future for the already harshly punished inhabitants?

One of the main reasons in defence of the promotion of justice and accountability in post-conflict communities is its significance when it comes to retributive reasons: those who committed such atrocious crimes deserve to get the consequences. The accountability also discourages future degradations, and some mechanisms such as truth commissions and reparations to the victims allow them to have a voice, as potentially cathartic or healing. They may also argue that accountability processes are essential for longer-term peacemaking and peacebuilding. Another reason for pursuing justice and accountability is how the impunity of past crimes could affect the legitimacy of new governments, as impunity for certain key perpetrators will undermine people’s belief in reconstruction and the possibilities for building a culture of respect for rule of law.[1]

On the other hand, peacebuilding, which attempts to address the underlying causes of a conflict and to help people to resolve their disputes rather than aiming for accountability, remains a quite controversial term, as it varies depending on its historical and geographical context. In general terms, peacebuilding encompasses activities designed to solidify peace and avoid a relapse into conflict[2]. According to Brahimi, those are undertaken to reassemble the foundations of peace and provide tools for building up those foundations, more than just focusing on the absence of war[3]. Some of the employed tools to achieve said aims typically include rule of law promotion and with the tools designed to promote security and stability: disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of ex-combatants (DDR), and security sector reform (SSR) and others such as taking custody of and destroying weapons, repatriating refugees, offering advisory and training support for security personnel, monitoring elections, advancing efforts to protect human rights, reforming or strengthening government institutions and promotion of the formal and informal process of political participation.[4]

Those conflict resolution and peacebuilding activities can be disrupted by accountability processes.[5] The concern is that accountability initiatives might even block possible peace agreements and lengthen the dispute as they remove the foundations of the conflict, making flourish bad feelings and resentment amongst the society. The main reason behind this fear is that those likely to be targeted by accountability mechanisms may therefore resist peace deals. This explains why on many occasions and aiming for peace, amnesties have been given to secure peace agreements Likewise, there is a prevailing concern that transitional justice tools may reduce the impact in the short term the durability of a peace settlement as well as the effectiveness of further peace-building actions.

Despite the arguments in favour and against both mechanisms, the reality is that in practice post-conflict societies tend to strike a balance between peacebuilding and transitional justice. Both are multifaceted processes that do not rely on one system to accomplish their ends, that frequently converge. However, their activities on occasions collide and are not complimentary. This essay examines one of the dilemmas in building a just and durable peace: the challenging and complex relationship between transitional justice and peacebuilding in countries emerging from conflict.

To do so, this essay takes into consideration Rwanda, a clear example of the triumph of transitional justice, after a tragic genocide in 1994. From April to July 1994, between 800,000 and one million ethnic Tutsis were brutally killed during a 100-day killing spree perpetrated by Hutus[6]. After the genocide, Rwanda was on the edge of total collapse. Entire villages were destroyed, and social cohesion was in utter deterioration. In 2002, Rwanda boarded on the most arduous practice in transitional justice ever endeavoured: mass justice for mass atrocity, to judge and restart a stable society after the bloody genocide. To do so, Rwanda decided to put most of the nation on trial, instead of choosing, as other post-conflict states did (such as Mozambique, Uganda, East Timor, or Sierra Leone), amnesties, truth commissions, selective criminal prosecutions.[7]

On the other hand, Sierra Leone is a clear example of the success of peacebuilding activities, after a civil war that led to the deaths of over 50,000 people and a poverty-stricken country. The conflict faced the Revolutionary United Front (RUF[8]) against the official government, due to a context of bad governance and extensive injustice. It came to an end with the Abuja Protocols in 2001 and elections in 2002. The armed factions endeavoured to avoid any consequences by requesting an amnesty as well as reintegration assistance to ease possible societal ostracism. It was agreed only because the people of Sierra Leone so severely needed the violence to end. However, the UN representative to the peace negotiations stated that the amnesty did not apply to international crimes, President Kabbah asked for the UN’s assistance[9] and it resulted in the birth of Sierra Leone’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL or Special Court).[10]

Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) and transitional justice

Promoting short and longer-term security and stability in conflict-prone and post-conflict countries in many cases requires the reduction and structural transformation of groups with the capacity to engage in the use of force, including armies, militias, and rebel groups. In such situations, two processes are of remarkable benefit in lessening the risk of violence: DDR (disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration) of ex-combatants; and SSR (security sector reform).

DDR entails a range of policies and programs, supporting the return of ex-combatants to civilian life, either in their former communities or in different ones. Even if not all ex-combatants are turned to civilian life, DDR programs may lead to the transfer and training, of former members of armed groups to new military and security forces. The essence of DDR programming and the guarantees it seeks to provide is of utmost importance to ensuring peacebuilding and the possibility of efficient and legitimate governance.

It is undeniable that soldiers are unquestionably opposing to responsibility processes enshrined in peace agreements: they are less likely to cede arms if they dread arrest, whether it is by an international or domestic court. This intensifies their general security fears after the disarming process. In many instances, ex-combatants are integrated into state security forces, which makes the promotion of the rule of law, difficult, as the groups charged with enforcing new laws may have the most to lose through the implicated reforms. It is also likely to lessen citizen reliance on the security forces. The incorporation of former fighters not only in the new military but also in new civilian security structures is common: for example, in Rwanda, the victorious RPF dominated the post-genocide security forces.

While the spectre of prosecutions most obviously may impede DDR processes, there is a lesser possibility that it might provide incentives for DDR, as might happens where amnesty or reduced sentences are offered as inducements for combatants to take part in DDR processes. For them to be effective, the reliability of both the threat of prosecution and the durability of amnesty or other forms of protection are essentials whether it is in national or international courts. Even if this is not related to the promotion of transitional justice processes, it is another example of how it can have a long-term effect on the respect of human rights and the prevention of future breaches.

As previously stated, some DDR and transitional justice processes may share alike ends and even employ similar mechanisms. A variety of traditional processes of accountability and conflict resolution often also seek to promote reconciliation. DDR programs increasingly include measures that try to encourage return, reintegration, and if possible, reconciliation within communities. This willingness of victims to forgive and forget could in theory be promoted through a range of reconciliation processes like the ones promoted by transitional justice with the assistance of tools like truth commissions, which facilitate a dialogue that allows inhabitants to move forward while accepting the arrival of former perpetrators.  

The triumph of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in 1994 finally put an end to the genocide in the country. The new government focused on criminal accountability for the 1994 genocide and as a result of this prioritization, the needs of survivors have not been met completely Rwanda is the paradigm and perfect example of prosecution of perpetrators of mass atrocity by the employment of transitional justice mechanisms, that were kept separated from DDR programs in order not to interfere with the attribution of responsibilities.[11] The Rwandan one is a case where DDR largely worked notwithstanding firmly opposing amnesty. Proof of this outstanding DDR success is how Rwanda has managed to successfully reintegrate around 54,000 combatants since 1995 thanks to the work of the Rwandan Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (RDRC). Another clear evidence of the effectiveness of DDR methods in Rwanda is the reintegration of child soldiers. Released child soldiers were installed in a special school (Kadogo School), which started with 2,922 children. By 1998 when it closed, the RDRC reported that 73% of its students had reunited with one or both parents successfully.[12]

On the other hand, Sierra Leone’s case on DDR was quite different from Rwanda’s success, as Sierra Leone's conflict involved the prevalence of children associated with armed forces and groups (CAAFG). By the time the civil war concluded in 2002, data from UNICEF estimates that roughly 6,845 children have been demobilized,[13] although the actual number could be way higher. Consequently, the DDR program in Sierra Leone is essentially focused on the reintegration of young soldiers, an initiative led by UNICEF with the backing of some local organizations, as the National Committee on DDR (NCDDR)of Sierra Leone. Nonetheless, in practice, Sierra Leone's military did not endure these local guidelines, and as a result the participation of children in the process often had to be arranged by UNICEF peacekeepers in most cases. In addition to that initial local reluctance, some major quandaries aroused when it came to the reintegration of children in the new peace era in Sierra Leone, mainly due to the tests and requirements for children to have access to DDR programs, such as to present a weapon and demonstrate familiarity with it.[14] As a result, many CAAFG were excluded from the DDR process, primarily girls who were predominantly charged with non-directly military activities such as “to carry loads, do domestic work, and other support tasks.”[15]

Thus, the participation of girls in Sierra Leone’s DDR was particularly low and many never even received support. While it is not clear how many girls were abducted during the war, data from UNICEF calculates that out of the 6,845 overall children demobilized, 92% were boys and only 8% were girls. The Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children has pointed out that as many as 80 per cent of rebel soldiers were between the ages of 7 and 14, and escapees from the rebel camps reported that the majority of camp members were young captive girls.[16] Research also reported that 46% of the girls who were excluded from the program confirmed that not having a weapon was the reason for exclusion. In other cases, girls were not permitted by their husbands to go through the DDR,2 whilst others chose to opt-out themselves due to worry of stigmatization back in their neighbourhoods.[17]  It is worth noting that many of those who succeeded to go through the demobilization phase “reported sexual harassment at the ICCs, either by male residents or visiting adult combatants”, while others experienced verbal abuse, beatings, and exclusion in their communities.[18]

Another problem that underlines the importance of local leadership in DDR processes is that the UN-driven DDR program lets children decide to receive skill training rather than attending school if they were above 15 years. However, the program provided little assistance with finding jobs upon completion of the apprenticeship. Besides, little market examination was done to learn the demands of the local economy where children were trying to reintegrate into, so they are far more than the Sierra Leonean economy could absorb, which resulted in a lack of long-term employment for demobilized child soldiers. Studies by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers[19] and Human Rights Watch[20] revealed that adolescents who had beforehand been part of armed organizations during the war in Sierra Leone were re-recruited in Liberia or Congo because of the frustration and the lack of economic options for them back in Sierra Leone.

Promotion of the rule of law and its contributions to peacebuilding

Amongst many others, the promotion of the rule of law in post-conflict countries is a fundamental factor in peacebuilding procedures. It contributes to eradicating many of the causes of emerging conflicts, such as corruption, disruption of law... Even if it may seem contradictory, peacebuilding activities in support of the rule of law may become contradictory to transitional justice. Sometimes processes of transitional justice may displace resources, both capital, and human, that might otherwise be given to strengthening the rule of law. For instance, in Rwanda, it has been claimed that the resources invested in the development and assistance to national courts should have been equal to those committed to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and the extent to which trials at the ICTR have had an impact domestically remains to be seen.

However, transitional justice also presents other challenges to the reconstruction of the rule of law. Transitional justice processes might also destabilize critically imperfect justice sectors, making it more difficult to improve longer-term rule of law. They can stimulate responses from perpetrators which could destabilize the flimsy harmony of nascent governments, as they might question its legitimacy or actively attempt to undermine the authority of public institutions. Judging former perpetrators is an arduous task that is also faced with corruption and lack of personal and resources on many occasions. Additionally, the effort by national courts to prosecute criminals is an undue burden on the judicial system, which is severely damaged after a conflict and in many cases not ready to confront such atrocious crimes and the long processes they entail. Processes to try those accused of genocide in Rwanda, where the national judicial system was devasted after the genocide, have put great pressure on the judicial system, and the lack of capacity has resulted that many arrested remained in custody for years without having been convicted or even having had their cases heard, in the majority of the cases in appalling prison conditions. Such supposed accountability initiatives may have a counterproductive effect, contributing to a sense of impunity and distrust in justice processes.

Despite the outlined tensions, transitional justice and rule of law promotion are also capable to work towards the same ends. A key goal of transitional justice is to contribute to the rebuilding of a society based on the rule of law and respect for human rights, essential for durable peace. The improvement of a judiciary based on transparency and equality is strictly linked to the ability of a nation to approach prior human rights infringements after a conflict.[21] Both are potentially mutually reinforcing in practice if complementarities can be exploited. Consequently, rule of law advancement and transitional justice mechanisms however combine in some techniques.

To start with, the birth of processes to address past transgressions perpetrated during the conflict, both international and domestic processes, can help to restore confidence in the justice sector, especially when it comes to new arising democratic institutions. The use of domestic courts for accountability processes helps to place the judiciary at the centre of the promotion and protection of human rights of the local population, which contributes to the intensification of trust not only in the judicial system but also in public institutions and the government in general. Government initiation of an accountability process may indicate an engagement to justice and the rule of law beforehand. Domestically-rooted judicial processes, as well as other transitional justice tools, such as commissions of inquiry, may also support the development of mechanisms and rules for democratic and fair institutions by establishing regularized procedures and rules and promoting discussions rather than violence as a means of resolving differences and a reassuring population that their demands will be met in independent, fair and unbiased fora, be this a regular court or an ad hoc judicial or non-judicial mechanism. This is not to assume that internationally driven transitional justice mechanisms do not have a role to play in the development of the rule of law in the countries for which they have been established, as the hybrid tribunal of Sierra Leone demonstrates.[22]

In general terms, the refusal of impunity for perpetrators and the reformation of public institutions are considered the basic tools for the success of transitional justice. Transcending the strengthening of the judiciary, different reform processes can strengthen rule of law and accountability: institutions that counteract the influence of certain groups (including the government) like human rights commissions or anti-corruption commissions, may contribute to the establishment of a strong institutional and social structure more capable of confronting social tensions and hence evade the recurrence to conflict.[23]

Achieving an effective transitional justice strategy in Rwanda is an incredible challenge taking into consideration the massive scale as well as the harshness of the genocide, but also because of the economic and geographical limitations that make perpetrators and survivors live together in the aftermath. To facilitate things, other post-conflict states with similarly devastatingly high numbers of perpetrators have opted for amnesties or selective prosecutions, but the Rwandan government is engaged in holding those guilty for genocide responsible, thus strongly advocating for the employment of transitional justice. This is being accomplished through truth commissions, Gacaca traditional courts, national courts, and the international criminal tribunal for Rwanda combined. This underlines the dilemma of whether national or international courts are more efficient in implementing transitional justice.

Gacaca focuses on groups rather than individuals, seeks compromise and community harmony, and emphasizes restitution over forms of punishment. Moreover, it is characterized by accessibility, economy, and public participation. It encourages transparency of proceedings with the participation of the public as witnesses, who gain the truth about the circumstances surrounding the atrocities suffered during the genocide. Also, it provides an economic benefit, as Gacaca courts can try cases at a greater speed than international courts, thus reducing considerably the monetary cost as the number of incarcerated persons waiting for a trial is significantly reduced.

Alongside the strengths of the Gacaca system come flaws that seem to be inherent in the system. Many have come to see the Gacaca as an opportunity to require revenge on enemies or to frighten others with the threat of accusation, instead of injecting a sense of truth and reconciliation: the Gacaca trials have aroused concern and intimidation amongst many sectors of the population. Additionally, the community service prescribed to convicted perpetrators frequently is not done within the community where the crime was committed but rather done in the form of public service projects, which enforces the impression that officials may be using the system to benefit the government instead of helping the ones harmed by the genocide. Another proof of the control of Gacaca trials for benefit of the government is manifested by the prosecutions against critics of the post-genocide regime.

On the other hand, Sierra Leone’s situation is very different from the one in Rwanda. To help restore the rule of law, the Special court settled in Sierra Leone must be seen as a role model for the administration of justice, and to promote deterrence it must be deemed credible, which is one of its main problems.[24] There is little confidence in the international tribunals amongst the local population, as the Court’s nature makes it non-subordinated to the Sierra Leonean court system, and thus being an international tribunal independent from national control.[25] Nevertheless, it is considered as a “hybrid” tribunal since its jurisdiction extends over both domestic and international crimes and it relies on national authorities to enforce its orders. Still, in practice, there is no genuine cooperation between the government and the international community, as there is a limited extent of government participation in the Special Court’s process and the lack of consultation with the Sierra Leonean population before the Court’s endowment. This absence of national participation, despite causing scepticism over citizens, has the benefit that it remains more impartial when it comes to the proceedings against CDF leaders.

Another major particularity of the case of Sierra Leone and its process of implementation of transitional justice is once again the high degree of implication of children in the conflict, not only as victims but also as perpetrators of crimes. The responsibility of child soldiers for acts committed during armed conflict is a quite controversial issue. In general, under international law, the prosecution of children is not forbidden. However, there is no agreement on the minimum age at which children can be held criminally responsible for their acts. The Rome Statute, instituting the International Criminal Court (ICC), only provides the Court jurisdiction over people over eighteen years. Although not necessarily directly addressed to the prosecution of child soldiers, Article 40 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child foresees the trials of children (under eighteen), ordering that the process should consider their particular needs and vulnerabilities due to their shortage.

The TRC for Sierra Leone was the first one to focus on children's accountability, directly asserting jurisdiction over any person who committed a crime between the ages of fifteen and eighteen. Concerning child soldiers, the commission treated all children equally, as victims of war, but also studied the double role of children as both victims and perpetrators. It emphasized that it was not endeavouring to guilt but to comprehend how children came to carry out crimes, what motivated them, and how such offences might be prevented. Acknowledging that child soldiers are essentially victims of serious abuses of human rights and prioritizing the prosecution of those who illegally recruited them is of utmost importance. Meticulous attention was needed to guarantee that children’s engagement did not put them at risk or expose them to further harm. Proper safeguard and child-friendly procedures were ensured, such as special hearings, closed sessions, a safe and comfortable environment for interviews, preserving the identity of child witnesses, and psychological care, amongst others.

However, shall children that have committed war crimes be prosecuted in the first place? If not, is there a risk that tyrants may assign further slaughter to be performed by child soldiers due to the absence of responsibility they might possess? The lack of prosecution could immortalize impunity and pose a risk of alike violations reoccurring eventually, as attested by the re-recruitment of some child soldiers from Sierra Leone in other armed conflicts in the area, such as in Liberia. Considering the special conditions of child soldiers, it becomes clear that the RUF adult leaders primarily are the ones with the highest responsibility, and hence must be prosecuted.[26]

It is known that both the Sierra Leonean government and the RUF were involved in the recruitment of child soldiers as young as ten years old, which is considered a violation of both domestic and international humanitarian law. Under domestic law, in Sierra Leone, the minimum age for voluntary recruitment is eighteen years. International humanitarian law, (Additional Protocol II) fifteen is established as the minimum age qualification for recruitment (both voluntary or compulsory) or participation in hostilities (includes direct participation in combat and active participation linked to combat such as spying, acting as couriers, and sabotage.). Additionally, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child[27] to which Sierra Leone is a signatory, requires “state parties . . . to take all necessary measures to ensure that no child below age eighteen shall take direct part in hostilities” and “to refrain in particular from recruiting any child.”

Nevertheless, victims who have been hurt by children also have the right to justice and reparations, and it also comes to ask whether exempting children of accountability for their crimes is in their best interest. When the child was in control of their actions (not coerced, drugged, or forced) acknowledgement might be an important part of personal healing that also adds to their acceptance back in their communities. The prosecution, however, should not be the first stage to hold child soldiers accountable, as TRC in Sierra Leone also performs alternatives, so the possibility of using those should first be inquired, as these alternatives put safeguards to ensure the best interest of the child and the main aim is restorative justice and not criminal prosecution.

Conclusions

Finally, after parsing where peacebuilding and justice clash and when do they have shared methods, we can assert that establishing an equitable and durable peace requires pursuing both peacebuilding and transitional justice activities, taking into consideration how they interact and the concrete needs of each community, especially when it comes to the needs of former child soldiers and the controversial debate around the need for their accountability and reinsertion in communities, as despite the pioneer case of Sierra Leone, the unusual condition of a child combatant, which is both victim and perpetrator still presents dilemmas concerning their accountability in international criminal law.[28]

Additionally, it becomes of utmost importance in assessing post-conflict societies, whether it is to implement peacebuilding measures such as DDR or to apply justice and search for accountability, that international led initiatives include in their program’s local organizations. Critics of international criminal justice often assume that criminal accountability for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes are better handled at the national level. While this may well hold for liberal democracies, it is far more problematic for post-conflict successor regimes, where the benefits of the proximity to the affected population must be seriously weighed against the challenges facing courts placed in conflict-ridden societies with weak and corrupt judiciaries. 

Local systems however have more legitimacy and capacity than devastated formal systems, and they promise local ownership, access, and efficiency, which seems to be the most appropriate way to ensure peace and endurability of peace. Additionally, restorative justice methods put into place thanks to local initiatives emphasize face-to-face intervention, where offenders have the chance to ask for forgiveness from the victims. In many cases restitution replace incarceration, which facilitates the reintegration of offenders into society as well as the satisfaction of the victims.

To conclude, it has become clear that improving the interaction between peacebuilding and transitional justice processes requires coordination as well as a deep knowledge and understanding of said community. It is therefore not a question of deciding whether peacebuilding initiatives or transitional justice must be implemented, but rather to coordinate their efforts to achieve a sense of sustainable and most-needed peace in post-conflict countries. Taken together, and despite their contradictions, these processes are more likely to succeed in their seek to foster fair and enduring peace.

 

[1] Sooka, Y., 2006. Dealing with the past and transitional justice: building peace through accountability. [online] International Review of the Red Cross. https://www.corteidh.or.cr/tablas/a21925.pdf [Accessed 5 April 2021].

2Boutros-Ghali, B. (1992). An Agenda for Peace:Preventive Diplomacy, Peacemaking and peace-keeping.Report of the Secretary-General UN: https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/145749 [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[3]Brahimi. (s.f.). Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations. 55th Session: Brahimi Report | United Nations Peacekeeping  [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[4] United Nations Secretary General (1992). "An Agenda for Peace, Preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peace-keeping UN Doc. A/47/277 - S/24111, 17 June.", title VI, paragraph 55.<A_47_277.pdf (un.org)>. [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[5] Sooka, Y., 2006. Dealing with the past and transitional justice: building peace through accountability. [online] International Review of the Red Cross. Available at: < https://www.corteidh.or.cr/tablas/a21925.pdf > [Accessed 5 March 2021].

[6] Roser, M. and Nagdy, M., 2021. Genocides. [online] Our World in Data. Available at: < Genocides - Our World in Data > [Accessed 5 March 2021].

[7] Waldorf, L., 2006. Mass Justice For Mass Atrocity: Rethinking Local Justice As Transitional Justice. [online] Temple Law Review. Available at: < https://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/temple79&div=7 > [Accessed 5 March 2021].

[8] Gibril Sesay, M. and Suma, M., 2009. Transitional Justice and DDR: The Case of Sierra Leone. [online] International Center for Transitional Justice. Available at: < https://www.ictj.org/sites/default/files/ICTJ-DDR-Sierra-Leone-CaseStudy-2009-English.pdf > [Accessed 5 March 2021].

[9] Roht-Arriaza, N., & Mariezcurrena, J. (Eds.). (2006). Transitional Justice in the Twenty-First Century: Beyond Truth versus Justice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 2, Sigal HOROVITZ: Transitional criminal justice in Sierra Leone. <(PDF) Transitional Criminal Justice in Sierra Leone | Sigall Horovitz - Academia.edu >[Accessed 5 March 2021]

[10] Connolly, L., 2012. Justice and peacebuilding in postconflict situations: An argument for including gender analysis in a new post-conflict model. [online] ACCORD. Available at: < https://www.accord.org.za/publication/justice-peacebuilding-post-conflict-situations/ > [Accessed 5 March 2021].

[11] Waldorf, L., 2009. Transitional Justice and DDR: The Case of Rwanda. [online] Intenational Center for Transitional Justice. Available at:    < https://www.ictj.org/sites/default/files/ICTJ-DDR-Rwanda-CaseStudy-2009-English.pdf >[Accessed 5 April 2021].

[13] UNICEF (2004). From Confict to Hope:Children in Sierra Leone’s Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Programme. [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[14] SESAY, M.G & SUMA, M. (2009), “Transitional Justice and DDR: The Case of Sierra Leone”,International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[15] WILLIAMSON, J. (2006), “The disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers: social and psychological transformation in Sierra Leone”, Intervention 2006, Vol. 4, No. 3, Available from: < http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.600.1127&rep=rep1&type=pdf> [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[16] : A. B. Zack‐Williams (2001) Child soldiers in the civil war in Sierra Leone, Review of African Political Economy, 28:87, 73-82, DOI: 10.1080/03056240108704504 [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[17] MCKAY, S. & MAZURANA, D. (2004), “Where are the girls? Girls in Fighting Forces in Northern Uganda, Sierra Leone and Mozambique: Their Lives During and After War”,Rights & Democracy. International Centre for Human Rights & Democratic Development,.[Accessed 5 April 2021].

[18] UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) (2005), “The Impact of Conflict on Women and Girls in West and Central Africa and the Unicef Response”, Emergencies, pg.19,Available from: < https://www.unicef.org/emerg/files/Impact_conflict_women.pdf>  [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[19] Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers (2006), “Child Soldiers and Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration in West Africa”. [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[20] HRW (Human Rights Watch) (2005), “Problems in the Disarmament Programs in Sierra Leone and Liberia [1998-2005]”, Reports Section, Available from: <https://www.hrw.org/reports/2005/westafrica0405/7.htm>  [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[21] Herman, J., Martin-Ortega, O. and Sriram, C., 2012. Beyond justice versus peace: transitional justice and peacebuilding strategies. 1st ed. Routledge. <Beyond justice versus peace: transitional justice and peacebuilding strategies | Taylor & Francis Group> [Accessed 5 March 2021]

[22] Young, G., n.d. Transitional Justice in Sierra Leone: A Critical Analysis. [online] PEACE AND PROGRESS – THE UNITED NATIONS UNIVERSITY GRADUATE STUDENT JOURNAL. Available at: < https://postgraduate.ias.unu.edu/upp/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/upp_issue1-YOUNG.pdf > [Accessed 5 March 2021].

[23] Herman, J., Martin-Ortega, O. and Sriram, C., 2012. Beyond justice versus peace: transitional justice and peacebuilding strategies. 1st ed. Routledge. <Beyond justice versus peace: transitional justice and peacebuilding strategies | Taylor & Francis Group> [Accessed 5 March 2021]

[24] Stensrud, E., 2009. New Dilemmas in Transitional Justice: Lessons from the Mixed Courts in Sierra Leone and Cambodia. [online] Journal of peace research. Available at: <New Dilemmas in Transitional Justice: Lessons from the Mixed Courts in Sierra Leone and Cambodia on JSTOR> [Accessed 5 March 2021].

[25] Roht-Arriaza, N., & Mariezcurrena, J. (Eds.). (2006). Transitional Justice in the Twenty-First Century: Beyond Truth versus Justice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 2, Sigal HOROVITZ: Transitional criminal justice in Sierra Leone. <(PDF) Transitional Criminal Justice in Sierra Leone | Sigall Horovitz - Academia.edu >[Accessed 5 March 2021]

[26] Zarifis, Ismene. "Sierra Leone’s Search for Justice and Accountability of Child Soldiers." Human Rights Brief 9, no. 3 (2002): 18-21. [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[27] Article 22 of the AFRICAN CHARTER ON THE RIGHTS AND WELFARE OF THE CHILD , achpr_instr_charterchild_eng.pdf (un.org). [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[28] Veiga, T. G. (2019). A New Conceptualisation of Child Reintegration in Conflict Contexts. E International Relations: https://www.e-ir.info/2019/06/21/a-new-conceptualisation-of-child-reintegration-in-conflict-contexts/. [Accessed 5 April 2021].

Categorías Global Affairs: África Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Ensayos

Primer encuentro de alto nivel EEUU-China de la era Biden, celebrado en Alaska el 18 de marzo de 2021 [Dpto. de Estado]

 

ENSAYO /  Ramón Barba

El presidente Joe Biden está construyendo con cautela su política para el Indo-Pacífico, buscando construir una alianza con India sobre la que construir un orden que contrarreste el auge chino. Tras su entrada en la Casa Blanca, Biden ha mantenido el foco de atención en esta región, aunque con un enfoque diferente al de la Administración Trump. Si bien es cierto que el objetivo principal sigue siendo contener a China y defender el libre comercio, Washington está optando por un acercamiento multilateral que otorga mayor protagonismo al QUAD[1] y cuida especialmente la relación con India. Como abanderada del mundo libre y de la democracia, la Administración Biden pretende renovar el liderazgo estadounidense en el mundo y particularmente en esta decisiva región. No obstante, aunque la relación con India se encuentra en un buen momento, especialmente teniendo en cuenta la firma del acuerdo BECA[2] alcanzado al final de la Administración Trump, la interacción entre ambos países está lejos de consolidar una alianza.

La nueva presidencia de Estados Unidos se encuentra con un puzle muy complicado de resolver en Indo-Pacífico, cuyos principales actores son China y la India. Por lo general, nos encontramos con que, de las tres potencias, solo Pekín ha sabido gestionar con éxito la situación post-pandemia[3], mientras que Delhi y Washington siguen enfrentando una crisis tanto sanitaria como económica. Todo ello puede afectar a la relación entre India y Estados Unidos, en especial en lo comercial[4], no obstante, y a pesar de que Biden aún no ha demostrado cuál va a ser su estrategia en la región, todo parece que la relación entre ambas potencias va a ir a más[5]. Sin embargo, a pesar de que Estados Unidos quiere llevar a cabo una política de alianzas multilateral y profundizar en su relación con la India, la Administración Biden deberá tener en cuenta diversas dificultades antes de poder hablar de una alianza como tal.

Biden comenzó a actuar en esta dirección desde el primer momento. En primer lugar estuvo en febrero la reunión del QUAD[6], que algunos consideran una mini OTAN[7] para Asia, en la que se discutieron cuestiones relativas a la distribución de la vacuna en Asia (pretendiendo distribuir un billón de dosis en 2022), la libertad de navegación en los mares de la región, la desnuclearización de Corea del Norte y la democracia en Myanmar. Además, el Reino Unido parece estar mostrando un interés mayor en la región y en este grupo de diálogo. Por otro lado, a mediados de marzo hubo una reunión en Alaska[8] entre las diplomacias de China y de Estados Unidos (encabezadas, respectivamente, por Yang Jiechi, director de la Comisión Central de Asuntos Exteriores, y Antony Blinken, secretario de Estado), en la cual ambos países se reprocharon duramente sus políticas. Washington se mantiene firme en sus intereses, aunque abierto a cierta colaboración con Pekín, mientras que China insiste en rechazar cualquier injerencia en lo que considera sus asuntos internos. Por último, cabe mencionar que Biden parece estar dispuesto a organizar una cumbre de democracias[9] en su primer año de mandato.

Tras los contactos que también hubo en Alaska entre los titulares de Defensa de China y de Estados Unidos, Austin Lloyd[10], jefe del Pentágono, visitó la India para remarcar la importancia de la cooperación indo-estadounidense. Además, a comienzos de abril se produjo la participación de Francia en las maniobras navales La Pérouse[11] en la Bahía de Bengala, dando lugar a la posibilidad de un QUAD-plus en el que, además de las cuatro potencias originales, se integren también otros países.

El Indo-Pacífico recordemos, se asienta como el presente y el futuro de las relaciones internacionales debido a su importancia económica (sus principales actores, India, China y EEUU representan el 45% del PIB mundial), demográfica (albergando un 65% de la población de todo el Globo) y, como veremos a lo largo del presente artículo, geopolítica[12].

Las relaciones entre EEUU, China e India

La Administración Biden parece ser continuista con la línea seguida por Trump, puesto que los objetivos no han variado. Lo que sí que cambia es el acercamiento hacia el objeto de la cuestión, que en este caso no es otro que la contención de China y la libertad de navegación en la región, ahora bien, en base a una gran apuesta por el multilateralismo. Como bien dijo el nuevo sucesor de George Washington en su toma de posesión[13], Estados Unidos quiere retomar su liderazgo, pero de una manera diferente a la de la Administración anterior; esto es, mediante una fuerte política de alianzas, un liderazgo moral y una fuerte defensa de valores como la dignidad, los derechos humanos y el Estado de Derecho.

La nueva presidencia concibe a China como un rival para tener en cuenta[14], al igual que la Administración Trump, pero no ve esto como un juego de suma cero, puesto que, aunque declara abiertamente estar en contra de la actuación de Xi, abre la puerta al diálogo[15] en materias como el cambio climático o la sanidad. Por lo general, en línea con lo visto en Nuevas tensiones en Asia Pacífico[16], Estados Unidos apuesta por un multilateralismo que busca rebajar la tensión. Recordemos que Estados Unidos propugna la defensa de la libre navegación y el Estado de Derecho, así como de la democracia en una región en la que está viendo mermada su influencia por el creciente peso de China.

Para entender bien el estado de las relaciones entre Estados Unidos, China e India cabe que remontarse a 2005[17], cuando todo parecía ir bien. En lo relativo a la relación sino-india, ambas naciones habían resuelto sus disputas motivo de los ensayos nucleares de 1998; además, su presencia en foros regionales era creciente y parecía que la cuestión relativa a las disputas transfronterizas comenzaba a arreglarse. Por su parte, Estados Unidos gozaba de buenas relaciones comerciales con ambos países. Sin embargo, el cambio de patrones en la economía mundial, motivado por el auge de China; la crisis financiera de 2008, surgida en Estados Unidos, y la inhabilidad de India para mantener la tasa de crecimiento rompieron este equilibrio. A ello contribuyó la actitud tirante de Donald Trump. No obstante, hay quien argumenta que la rotura del orden posterior a la Guerra Fría en Asia Pacífico comenzó con el “pivote hacia Asia”[18] de la Administración Obama. A ello hay que añadir los pequeños roces que China ha tenido con ambas naciones.

Brevemente, cabe mencionar que entre India y China existen problemas fronterizos[19] que a partir de 2013 se han ido reavivando. A su vez, India es contraria a la hegemonía china; no quiere verse subyugada por Pekín y apuesta claramente por el multilateralismo. Finalmente, existen problemas en lo relativo al dominio marítimo debido a que el Estrecho de Malaca está al límite de su capacidad. Además, Delhi reclama como suyas las islas Adaman y Nicobar, en la ruta de acceso a Malaca. Es más, como India ahora se encuentra muy por debajo del poder militar y económico de China[20] –roto el equilibrio que había entre las dos potencias en 1980–, intenta poner trabas a Pekín para así contenerle.

Estados Unidos mantiene roces de tipo ideológico con China, debido al carácter autoritario del régimen de Xi Jinping[21], y comercial, en una pugna[22] que Pekín pretende aprovechar para aminorar la influencia estadounidense en la zona. En medio de este conflicto está India, que apoya a Estados Unidos puesto que, aunque no parece querer estar del todo en contra de China[23], rechaza una hegemonía regional china[24].

Según el último informe del CEBR[25], China superará a Estados Unidos como potencia mundial en 2028, antes de lo previsto en proyecciones anteriores, en parte gracias a cómo ha gestionado la emergencia del coronavirus: ha sido el único gran país que tras la primera oleada ha evitado una crisis. Por otro lado, Estados Unidos ha perdido la batalla contra la pandemia; se espera que se crecimiento económico entre 2022-2024 sea del 1.9% del PIB y se reduzca al 1.6% en los siguientes ejercicios[26], mientras que China, según el informe estará entre 2021-2025 creciendo al 5.7%[27].

Para China la pandemia ha sido una forma de indicar su lugar en el mundo[28], una manera de avisar a Estados Unidos de que está lista para tomar el testigo como líder de la comunidad internacional. A ello cabe aunarle la actitud beligerante de China en la región de Asia Pacífico, así como su crecimiento hegemónico en la zona y proyectos comerciales con África y Europa. Todo ello ha llevado a desequilibrios en la región que implican los movimientos de Washington en lo relativo al QUAD. Recordemos que, a pesar de su rol menguante como potencia, a Estados Unidos le interesa la libertad de navegación por razones tanto comerciales como militares[29].

Así pues, el auge económico chino ha dado lugar a un empeoramiento de la relación entre Washington y Pekín[30]. Además, aunque Biden apuesta por la cooperación en lo relativo a la pandemia y al cambio climático, desde algunos sectores de la política americana se habla de una competición inevitable entre ambos países[31].

El grado de alianza entre EEUU e India

En línea con lo expuesto anteriormente podemos observar que nos movemos en tesituras delicadas, tras el cambio en la Casa Blanca. Enero y febrero han sido meses de pequeños movimientos por parte de Estados Unidos e India, que no han dejado indiferente a China. Aunque la relación chino-estadounidense ha beneficiado a ambas partes desde su inicio (1979)[32], creciendo el comercio entre ambos países en un 252% desde entonces, la realidad es que ahora los niveles de confianza están por los suelos, habiendo suspendido más de 100 mecanismos de diálogo entre ellos. Por lo tanto, aunque no se prevé un conflicto, sí que se pronostica un aumento de la tensión ya que, lejos de poder cooperar en amplios campos, por el momento solo parecen viables cooperaciones leves y limitadas. A su vez, recordemos que China se ve muy afectada por el Dilema de Malaca[33], por lo que busca otros accesos al Océano Índico, dando lugar a disputas territoriales con la India, con quien ya tiene el problema territorial de Ladakh[34]. En medio de esta Trampa de Tucídides[35], en la que China parece amenazar con superar a Estados Unidos, Washington se ha ido acercando a Nueva Delhi.

Por consiguiente, ambos países han ido desarrollando una colaboración estratégica[36], basada esencialmente en seguridad y defensa, pero que Estados Unidos busca ampliar a otras áreas. Bien es cierto que los problemas de Delhi están en el Índico y los de Washington en el Pacífico; sin embargo, ambos tienen a China[37] como denominador común. Su relación, además, se ve muy marcada por la ya expuesta “crisis tripartita”[38] (sanitaria, económica y geopolítica).

A pesar de la intensa cooperación entre Washington y Nueva Delhi, encontramos dos puntos de vista diferentes en lo relativo a este “partnership”. Mientras que desde Estados Unidos se afirma que India es un aliado muy importante, con el que comparte mismo sistema político y una intensa relación comercial[39], India prefiere una alianza menos estricta. Tradicionalmente, desde Delhi se ha transmitido una política de no alineamiento[40] en materias internacionales. De hecho, aunque India no quiere una supremacía China en el Indo-Pacífico, tampoco desea alinearse directamente contra Pekín, con quien comparte más de 3.000 km de frontera. No obstante, desde Delhi se ve muy necesaria la cooperación con Washington en materia de seguridad y defensa. De hecho, hay quien afirma que hoy la India necesita a EEUU más que nunca.

Si bien el pasado febrero, desde Washington se comenzó a revisar la Estrategia de Posición Global de Estados Unidos, todo apunta a que la Administración Biden continuará la línea de Trump en lo relativo a la colaboración con India como forma de contener a China. Sin embargo, aunque Washington habla de India como su aliado, por parte de Delhi hay ciertas reticencias, hablando pues de un alineamiento[41] más que de una alianza. Aunque la realidad que vivimos dista de la de la Guerra Fría[42], este nuevo containment[43] en el que se busca a Delhi como base, apoyo y estandarte, se ve materializado en lo siguiente:

i) Una intensa cooperación en materia de Seguridad y Defensa

Aquí existen distintos foros y acuerdos. En primer lugar, el ya mencionado QUAD[44]. Esta nueva alianza de cooperación multilateral que comenzó a gestarse en 2006[45] acordó en su reunión de marzo el desarrollo de su diplomacia de vacunas, con India como eje para así contrarrestar la exitosa campaña internacional llevada por Pekín en este campo. De hecho, hubo el compromiso de emplear 600 millones para repartir 1.000 millones de vacunas[46] en 2022. La idea es que Japón y EEUU financien la operación[47], mientras que Australia se encarga de la logística. No obstante, India apuesta por un mayor multilateralismo en el Indo-Pacífico, dando entrada a países como Inglaterra o Francia[48], que ya participaron en los últimos Diálogos de Raisina junto con el QUAD. A lo largo de la reunión también se trataron otros temas como la desnuclearización de Corea, la restauración democrática de Myanmar y el cambio climático[49].

India busca contener a China, pero sin provocar un enfrentamiento directo con China[50]. De hecho, Pekín ha dado a entender que de ir las cosas más allá, no solo India sabe jugar a la Realpolitk. Recordemos que Nueva Delhi va a presidir este año la reunión con los BRICS. Además, la Shanghai Cooperation Organization va a acoger ejercicios militares conjuntos de China y Pakistán, país de compleja relación con India.

Por otro lado, en su viaje de marzo a India, el jefe del Pentágono[51] trató con su homólogo Rajnath Singh sobre el incremento de la cooperación militar, así como de asuntos relacionados con la logística, el intercambio de información, posibles oportunidades de asistencia mutua y la defensa de la libre navegación. Lloyd afirmó no ver con malos ojos que Australia y Corea participen como miembros permanentes en los ejercicios Malabar. Desde 2008 el comercio en materia militar entre Delhi y Washington suma 21 billones de dólares[52]. Además, recientemente, se han gastado 3000 de dólares en drones y otro material aéreo para misiones de reconocimiento y vigilancia.

Una semana después esta reunión, dos barcos indios y uno estadounidense realizaron un ejercicio marítimo de tipo PASSEX[53] como forma de consolidar las sinergias e interoperabilidad alcanzadas en el ejercicio de Malabar del pasado noviembre.

En este contexto, cabe hacer una mención especial a la plataforma de diálogo 2+2 y al ya mencionado BECA (Acuerdo Básico de Intercambio y Cooperación para la cooperación en materia geoespacial). El primero, es un tipo de reunión en la que los titulares de Exteriores y Defensa de ambos países se reúnen cada dos años para tratar de temas que les sean de interés. La reunión más reciente tuvo lugar en octubre de 2020[54]. En ella no solo se acordó el BECA, sino que Estados Unidos se reafirmó en su apoyo a India en lo relativo a sus problemas territoriales con China. A su vez, también se firmaron otros memorándums de entendimiento sobre cuestiones de energía nuclear y climáticas.

El BECA, firmado en octubre de 2020 durante los últimos meses de la Administración Trump, facilita a India localizar mejor a enemigos, terroristas y otro tipo de amenazas que vengan desde tierra o desde mar. Con este acuerdo se pretende consolidar la amistad que hay entre ambos países, así como ayudar a India a superar tecnológicamente a China. En virtud de este acuerdo se concluye la “troika de pactos fundacionales” para una profunda cooperación en seguridad y defensa entre ambos países[55].

Antes de este acuerdo, en 2016 se firmó el LEMOA (Memorando de Acuerdo para el Intercambio de Logística), y en 2018 el COMCASA (Acuerdo de Compatibilidad y Seguridad de las Comunicaciones). El primero permite a ambos países acceso a las bases de cada uno para abastecimiento y reposición; el segundo permite a India recibir sistemas, información y comunicación encriptada para comunicarse con Estados Unidos. Ambos acuerdos afectan a los ejércitos de tierra, mar y aire[56].

ii) Unidos por la democracia

Desde Washington se pone especial énfasis en que ambas potencias son muy semejantes, puesto que comparten el mismo sistema político, y se destaca con cierta grandilocuencia que conforman la democracia más antigua y la más grande (por número de habitantes)[57]. Debido a que eso presupone compartir una serie de valores, Washington gusta hablar de “likeminded partners”[58].

Desde el think tank Brookings Institution, Tanvi Mandan defiende esta idea de ligazón ideológica. El mismo sistema de gobierno hace que ambos países se vean como aliados naturales, que piensan igual y que además creen en el valor del imperio de la ley. De hecho, en todo lo relativo a la extensión de la democracia por el globo, hay una fuerte cooperación entre ambas naciones: por ejemplo, apoyando la democracia en Afganistán o en Maldivas, lanzando la US-India Global Democracy Iniciative y dotando de asistencia legal y técnica en cuestiones democráticas a otros países. Finalmente cabe resaltar que la democracia y los valores que acarrea han facilitado el intercambio y flujo de personas de un país a otro. En cuanto a la relación económica entre ambos países se vuelve más viable, puesto que los dos son economías abiertas, comparten una lengua y su sistema jurídico tiene raigambre anglosajona.

iii) Creciente cooperación económica

Estados Unidos es el principal socio comercial de India, con quien tiene un importante superávit[59]. Los intercambios entre ambos han crecido un 10% anual a lo largo de la última década, y en 2019 fueron de 115.000 millones de dólares[60]. Alrededor de 2.000 empresas estadounidenses están instaladas en India, y unas 200 empresas indias se hallan en EEUU[61]. Entre ambos existe un Mini-Trade Deal, que se cree que será firmado en breve, y que tiene por objeto ahondar en esta relación económica. Con motivo de la pandemia, todo lo relativo al ámbito sanitario tiene un papel importante[62]. De hecho, a pesar de que ambos países han adoptado recientemente una actitud proteccionista, la idea es alcanzar 500.000 millones de dólares en comercio[63].

Divergencias, retos y oportunidades para India y EEUU en la región

Brevemente, entre los líderes de ambos países hay pequeños roces, oportunidades y retos a matizar para hacer de esta relación una fuerte alianza. Dentro de los puntos de conflicto, destacamos la compra desde India de misiles S-400 a Rusia, lo cual va en contra del CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries trhough Sanctions Act[64], por lo que puede que India reciba una sanción, aunque en la reunión entre Sigh y Lloyd, este pareció pasar el tema por alto[65]. Sin embargo, cabe ver qué pasa una vez lleguen los misiles a Delhi. También existen pequeñas divergencias en lo relativo a libertad de expresión, seguridad y derechos civiles, y cómo relacionarse con países no democráticos[66]. Dentro de los retos que ambos países deben tener en cuenta, está la posible pérdida de apoyo en algunos sectores de la política estadounidense a la relación con India. Ello se debe a las actuaciones de India en Cachemira en agosto de 2019, la protección de la libertad religiosa y el trato a la disidencia. Por otro lado, en el caso contrario no ha faltado el debilitamiento de las normas democráticas, restricciones a la inmigración y violencia contra naturales de India[67].

En último lugar, recordemos que ambos se enfrentan a una profunda crisis sanitaria y por consiguiente económica, cuya resolución será determinante en relación con la competición con Pekín[68]. La crisis ha afectado a la relación bilateral puesto que, aunque el comercio en servicios se ha mantenido estable (alrededor de los 50.000 millones), el comercio de bienes decayó de 92.000 a 78.000 millones entre 2019 y 2020, aumentando el déficit comercial indio[69].

Para finalizar, cabe mencionar las oportunidades. En primer lugar, ambos países pueden desarrollar resiliencia democrática en el Indo-Pacífico así como en un orden internacional basado en normas[70]. En seguridad y defensa, también hay oportunidades como la entrada de Reino Unido y Francia como aliados en la zona, por ejemplo intentando que ambos países entren en el ejercicio de Malabar o que Francia presida el Indian Ocean Naval Simposium de 2022[71].  Aunque la tendencia a medio plazo es de cooperación entre Estados Unidos e India, la competencia con Rusia será una amenaza creciente[72], por lo que la cooperación entre Estados Unidos, India y Europa es muy importante.

También se abre la posibilidad de cooperación en mecanismos de MDA (Alerta del Entorno Marítimo) y ASW (Guerra Anti Submarina), en tanto que el Océano Índico reviste una importancia general para varios países debido al valor de sus rutas de transporte energético. Se abre la posibilidad de la cooperación mediante el uso de la Aeronave US P-8 “Poseidón”. A pesar de las disputas sobre el archipiélago de Chagos, India y Estados Unidos deberían aprovechar los acuerdos que tienen sobre islas como Andamán o Diego García para la realización de estas actividades[73]. Por lo tanto, India debería usar los organismos y grupos de trabajo regionales para cooperar con los países europeos y Estados Unidos[74].

Europa parece adquirir una creciente importancia debido a la posibilidad de entrar en el juego del Indo-Pacífico mediante el QUAD Plus. Los países europeos están muy a favor del multilateralismo, de la defensa de la libertad de navegación y del papel de las normas para regularla. Si bien es cierto que la UE ha firmado recientemente un tratado de comercio con China recientemente -el CAI-, incrementar la presencia europea en la región adquiere mayor importancia, puesto que el autoritarismo de Xi y sus actuaciones en Tíbet, Xinjiang, o el centro de China no son plato de buen gusto para los países europeos[75].

En último lugar, cabe recordar que hay algunas voces que hablan de un decaimiento o debilitamiento de la globalización[76], en especial tras la epidemia del coronavirus[77], por lo cual reavivar los intercambios multilaterales mediante la acción conjunta se convierte en un reto y en una oportunidad para ambos países. De hecho, se cree que a corto plazo las tendencias proteccionistas, al menos en el ámbito de la relación sino-india van a continuar, a pesar de la intensa cooperación económica[78].

Conclusión

El panorama geopolítico del Indo-Pacifico es cuanto menos complejo. El expansionismo chino choca con los intereses de la otra gran potencia regional, India, que si bien evita enfrentarse a Pekín ve con malos ojos la actuación de su vecino. En una apuesta por el multilateralismo, y con la mirada puesta en sus aguas regionales, amenazadas por el Dilema de Malaca, la India parece cooperar con Estados Unidos, pero aferrándose a los foros y grupos regionales para dejar clara su postura, mientras parece abrir la puerta a los países europeos, cuyo interés en la región va en aumento, a pesar del reciente tratado comercial firmado con China.

Por otro lado, también Estados Unidos se ve amenazado por el expansionismo chino y ve acercarse el momento del sorpasso económico de su rival, que la crisis del coronavirus pude haber adelantado incluso a 2028. En aras de evitar tal situación, la Administración Biden apuesta por el multilateralismo a nivel regional y ahonda en su relación con India, más allá de lo militar. Desde Washington parece haberse entendido que la hegemonía estadounidense en el Indo-Pacífico dista de ser real, al menos a medio plazo, por lo que solo cabe una actitud cooperativa e integradora. Por otro lado, en medio de este supuesto repliegue de la globalización, vemos cómo Washington junto con la India, y seguramente a medio plazo con Europa, hacen defensa de los valores occidentales que rigen en la esfera internacional, esto es, defensa de los derechos humanos, del estado de derecho y del valor de la democracia.

Estamos ante dos factores. Por un lado, India no quiere ver cómo se impone un orden de ningún tipo, ni americano ni chino, de ahí sus reticencias a enfrentarse directamente contra Pekín y su preferencia a expandir el QUAD. Por otro lado, Estados Unidos parece percibir encontrarse en un momento delicado, puesto que su competición con China va más allá de la mera sustitución de una potencia por otra. Washington no deja de ser una potencia tradicional que, para su presencia en el Indo-Pacífico, se ha servido sobre todo de poder militar, mientras que China ha basado la extensión de su influencia en el establecimiento de fuertes relaciones comerciales que van más allá de la lógica beligerante de la Guerra Fría. De ahí que Estados Unidos intente formar un frente con India y sus aliados europeos, que además vaya más allá de la cooperación militar.

 

REFERENCIAS 

[1] El QUAD (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue), es un grupo de diálogo formado por los Estados Unidos, India, Japón y Australia. Sus miembros comparten una visión común sobre la seguridad de la región Indo-Pacífico contraria a la de China; abogan por el multilateralismo y la libertad de navegación en la región.

[2] BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement). Tratado firmado por la India y Estados Unidos en octubre de 2019 para mejorar la seguridad en la región del Indo-Pacífico. Su objetivo es el intercambio de sistemas de seguimiento, localización e inteligencia.

[3]Chilamkuri Raja Mohan, "Trilateral Perspective". Chinawatch. Conecting Thinkers.http://www.chinawatch.cn/a/202102/05/WS60349146a310acc46eb43e2d.html, (accedido el 5 de febrero de 2021),

[4] Tanvi Madan,”India and the Biden Administration: Consolidating and Rebalancing Ties,” en Tanvi Madan, “India And The Biden Administration: Consolidating And Rebalancing Ties”,. German Marshal Found of the United Stateshttps://www.gmfus.org/blog/2021/02/11/india-and-biden-administration-consolidating-and-rebalancing-ties, (accedido el 11 de febrero de 2021).

[5]Darshana Baruah, Frédéric Grére, y Nilanthi Samaranayake, "Agenda 2021: A Blueprint For U.S.-Europe-India Cooperation”, US-India cooperation on Indo-Pacific Security. GMF India Trilateral Forum. Pag:1. https://www.gmfus.org/blog/2021/02/16/us-india-cooperation-indo-pacific-security , (accedido el 16 de febrero de 2021).

[6] “’QUAD’ Leaders Pledge New Cooperation on China, COVID-19, Climate”. Aljazeera.com. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/3/12/quad-leaders-pledge-new-cooperation-on-china-covid-19-climate (accedido en marzo 2021)

[7] Mereyem Hafidi, "Biden Renueva La Alianza De ‘QUAD’ A Pesar De Las Presiones De Pekín". Atalayarhttps://atalayar.com/content/biden-renueva-la-alianza-de-%E2%80%98QUAD%E2%80%99-pesar-de-las-presiones-de-pek%C3%ADn. (accedido en febrero de 2021)

[8] “`Grandstanding`: US, China trade rebukes in testy talks". Aljazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/3/19/us-china-top-diplomats-trade-rebukes-in-testy-first-talks (accedido, marzo 2021)

[9] Joseph R. Biden, “Why America Must Lead Again”. Foreign Affairshttps://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2020-01-23/why-america-must-lead-again (accedido febrero, 2021).

[10] Maria Siow. "India Receives US Defence Secretary With China On Its Mind". South China Morning Posthttps://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3126091/india-receives-us-defence-secretary-lloyd-austin-china-its-mind. (accedido, 19 de marzo de 2021)

[11] Seeram Chaulia, “France and sailing toward the ‘QUAD-plus’”. The New Indian Expresshttps://www.newindianexpress.com/opinions/2021/apr/06/france-and-sailing-toward-the-QUAD-plus-2286408.html  (accedido, 4 de abril, 2021)

[12] Juan Luis López Aranguren. “Indo-Pacífico: El nuevo orden sin China en el centro”. El Indo-Pacífico como nuevo eje geopolítico mundial. Global Affairs Journal. Pág.:2. https://www.unav.edu/web/global-affairs/detalle/-/blogs/indo-pacifico-el-nuevo-orden-sin-china-en-el-centro?_33_redirect=%2Fen%2Fweb%2Fglobal-affairs%2Fpublicaciones%2Finformes. (accedido, Abril 2021).

[13] Biden, "Remarks By President Biden On America's Place In The World | The White House"..

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/02/04/remarks-by-president-biden-on-americas-place-in-the-world/

[14] Íbid.

[15] Derek Grossman, "Biden's China Reset Is Already On The Ropes". Nikkei Asiahttps://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/Biden-s-China-reset-is-already-on-the-ropes. (accedido, 14 de marzo de 2021)

[16] Ramón Barba Castro, “Nuevas tensiones en Asia Pacífico en un escenario de cambio electoral”. Global Affairs and Strategic Studieshttps://www.unav.edu/web/global-affairs/detalle/-/blogs/nuevas-tensiones-en-asia-pacifico-en-un-escenario-de-cambio-electoral-en-eeuu. (accedido, abril 2021)

[17] Sankaran Kalyanaraman, "Changing Pattern Of The China-India-US Triangle”. Manohar Parrikar Institute For Defence Studies And Analyseshttps://www.idsa.in/idsacomments/changing-pattern-china-india-us-triangle-skalyanaram (accedido, marzo 2021)

[18] Pang Zhongying, "Indo-Pacific Era Needs US-China Cooperation, Not Great Power Conflict". South China Morning Posthttps://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3125926/indo-pacific-needs-us-china-cooperation-not-conflict-QUAD (accedido el 19 de marzo de 2021)

[19] Sankaran Kalayanamaran, “Changing Pattern of the China-India-US Triangle”.

[20] Chilamkuri Raja Mohan, “Trilateral Perspective”.

[21] Joseph R. Biden, “Remarks By President Biden On America’s Place In The World

[22]Chilamkuri Raja Mohan, “Trilateral Perspective”.

[23] Maria Siow, “India Receives US Defence Secretary With China On Its Mind”.

[24]Tanvi Madan, “India and the Biden Administration: Consolidating And Rebalancing Ties”.

[25] CEBR (Centre for Economics and Business Research), es una entidad dedicada al análisis y predicción económica de empresas y organizaciones. Enlace: https://cebr.com/about-cebr/ . Esta entidad elabora cada año un informe titulado World Economic League Table¸ en el que se analiza el posicionamiento en que tendrá cada país del Globo en lo relativo al estado de su economía. La última edición (World Economic League Table 2021), fue publicada el 26 de diciembre de 2020, este presenta una predicción del estado de la economía mundial en 2035, para así saber quienes serán las principales potencias económicas mundiales. (CEBR, “World Economic League Table 2021”. Centre for Economics and Business Research (12th edition), https://cebr.com/reports/world-economic-league-table-2021/ (accedido marzo 2021).

[26] Íbid., 231.

[27] Íbid., 71.

[28] Vijay Gokhale, “China Doesn’t Want a New World Order. It Wants This One”. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/04/opinion/china-america-united-nations.html. (accedido en abril de 2021)

[29] Mereyem Hafidi, “Biden renueva la Alianza de `QUAD` a pesar de las presiones de Pekín.

[30] Chilamkuri Raja Mohan, “Trilateral Perspective”.

[31] Íbid.

[32] Wang Huiyao, “More cooperation, less competition”. Chinawatch. Conecting Thinkershttp://www.chinawatch.cn/a/202102/05/WS6034913ba310acc46eb43e28.html. (accedido, marzo 2021).

[33] Chilamkuri Raja Mohan, “Trilateral Perspective”.

[34]Darshana Baruah, Frédéric Grére, y Nilanthi Samaranayake, “US-India cooperation on Indo-Pacific Security”. Page 5.

[35] Chilamkuri Raja Mohan, “Trilateral Perspective”.

[36] Ibid.

[37]Darshana Baruah, Frédéric Grére, y Nilanthi Samaranayake, “US-India cooperation on Indo-Pacific Security”. Page 5.

[38] Tanvi Madan, “India and the Biden Administration: Consolidating And Rebalancing Ties”

[39] Tanvi Madan, “Democracy and the US-India relationship”. Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/articles/democracy-and-the-us-india-relationship/ . (accedido, marzo 2021)

[40] Maria Siow, “India Receives US Defence Secretary With China On Its Mind”.

[41] Bilal Kuchay, “India, US sign key military deal, symbolizing closer ties”. Aljazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/11/2/india-us-military-deal. (accedido, marzo 2021)

[42] Wang Huiyao, “More cooperation, less competition”

[43] Alex Lo, “India-the democratic economic giant that disappoints”. South China Morning Post. https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3126342/india-democratic-economic-giant-disappoints. (accedido, 21 de marzo de 2021)

[44] Simone McCarthy, “QUAD summit: US, India, Australia and Japan counter China’s ‘vaccine diplomacy’ with pledge to distribute a billion doses across Indo-Pacific”. South China Morning Posthttps://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3125344/QUAD-summit-us-india-australia-and-japan-counter-chinas. (accedido, 13 de marzo de 2021)

[45]Mereyem Hafidi, “Biden renueva la Alianza de `QUAD` a pesar de las presiones de Pekín.

[46] Simone McCarthy, “QUAD summit: US, India, Australia and Japan counter China’s ‘vaccine diplomacy’ with pledge to distribute a billion doses across Indo-Pacific”.

[47] Aljazeera, “’QUAD’ leaders pledge new cooperation on China, COVID-19, climate”.

[48]Darshana Baruah, Frédéric Grére, y Nilanthi Samaranayake, “US-India cooperation on Indo-Pacific Security”. Page 2.

[49]Simone McCarthy, “QUAD summit: US, India, Australia and Japan counter China’s ‘vaccine diplomacy’ with pledge to distribute a billion doses across Indo-Pacific”.

[50] Maria Siow, “India Receives US Defence Secretary With China On Its Mind”.

[51] “US defense secretary Lloyd Austin says US considers India to be a great partner”. Hindustan Timeshttps://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/us-defense-secretary-lloyd-austin-says-us-considers-india-to-be-a-great-partner-101616317189411.html. (accedido, 21 de marzo de 2021)

[52] Maria Siow, “India Receives US Defence Secretary With China On Its Mind”.

[53] El término PASSEX es una abreviatura propia de la jerga militar inglesa, viene de Passing Exercise. Este, consiste en aprovechar  que una unidad de marines pasa por una zona determinada para ahondar en la cooperación militar del ejército de esa zona por la que se está pasando. Como ejemplo encontramos la noticia citada en el presente artículo: “India, US begin two-day naval exercise in eastern Indian Ocean región”. The Economic Timeshttps://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/india-us-begin-two-day-naval-exercise-in-eastern-indian-ocean-region/articleshow/81735782.cms (accedido, 28 de marzo de 2021)

[54] Annath Krishnan, Dinakar Peri, Kallol Bhattacherjee; India-U.S. 2+2 dialogue: U.S. to support India’s defence of territory. The Hinduhttps://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-us-22-dialogue-rajnath-singh-raises-chinas-action-in-ladakh/article32955117.ece. (consultado, marzo 2021)

[55] Maria Siow, “India Receives US Defence Secretary With China On Its Mind”.

[56] Ibid.

[57] Tanvi Madan, “Democracy and the US-India relationship”

[58] Hindustan Times, “US defense secretary Lloyd Austin says US considers India to be a great partner”.

[59] “Committed to achieving goal of $500 bn in bilateral trade with US: Ambassador Sandhu”.The Economic Timeshttps://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/foreign-trade/committed-to-achieving-goal-of-500-bn-in-bilateral-trade-with-us-ambassador-sandhu/articleshow/80878316.cms. (accedido, marzo 2021).

[60] Joe C. Mathew, “India-US mini trade deal: Low duty on medical devices; pact in final stages”. Business Todayhttps://www.businesstoday.in/current/economy-politics/india-us-mini-trade-deal-low-duty-on-medical-devices-pact-in-final-stages/story/413669.html. (Accedido, marzo de 2021)

[61] Economic Times, “Commited to achieving goal of $500 bn in bilateral trade with US: Ambassador Sandhu”.

[62] Joe C. Mathew, “India-US mini trade deal: Low duty on medical devices; pact in final stages”.

[63] Economic Times, “Commited to achieving goal of $500 bn in bilateral trade with US: Ambassador Sandhu”.

[64] Darshana Baruah, Frédéric Grére, y Nilanthi Samaranayake, “US-India cooperation on Indo-Pacific Security”. Page 2.

[65] “Hindustan Times “US defense secretary Lloyd Austin says US considers India to be a great partner”.

[66]  Tanvi Madan, “Democracy and the US-India relationship”.

[67] Ibid.

[68] Tanvi Madan, “India and the Biden Administration: Consolidating and Rebalancing Ties”.

[69] Economic Times, “Commited to achieving goal of $500 bn in bilateral trade with US: Ambassador Sandhu”.

[70] Tanvi Madan, “Democracy and the US-India relationship”.

[71] Darshana Baruah, Frédéric Grére, y Nilanthi Samaranayake, “US-India cooperation on Indo-Pacific Security”. Page3.

[72] IBIDEM pag.3

[73] IBIDEM. Pag. 6

[74] IBIDEM. Pag. 7

[75] Seeram Chaulia, “France and sailing toward the ‘QUAD-plus’”. The New Indian Express

[76] Elisabeth Mearns, Gary Parkinson; “With a pandemic, populism and protectionism, have we passed peak globalization?”. China Global Television Network. https://newseu.cgtn.com/news/2020-05-28/With-a-pandemic-populism-and-protectionism-has-globalization-peaked--QOQMPg3ABO/index.html. (accedido, abril 2021).

[77] Abraham Newman, Henry Farrel; “The New Age of Protectionism”. Foreign Affairshttps://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/europe/2021-04-05/new-age-protectionism. (accedido el 5 de abril de 2021)

[78] Economic Times, “Commited to achieving goal of $500 bn in bilateral trade with US: Ambassador Sandhu”.

Categorías Global Affairs: Asia Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Ensayos

IDF soldiers during a study tour as part of Sunday culture, at the Ramon Crater Visitor Center [IDF]

ESSAY /  Jairo Císcar

The geopolitical reality that exists in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean is incredibly complex, and within it the Arab-Israeli conflict stands out. If we pay attention to History, we can see that it is by no means a new conflict (outside its form): it can be traced back to more than 3,100 years ago. It is a land that has been permanently disputed; despite being the vast majority of it desert and very hostile to humans, it has been coveted and settled by multiple peoples and civilizations. The disputed territory, which stretches across what today is Israel, Palestine, and parts of Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Syria practically coincides with historic Canaan, the Promised Land of the Jewish people. Since those days, the control and prevalence of human groups over the territory was linked to military superiority, as the conflict was always latent. The presence of military, violence and conflict has been a constant aspect of societies established in the area; and, with geography and history, is fundamental to understand the current conflict and the functioning of the Israeli society.

As we have said, a priori it does not have great reasons for a fierce fight for the territory, but the reality is different: the disputed area is one of the key places in the geostrategy of the western and eastern world. This thin strip, between the Tigris and Euphrates (the Fertile Crescent, considered the cradle of the first civilizations) and the mouth of the Nile, although it does not enjoy great water or natural resources, is an area of ​​high strategic value: it acts as a bridge between Africa, Asia and the Mediterranean (with Europe by sea). It is also a sacred place for the three great monotheistic religions of the world, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the “Peoples of the Book”, who group under their creeds more than half of the world's inhabitants. Thus, for millennia, the land of Israel has been abuzz with cultural and religious exchanges ... and of course, struggles for its control.

According to the Bible, the main para-historical account of these events, the first Israelites began to arrive in the Canaanite lands around 2000 BC, after God promised Abraham that land “... To your descendants ...”[1] The massive arrival of Israelites would occur around 1400 BC, where they started a series of campaigns and expelled or assimilated the various Canaanite peoples such as the Philistines (of which the Palestinians claim to be descendants), until the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah finally united around the year 1000 BC under a monarchy that would come to dominate the region until their separation in 924 BC.

It is at this time that we can begin to speak of a people of Israel, who will inhabit this land uninterruptedly, under the rule of other great empires such as the Assyrian, the Babylonian, and the Macedonian, to finally end their existence under the Roman Empire. It is in 63 BC when Pompey conquered Jerusalem and occupied Judea, ending the freedom of the people of Israel. It will be in 70 AD, though, with the emperor Titus, when after a new Hebrew uprising the Second Temple of Jerusalem was razed, and the Diaspora of the Hebrew people began; that is, their emigration to other places across the East and West, living in small communities in which, suffering constant persecutions, they continued with their minds set on a future return to their “Promised Land”. The population vacuum left by the Diaspora was then filled again by peoples present in the area, as well as by Arabs.

The current state of Israel

This review of the historical antiquity of the conflict is necessary because this is one with some very special characteristics: practically no other conflict is justified before such extremes by both parties with “sentimental” or dubious “legal” reasons.

The current state of Israel, founded in 1948 with the partition of the British Protectorate of Palestine, argues its existence in the need for a Jewish state that not only represents and welcomes such a community but also meets its own religious requirements, since in Judaism the Hebrew is spoken as the “chosen people of God”, and Israel as its “Promised Land”. So, being the state of Israel the direct heir of the ancient Hebrew people, it would become the legitimate occupier of the lands quoted in Genesis 15: 18-21. This is known as the concept of Greater Israel (see map)[2].

On the Palestinian side, they exhibit as their main argument thirteen centuries of Muslim rule (638-1920) over the region of Palestine, from the Orthodox caliphate to the Ottoman Empire. They claim that the Jewish presence in the region is primarily based on the massive immigration of Jews during the late 19th and 20th centuries, following the popularization of Zionism, as well as on the expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians before, during and after the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, a fact known as the Nakba[3], and of many other Palestinians and Muslims in general since the beginning of the conflict. Some also base their historical claim on their origin as descendants of the Philistines.

However, although these arguments are weak, beyond historical conjecture, the reality is, nonetheless, that these aspirations have been the ones that have provoked the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This properly begins in the early 20th century, with the rise of Zionism in response to the growing anti-Semitism in Europe, and the Arab refusal to see Jews settled in the area of ​​Palestine. During the years of the British Mandate for Palestine (1920-1948) there were the first episodes of great violence between Jews and Palestinians. Small terrorist actions by the Arabs against Kibbutzim, which were contested by Zionist organizations, became the daily norm. This turned into a spiral of violence and assassinations, with brutal episodes such as the Buraq and Hebron revolts, which ended with some 200 Jews killed by Arabs, and some 120 Arabs killed by the British army.[4]

Another dark episode of this time was the complicit relations between the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Almin Al-Husseini, and the Nazi regime, united by a common agenda regarding Jews. He had meetings with Adolf Hitler and gave them mutual support, as the extracts of their conversations collect[5]. But it will not be until the adoption of the “United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine” through Resolution 181 (II) of the General Assembly when the war broke out on a large scale.[6] The Jews accepted the plan, but the Arab League announced that, if it became effective, they would not hesitate to invade the territory.

And so, it was. On May 14, 1948, hours after the proclamation of the state of Israel by Ben-Gurion, Israel was invaded by a joint force of Egyptian, Iraqi, Lebanese, Syrian and Jordanian troops. In this way, the 1948 Arab-Israeli War began, beginning a period of war that has not stopped until today, almost 72 years later. Despite the multiple peace agreements reached (with Egypt and Jordan), the dozens of United Nations resolutions, and the Oslo Accords, which established the roadmap for achieving a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine, conflicts continue, and they have seriously affected the development of the societies and peoples of the region.

The Israel Defense Forces

Despite the difficulties suffered since the day of its independence, Israel has managed to establish itself as the only effective democracy in the region, with a strong rule of law and a welfare state. It has a Human Development Index of 0.906, considered very high; is an example in education and development, being the third country in the world with more university graduates over the total population (20%) and is a world leader in R&D in technology. Meanwhile, the countries around it face serious difficulties, and in the case of Palestine, great misery. One of the keys to Israel's success and survival is, without a doubt, its Army. Without it, it would not have been able to lay the foundations of the country that it is today, as it would have been devastated by neighboring countries from the first day of its independence.

It is not daring to say that Israeli society is one of the most militarized in the world. It is even difficult to distinguish between Israel as a country or Israel as an army. There is no doubt that the structure of the country is based on the Army and on the concept of “one people”. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) act as the backbone of society and we find an overwhelming part of the country's top officials who have served as active soldiers. The paradigmatic example are the current leaders of the two main Knesset parties: Benny Ganz (former Chief of Staff of the IDF) and Benjamin Netanyahu (a veteran of the special forces in the 1970s, and combat wounded).

This influence exerted by the Tzahal[7] in the country is fundamentally due to three reasons. The first is the reality of war. Although, as we have previously commented, Israel is a prosperous country and practically equal to the rest of the western world, it lives in a reality of permanent conflict, both inside and outside its borders. When it is not carrying out large anti-terrorist operations such as Operation “Protective Edge,” carried out in Gaza in 2014, it is in an internal fight against attacks by lone wolves (especially bloody recent episodes of knife attacks on Israeli civilians and military) and against rocket and missile launches from the Gaza Strip. The Israeli population has become accustomed to the sound of missile alarms, and to seeing the “Iron Dome” anti-missile system in operation. It is common for all houses to have small air raid shelters, as well as in public buildings and schools. In them, students learn how to behave in the face of an attack and basic security measures. The vision of the Army on the street is something completely common, whether it be armored vehicles rolling through the streets, fighters flying over the sky, or platoons of soldiers getting on the public bus with their full equipment. At this point, we must not forget the suffering in which the Palestinian population constantly lives, as well as its harsh living conditions, motivated not only by the Israeli blockade, but also by living under the government of political parties such as Al-Fatah or Hamas. The reality of war is especially present in the territories under dispute with other countries: the Golan Heights in Syria and the so-called Palestinian Territories (the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip). Military operations and clashes with insurgents are practically daily in these areas.

This permanent tension and the reality of war not only affect the population indirectly, but also directly with compulsory military service. Israel is the developed country that spends the most defense budget according to its GDP and its population.[8] Today, Israel invests 4.3% of its GDP in defense (not counting investment in industry and military R&D).[9] In the early 1980s, it came to invest around 22%. Its army has 670,000 soldiers, of whom 170,000 are professionals, and 35.9% of its population (just over 3 million) are ready for combat. It is estimated that the country can carry out a general mobilization around 48-72 hours. Its military strength is based not only on its technological vanguard in terms of weapons systems such as the F-35 (and atomic arsenal), material, armored vehicles (like the Merkava MBT), but also on its compulsory military service system that keeps the majority of the population trained to defend its country. Israel has a unique military service in the western world, being compulsory for all those over 18 years of age, be they men or women. In the case of men, it lasts 32 months, while women remain under military discipline for 21 months, although those that are framed in combat units usually serve the same time as men. Military service has exceptions, such as Arabs who do not want to serve and ultra-Orthodox Jews. However, more and more Israeli Arabs serve in the armed forces, including in mixed units with Druze, Jews and Christians; the same goes for the ultra-orthodox, who are beginning to serve in units adapted to their religious needs. Citizens who complete military service remain in the reserve until they are 40 years old, although it is estimated that only a quarter of them do so actively.[10]

Social cohesion

Israeli military service and, by extension, the Israeli Defense Forces are, therefore, the greatest factor of social cohesion in the country, above even religion. This is the second reason why the army influences Israel. The experience of a country protection service carried out by all generations creates great social cohesion. In the Israeli mindset, serving in the military, protecting your family and ensuring the survival of the state is one of the greatest aspirations in life. From the school, within the academic curriculum itself, the idea of ​​patriotism and service to the nation is integrated. And right now, despite huge contrasts between the Jewish majority and minorities, it is also a tool for social integration for Arabs, Druze and Christians. Despite racism and general mistrust towards Arabs, if you serve in the Armed Forces, the reality changes completely: you are respected, you integrate more easily into social life, and your opportunities for work and study after the enlistment period have increased considerably. Mixed units, such as Unit 585 where Bedouins and Christian Arabs serve,[11] allow these minorities to continue to throw down barriers in Israeli society, although on many occasions they find rejection from their own communities.

Israelis residing abroad are also called to service, after which many permanently settle in the country. This enhances the sense of community even for Jews still in the Diaspora.

In short, the IDF creates a sense of duty and belonging to the homeland, whatever the origin, as well as a strong link with the armed forces (which is hardly seen in other western countries) and acceptance of the sacrifices that must be made in order to ensure the survival of the country.

The third and last reason, the most important one, and the one that summarizes the role that the Army has in society and in the country, is the reality that, as said above, the survival of the country depends on the Army. This is how the military occupation of territories beyond the borders established in 1948, the bombings in civilian areas, the elimination of individual objectives are justified by the population and the Government. After 3,000 years, and since 1948 perhaps more than ever, the Israeli people depend on weapons to create a protection zone around them, and after the persecution throughout the centuries culminating in the Holocaust and its return to the “Promised Land,” neither the state nor the majority of the population are willing to yield in their security against countries or organizations that directly threaten the existence of Israel as a country. This is why despite the multiple truces and the will (political and real) to end the Arab-Israeli conflict, the country cannot afford to step back in terms of preparing its armed forces and lobbying.

Obviously, during the current Covid-19 pandemic, the Army is having a key role in the success of the country in fighting the virus. The current rate of vaccination (near 70 doses per 100 people) is boosted by the use of reserve medics from the Army, as well as the logistic experience and planning (among obviously many other factors). Also, they have provided thousands of contact tracers, and the construction of hundreds of vaccination posts, and dozens of quarantine facilities. Even could be arguable that the military training could play a role in coping with the harsh restrictions that were imposed in the country.

The State-Army-People trinity exemplifies the reality that Israel lives, where the Army has a fundamental (and difficult) role in society. It is difficult to foresee a change in reality in the near future, but without a doubt, the army will continue to have the leadership role that it has assumed, in different forms, for 3,000 years.

 

[1] Genesis 15:18 New International Version (NIV)18: “On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi [a] of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates’.”

[2] Great Israel matches to previously mentioned Bible passage Gn. 15: 18-21.

[3] Independent, JS (2019, May 16). This is why Palestinians wave keys during the 'Day of Catastrophe'. Retrieved March 23, 2020, from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/nakba-day-catastrophe-palestinians-israel-benjamin-netanyahu-gaza-west-bank-hamas-a8346156.html

[4] Ross Stewart (2004). Causes and Consequences of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. London: Evan Brothers, Ltd., 2004.

[5] Record of the Conversation Between the Führer and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem on November 28, 1941, in in Berlin, Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918-1945, Series D, Vol. XIII, London , 1964, p. 881ff, in Walter Lacquer and Barry Rubin, The Israel-Arab Reader, (NY: Facts on File, 1984), pp. 79-84. Retrieved from https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-mufti-and-the-f-uuml-hrer#2. “Germany stood for uncompromising war against the Jews. That naturally included active opposition to the Jewish national home in Palestine .... Germany would furnish positive and practical aid to the Arabs involved in the same struggle .... Germany's objective [is] ... solely the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere .... In that hour the Mufti would be the most authoritative spokesman for the Arab world. The Mufti thanked Hitler profusely. ”

[6] United Nations General Assembly A / RES / 181 (II) of 29 November 1947.

[7] Tzahal is a Hebrew acronym used to refer to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

[8] Newsroom. (8th. June 2009). Arming Up: The world's biggest military spenders by population. 03-20-2020, by The Economist Retrieved from: https://www.economist.com/news/2009/06/08/arming-up

[9] Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. (nd). SIPRI Military Expenditure Database. Retrieved March 21, 2020, from https://www.sipri.org/databases/milex

[10] Gross, JA (2016, May 30). Just a quarter of all eligible reservists serve in the IDF. Retrieved March 22, 2020, from https://www.timesofisrael.com/just-a-quarter-of-all-eligible-reservists-serve-in-the-idf/

[11] AHRONHEIM, A. (2020, January 12). Arab Christians and Bedouins in the IDF: Meet the members of Unit 585. Retrieved March 19, 2020, from https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/The-sky-is-the-limit-in-the- IDFs-unique-Unit-585-613948

Categorías Global Affairs: Oriente Medio Seguridad y defensa Ensayos


 

ESSAY  Pablo Arbuniés

Introduction

In 1994 both South Africa and Rwanda embarked on a journey of political change that to this day seems unfinished. The first saw the end of apartheid and the beginning of a transition to non-racial democracy, while the latter saw the end of a civil conflict that sparked a genocide.

Both countries faced fundamental changes of a political and social nature at the same time in two very different ways. South Africa faced such change from the perspective of democracy, while Rwanda saw the collapse of a radical ethnic regime under Habyalimana after the civil war in 1994.

Understanding that countries move in a wide spectrum between democracy and non-democracy, that is, that they often are in a liminal political status, is the very basis to study these processes. Comparing these countries that experienced monumental political change at the same time can be useful to understand how societies can be rebuilt after a dark period. Depending on how the transition started, either through force as is the case in Rwanda or via political consensus or constitutional change as in South Africa, the path that the country will follow can vary greatly. It is also worth exploring how a post-conflict consensus can be the basis of a renewed system. Of key interest is how long such dispensation go uncontested and how stable it can sustain the project.  

The case of South Africa and Rwanda

South Africa is classified by some as a Flawed Democracy[1], meaning that there are free and fair elections but there are factors that prevent it from arriving at a full democratic rule. In 1990, the government re-established multi-party politics. Then, the 1992 referendum approved universal suffrage, including black people in the democratic process, and the 1994 general elections were the first democratic and universal vote in the history of the country. The African National Congress (ANC) came to power and has won all the following elections.

The ANC—and similarly, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF)—has a sense of exceptionalism, a belief that it has an extraordinary mandate to finish the revolution that only it can fulfil[2]. However, recent elections have shown a decrease in popular support for the ANC. Yet the fact that, over time, the ruling party during a transition process eventually loses free elections is a sign of a consolidated democracy[3].

Rwanda on the other hand is deemed an authoritarian regime by the EIU[4]. In the aftermath of the civil war and the genocide, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) positioned itself as a guarantor of security, consolidating control over all sectors of society. This provision of security and stability in the wake of a conflict, accompanied by an authoritarian use of power, can be referred to as the authoritarian social contract, prioritising security over democracy and fundamental rights, but with a sufficiently transparent and accountable government.

This article will proceed to explore a few indicators like transitional justice, legal framework and institutions, separation of power and rule of law, transparency and accountability plus civil society to test whether South Africa and Rwanda have attained democratic transition through building sustainable political institutions.

Transitional justice

The South African Constitution highlights the importance of healing the consequences of apartheid and establishing a society based on human rights, democracy and social justice. Thus, in 1995 the Government established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), tasked with uncovering past injustices and establishing the truth about the apartheid.

The TRC was composed of three committees: Human rights violations, Reparation and Rehabilitation and Amnesty. Their ultimate goal was to restore the dignity and encourage the spirit of forgiveness between the victims and the perpetrators.

However, in terms of accountability, the TRC has fallen short. The offer of “amnesty for the truth” as well as the de facto back door amnesty provided by the National Prosecuting Authority’s Prosecution Policy have meant effective immunity for apartheid-era perpetrators even if they did not apply for amnesty nor helped the TRC. Even after the “back door” was declared unconstitutional in 2008, none of the cases affected has returned to the courts.[5]

In Rwanda, the priority after the civil war and genocide was also rebuilding social peace. Civil war crimes and genocide were treated differently from each other in transitional justice, partly due to the reluctance of the RPF to judge its crimes as a belligerent actor in the civil war, and also because of the prioritising of genocide prosecution.[6]

Rwanda’s main challenge for transitional justice was the vast number of people that took part in the genocide. Despite other countries facing similar problems and opting for amnesties or selective prosecution, Rwanda chose the way of accountability through criminal trials. To achieve this, the government had to create community courts (Gacaca) to make accountability possible for low-level genocide suspects.

This choice of criminal prosecution was defended by the RPF as a measure to end impunity culture that led to the genocide. However, the massive prosecutions have ended up overwhelming the system and hindering the rule of law.

Legal framework and institutions

Constitution

In its transition to democracy, South Africa chose to completely re-write its constitution. The 1996 Constitution was promulgated by Nelson Mandela and entered into force in 1997, in place of the 1993 interim constitution. The interim constitution set the bases for the final one, including universal adult suffrage, the prohibition of discrimination, multi-party democracy, separation of powers, etc.

However, the biggest achievement of the South African transition is how the institutions in charge of the elections have been built on consensus and with the guarantee of non-interference by the ruling party, making the Electoral Commission a body publicly perceived to be neutral and impartial.[7]

Rwanda held a referendum in 2003 to approve a new constitution, after a deep public consultation process. A new constitution was approved, prohibiting ethnic politics along with other forms of discrimination. This clause has been widely used by the government to maintain a one-party system by illegalising opposition parties and attacking any form of political dissent under the façade of preventing another genocide[8]. In 2015 term limits were abolished by referendum, allowing president Kagame to run for a third 7-year term.

Separation of powers and rule of law

In terms of separation of powers and checks and balances, South Africa ranks above the average of its region according to the world justice and rule of law index. Its overall score in the Rule of Law Index is of 0.59, making it the 45th country out of 128.  The lowest rated indicators for the country are absence of corruption at 0.48 and criminal justice at 0.53. In terms of fundamental rights, all indicators are above average and above the upper-middle threshold except for no discrimination, valued al 0.54.

Constraints on government powers are measured at 0.63, and all indicators are above average and above the “upper-middle” threshold. Legislative and judiciary checks and balances are valued at 0.58 and 0.67 respectively, meaning that there is an effective separation of powers. However, and despite the absence of corruption ranking above average, in the legislative power is below the upper-middle threshold and valued at a worrying 0.23, and in the executive branch it is also below said threshold at 0.4. Corruption in the executive and the legislative powers can be explained as a consequence of the political dominance of the ANC and its firm grab onto power, and it should eventually fade away when a new party reaches power.

On the other hand, Rwanda is a fascinating case, since it presents a very low score on the democratic index[9] but an overall decent rule of law index.[10] In other words, Rwanda’s government might not be democratic, but it does play by the rules, hence reinforcing the idea of an authoritarian social contract that is indeed being fulfilled by the government. In fact, despite being an authoritarian country, Rwanda’s rule of law index is higher than South Africa’s, and the second highest in Sub-Saharan Africa, only bettered by Namibia (one of the best-ranked democracies in the region).

To further prove the point of the authoritarian social contract, looking at the different indicators of the Rule of Law Index, one can notice that its lowest-rated indicators are the fundamental rights ones (0.51, ranking 81st in the world) and it’s the best indicator is order and security (0.84, ranking 22nd in the world) with a perfect score in absence of civil conflict (1.00).

Limits to governmental power by the legislative and judiciary powers are worth mentioning too. In the case of legislative checks and balances, the country ranks below the Sub-Saharan average, partly due to the predominance of RPF parliamentarians dominating the legislature. Hence they provide little checks on the executive. On the other hand, Judiciary checks and sanctions for official misconduct are above the Sub-Saharan average, showing a surprising level of judiciary independence for a country deemed as authoritarian.

Transparency and accountability

Transparency indicators show South Africa leading the regional chart, well above the Sub-Saharan average and also above the upper-middle threshold, which means that the government can be considered transparent enough. In the other hand, persistent levels of corruption in the executive and legislative power, as well as in the police and military (ranked above regional average but below the upper-middle threshold) show worrying signs that could obstruct the accountability of those holding power. Indeed, sanctions for official misconduct are the weaker link in constraints on government power, showing a limited action taken against corruption, but still ranking above the Sub-Saharan average.

In Rwanda, judiciary independence and sanctions for official misconduct are also above average for the region, showing an acceptable degree of accountability in the exercise of power that yet again can be surprising in an authoritarian country.

In terms of transparency, Rwanda ranks above the Sub-Saharan average in all indicators: publicized laws and government data (0.60), right to information (0.61), civic participation (0.53) and complaint mechanisms (0.60). Corruption indicators are above regional average as well with corruption in the legislative power being the worst of the lot despite still being better than that of its neighbouring counterparts.

 

Civil society

The ANC has, in a similar fashion to the RPF, tried to become a gatekeeping power, attempting to draw the limits of what is acceptable opposition or an acceptable discourse. This allows the parties to monopolize the social cohesion discourse by presenting themselves as the only legitimate actor to tackle the issue.

In South Africa, the ANC accuses the opposition parties of trying to bring back apartheid; for instance, it claims that the Democratic Alliance aims to return to a minority rule system. Thus, the party presents itself as the only one that can prevent the Boers from returning to power. A state of constant alert is promoted by the ANC, not only within national politics and against civil society actors, but also claiming that foreign agendas are seeking a regime change in the country and trying to turn the people against their leaders.[11]

In Rwanda, the government took advantage of the post-conflict situation to limit public participation in the political sphere. Those opposed to the government are marginalised and their discourse is rejected as genocide-promoting or supportive of ethnical divisions. This is key for the government to retain popular support, as any dissenting voice will be delegitimized and presented as a call to go back to the worst moments of Rwanda’s history, and thus publicly rejected. As for dealing with foreign civil society actors, Kagame tends to delegitimize them by associating any dissenting foreign opinion with colonialism.[12] This overall helps the RPF sustain their rhetoric of the Rwandicity of the people as the only way of keeping social peace and cohesion.

This discourse that attempts to create national unity as well as within the parties, has a constant “rally around the flag” effect, silencing dissenting opinions and deterring potential civil society actors, in fear of being singled out as apartheid or genocide promoters. This results in a weakened civil society often deterred from criticising the government in fear of being marginalised and portrayed as either a colonialist or a promoter of ethnic division and genocide. Dissenting voices are turned into enemies of the nation and used for an “us versus them” political discourse.

Despite this, non-governmental checks on the exercise of power in South Africa are valued at 0.71, well above the Sub-Saharan average as well as the upper-middle threshold. Freedom of expression has the same score and again y both above the regional average and nearly reaching the higher threshold.

Overall, South Africa has a robust civil society that plays a key role in creating and sustaining political culture, tackling the gaps between national and local politics, as well as holding public officials accountable and checking their use of power. This can be seen in the outing of former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma through consistent mobilisations and lawsuits.[13]

For Rwanda, as expected in an authoritarian country, civil society is not a key actor. Non-governmental checks to the use of power are low (0.45), and likely limited by an also low freedom of expression indicator (0.45).

Conclusions

Treating democracy and non-democracy as a dichotomy instead of the two sides of a wide spectrum would not allow us to look at how different variables are key to understanding national politics. Instead, it is crucial to understand that many countries occupy a liminal space between democracy and non-democracy without necessarily moving towards either. Therefore, it is in that space that they should be analysed in order to be fully understood. That being said, South Africa and Rwanda both occupy very different liminal spaces, with the first being much closer to full democracy than the former.

The civil society indicators, as well as the role of transitional justice, show a very clear difference between South Africa and Rwanda, which is rooted in the legitimation of the power of the ruling party, as well as in the background of their political changes. The RPF came to power by winning the civil war and used transitional justice to whitewash its image as no RPF member has been investigated for alleged war crimes[14]. Thus, the lack of accountability and the militaristic nature of the transition can be seen as factors that discourage citizen participation in politics. On the other hand, South Africa had an easier task with transitional justice, but the result cannot be considered perfect or ideal, and many criticise the South African model of transitional justice for being too superficial and symbolic and not providing the needed social healing. Also, South Africa’s transition is built on political consensus instead of the outcome of a civil war, and that spirit of consensus can be seen in the much bigger role of civil society nowadays. The ability of civil society actors to hold political ones to a high enough standard is key in rebuilding a country.

The transparency indicators show that both countries have open and transparent governments, with Rwanda scoring better than South Africa in the publicized laws & government data as well as the right to information indicators, which can be surprising due to the authoritarian nature of the Rwandan government.

Although both countries seem to be in very different positions, they share a political discourse based on party exceptionalism and rejection of dissenting voices as encouragers of genocide or apartheid. The fear of ethnic conflict is the very basis of the traces of an authoritarian social contract that still prevails in the South African and Rwandan politics.

In terms of institutional transformation, South Africa shows how important it is to build trustworthy institutions, with the best example being the Electoral Commission. Also, political trust in pacific transitions of power after an election is a sign of a consolidated democracy and shows the success of South Africa.

The level of transparency of the Rwandan government, added to its success in the accountability and security aspects and the high civil and criminal justice indicators (all above regional average) show how an authoritarian country can effectively deal with a post-conflict situation without abandoning its non-democratic model. Rwanda is a fascinating example of a successfully fulfilled authoritarian social contract in which civil liberties are given up in exchange for a peaceful and stable environment in which the country can heal economically as the quite positive GDP per capita projections show.[15]

[1] The Economist Intelligence Unit; Democracy Index (2019) https://www.eiu.com/topic/democracy-index?&zid=democracyindex2019&utm_source=blog&utm_medium=blog&utm_name=democracyindex2019&utm_term=democracyindex2019&utm_content=top_link

[2] Beresford, A. Liberation movements and stalled democratic transitions: reproducing power in Rwanda and South Africa through productive liminality https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13510347.2018.1461209 

[3] Huntington, S. P. (1991). The third wave: Democratization in the late 20th century.

[4] The Economist Intelligence Unit; Democracy Index (2019) https://www.eiu.com/topic/democracy-index?&zid=democracyindex2019&utm_source=blog&utm_medium=blog&utm_name=democracyindex2019&utm_term=democracyindex2019&utm_content=top_link

[5] International Center for Transitional Justice, South Africa https://www.ictj.org/our-work/regions-and-countries/south-africa

[6] Waldorf, L, Transitional Justice and DDR: The Case of Rwanda, International Center for Transitional Justice https://www.ictj.org/sites/default/files/ICTJ-DDR-Rwanda-CaseStudy-2009-English.pdf

[7] Ahere, J. R. (2020). Africa's dalliance with democracy, but whose democracy? In N. Sempijja, & K. Molope, Africa rising? Navigating the nexus between rhetoric and emerging reality (pp. 37-54). Pamplona: Eunsa.

[8] Roth, K. The power of horror in Rwanda,  https://www.hrw.org/news/2009/04/11/power-horror-rwanda

[9] The Economist Intelligence Unit; Democracy Index (2019) https://www.eiu.com/topic/democracy-index?&zid=democracyindex2019&utm_source=blog&utm_medium=blog&utm_name=democracyindex2019&utm_term=democracyindex2019&utm_content=top_link

[10]  World Justice Project, Rule of Law Index 2020 https://worldjusticeproject.org/our-work/research-and-data/wjp-rule-law-index-2020

[11] Beresford, A. Liberation movements and stalled democratic transitions: reproducing power in Rwanda and South Africa through productive liminality https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13510347.2018.1461209

[12] Beresford, A. Liberation movements and stalled democratic transitions: reproducing power in Rwanda and South Africa through productive liminality https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13510347.2018.1461209 

[13] Gumede, W. How civil society has strengthened South Africa’s democracy https://www.corruptionwatch.org.za/civil-society-strengthened-democracy-south-africa/#toggle-id-1

[14] Waldorf, L, Transitional Justice and DDR: The Case of Rwanda, International Center for Transitional Justice https://www.ictj.org/sites/default/files/ICTJ-DDR-Rwanda-CaseStudy-2009-English.pdf

[15] IMF. "Rwanda: Gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in current prices from 1985 to 2025 (in U.S. dollars)." Chart. October 12, 2020. Statista. Accessed January 25, 2021. https://www.statista.com/statistics/452130/gross-domestic-product-gdp-per-capita-in-rwanda/

Categorías Global Affairs: África Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Ensayos


 

ESSAY Álvaro de Lecea Larrañaga

From the moment colonial empires left the African continent and the new republics celebrated their first democratic elections, the issue of election violence has been present in the majority of the countries. It is a problem that has not changed and that keeps disturbing national and international supporters of a peaceful democratization of the African continent. It is not the first time in history we know about election violence in democratic states, such as France during the nineteenth century; nevertheless, the African dynamics are quite peculiar.

Violence, in general terms, has become a political instrument in the African democratic dynamics (Laakso, 2007). Depending on the actor making use of it, the motivation behind it is different. It is also important to take into account the historical, political, socio-cultural and economic context of each country to understand the purposes of the usage of this controversial mechanism. The spur is not the same for the ruling party or the opposition party, or other groups like the youth. Hence the use of violence has a lot of influence in the outcomes of an election process as it is an effective means that shapes the democratic dynamics when it comes to the election of the representatives at all stages of the electoral processes. For example, the ruling parties use it to avoid being removed from their powerful positions and all the benefits that come from them (Mehler, 2007).

This issue of power, with a high level of influence of money, is probably the most common motivation for every actor involved in these dynamics (Muna & Otieno, 2020, pp. 92-111). Not only the ruling powers but the ones trying to substitute them or the ones trying to impose a new order are, in some way, motivated by the powerful positions they could attain. The violence therefore permeates all party structures and is also noticeable within the parties.

The issue of intra-party violence has not received a lot of attention due to more frequency of state inspired violence against the opposition. Yet it is becoming more prevalent especially in political parties that hold power. This is because the belief is usually entrenched that if one represents the ruling party the chances of getting elected get higher. It should also be noted that the risk of intra-party violence increases as inter-party competition decreases, making intra-party violence more common in districts where a single party dominates (Bech Seeberg, Skaaning, & Wahman, 2017).

The timing of the violence is very relevant to understand the problem of election violence. The different three kinds of election violence (pre-election violence, post-election violence and violence during the Election Day) carry different connotations with them (Daxecker, 2013). They are the result of the general context of the country and represent the behaviour of their citizens towards the democratic principles of the nation. This can also be a response to the electoral campaigns of both the ruling and opposition parties, which sometimes involve violent means too.

Pre-election violence is normally recorded within parties as they carry out their primaries to select representatives and during the campaign process in a bid to hinder opponents from getting access to the people. Violence on Election Day is usually designed to disrupt areas where some candidates suspect they will lose or feel the election process has not been fair. While post-election violence is mainly an expression of dissatisfaction with the outcome of the election.

The role of media and international observers are also key for drafting the big picture of the problems involving election violence. These to some extent can escalate the conflict or reduce it. The power of information is huge and these agents are the most reliable sources to the local and international communities. If an international observer, such as a Committee from the United Nations, declares an election fraud, post-election violence is a very possible outcome (Daxecker, 2012). However, the media, and more concretely a trustworthy local media agent, has the power to calm the masses and bring peace.

Finally, the electoral system chosen by each country will also have a direct effect on the violence because of the interests behind the election. The plurality voting is the most used system among African states. These kinds of systems are also known as winner-takes-all, because the winner gets all the power. Even if it is not necessarily a negative system, as successful countries such as France or Brazil also use them, the difference of power between a common citizen and a politician is so big in Africa that the interest of getting those posts is higher (Reynolds, 2009). This will cause that any means justified to get there, including the use of violence.

To further analyze the motivations behind election violence in Africa and the effects it has on the region, and to try to offer a functional solution for this issue the article explores two case studies: Kenya 2007 and Burundi 2010.

African election violence case studies

Kenya 2007

The presidential and parliamentary elections held in Kenya in 2007 are a great example of election violence where external factors had influences on the outcomes. However, these external factors were not the only ones causing the violence. Internal issues such as the historical culture of the country, the electoral system or the will of power were also influential in this case. To understand the big picture, it is always important to analyze every relevant aspect.

Since the first multi-party democratic elections in Kenya, held in 1992, post-election violence has been very present. During the almost thirty years of dictatorship in Kenya after their independence from the British Crown, repression was promoted throughout the whole territory. Abuses of human rights, nepotism, widespread corruption and patronage were very common (Onyebadi & Oyedeji, 2011), therefore Kenyans are used to protest, violently if needed, against political fraud and suppression of their democratic rights.

Mwai Kibaki’s victory in the 2007 elections brought a whole wave of violent protests because of the fraudulent accusations the elections received (Odhiambo Owuor, 2013). Not only the opposition leader Raila Odinga denounced the election as massively rigged, but also the international community did so. As they condemned the election as fraudulent, the United Nations intervened and helped reach a deal between both party leaders. In this case, the violence produced arrived after the elections (post-election violence) and was motivated by the fraudulent accusations made by international and national observers.

The solution reached was to recognize Kibaki as president and to create a new position of Executive Prime Minister for Odinga. Furthermore, they stipulated that cabinet positions were to be shared by the disputants and their political parties. This characteristic outcome was accepted with more enthusiasm by the Kenyan people because it divided the power in more than one person and, therefore, the abuse of it as it had happened before was not so probable. The electoral system, which is explained later on, has helped these abuses to be produced, so this different outcome meant a significant change in the Kenyan policy-making.

In the case of Kenya, media is very relevant, as the two most successful newspapers, the “Daily Nation” and “The Standard”, with a combined strength of 75% market share, do not receive funding from the government. Without falling into sensationalism, these newspapers were able to become agents of peace and reconciliation. As violence raged in the post-election period, the newspapers adopted a thematic approach to reaching a peaceful outcome (Onyebadi & Oyedeji, 2011).

This conflict, apart from the effects it had on the electoral outcome, influenced the economic situation of the country. The annual percentage growth of GDP fell from 6.8% in 2007 to 0.2% in 2008, the annual percentage of GDP per capita growth was negative (-2.5%) and the growth on the percentage of employment regarding total labour force began increasing again in 2008, going from 2.5% that year to 2.7% in 2009 (World Bank, 2020). However, this data is biased because of the economic recession several countries, including Kenya, suffered due to the 2008 financial crisis.

Finally, Kenya’s first-past-the-post single member constituency electoral system gives the electoral winner plenty of power. Moreover, the economic inequality, the domination of the powerful elites of the country who are very influential in the political system and the fact that Kenyan political parties are not usually founded on ideology but serve the ideas of the funders, produce a form of democracy that represents the few rather than the majority. Therefore, it is very complicated to terminate the desire for political power from the Kenyan mindset.

Burundi 2010

Burundi’s history has been marked by the Hutu-Tutsi rivalry. Since it got independence in 1962, the ethnic cleavages between the majority Hutu and minority Tutsi have been remarkable. The 2010 elections are not quite different from the rest, as the outcomes resulted in boycotts and violence. Burundi is a country that has used violence as a tool of solving conflicts several times and has a violent historic precedent regarding “democratic” elections (Mehler, 2007). Several prime ministers and presidents from the different ethnic groups have been assassinated throughout Burundi’s democratic history, which has led to a series of coups and ethnic clashes.

During the 2010 elections, the United Nations also sent a mission to observe the democratic process followed. They affirmed that the winning party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD–FDD), were able to campaign throughout the country, whereas the opposition parties had much less visibility (Palmans, n.d.).

The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), which is supposed to organize, conduct and supervise the elections independently from any party were not as transparent as they were meant to and didn’t respect the rights of the political parties, which caused the boycott led by the opposition (Niang, n.d.). In Burundi too, elections have mainly been a struggle for power as a means of gaining access to economic resources through control of the state. So, the tensions have always been great during elections. Thus, violence tends to be used by nearly every actor involved.

The peculiarity within this case is that the violence didn’t only take place after knowing the results of the elections, but also before the Election Day. Pre-election violence came as a consequence of systematic disagreement between CNDD-FDD and opposition parties. Although several institutions were created to ensure the legality and transparency of the election, such as the CENI, the CNDD-FDD tried to arrange the legal and institutional context to force the process into its advantage and ensure its victory against the opposition.

The pre-election violence transformed into post-election violence leading to the main opposition leader, Agathon Rwasa, having to flee the country. Even though the violence was not as widespread as in Kenya, the situation remained tense in the country. The results didn’t change, and the political rivalries were further entrenched. In this case, the use of violence and coupled with display of power won the elections which created more fear and despair within the population.

Conclusion

Election violence is very common in several countries over the world, with an emphasis on Africa. There, it has become some kind of political instrument which, despite being anti-democratic by nature, is part of the policymaking, campaigning and electoral process. It is different depending on the timing it appears and plenty of factors influence its appearance and control. Within the most remarkable we can find the role of international and national observers, the role of the media, both national and international, and the will of power, usually linked to the economic benefits the winner receives. Furthermore, depending on who the actor is making use of it, the factors behind it can change drastically.

After having analyzed the two case studies, Kenya 2008 and Burundi 2010, and having interpreted the impact these issues have had in their internal socio-economic parameters, it is also obvious that these anti-democratic practices do have some impact in every aspect of the society involved in it. Its most remarkable influence can be seen on the election outcome. In both cases, violence was key for establishing the results. In the case of Kenya, it was the motor that boosted a change in the policymaking, and in the case of Burundi, it helped the winning party keep the power.

The three main factors that influence this kind of policymaking and that should be reviewed and, if necessary, modified to end the violence are the electoral system most African countries follow, the ethnic nature of violence and the common African mindset regarding power. The majority of the electoral systems followed in Africa are winner-takes-all systems that makes it hard for the loser to give up power and lose the benefits it brings. Also, as the case of Burundi has shown, ethnic rivalries are a very common reason motivating the violent outcomes of elections, even if the state follows a democratic regime. This, together with the great will of power present on the African societies, demonstrated by the intra- and inter-party violence, provokes the unsustainable situation present nowadays.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bank, W. (2020). World Bank Database. Retrieved from https://datos.bancomundial.org/

Bech Seeberg, M., Skaaning, S.-E., & Wahman, M. (2017). Candidate nomination, Intra-party Democracy, and Election Violence in Africa. ResearchGate.

Daxecker, U. E. (2012). The cost of exposing cheating: International election monitoring, fraud, and post-election violence in Africa. Journal of Peace Research.

Daxecker, U. E. (2013). All quiet on Election Day? International election observation and incentives for pre-election violence in African elections. Electoral Studies, 1-12.

Laakso, L. (2007). Insights into Electoral Violence in Africa. En M. Basedau, G. Erdmann, & A. Mehler, Votes, Money and Violence: Political Parties and Elections in Sub-Saharan Africa (págs. 224-252). South Africa: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press.

Mehler, A. (2007). Political Parties and Violence in Africa: Systematic Reflections against Empirical Background. In M. Basedau, G. Erdmann, & A. Mehler, Votes, Money and Violence: Political Parties and Elections in Sub-Saharan Africa (pp. 194-223). South Africa: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press.

Muna, W., & Otieno, M. (2020). The ‘Money Talks Factor’ in Kenya’s Public Policy and Electoral Democracy.

Niang, M. A. (n.d.). Case study: Burundi. EISA.

Odhiambo Owuor, F. (2013). The 2007 General Elections in Kenya: Electoral Laws and Process. EISA, 113-123.

Onyebadi, U., & Oyedeji, T. (2011). Newspaper coverage of post-political election violence in Africa: an assessment of the Kenyan example. Media, War & Conflict, 215-230.

Palmans, E. (n.d.). Burundi's 2010 Elections: Democracy and Peace at Risk? European Centre for Electoral Support.

Reynolds, A. (2009). Elections, Electoral Systems, and Conflict in Africa. The Brown Journal of World Affairs, 75-83.

Categorías Global Affairs: África Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Ensayos

A B-1B Lancer unleashes cluster munitions [USAF]

▲ A B-1B Lancer unleashes cluster munitions [USAF]

ESSAY / Ana Salas

The aim of this paper is to study the international contracts on cluster bombs. Before going deeper into this issue, it is important to understand the concept of international contract and cluster bomb. “A contract is a voluntary, deliberate, legally binding, and enforceable agreement creating mutual obligations between two or more parties and a contract is international when it has certain links with more than one State.”[1]

A cluster bomb is a free-fall or directed bomb that can be dropped from land, sea, or air. Cluster bombs contain a device that releases many small bombs when opened. These submunitions can cause different damages, they are used against various targets, including people, armored vehicles, and different types of material. It is an explosive charge designed to burst after that separation, in most cases when impacting the ground. But often large numbers of the submunitions fail to function as designed, and instead land on the ground without exploding, where they remain as very dangerous duds.

The main problem with these types of weapons is that they may cause serious collateral damage such as the death of thousands of civilians. Because of that, the legality of this type of weapon is controversial. Out of concern for the civilians affected by artifacts of this type, the Cluster Bomb Convention was held in Dublin, Ireland in 2008. There, a treaty was signed that prohibited the use of these weapons. Not all countries, though, signed the treaty; major arms producers, such as the United States, Russia and China, are not parties in the convention.

Among other things, the Convention proposed a total ban on cluster munitions, the promotion of the destruction of stocks in a period of 8 years, the cleaning of contaminated areas in 10 years, and assistance to the victims of these weapons.   

Convention on Cluster Munitions: geopolitical background  

The antecedents of this convention are in the recognition of the damage produced by the multiple attacks that have been carried out with cluster munitions. The International Handicap Organization has produced a report that offers concrete and documented data on the victims of cluster bombs around the world. In Laos[2], the attacks were designed to prevent enemy convoys make use of dense vegetation to camouflage among the trees. Furthermore, in this way it was not necessary to use ground troops. In Kosovo (1999), the targets were military posts, road vehicles, troop concentrations, armored units, and telecommunications centers. In Iraq cluster bombs have been used several times. During Operation “Desert Storm” in 1991, US forces dropped almost 50,000 bombs with more than 13 million submunitions on Iraq in air operations alone (not taking into account those dropped from the sea or by artillery). Estimates suggest that a third did not explode, and were found on roads, bridges and other civil infrastructure.

Pressure for an international ban on cluster bombs has recently intensified, following Israel's bombardments with these weapons in southern Lebanon in the summer of 2006. Also, in Afghanistan, in 2001 and 2002, during the US offensive, more than 1,200 cluster bombs with almost 250,000 submunitions were dropped against Taliban military bases and positions. These targets were near towns and villages, whose civilian population was affected. UN demining teams estimate that around 40,000 munitions did not explode. These have been the main concern of NGOs. On the one hand, because of the large percentage of civilians who have been affected by the cluster bombs and on the other hand, due to the amount of submunitions that did not explode at the time and that are in the affected areas, being an even greater risk for the security of the civilian population or even for their agriculture in those lands.

Due to the great commotion over the death of thousands of civilians and after several attempts, a convention on such munitions was adopted in Dublin, where more than 100 countries had come together for an international agreement. The Convention on Cluster Munitions was adopted on May 30, 2008, in Dublin and signed on December 3-4, 2008 in Oslo, Norway. The Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force on August 1, 2010.

One of the major problems addressed in the Convention was the threat posed by submunitions that do not explode as expected, and which remain in the area as a mortal danger, turning the affected area into a large minefield where the civilian population is the most vulnerable. A study indicates that 20-30% of these bombs do not explode either due to manufacturing defects, or to falls in soft areas or in trees, for example.

Articles 3 and 4 of the Convention are of great importance. Article 3 refers to the stockpile, storage, and destruction of cluster bombs. Here all Parties haves the obligation of making sure to destroy their stored cluster bombs no later than 8 years. Article 4, on the cleaning and destroying of cluster munition remnants and education on risk reduction, is intended to protect possible victims from the danger of bombs that have not exploded. Article 5 reinforces the obligation of the signatory parties to assist the victims of cluster bombs.

After the convention there is a double deal on cluster bombs. Since the destruction of the entire arsenal of these ammunitions and submunitions was approved, the affected companies and the countries involved will have a new challenge in hiring companies that carry out the extinction of these reserves.

Producers

The main manufacturers of cluster bombs are the United States, Russia, China, Israel, Pakistan, and India. Approximately 16 states are the largest producers of this ammunition and submunition worldwide, and none of these countries adhered to the convention on cluster munitions. Some of the countries involved are Greece, South Korea, North Korea, Egypt, Iran, Poland, Turkey, Brazil, Singapore, Romania, and Poland. The date on which the cluster munitions were produced is not clear because of the lack of transparency and the data available.

A total of 85 companies have produced, along history, cluster bombs or their essential parts. Many of these companies are headquartered in the United States or Europe, but others are state-owned industries located in developing countries. Cluster munition production involves the manufacturing and integration of a large number of parts, including metal parts, explosives, fuses, and packaging materials. All components are seldom produced by a single company in the same state. This makes difficult to determine the true extent of the international trade in cluster munitions.

International trade on cluster bomb has slackened. As the cluster munition monitor of 2017 states, the US company Textron Systems Corporation, for example, has slowed production of the CBU-105[3] weapon due to “reduced orders, and claimed that the current political environment has made it difficult to obtain sales approvals from the executive branch.”

Manufactures are also adapting their production to international regulations. Following a study by Pax[4] on “Worlwide Investments in cluster munitions,” Avibras (Brazil), Bharat Dynamics Limited (India), China Aerospace Science and Industry (China) or Hanwha (South Korea) are some of the companies that develop or produce cluster bombs according to the definition given by the Dublin Convention in 2008.

It is important to warn about the existing sensitivity regarding the production of cluster bombs. Undoubtedly, they pose a serious problem from the point of view of civil protection, but many companies engaged in the production and the funders of this kind of weapons have a high interest in keeping them legal.

There are very controversial weapons. Many countries insist on that cluster munitions are legal weapons, that, although not essential, have great military use. Some states believe that submunitions can be accurately targeted to reduce damage to civilians, meaning that military purposes can be isolated in densely populated areas. On the other hand, others believe that the ability of cluster munitions to destroy targets just as effectively throughout the attack area can cause those using them to neglect the target, thus increasing the risk of civilian casualties.

The future of International contracting on cluster bombs

As Jorge Heine defines the "New Diplomacy", it requires the negotiation of a wide range of relationships with the state, NGOs and commercial actors. “As middle powers have demonstrated, through joining forces with NGOs, they have actually succeeded in augmenting their power to project their interests into the international arena.”[5] Cluster munition is an example of this case.

Because of this, parties forming international contracts for the purchase and financing of cluster bombs are forced to change the object of the cluster bomb business. As mentioned earlier, the new business will be the destruction of these weapons, rather than their production. Especially munitions with high submunition failure rates. For this reason, countries such as Argentina, Canada, France, UK, Denmark, Norway, Spain and more have promoted a new business on the destruction of the storage of cluster bombs. As a result, cluster munitions move away from their useful life and have more chances of being destroyed than of being sold for profit.

By financing companies that produce cluster munitions, financial institutions (in many cases states themselves) help these companies to produce the weapon. But to achieve an effective elimination of cluster bombs, more than a convention is needed. The effort requires national legislation that reflects that purpose. Domestic governments must provide clear guidelines by introducing and enforcing legislation that prohibits investment in cluster munitions producers.  

Conclusion

As a military tactic, the use of cluster bombs provides a high percentage of success. A good number of states and armies defend that they are effective weapons, sometimes even decisive ones, depending on the circumstances and the context. It is often argued that using another type of weapon to achieve the same objective would require more firepower and use more explosives, and that this would cause even greater collateral damage. At the same time, and to avoid the low reliability of these weapons, some armies have begun to modernize their arsenals and to replace older weapons with more modern and precise versions that incorporate, for example, guidance or self-destruct systems. Their main objective in developing cluster bombs is to compensate for precision failures with more munitions and, on the other hand, to allow a greater number of targets to be hit in less time.

Advances in technology can certainly reduce some of the humanitarian problems generated by the less advanced types of cluster bombs but a good number of military operations are currently peace operations, where the risk generated by these products also becomes a military concern, not just humanitarian. For example, to address the issue of unexploded ordnance, weapons are being developed that have self-destruction or, at least, self-neutralization mechanisms[6].

There is great uncertainty about how the norms of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) are interpreted and whether they are applied rigorously in the case of cluster munitions, given the lack of precision and reliability of these weapons. The Convention on Cluster Munitions gives hope, but we must consider the different current situations and how they can change. We also have to take into account that this agreement leaves open many possibilities of circumventing what has been signed. For example, guided or self-destructive cluster bombs do not fall under the umbrella of this pact.

Despite the provisions of International Humanitarian Law, existing cluster munitions have caused large numbers of civilian casualties in various conflicts. A better implementation of the IHL, including the Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War, will not be able to fully address the problems caused by these weapons. There is a need for specific rules on these munitions as outlined above.

 

[1] Renzo Cavalieri and Vincenzo Salvatore, An introduction to international contract law, Torino: Giappichelli, 2018.

[2] During the years 1964 to 1973, Laos was bombed by the United States. The attacks were intended to cut off North Vietnamese supply lines and support Laotian government forces in their fight against communist rebels.

[3] CBU-105 is a free fall cluster bomb unit of the United States Air Force.

[4] Pax is a peace organization with the aim of “bringing peace, reconciliation and justice in the world”.

[5] Matthew Bolton and Thomas Nash, “The Role of Middle Powe-NGO Coalitions in Global Policy: The Case of the Cluster Munitions Ban”, Global Policy, Vol. 1, No. 2 (May 2010), pp 172-184.

[6] Some essential component for the operation of the bomb is deactivated.

Categorías Global Affairs: Seguridad y defensa Ensayos Global

Los ministros de Exteriores de Bahréin y EAU firman con el ‘premier’ israelí los Acuerdos Abraham, en septiembre de 2020 [Casa Blanca]

▲ Los ministros de Exteriores de Bahréin y EAU firman con el ‘premier’ israelí los Acuerdos Abraham, en septiembre de 2020 [Casa Blanca]

ENSAYO / Lucas Martín Serrano *

Es interesante incorporar a cualquier tipo de análisis geopolítico unas pinceladas de historia. La historia es una ayuda fundamental para comprender el presente. Y la mayor parte de los conflictos, problemas, fricciones u obstáculos ya sea entre naciones o entidades públicas o privadas siempre tienen subyacente un trasfondo histórico. Además, llevado al terreno de la negociación, sin importar el nivel de esta, demostrar un cierto conocimiento histórico del adversario es útil porque, por un lado, no deja de ser una muestra de interés y respeto hacia él, lo cual siempre nos situará en una posición ventajosa, sino que, en otro orden de cosas, cualquier escollo o dificultad que aparezca tiene amplias posibilidades de tener su homólogo histórico, y precisamente ahí se puede hallar el camino hacia la solución. La parte que disponga una mayor profundidad de ese conocimiento aumentará notablemente las opciones de una solución más favorable a sus intereses.

En la antigüedad, el territorio que hoy ocupan los Emiratos Árabes Unidos estaba habitado por tribus árabes, nómadas agricultores, artesanos y comerciantes. El saqueo de los barcos mercantes de potencias europeas que navegaban por sus costas, aproximándose a estas más de lo recomendable, era algo habitual. Y, en cierto modo, una forma de vida para parte de sus habitantes. Es en el siglo VII cuando el Islam se asienta en la cultura local. De las dos corrientes surgidas tras las disputas acaecidas después de la muerte del Profeta, es la sunní la que se hace con la hegemonía a partir del siglo XI.

Con la finalidad de poner fin a la piratería y asegurar las rutas comerciales marítimas, el Reino Unido, a partir de 1820, firma con los jeques de la zona un tratado de paz. En 1853 se va un paso más allá y se logra firmar otro acuerdo por el cual todo el territorio quedaba bajo el protectorado militar del Reino Unido.

La zona atrajo la atención de potencias como Rusia, Francia y Alemania, y en 1892, para proteger sus intereses, se firma el acuerdo que garantiza para los británicos el monopolio sobre el comercio y la exportación.

La zona que abarca a los actuales siete Emiratos Árabes Unidos más Catar y Bahréin se conoció a partir de ese momento como los “Estados de la Tregua” o “Trucial States”.

Durante la Primera Guerra Mundial, los aeródromos y puertos del Golfo tomaron un importante papel en el desarrollo del conflicto en favor de Reino Unido. Al término de la Segunda Guerra Mundial en 1945, se creó la Liga de Estados Árabes (Liga Árabe), formada por aquellos que gozaban de cierta independencia colonial. La organización llamó la atención de los Estados de la Tregua.

En 1960, se crea la Organización de Países Exportadores de Petróleo (OPEP), siendo Arabia Saudita, Irán, Irak, Kuwait y Venezuela sus fundadores y con sede en Viena, Austria. Los siete emiratos, que posteriormente formarían los Emiratos Árabes Unidos, se unieron a la organización en 1967.

Desde 1968, nueve emiratos de la costa oriental de la península Arábiga habían comenzado negociaciones para constituir un estado federal. Tras la retirada definitiva de las tropas británicas y después de que Bahréin y Catar se desmarcasen del proceso y obtuviesen la independencia por separado, en 1971, seis emiratos se independizaron del imperio británico: Abu Dhabi, Dubái, Sharjah, Ajmán, Umm al Qaywayn y Fujairah, formando la federación de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos, con un sistema legal basado en la constitución de 1971. Una vez consolidada, el 12 de junio se unieron a la Liga Árabe. El séptimo emirato, Ras Al-Khaimah se adhirió al año siguiente, destacando como componentes más fuertes los emiratos de Dubái y Abu Dabi, la capital.

Fue el inicio de la explotación de los enormes pozos petrolíferos descubiertos años atrás lo que dio un giro total a la situación. A partir de la crisis del petróleo de 1973, los Emiratos comenzaron a acumular una enorme riqueza, debido a que los miembros de la OPEP decidieron no exportar más petróleo a los países que apoyaron a Israel durante la guerra del Yom Kippur.

El petróleo y el turismo basado en el crecimiento urbanístico y el desarrollo tecnológico son las principales fuentes de prosperidad del país en la actualidad, y un dato muy importante desde todos los puntos de vista es que, actualmente, el 80-85% de la población de EAU es inmigrante.

Situación actual

Ha sido especialmente durante la última década, y como consecuencia en parte de los acontecimientos acaecidos en la región a partir de lo que se conoció como la Primavera Árabe, cuando los EUA han emergido como una potencia regional con capacidad de influir en la zona.

La principal característica que puede atribuirse a esta aparición en la escena internacional es la transformación de una política exterior conservadora y muy dirigida hacia la “autoconservación”, hacia otras más aperturista con clara vocación de, no sólo jugar un papel relevante en la región, sino de influir en la misma para proteger sus intereses.

La que se puede considerar como la principal ambición de Abu Dhabi es convertirse en un actor principal capaz de influir en la definición y establecimiento de las estructuras de gobernanza a lo largo de la región según su propio modelo, asegurando y ampliando las rutas comerciales, introduciendo en ella a sus vecinos para crear un nodo económico lo suficientemente potente con capacidad para estrechar lazos con toda la región Este de África y con el sudeste asiático, en lo que parece otro claro ejemplo de cómo el centro geopolítico mundial se está desplazando ya definitivamente hacia el eje Asia-Pacífico.

El modelo emiratí ha sido capaz de evolucionar para integrar una creciente apertura económica junto con un modelo político conservador y de gobierno fuerte cuyo principal discurso está construido en base a un estado perfectamente afianzado y seguro. Y todo ello aunándolo con una gran capacidad como proveedor de servicios. Y lo que es muy interesante, el modelo social es de base relativamente secular y liberal, si lo comparamos con los estándares de la región.

Pero un dato fundamental que no puede olvidarse es el rechazo frontal hacia cualquier ideología política o religiosa que suponga la más leve amenaza a la hegemonía y supremacía del Estado y de sus líderes.

Es Abu Dhabi, por ser el mayor y más próspero de los siete emiratos, el que ejerce más influencia a la hora de marcar las líneas generales de la política, tanto interior como exterior. De hecho, la evolución del modelo establecido por los EAU está firmemente asociado al príncipe de la corona de Abu Dhabi y líder de facto del emirato, Mohamed bin Zayed (MbZ).

Lo que no se puede perder de vista es que, a pesar de que MbZ y su círculo más íntimo de confianza comparten la misma visión del mundo y la política, sus acciones y decisiones no siguen necesariamente un plan preestablecido. No hay una doctrina base con objetivos tácticos y estratégicos marcados y las líneas de trabajo a seguir para alcanzarlos.

Su forma de llevar a cabo la estrategia país, si así puede llamarse, se basa en un pequeño grupo perteneciente a ese círculo íntimo, el cual pone sobre la mesa varias opciones normalmente tácticas y reactivas ante cualquier problema o asunto que surja para llevar a cabo. En base a estas, la cúpula dirigente sigue un proceso de toma de decisiones ad hoc que puede conducir a una excesiva necesidad de correcciones y ajustes posteriores que a su vez derive en una pérdida de oportunidades.

Amenazas – Situación de seguridad

Las autoridades de los Emiratos tienen una clara percepción de cuáles son las principales amenazas geoestratégicas para su desarrollo: por un lado, la difusión transnacional promovida por Irán de la ideología política islamista y, por otro, la influencia que tratan de ejercer los Hermanos Musulmanes y sus promotores y apoyos, incluido Catar y Turquía, es percibida como una amenaza existencial a su visión de una forma de gobierno más secular, así como para la estabilidad del actual statu quo regional, dado que pueden actuar como un catalizador para el radicalismo en la zona.

No obstante, Abu Dhabi ha sido mucho más beligerante en su discurso contra los Hermanos Musulmanes y aquellos que les apoyan, al tiempo que ha mantenido cierta cautela en su posicionamiento contra Irán.

El reciente acuerdo con el Estado de Israel ha servido para restar credibilidad a muchos de los tradicionales tópicos tan arraigados al tiempo que ha puesto de manifiesto el nacimiento de un bloque judeo-sunní como oposición a la beligerante y creciente corriente chiita liderada por Irán y por sus proxies, activos en prácticamente todos los países de la zona y en todos los conflictos regionales.

Esta nueva situación debe servir a las potencias occidentales para confirmar que en la región del Próximo Oriente la visión de su propia problemática ha cambiado e Irán y su particular forma de ejercer su política exterior y defender sus intereses son considerados en la actualidad un factor mucho más desestabilizador que el duradero conflicto palestino-israelí. La amenaza que supone Irán ha actuado como catalizador a la hora de aunar criterios al tiempo que, a pesar de todo, Israel es visto como un elemento que proporciona estabilidad tanto en el plano militar como en el económico.

El Tratado EAU-Israel

El 15 de septiembre, Israel, Emiratos Árabes Unidos y Bahréin, formalizaron la normalización de sus relaciones. Este acuerdo significa que ya son cuatro los Estados árabes que han aceptado el derecho de Israel a existir, y esto es indudablemente un auténtico éxito diplomático.

El hecho de que hayan sido, precisamente, los EAU y Bahréin no es casual. Ninguno de los dos Estados ha participado en una guerra directa contra Israel.  Y, si esa característica es común a ambos estados, la relación de Bahréin con Israel ha sido mucho más fluida que la de Emiratos Árabes Unidos. Esta realidad se sustenta en la comunidad judía asentada en Al-Qatif y en su integración, que se ha traducido en una participación plena y activa en la vida política de Bahréin. Ello ha ayudado a que las relaciones entre Manama y Jerusalén no hayan sido en absoluto conflictivas.

A pesar de ser visto a los ojos del gran público como una novedad, la verdad es que el reciente acuerdo alcanzado es el tercer “Tratado de Paz” que firma el país hebreo con una nación árabe. Sin embargo, es el primero que tiene visos de nacer con unos cimientos lo suficientemente sólidos que permiten augurar una nueva situación mucho más estable y duradera, en claro contraste con las relaciones fruto de los anteriores acuerdos con Egipto y Jordania, muy ceñidos a limitadas relaciones personales y en el campo de la seguridad y la diplomacia convencional.

El nuevo acuerdo con Israel establece una nueva senda de colaboración que afecta a todo Oriente Próximo, e incluye de un modo sustancial contrapesar la influencia de Irán, fomentar las relaciones comerciales, el turismo, la colaboración en materia militar a la hora de compartir inteligencia, cooperación en el área sanitaria y de ese modo contribuir a posicionar a EAU para liderar la diplomacia árabe en la región ofreciendo una oposición sólida a grupos islamistas como los Hermanos Musulmanes y su brazo palestino en Gaza, Hamas para de ese modo abrir la puerta a que otros países de la zona den pasos en su misma dirección.

La decisión de Israel de suspender la anunciada anexión bajo su soberanía de determinadas zonas de Cisjordania es la prueba de que estos movimientos en la región son mucho más profundos y están mucho más preparados y acordados de antemano de lo que pueda imaginarse.

Y esta es precisamente una de las grandes diferencias que se encuentran con los acuerdos anteriores. La gran expectación que se ha creado y los claros indicios de que otros países, incluido Arabia Saudí, sigan la estela de EAU.

De hecho, un paso lleno de significado se ha dado en esta dirección, y ha sido algo tan simple como que un avión de la compañía israelí “EI-Al” sobrevoló espacio aéreo saudí llevando como pasajeros a un gran número de hombres de negocios, personal oficial e inversores camino de Emiratos como un gesto de buena voluntad. Y al contrario de lo que cabría haber esperado en otros momentos, este hecho, ni tuvo repercusión en el mundo árabe, ni provocó ningún tipo de protesta o manifestación en contra.

Lugares como Amman, Beirut, Túnez y Rabat, donde tradicionalmente las manifestaciones en contra de la “ocupación” israelí y acusaciones similares son por lo general numerosas en cuanto a participación, en esta ocasión se mantuvieron en total calma.

Pero si este dato ha pasado desapercibido para la población en general, no ha sucedido así para los líderes de las potencias de Oriente Próximo y las organizaciones violentas que utilizan como proxies.

Para aquellos que aspiran a seguir los pasos de EAU y establecer relaciones con Israel, ello ha servido de acicate para reafirmar su decisión, pues ha disminuido la sensación de inquietud o incluso de peligro emanante de las calles en el mundo árabe en relación con el conflicto palestino israelí que dicho paso podría provocar.

Por el contrario, para Irán y sus proxies ha sido una dura lección. No solo por comprobar que la baza de la causa palestina, enarbolada y puesta sobre el tablero durante tanto tiempo, ha disminuido notablemente su importancia, sino porque ha coincidido en el tiempo con potestas tanto en Iraq como en el Líbano de sentido totalmente contrario, es decir, en contra de la injerencia de Irán en los asuntos internos de ambos países.

Como conclusión, se debe extraer que, a pesar de que esa ausencia de protestas por el acuerdo entre Israel y EAU pueda parecer sorprendente, no es más que un signo evidente de un largo proceso de maduración y evolución política dentro del mundo árabe en general.

La población de Oriente Próximo en general no aspira ya a una unidad panarabista, panislámica, al establecimiento del Gran Califato o, en el caso de Irán o Turquía, a sueños imperialistas que son cosa del pasado. La masa del pueblo y de la sociedad lo que realmente desea es mejorar su bienestar, disponer de mayores y más atractivas oportunidades económicas, tener un buen sistema educativo, mejorar los niveles de desarrollo en todos los órdenes, que rija el imperio de la ley, y que esta sea igual para todos en sus respectivos países.

El tratado objeto de este punto encaja a la perfección dentro de esas aspiraciones y ese esquema mental. Las masas que antaño tomaban las calles ya no creen que la causa palestina sea merecedora de más esfuerzos y atención que su propia lucha por alcanzar un futuro mejor en sus naciones.

Y, este dato es muy importante, a pesar de la opacidad del régimen de los ayatolás, en Irán, la población es cada vez menos sumisa a unas políticas que llevan al país a una serie de conflictos permanentes y sin visos de finalización que provocan un derroche de los recursos del país para mantenerlos.

Justo dos días después del anuncio del acuerdo de paz, Emiratos Árabes Unidos levantó la prohibición de la comunicación telefónica con Israel, siendo el ministro de Asuntos Exteriores hebreo, Gabi Ashkenazi, y su homólogo de Emiratos, Abdullah binZayed, los encargados de simbolizar la apertura de esta nueva línea de comunicación.

Casi inmediatamente después, un equipo del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores israelí se desplazó a Abu Dhabi para comenzar a buscar posibles emplazamientos para la futura sede de la embajada de Israel.

Un importante flujo de inversiones procedentes de EAU se está canalizando hacia empresas israelíes que tratan de buscar nuevas formas de tratar la COVID19 y de desarrollar nuevas pruebas para detectar la enfermedad. El incremento de acuerdos de negocios entre empresas israelíes y de Emiratos ha sido prácticamente inmediato, y la compañía “El-Al” está trabajando ya para abrir un corredor directo entre Tel Aviv y Abu Dhabi.

Todo ello está favoreciendo que, ante la nueva situación y los nuevos planteamientos, en Marruecos, Omán y otros países árabes, se estén produciendo movimientos buscando seguir la estela de EAU. El atractivo de Israel no hace sino acrecentarse, en una significativa evolución desde la condición de país más odiado de la región a la de socio más deseado.

No obstante, un factor a tener en cuenta es el impacto en EEUU y Europa. En Occidente, en general, la causa palestina está ganando adeptos principalmente debido al movimiento “Boicot, Desinversión y Sanciones” (BDS). Por ello, es probable que los cambios en las relaciones con Israel no sólo no logren minar ese apoyo, sino que inciten a incrementar sus esfuerzos para evitar la normalización mediante campañas de desinformación de difusión del odio hacia Israel.

Por último, la oposición de Turquía, Catar e Irán era algo que puede calificarse de previsible, pero también es un elemento clarificador. El presidente iraní ha calificado el acuerdo de “grave error”, mientras que su homólogo turco ha amenazado con cerrar la embajada de EAU en Turquía. En ambos casos, la razón última de esta reacción es la misma: la utilización de la causa palestina en beneficio de sus propios intereses y, casualmente ambas son en esta ocasión coincidentes, distraer a la opinión pública de la difícil situación económica que por diferentes motivos los dos países están atravesando.

Política regional

El elemento más importante y perdurable en el tiempo en la política exterior y de seguridad de EAU lo constituye sus alianzas estratégicas con EEUU y Arabia Saudí. A pesar de que durante la última década Emiratos ha seguido una línea más independiente, los hechos acontecidos y esta nueva dirección no habrían sido posibles sin el apoyo de EEUU, en cuya protección confía el pequeño pero rico y al mismo tiempo poco poblado estado, y con quien pueden contar a la hora de exportar sus recursos energéticos en el supuesto de un conflicto.

Incluso durante la época de la administración de Obama, cuando las relaciones se enrarecieron debido a la política que tomó EEUU en relación con los sucesos de la “Primavera Árabe” y con respecto a Irán, la alianza estratégica entre ambas naciones se mantuvo.

La claramente definida política anti iraní del gobierno liderado por Donald Trump, equivalente a la de EAU, facilitó una mejora rápida de las relaciones de nuevo, y la nueva administración norteamericana vio en Emiratos un pilar fundamental en el que cimentar su política en Oriente Próximo. De ese modo, en la actualidad, junto con Israel y Arabia Saudí, los Emiratos Árabes Unidos son el principal aliado de EEUU en la zona.

Al contrario que lo sucedido con EEUU, Arabia Saudí se convirtió en un socio estratégico de la nueva política regional de EAU durante los mandatos de Obama. En realidad, ambas naciones han mantenido estrechos lazos desde el nacimiento de los Emiratos en 1971, pero como era lógico, el nuevo y joven estado se mantuvo a la sombra de la otra nación, más asentada y siguiendo las políticas de su “hermano mayor”.

Esta situación cambió con la subida al poder de Mohamed Bin Zayed quien, desde 2011, se empeñó en abanderar una línea política de acciones conjuntas en la región que a la postre han sido decisivas. MbZ encontró a su contraparte perfecta en el príncipe saudí Mohamed Bin Salman, quien gradualmente, desde 2015 fue tomando las riendas como la cabeza visible de la política de Arabia Saudí. Llegando a tal extremo que en ciertos casos como los de Yemen y Catar el liderazgo y empuje de EAU parece haber sido la fuerza aglutinadora de las políticas regionales conjuntas.

Alianzas

Estados Unidos

El papel de EEUU como aliado de EAU se remonta a comienzos de los años 80, justo después de la revolución iraní de 1979, que supuso la pérdida de su más importante aliado en la región y del comienzo de la guerra Irán-Irak.

No obstante, fue la Guerra del Golfo de 1990-1991 la que, con la invasión de Kuwait por parte de Irak el día 2 de agosto de 1990, mostró a EAU lo vulnerables que eran los pequeños Estados del Golfo ante una agresión militar por parte de cualquiera de sus poderosos vecinos.

Con la finalidad de asegurarse la protección, y de la misma manera que otros países de la región, EAU favoreció durante los años posteriores a la guerra el aumento de la presencia de EEUU en su territorio. Todo ello concluyó con un acuerdo bilateral de seguridad firmado en julio de 1994. Mediante este, Estados Unidos recibían acceso a las bases aéreas y puertos de los Emiratos y, en contraprestación, se comprometía a proteger al país de posibles agresiones externas. Lo interesante, y que da una medida de cómo ha evolucionado la situación, es que el acuerdo permaneció en secreto a petición de Abu Dhabi por el temor de EAU a las posibles críticas y protestas tanto internas como por parte de Irán.

Inicialmente, EAU no fue más que un aliado más de los EEUU en el Golfo Pérsico. Sin embargo, su importancia como socio fue incrementándose entre 1990 y 2000, en parte debido al puerto de Jebel Ali, el cual fue se convirtió en la base más usada por la US Navy fuera de su país, y a la base aérea de Al Dhafra, instalación clave para las actividades de EEUU en la región.

Además, desde finales de la década de los 90, EAU inició un proceso para mostrarse ante su nuevo aliado como un socio fiable y más relevante, aumentando en cantidad y nivel su cooperación. Siguiendo esa línea, fuerzas militares de Emiratos han participado en todas las grandes operaciones de EEUU en Oriente Próximo, desde la Guerra del Golfo en 1991 a Somalia en 1992, Kosovo en 1999, Afganistán desde 2002, Libia desde 2011, y Siria (en el marco de la lucha contra el Daesh) entre 2014 y 2015. Sólo se evitó por parte de Emiratos, y de una forma muy vehemente, la participación en la invasión de Iraq en 2003. De esta implicación las Fuerzas Armadas de EAU han obtenido una gran experiencia sobre el terreno que ha redundado en su eficacia y profesionalidad.

Esta implicación en las no pocas veces controvertidas acciones militares de EEUU en países árabes ha supuesto, indudablemente, un elemento fundamental para Estados Unidos. No sólo por lo que supone desde el punto de vista de la imagen y la narrativa que al menos un país musulmán les apoyara, sino porque la contribución de Abu Dhabi no se ha limitado al aspecto militar. Organizaciones humanitarias han actuado en paralelo con la finalidad de ganar el apoyo de la población allá donde se intervenía invirtiendo enormes cantidades de dinero. El ejemplo más claro es Afganistán, país en el que Emiratos ha gastado millones de dólares en proyectos humanitarios y de desarrollo para ayudar a la estabilización del país, al mismo tiempo que proporcionó un pequeño contingente de fuerzas de operaciones especiales en la especialmente peligrosa zona sur del país desde 2003. Además, entre 2012 y 2014 ampliaron su despliegue con seis aviones F16 para apoyar las operaciones aéreas contra los talibanes. Incluso cuando EEUU comenzó su retirada gradual después de 2014, las tropas de Emiratos continuaron en Afganistán.

Lograr que EAU se adhiriera a la causa de la lucha contra los yihadistas no fue tarea difícil en absoluto, pues sus líderes sienten una especial aversión a cualquier forma de extremismo religioso que afecte al sistema político dentro del Islam. Esta es la principal razón para que su Fuerza Aérea se implicara en la coalición liderada por EEUU contra el Daesh en Siria entre 2014 y 2015. Hasta tal punto que, después de los aparatos norteamericanos, fueron los procedentes de EAU los que llevaron a cabo más salidas contra objetivos yihadistas.

Pero no se limitó la colaboración a EEUU. Tanto Australia como Francia tuvieron a su disposición las bases aéreas de los emiratos para llevar a cabo sus operaciones.

Sólo la ruptura abierta de hostilidades y la implicación de EAU en la Guerra de Yemen de 2015 redujo su participación en la lucha contra el Daesh.

Pero no todo ha sido fácil. La invasión de Iraq en 2003 produjo profundas reticencias en EAU, que lo consideró un grave error. Su temor era que dicha intervención terminara por aumentar la influencia de Irán sobre Irak, o derivara en una guerra civil, lo cual desestabilizaría toda la región.

Los temores se vieron cumplidos cuando en 2005 una coalición chiita próxima a Irán ganó las elecciones en Irak y estalló la guerra, dejando a EAU de manos atadas para tartar de influir de algún modo en la situación. Su mayor preocupación entonces era que una prematura retirada de todas las fuerzas de EEUU complicara aún más la situación.

La renovada relación con la administración Trump ha llevado a la firma de un nuevo acuerdo de seguridad y cooperación firmado en 2017. En contraste con lo sucedido en 1994, los contenidos del mismo han sido hechos públicos, y hacen referencia principalmente a la presencia de tropas de EEUU en suelo emiratí de manera permanente. El acuerdo así mismo abarca el adiestramiento de las Fuerzas Armadas de Emiratos y la realización de ejercicios conjuntos de manera periódica.

Gracias a este acuerdo, la presencia de EEUU en Emiratos es más numerosa que nunca. Actualmente hay unos 5.000 hombres desplegados entre la base aérea de Al Dhafra, el puerto de Jebel Ali y en algunas otras pequeñas bases o estaciones navales. Sólo en la mencionada base aérea hay 3.500 hombres que, desde allí, operan desde aviones de combate F-15, F-22 y F-35, además de aparatos de reconocimiento y vehículos aéreos no tripulados (UAVs).

Por su parte, EAU ha continuado desarrollando sus propias capacidades militares adquiriendo material de fabricación norteamericana, principalmente sistemas antiaéreos (“Patriot” y THAAD) y aviones de combate (110 F-16). A ello se añade que, desde hace un par de años, EAU ha mostrado gran interés por hacerse con el Nuevo F-35, aunque las negociaciones, no exentas de ciertas reticencias, aún continúan.

En 2018 surgieron problemas para el suministro de municiones de precisión guiadas tanto a EAU como a Arabia Saudí, dado que ambos países las estaban usando en la Guerra de Yemen. El asesinato del periodista Saudí Jamal Kashoggi agravó la resistencia del congreso de EEUU, forzando al presidente Trump a usar su derecho de veto para poder mantener el suministro. Esto da una medida de cuan determinante es la actitud de la actual administración en relación con ambos países.

A pesar de todas las dificultades mencionadas, la actual administración norteamericana ha redoblado sus esfuerzos para apoyar a EAU en sus políticas regionales, pues son coincidentes con los objetivos de EEUU.

El primer objetivo ha sido construir una alianza anti-Irán entre estados de Próximo Oriente que incluye a EAU como socio clave junto con Arabia Saudí y Egipto. Este plan es totalmente coincidente con la aspiración de Abu Dhabi de cobrar cierto liderazgo en la región, y tiene visos de prosperar, ya que EAU probablemente apoyará a EEUU en una solución para el conflicto palestino que está bastante en línea con la propuesta israelí.

Arabia Saudita

Arabia Saudí es, a día de hoy, el aliado más importante de EAU en la región. Ambos estados se financian gracias a las exportaciones de crudo y ambos tienen las mismas reticencias a las ambiciones expansionistas de sus poderosos vecinos, especialmente Irán.

No obstante, durante mucho tiempo, a pesar de esta alianza, EAU ha temido que Arabia Saudí, valiéndose de su desigual tamaño tanto en población como en fuerza militar como en capacidad de producción de petróleo tratara de mantener una posición hegemónica en el Golfo Pérsico.

En 1981, los países del Golfo Pérsico aprovecharon la oportunidad para crear una alianza que excluyera a las por entonces principales potencias regionales. Así, Bahréin, Kuwait, Omán, Catar, Arabia Saudí y EAU crearon el Consejo de Cooperación para los Estados Árabes del Golfo (GCC en sus siglas en inglés). Dicho Consejo disponía de una fuerza militar conjunta que nunca alcanzó una entidad significativa. La mayor prueba de la debilidad del GCC y su ineficacia fue la invasión de Kuwait por parte de Irak sin oposición alguna por el ente supranacional.

Como resultado de lo anterior, EAU depositó en EEUU la confianza para su protección, el único país que aunaba la voluntad y la capacidad de llevar a cabo la tarea de defender al pequeño Estado frente a potenciales agresiones extranjeras.

La consecuencia a nivel regional viene marcada por la convergencia de intereses de Arabia Saudí y EAU los cuales, entre 2011 y 2019, han perseguido objetivos políticos regionales comunes apoyándose si es necesario en sus capacidades militares.

Como ejemplo, tenemos la petición de ayuda de Bahréin al GCC en 2011 cuando sus gobernantes se sintieron amenazados por los movimientos de protesta chiitas. No obstante, su intervención más relevante fue el apoyo al golpe de estado en Egipto contra el presidente Mohamed Morsi y los Hermanos Musulmanes en 2013.

India

Las relaciones sociopolíticas y económicas entre los miembros del GCC y la India siempre han sido muy estrechas, y han estado basadas en el entendimiento de que un entorno seguro y estable tanto política como socialmente en el entorno del Golfo Pérsico y en el subcontinente indio son factores críticos para el desarrollo de los respectivos países y sus lazos transregionales.

Desde la perspectiva de la India, la mejora de su desarrollo tecnológico y económico va en consonancia a la capacidad de Nueva Delhi para afianzar sus alianzas en todo el mundo. A este respecto, los países del Golfo Pérsico, y especialmente EAU, son considerados un puente de acceso al conocimiento, capacidades, recursos y mercados para mejorar ese desarrollo.

En 2016, las hasta entonces relaciones bilaterales entre ambos países se formalizaron en un acuerdo de cooperación estratégica denominado CSP (Comprehensive Strategic Partnership)

Para EAU, India es un país moderno, un fenómeno político independiente de Occidente que mantiene fuertes raíces religiosas y tradicionales sin renunciar a su diversidad. En cierto modo y con algunas reservas, para EAU es un espejo donde mirarse.

El acuerdo de cooperación es transversal y se refiere a asuntos tan diversos como lucha contra el terrorismo, intercambio de información e inteligencia, medidas para luchar contra el lavado de dinero, ciberseguridad, así como cooperación en materia de defensa, ayuda humanitaria, etc.

En el aspecto más económico la iniciativa incluye acciones concretas que faciliten el comercio y las inversiones, con el compromiso de EAU de alcanzar el objetivo de 75 mil millones de dólares para apoyar el desarrollo de infraestructuras de nueva generación en la India, especialmente ferroviarias, puertos, carreteras, aeropuertos y parques industriales.

En lo que se refiere al sector energético, el acuerdo contempla la participación de EAU en la modernización del sector petrolífero en todas sus ramas, teniendo en cuenta el desarrollo de una reserva estratégica.

Es muy significativa la parte que trata sobre el desarrollo de tecnología para el uso pacífico de la energía nuclear, así como la cooperación en el sector aeroespacial incluyendo el desarrollo y lanzamiento conjunto de satélites, así como de la infraestructura necesaria de control en tierra y todas las aplicaciones necesarias.

En la actualidad, la India tiene unos lazos socioeconómicos crecientes y multifacéticos tanto con Israel como con los países del Golfo Pérsico, y en especial con EAU. La diáspora de trabajadores indios en el Golfo Pérsico supone unas remesas anuales de casi 50.000 millones de dólares. Las relaciones comerciales dejan a las arcas del país asiático más de 150.000 millones de dólares, y casi dos tercios de los hidrocarburos que necesita el país proceden de esa región. Por ello, es evidente que la nueva situación es vista con especial interés desde esta parte del mundo, valorando oportunidades y posibles amenazas.

Evidentemente, cualquier acuerdo como este que suponga al menos a priori más estabilidad y una normalización de relaciones siempre será beneficioso, pero también hay que tener en cuenta sus puntos débiles y la posible evolución de la situación.

Así pues, desde el punto de vista geopolítico, India ha acogido con buenos ojos el restablecimiento de relaciones entre EAU e Israel, toda vez que ambos son socios estratégicos.

El nuevo panorama que se abre entre Israel y el GCC parece acercar una solución moderada y consistente para el problema palestino, haciendo mucho más fácil el trabajo de la diplomacia india.

Pero hay que ser cautos, y especialmente en esta zona del planeta nada es de un solo color. Este esperanzador acuerdo puede tener un efecto perverso que polarice aún más a los sectores yihadistas del mundo árabe enfrentándolos más aun si cabe al resto.

La posibilidad de que la región del Golfo Pérsico se convierta en el nuevo campo de batalla donde se enfrenten los proxies de Irán e Israel no puede descartarse por completo, especialmente en aquellas zonas controladas por los chiitas. No obstante, no es por el momento una opción probable.

Pero para India tiene mucha más importancia, si cabe, gestionar las implicaciones económicas del nuevo tratado. Con la cooperación en defensa y seguridad como pilares fundamentales, ambas partes comienzan ahora a contemplar el verdadero potencial económico que se abre al complementar sus economías.

Reacciones al tratado: escenarios   

Ante un hecho tan relevante como el relatado es de esperar que se produzcan reacciones en varias direcciones, y en función de estas la evolución de la situación puede ser diferente.

Los actores que pueden tener un papel relevante en los diferentes escenarios son EAU y la nueva alianza, Arabia Saudí, Irán, Turquía, Palestina y los Hermanos musulmanes.

No se puede olvidar que el trasfondo de este tratado es económico. Si su desarrollo tiene éxito el aporte de estabilidad a una región largamente castigada por todo tipo de conflictos y enfrentamientos se transformará en un aumento exponencial de las operaciones comerciales, trasvase de tecnología y la apertura de nuevas rutas y colaboraciones principalmente con el sudeste asiático.

El papel de EEUU será determinante en cualquiera de los escenarios que puedan plantearse, pero en cualquiera de ellos su posición será minimizar la presencia física y apoyar a los firmantes del tratado con acciones políticas, económicas y de defensa mediante el suministro de material militar.

El tratado tiene una fuerte componente económica fijada en el subcontinente indio y en el sudeste asiático. Esto no es sino un signo más de cómo el centro de gravedad geopolítico mundial se está situando en la región Asia-Pacífico y este es uno de los principales motivos del apoyo incondicional de EEUU.

Los miembros del gobierno de EAU han considerado tradicionalmente que las ideologías y políticas islamistas más radicales suponen una amenaza existencial para los valores fundamentales del país. Tanto el régimen sectario chiita en Irán como los Hermanos Musulmanes, grupo de corte sunnita, son vistos como una amenaza constante para la estabilidad de los poderes de la región.

Para EAU estos movimientos transnacionales son un catalizador para el radicalismo en toda la región.

Por todo lo anterior se pueden plantear como plausibles los siguientes escenarios:

Escenario 1

Por el momento, los más perjudicados en sus intereses por la nueva situación son los palestinos. Personalidades relevantes de la sociedad palestina, así como altos cargos de la Autoridad Palestina, han considerado el nuevo tratado como una traición. Como se ha mencionado, el problema palestino está pasando a un segundo plano en el mundo árabe.

Si, como se vaticina, en los próximos meses más países se unen al nuevo tratado, es posible que la Autoridad Palestina trate por todos los medios de volver a llevar a la actualidad sus reivindicaciones y su lucha. Para ello contaría con el apoyo de Irán y sus proxies y de Turquía. En esta situación, se empezaría por deslegitimar a los gobiernos de los países que se han alineado con EAU e Israel mediante una fuerte campaña de información a todos los niveles, con un uso masivo de redes sociales con la finalidad de movilizar a la población más sensible y afín a los palestinos. El objetivo sería promover manifestaciones y/o revueltas que crearan dudas en aquellos que aún no se han adherido al pacto. Estas dudas podrían llevar a un cambio de decisión o retraso en las nuevas adhesiones, o que estos nuevos candidatos a formar parte del tratado aumentaran las condiciones relacionadas con los palestinos para sumarse al mismo. Esta opción pasa por ser la más peligrosa por la posibilidad de generar disensiones o discusiones internas que llevaran a una implosión del mismo.

Puede considerarse un escenario probable de intensidad media/baja.

Escenario 2

La posición que tome Arabia Saudí es clave. Y será determinante para calibrar la reacción de Irán. En el ecosistema de Próximo Oriente, Irán es la potencia que más tiene que perder con esta nueva alianza. No puede olvidarse la lucha que existe por la hegemonía dentro del mundo musulmán. Y esta lucha, que no deja de ser religiosa, pues enfrenta a chiitas y sunnitas, tiene como principales protagonistas a Irán y Arabia Saudí.

Arabia Saudí es posible que se una al tratado, pero dada la situación, y en un intento de no tensar más la cuerda con su principal enemigo, puede tomar la decisión de no unirse al mismo, pero apoyarlo desde fuera con acuerdos puntuales o bilaterales. Siempre con el resto de países árabes miembros del mismo, que harían de puente para sus relaciones con Israel. Sería un modo de lavar la cara y evitar el reconocimiento expreso del Estado de Israel o sus relaciones directas con este. Hay que tener en cuenta las bolsas de mayoría chiita que hay en el país y que podrían ser espoleadas por Irán.

No obstante, y planteando el peor de los casos, Irán reaccionará a través de sus proxies, recrudeciendo su actividad en Yemen, tratando de promover protestas y revueltas dentro de Arabia Saudí, reforzando su apoyo a Hamas en Palestina y a Hezbollah en el Líbano e incluso a sus milicias en Irak.

El apoyo a las protestas que ya se han producido en Sudán formará también parte de esta campaña. Sudán es un país muy inestable, con unas estructuras de poder muy débiles que difícilmente podrán sofocar revueltas de alta intensidad.

El objetivo sería incendiar la región bajo la pantalla del apoyo al pueblo palestino con la finalidad de disuadir más adhesiones al tratado, así como minar la eficacia del mismo, dando la imagen de inestabilidad e inseguridad en la región. Ello hará desistir a posibles inversores de acercarse a EAU atraídos por las enormes posibilidades económicas que ofrece al tiempo que mantiene a Arabia Saudí ocupada con su flanco sur y sus problemas internos. No es descartable alguna acción sin autor claro o reconocido contra los buques que transitan por el Golfo, como ya ha sucedido, o el abordaje de alguno por parte de fuerzas iraníes bajo cualquier tipo de acusación o argucia legal. Acciones directas que involucren a fuerzas iraníes no son probables.

Turquía puede involucrarse proporcionando armas, tecnología e incluso combatientes mercenarios a cualquiera de las facciones que actúan como proxy de Irán.

Este escenario puede considerarse como posible y de intensidad media

Escenario 3

Irán necesita que, o bien los gobiernos, o bien la población de los diferentes países de Próximo Oriente continúen viendo en Israel a su principal enemigo y amenaza. Entre otros motivos porque es una narrativa de consumo interno que utiliza recurrentemente para desviar la atención de su propia población de otro tipo de problemas. Hasta el momento, el elemento aglutinador de esa forma de ver a Israel ha sido el conflicto palestino. Por lo tanto, es probable que se lleven a cabo acciones que provoquen una reacción de Israel. Estas acciones pueden ser dentro del propio Estado de Israel procedentes desde territorio palestino o libanés, siempre a cargo de los proxies de Irán. No se puede descartar alguna provocación que tenga como resultado un ataque de Israel sobre territorio árabe, seguramente contra Irán o Siria. El objetivo final no sería el Estado hebreo sino minar las bases del tratado, crear malestar social en los firmantes, evitar la adhesión de Arabia Saudí y volver a poder utilizar el conflicto palestino en su propio interés.

Este es un escenario posible y de alta intensidad. 

Conclusiones

La irrupción de EAU como una potencia geopolítica emergente en Oriente Próximo ha sido algo tan sorprendente como precipitado, pues no hace tanto los observadores internacionales no daban demasiada esperanza de vida a la nueva federación de pequeños estados que acababa de nacer.

Por el contrario, EAU y Abu Dhabi, su mayor y más próspero emirato, en particular, ha ido incrementando su posición durante la última década, jugando un papel determinante en la región. Hasta tal punto que, a día de hoy, se considera que las acciones de EAU son las que han facilitado en cierto modo los cambios a los que estamos asistiendo.

Por lo general, los políticos occidentales se sienten deslumbrados por el liberalismo que se percibe de EAU y por la capacidad de sus elites de hablar tanto literal como figuradamente su propio idioma. Es importante que se familiaricen con el modelo de EAU en todos sus aspectos y, lo que es la clave, que entiendan que Abu Dhabi espera ser tratado por todos de igual a igual. Tratar con EAU de esta manera y considerándolo un socio robusto y fiable significa también lanzarles el mensaje de la clara intención de apoyarles.

Una de las grandes consecuencias de este acuerdo puede ser la bajada de intensidad en el conflicto palestino, si no acabando con él, si limitándolo permanentemente. Durante generaciones, este conflicto ha sido utilizado por líderes políticos y religiosos a lo largo y ancho del mundo árabe y musulmán para distraer su atención de otros asuntos. Era un recurso fácil y siempre a mano. Pero ahora ya se reconoce que se trata de una disputa territorial entre dos pueblos, y las futuras negociaciones no tienen más remedio que ir por ese camino, poniendo el foco en el desfasado liderazgo de los palestinos.

Existe la nada desdeñable posibilidad de que el acuerdo alcanzado tenga un efecto dominó y arrastre a otros Estados de la zona a seguir los pasos de EAU, algo que en algunos casos sólo significaría hacer públicas las relaciones que de facto ya mantienen con el Estado de Israel. En este sentido, se conocen conversaciones entre el ministro de exteriores de Omán con su homólogo israelí justo después de la firma del tratado con EAU.

Así mismo, el Primer Ministro israelí mantuvo un encuentro con el líder sudanés Abdel Fattah Burhan, lo cual podría ser una señal de próximos movimientos en ese flanco también.

Aunque la filtración tuvo consecuencias para un alto funcionario sudanés, lo cierto es que el gobierno no negó los contactos. Y todo se ha confirmado cuando EEUU, al anuncio de la próxima salida de Sudán de la lista de países patrocinadores del terrorismo, ha seguido el acuerdo entre Israel y Sudán para normalizar sus relaciones diplomáticas.

Desde hace años, la política de EEUU pasa por desmilitarizar su posición en Próximo Oriente; el coste de su presencia ha sido muy elevado frente a los beneficios que le reporta, además de generar cierta animadversión. Tanto EEUU como otros miembros del G8 apoyan a EAU como el líder económico de la región. Ese apoyo les proporciona la posición ideal para desplegar sus intereses económicos de la región (commodities, I+D & investment). 

Esta posición de apoyo EEUU/EAU (más algunos países del G8), fortalece el papel del país árabe en la región en materia política y por defecto militar, y de cierta forma le permite a sus nuevos aliados y valedores tener cierta influencia en organizaciones como la OPEP, CCG, Liga Árabe) y en países vecinos, pero desde una posición más árabe y menos occidental.

Referente al asunto de la compra de los F-35 por parte de EAU, es innegable que este asunto incomoda a Israel a pesar del cambio en las relaciones. El motivo principal es el temor a que se produzca una equiparación en capacidades militares que podrían ser peligrosos. No obstante, esto no será un obstáculo para el avance en los futuros acuerdos de paz y en el desarrollo de este. Una operación de tal envergadura llevaría años para materializarse y para entonces, las relaciones entre Jerusalén y Abu Dhabi se habrán consolidado. Es más, puede que incluso llegue a verse con buenos ojos por parte de Israel, dado que fortalecería las capacidades militares frente a sus principales oponentes en la región

Cada vez es más patente en el mundo árabe que Israel es demasiado pequeño como para albergar aspiraciones imperialistas, en contraste con países como Turquía e Irán, países ambos que formaron antiguos imperios, y que parecen tener la intención de tratar de restaurar aquello que una vez lograron o fueron.

En cambio, Israel, cada vez más, es visto como un país fuerte, próspero y lo suficientemente dinámico, que convierten la cooperación con Jerusalén en un movimiento inteligente que puede proporcionar beneficios a ambas partes.

Es posible que el acuerdo entre Israel y EAU haya sido impulsado en parte por el temor de ambos a los avances de Irán y al peligro que supone. Pero los beneficios que puede proporcionarles van mucho más allá de ese asunto.

Estos se extienden a posibilidades de inversiones económicas, financieras, turismo y especialmente a compartir know-how. EAU puede beneficiarse de la ventaja tecnológica y científica de Israel del mismo modo que Israel puede obtener rédito de la posición de EAU como centro de servicios internacionales y puerta fundamental de entrada hacia el subcontinente indio y el sudeste asiático.

En relación con la puerta de entrada al subcontinente indio, hay que tener en cuenta que para India la parte más importante del acuerdo es gestionar la faceta económica de las sinergias causadas por este.

EAU y Bahréin pueden convertirse en intermediarios de las exportaciones israelíes tanto de materias como de servicios a diversas partes del mundo.

Israel tiene una fuerte industria de defensa, seguridad y equipos de vigilancia. Es puntera en cultivos sobre terrenos áridos, energía solar, horticultura, alta tecnología joyería y productos farmacéuticos.

Es más, Israel tiene la capacidad de proveer de mano de obra muy cualificada y semicualificada a los países del GCC, especialmente si proceden de las etnias sefardí y mizrahim, muchos de los cuales hablan árabe. Incluso los árabes israelíes pueden encontrar oportunidades que ayuden a seguir tendiendo lazos y puentes que estrechen la división cultural.

La incursión de Israel en el Golfo tiene el potencial de influir en la arquitectura político-económica que India lleva años construyendo, siendo, por ejemplo, uno de los mayores proveedores de trabajadores, productos alimenticios, farmacéuticos etc.

Los mayores clientes del mercado inmobiliario de Dubái, así como el mayor número de turistas que visitan el país proceden de la India. Pero en este cambiante escenario hay margen para establecer sinergias a tres bandas, lo cual convierte a la India en un actor principal en este.

La conclusión final que se puede extraer a modo de valoración a futuro es que, sin duda, esta nueva relación será un modelo a seguir por otros Estados sunnitas que transformará una región estancada en conflictos del siglo XIX en uno de los centros de poder del siglo XXI.

* Teniente Coronel de Infantería. Analista de Geopolítica

 

BIBLIOGRAFÍA

Acharya, Arabinda, “COVID-19: A Testing Time for UAE–India Relations? A Perspective from Abu Dhabi”, Strategic Analysis, Septiembre 2020.

Arab Center for Research and Policy studies, “The Abraham Agreement: normalization of relations or announcement of an existing Emirati - Israeli alliance?”. Catar, Agosto 2020.

Karsh, Ephraim, ed., “The Israel-UAE Peace: A Preliminary Assessment”, Ramat Gan: The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University, Septiembre 2020

Salisbury, Peter, “Risk Perception and Appetite in UAE Foreign and National Security Policy”, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House Middle East and North Africa Programme, Londres: Julio 2020

Steinber, Guido, “Regional Powers, United Arab Emirates”, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Berlin, Julio 2020.

Categorías Global Affairs: Oriente Medio Seguridad y defensa Ensayos

Nicolás Maduro during a broadcasted speech [Gov. of Venezuela]

▲ Nicolás Maduro during a broadcasted speech [Gov. of Venezuela]

ESSAY /  Isabelle León Graticola

It is no secret to anyone that Venezuela is going through the most convoluted economic and social crisis in its history, a crisis in which the creators have manipulated the existence of the people, degrading its integrity, and extinguishing everything that once characterized Venezuela.

The country holds a key geopolitical location that serves as a route for North America and the Caribbean to the rest of South America. Likewise, the country is endowed with abundant natural resources like natural gas, iron ore, diamonds, gold, and oil.1 Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, with 302 billion barrels in January 2018, emanating an extremely rich country with astonishing potential.2  However, this crisis has not only hindered people's lives but has ironically dissipated the country's resources to consolidate the pillars of the regime to such an extent that today the government of Nicolás Maduro is importing oil from Iran. Inadequate policies that have weakened the society’s sense of responsibility and nationalism, decreased foreign investment out of lack of trust, and annihilated the state-led oil production, therefore reinforcing the country’s economic downfall and hyperinflation.

The Venezuelan government, headed by Nicolás Maduro, has managed its way to continue holding power despite accusations of corruption, crimes against humanity, and even drugs trafficking involvement. The perplexing socio-economic and political crisis has created an unsustainable and violent context in which poorly informed people are manipulated by the government through speeches that take big significance on how society perceives the actual situation, as well as other countries’ statements on the crisis. Up to this point, it has become difficult to understand what keeps bolstering this regime, but if the situation is analyzed from the nucleus, the well-orchestrated rhetoric of Chávez and his successor, Maduro, has contributed to support the ends and sustainment of the regime. 

Since Maduro reached power, poverty motivated violence has been rampant in Venezuela and insecurity has become a significant part of society’s dynamics. Consequently, many protests against the government demanding for freedom and better living standards have taken place. Maduro’s regime has been forced to employ tools such as fake news and hateful rhetoric to soften the anger of the people by manipulating them and brainwashing the armed forces to avoid uprisings. 

This article aims to analyze how Maduro’s rhetoric has maintained a minority in the wrong side of history and a majority in constant battle by making erroneous accusations to third parties to justify the perturbed situation, while the government keeps enriching its wallet at the cost of the people and its smudged operations. Such feverish society gave rise to pure uncertainty, to a place where disinformation takes the form of a lethal weapon for the dangerous context in which it exists.

The background: Chávez’s indoctrinated society

First, it is necessary to clarify that the focus of this article is merely on the rhetorical aspect as a pillar of the regime. However, when it comes to the background that has sustained Maduro’s administration up to this day, there is a more complex reality, full of crime, death, manipulation, and corruption. Venezuela is an almost abnormal reality because, after more than twenty years, it is still tied to a group of people who have taken absolutely everything from it. From a man that portrayed nothing but hope for the poor, to one who has managed his way sticking to policies damaging to the very people they mean to help, and which, sooner or later, will make the regime collapse.

Hugo Chávez’s presidency was characterized by a tremendous and persuasive oratory; he knew how to get to the people. Chávez’s measures and campaigns were based on a psychological strategy that won him the admiration of the most impoverished classes of the country. Chávez arrived and gave importance and attention to the big mass of the population that previous governments had systematically neglected. People felt the time had come for them to have what they never had before. Filled with charisma and political mastery, his speeches always contained jokes, dances, and colloquial phrases that were considered indecent by the country’s highest class and often misunderstood abroad.

Chávez always built a drastic separation between the ideals of the United States and Venezuela and looked for ways to antagonize the former with his rhetoric. He began to refer to George W. Bush as “Mr. Danger”, an imperial literary character of one of the most famous Venezuelan novels, Doña Bárbara.3

Hugo Chávez is one of the most revolutionary characters in Venezuelan history, one who brought the convoluted situation that today perpetuates in the country. Chávez persecuted journalists and political opponents, expropriated lands, nationalized Venezuela’s key industries such as telecommunications, electricity, and the refining processes of heavy crudes, and slowly degraded the society as the exercise of power was directed to hold complete control of Venezuela’s internal dynamics.4

Chávez extended education and medical assistance to the least favored classes and improved the living conditions of the needy. This policy did nothing but create among these classes a culture of dependence on the government. Chávez’s supporters or Chavistas were the pillars that buttressed the government, while the wealthy were cataloged as “squealing pigs” and “vampires.”5 The Chavistas admired Chavez’s charismatic character and his constant gifts; he gave them fridges and TVs, gadgets that they could never afford on their own. He also constructed buildings, under the “Misión Vivienda” initiative, to give people living in slums a ‘proper’ home. All of this was possible because the oil prices at the time were skyrocketing; he used the oil income to buy his support. The general standard of life, however, continued to be poor. The government knew what to give and how to manipulate to stay in power, and that is precisely what made Hugo Chávez so powerful and almost impossible to defeat despite strong opposition. 

Historically, the United States has opposed left-wing governments in Latin America, so Chávez condemned the US, by referring to them as an imperialist power, or the “Empire.” He disgraced US leaders and actions and transferred that anti-imperialistic and anti-capitalist approach to the population, part of which supported him and was blindly loyal to the cause. Chávez’s alliance with Cuba under Fidel Castro led to the supply of oil at cut-rate prices, all related to the desire of reducing US economic influence in South America. Chávez's populist initiatives were the tenets of his administration and controversial foreign policy. These, along with his rhetoric and opposition from the Venezuelan wealthy class, deeply polarized the society and gave rise to what Venezuela has today: a divided society that has suffered from the lack of basic necessities, disinformation, and integrity.

Currently, the spokesmen of the Government of Nicolás Maduro address citizens at all hours from public channels and social networks to stir up the disgruntlement of the population toward the external enemy.6 Despite the poorly prepared speeches, the lack of vocabulary, and the improper formulation of sentences, Maduro has kept the colloquial and unformal rhetoric that characterized Chávez, but has failed to draw the connection that the late president enjoyed. The anti-imperialist strategy has been maintained, and, as the justification of the crisis, it has become the epicenter of the regime’s speech. Nicolás Maduro’s rhetoric revolves around two words: the US and the “Patria”, a word frequently used by Chávez.

The base of Maduro’s rhetoric: the love for Chávez

Shortly before dying in March 2013, Hugo Chávez appointed Vice President Nicolás Maduro as his successor. Chávez’s charisma and legacy are what somehow ensured him that Maduro would provide a smooth transition. After Chávez’s passing, Maduro took advantage of the momentum and sentiment that the Chavistas revealed and ensured that if picked, he would follow the steps of his predecessor and would continue to strengthen the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’. Along with the continuity with Chávez's legacy, the defense of Venezuelan sovereignty in front of the US, and the social equality became the key messages of his administration.7 Nevertheless, Maduro had little support from the elites and inherited a country that was already economically weak due to the downfall of the oil prices and corruption.

In Chávez’s wake, Maduro appealed to the emotion of the audience. He strongly claimed that the people were there for the ‘Comandante’ and said that “his soul and his spirit was so strong that his body could not stand it anymore, and he was released and now through this universe expanding filling us with blessings and love”. He knew what this meant for the people and a crying audience exclaimed “Chávez vive, la lucha sigue”.

Maduro filled his rhetoric with the love for Chávez. He acknowledged that the Chavistas worshipped him as if he was God and that for ideological reasons, support for Maduro was guaranteed. Nevertheless, others recognized that the situation in the country was not favorable and questioned Maduro’s ability to fill the void left by Chávez. When Maduro took power, the country entered a period of reinforced economic decline accompanied by hyperinflation that nowadays exceeds 10 million percent.8 As it was previously stated, the conditions of poverty surpass anything seen before in the country, which is now on the brink of collapse.

Furthermore, Venezuela went through two rounds of mass protests, in 2014 and 2018, that demanded freedom and change. Unfortunately, and as was expected from the government, thousands of violations of human rights were part of the demonstration’s dynamics as brutal repression and the unjust imprisonment of demonstrators took place all along. Simultaneously, Maduro managed to call for concentrations on the days of the major opposition’s marches and retained the populist speech based on ideological arguments and emotional appeals among the minority of supporters to consolidate his power in Venezuela. Last year, in a regime concentration on February 23rd, he condemned the elites as he explained that he was certain that from the bottom of his Chavista sentiment of loyalty to this battle, he was never going to be part of one. He stated that Venezuela will continue to be Patria for more many years to come. 

The ongoing crisis has forced many to survive rather than to live, but despite all, Maduro remains in control. Maduro has kept Chávez’s anti-imperialist policy and has rejected any minimum support from the United States. The government takes advantage of the hunger and the vulnerable situation of its people and makes sure that it remains as the only source of food. It does not take responsibility and instead, blames the crisis on the ‘economic war’ that the US has imposed on Venezuela.9  When Juan Guaidó sworn himself the legitimate president, Maduro’s supporters started raising firms in a campaign called “Hands off Venezuela”, while the US was trying to get humanitarian assistance into Venezuela through the Colombian border in the name of Guaidó. 

In this sense, he explained in the same concentration speech that they were defending the national territory and the right to live freely and independently. Although it may seem ironic, because the government has killed hundreds of people with its police brutality and torture, this rhetoric is what has kept him the support of the hardcore revolutionary followers. The “Hands off Venezuela”, was shouted and accompanied by the worst English pronunciation –that characterizes Maduro–, and followed with insults to Guaidó.

As Maduro yelled “puppet, clown, and beggar of imperialism and Donald Trump. If he is the President, where are the economic and social measures that he has applied for the people? It is a game to deceive and manipulate, it is a game that has failed, the coup d'état has failed” as the red audience shouted, “jail him, jail him!”. He drew his speech to a hardcore anti-imperialist audience and firmly stated that the US intended to invade Venezuela and enslave it. Maduro finalized his speech by shouting “wave up the flag, up the Patria, for the people in defense of the Revolution”.

Recently, the US State Department released a price for the capture of Maduro and his cabinet, not only for the crimes committed against the Venezuelan population, but also because of their involvement in a huge drug-trafficking network. With this, the regime's position has become more vulnerable and simultaneously pragmatic, but as tough actions were taken against possible threats and opposing figures, Maduro’s rhetoric remains to deny its status and manipulating those that still support him. In another public speech, he stated that “Donald Trump's government, in an extravagant and extreme, vulgar, miserable action, launched a set of false accusations and like a racist cowboy of the 21st century, put a price on the heads of revolutionaries that still are willing to fight them”. He one more time accused the US of being the main cause of the economic crisis of Venezuela.

Nicolás Maduro’s speech has always been directed to the hardcore revolutionaries, those that worship Chávez since the beginning and who firmly believe in the socialist cause. Maduro has maintained his rhetoric despite the changes in the internal situation of the country; he has held an enduring method for antagonizing the opposition, the Venezuelan upper class, and the United States. On the other hand, regarding the strategic foreign allies, the regime openly gives declarations to support them, but again to somehow antagonize the United States. Indeed, this was the case of the US assassination of Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian top commander, in which government representatives attended the Iranian embassy to give the condolences in the name of the regime and swore to avenge Soleimani’s death. The administration of Nicolás Maduro has no gray areas, everything is either black or white; the opposition, the upper class, the US, and the US-influenced countries are the enemies, and the rhetoric rarely leans toward a conciliatory message, rather has always revolved around these conflicting parties.

What is left

Twenty years have passed since the Chavismo arrived in the country. Nowadays, a passionate minority of the population keeps supporting Maduro. His regime continues to train armed groups to combat discontent headed by opposition leader Juan Guaidó. The Chavismo keeps being strong, but it has been fragmented by those who believe that the revolution ended at the moment Chávez died, and the ones that are convinced that supporting Maduro means being loyal to Chávez. In the case of Juan Guaidó, he keeps doing his efforts. He still has relative support and keeps being a source of hope. Nevertheless, many criticize the fact that he let again the people cool down. A close change is expected, but no one knows what the movements behind are. Meanwhile, the people will continue suffering and trying to survive.

Upon reflection, it can be noticed that Maduro's entire argumentation revolves around a confrontational rhetoric: the US and capitalism against Venezuela; Guaidó against the Patria; the elites against the Revolution.10 Far from recognizing the reality that the country faces and take actions to improve it, this confrontational approach simply places the blame on those who have tried to bring a change in the internal dynamics of Venezuela. The regime has managed to construct a national united front against a common foreign enemy and to demonize the opposition.

Chávez and Maduro’s rhetoric has followed a tangible objective: the Revolution. Maduro's regime up to this point is searching for a way to consolidate its power and sustain itself as the best way to elude a rather somber future in jail. This never-ending nightmare should have long ago collapsed due to the economic catastrophe, hyperinflation, political repression, human rights violations, and the lack of direction for Venezuela. Behind what maintains this structure there is nothing but the exercise of power and the almost absolute control of society. The Patria that they constantly speak of is running out of fuel to keep going. Nonetheless, the rhetorical deceptions of the Bolivarian revolution, which for two decades have appealed to the popular classes, settled in the collective mindset of the Chavismo and brought space for support in the Venezuelan society.

Chávez and Maduro’s presidencies have been based on educating and changing the mindset of the population as they wanted; a population that is content with one box of food a month and which, unfortunately, hunts for the easy means to achieve its goals instead of fighting to improve its lot.

Today, the regime is fed on the memory of Hugo Chávez, on his promises, on his battle. As long as it keeps generating an illusion on the supporters, Maduro will appeal to it as a pillar of his administration and of the Revolution.

 

1. Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Venezuela facts and figures. 2019, https://www.opec.org/opec_web/en/about_us/171.htm. Accessed 28 Nov. 2019.

2. US Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis. Venezuela. Jan. 2019, https://www.eia.gov/beta/international/analysis.php?iso=VEN. Accessed 28 Nov. 2019.

3. Livingstone, G. (2013, March 10). The secret of Hugo Chavez's hold on his people. Retrieved March 17, 2020, from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/the-secret-of-hugo-chavezs-hold-on-his-people-8527832.html

4. El País. (2007, January 08). Chávez anuncia la nacionalización del servicio eléctrico y las telecomunicaciones. Retrieved July 01, 2020, from https://elpais.com/internacional/2007/01/08/actualidad/1168210811_850215.html

5. The Guardian. (2012, October 08). Hugo Chávez: A victory of enduring charisma and political mastery. Retrieved March 17, 2020, from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/oct/08/hugo-chavez-victory-political-venezuela

6. Twitter, F., & Miraflores, P. (2017, July 23). Maduro, sus ministros y la corrupción del lenguaje. Retrieved March 15, 2020, from https://elpais.com/elpais/2017/07/22/opinion/1500746848_239358.html

7. Grainger, S. Hugo Chávez and Venezuela Confront his Succession. Dec. 2012. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-20678634. Accessed 29 Nov. 2019.

8.  Sánchez, V. Venezuela hyperinflation hits 10 million percent. ‘Shock therapy’ may be only chance to undo economic damage. Aug. 2019. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/02/venezuela-inflation-at-10-million-percent-its-time-for-shock-therapy.html. Accessed 29 Nov. 2019.

9. TVVenezuela. Las cajas CLAP ya no tienen con qué alimentar a los venezolanoshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MelhZDbiFQQ. Sept. 2019. Accessed 30 Nov. 2019.

10. Delgado, A., & Herrero, J. (2019, February 12). Retóricas de Venezuela en Twitter: Guaidó vs. Maduro. Retrieved March 18, 2020, from https://beersandpolitics.com/retoricas-de-venezuela-en-twitter-guaido-vs-maduro

Categorías Global Affairs: Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Latinoamérica Ensayos

Members of Colombia's National Liberation Army  [Voces de Colombia]

▲ Members of Colombia's National Liberation Army [Voces de Colombia]

ESSAY / Ángel Martos

Terrorism and transnational organized crime are some of the most relevant topics nowadays in international security. The former represents a traditional threat that has been present during most our recent history, especially since the second half of the twentieth century. International organized crime, on the other hand, has taken place throughout history in multiple ways. Examples can be found even in the pre-industrial era: In rural and coastal areas, where law enforcement was weaker, bandits and pirates all over the world made considerable profit from hijacking vehicles along trade routes and roads, demanding a payment or simply looting the goods that the merchants carried. The phenomenon has evolved into complex sets of interconnected criminal networks that operate globally and in organized way, sometimes even with the help of the authorities.

In this paper, the author will analyze the close interaction between terrorism and organized crime often dubbed the “crime-terror continuum”. After explaining the main tenets of this theory, a case study will be presented. It is the network of relations that exists in Latin America which links terrorist groups with drug cartels. The evolution of some of these organizations into a hybrid comprising terrorist and criminal activity will also be studied.

Defining concepts

The crime-terror nexus is agreed to have been consolidated in the post-Cold War era. After the 9/11 attacks, the academic community began to analyze more deeply and thoroughly the threat that terrorism represented for international security. However, there is one specific topic that was not paid much attention until some years later: the financing of terrorist activity. Due to the decline of state sponsorship for terrorism, these groups have managed to look for funding by partnering with organized criminal groups or engaging in illicit activities themselves. Starting in the 1980s with what later came to be known as narco-terrorism, the use of organized crime by terrorist groups became mainstream in the 1990s. Taxing drug trade and credit-card fraud are the two most common sources of revenues for these groups (Makarenko, 2010).

The basic level of relationship that exists between two groups of such different nature is an alliance. Terrorists may look for different objectives when allying with organized crime groups. For example, they may seek expert knowledge (money-laundering, counterfeiting, bomb-making, etc.) or access to smuggling routes. Even if the alliances may seem to be only beneficial for terrorist groups, criminal networks benefit from the destabilizing effect terrorism has over political institutions, and from the additional effort law enforcement agencies need to do to combat terrorism, investing resources that will not be available to fight other crimes. Theirs is a symbiotic relation in which both actors win. A popular example in the international realm is the protection that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) offered to drug traders that smuggle cocaine from South America through West and North Africa towards Europe. During the last decade, the terrorist organization charged a fee on the shipments in exchange for its protection along the route (Vardy, 2009).

The convergence of organizations

Both types of organizations can converge into one up to the point that the resulting group can change its motives and objectives from one side to the other of the continuum, constituting a hybrid organization whose defining points and objectives blur. An organization of this nature could be both a criminal group with political motivations, and a terrorist group interested in criminal profits. The first one may for example be interested in getting involved in political processes and institutions or may use violence to gain a monopolized control over a lucrative economic sector.

Criminal and terrorist groups mutate to be able to carry out by themselves a wider range of activities (political and financial) while avoiding competitiveness, misunderstandings and threats to their internal security. This phenomenon was popularized after the 1990s, when criminal groups sought to manipulate the operational conditions of weak states, while terrorist groups sought to find new financial sources other than the declining state sponsors. A clear example of this can be found in the Italian Mafia during the 1990s. A series of deliberate bombing attacks were reported in key locations such as the Uffizi Galleries in Florence and the church of St. John Lateran in Rome. The target was not a specific enemy, but rather the public opinion and political authorities (the Anti-Mafia Commission) who received a warning for having passed legislation unfavorable to the interests of the criminal group. Another example far away from Europe and its traditional criminal groups can be found in Brazil. In the early 2000s, a newly elected government carried out a crackdown on several criminal organizations like the Comando Vermelho, the Amigos dos Amigos, and the group Terceiro Comando, which reacted violently by unleashing brutal terrorist attacks on governmental buildings and police officers. These attacks gave the Administration no other choice but to give those groups back the immunity with which they had always operated in Rio de Janeiro.

On the other side of the relationship, terrorist organizations have also engaged in criminal activities, most notably illicit drug trade, in what has been a common pattern since the 1970s. Groups like the FARC, ETA, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), or Sendero Luminoso are among them. The PKK, for example, made most of its finances using its advantageous geographic location as well as the Balkan routes of entry into Europe to smuggle heroin from Asia into Europe. In yet another example, Hezbollah is said to protect heroin and cocaine laboratories in the Bekaa Valley, in Lebanon.

Drug trafficking is not the only activity used by terrorist groups. Other criminal activities serve the same purpose. For example, wholesale credit-card fraud all around Europe is used by Al Qaeda to gain profits (US$ 1 million a month). Furthermore, counterfeit products smuggling has been extensively used by paramilitary organizations in Northern Ireland and Albanian extremist groups to finance their activities.

Sometimes, the fusion of both activities reaches a point where the political cause that once motivated the terrorist activity of a group ends or weakens, and instead of disbanding, it drifts toward the criminal side and morphs into an organized criminal association with no political motivations) that the convergence thesis identifies is the one of terrorist organizations that have ultimately maintained their political façade for legitimation purposes but that their real motivations and objectives have mutated into those of a criminal group. They are thus able to attract recruits via 2 sources, their political and their financial one. Abu Sayyaf, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and FARC are illustrative of this. Abu Sayyaf, originally founded to establish an Islamic republic in the territory comprising Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago (Philippines), is now dedicated exclusively to kidnapping and marijuana plantations. The former granted them US$ 20 million only in 2000. Colombian FARC, since the 1990s, has followed the same path: according to Paul Wilkinson, they have evolved from a revolutionary group that had state-wide support into a criminal guerrilla involved in protection of crops and laboratories, also acting as “middlemen” between farmers and cartels; kidnapping, and extortion.  By the beginning of our century, they controlled 40 per cent of Colombia’s territory and received an annual revenue of US$ 500 million (McDermott, 2003).

“Black hole” states

The ultimate danger the convergence between criminal and terrorist groups may present is a situation where a weak or failed state becomes a safe haven for the operations of hybrid organizations like those described before. This is known as the “black hole” syndrome. Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Angola, Sierra Leone and North Korea are examples of states falling into this category. Other regions, such as the North-West Frontier Province in Pakistan, and others in Indonesia and Thailand in which the government presence is weak can also be considered as such.

Afghanistan has been considered a “black hole state” since at least the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989. Since the beginning of the civil war, the groups involved in it have sought to survive, oftentimes renouncing to their ideological foundations, by engaging in criminal activity such as the production and trafficking of opiates, arms or commodities across the border with Pakistan, together with warlords. The chaos that reigns in the country is a threat not only to the nation itself and its immediate neighbors, but also to the entire world.

The People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is, on the other hand, considered a criminal state. This is because it has engaged in transnational criminal activities since the 1970s, with its “Bureau 39”, a government department that manages the whole criminal activity for creating hard currency (drug trafficking, counterfeiting, money laundering, privacy, etc.). This was proved when the Norwegian government expelled officials of the North Korean embassy in 1976 alleging that they were engaged in the smuggling of narcotics and unlicensed goods (Galeotti, 2001).

Another situation may arise where criminal and terrorist groups deliberately foster regional instability for their own economic benefits. In civil wars, these groups may run the tasks that a state’s government would be supposed to run. It is the natural evolution of a territory in which a political criminal organization or a commercial terrorist group delegitimizes the state and replaces its activity. Examples of this situation are found in the Balkans, Caucasus, southern Thailand and Sierra Leone (Bangura, 1997).

In Sierra Leone, for example, it is now evident that the violence suffered in the 1990s during the rebellion of the Revolutionary United Forces (RUF) had nothing to do with politics or ideals - it was rather a struggle between the guerrilla and the government to crack down on the other party and reap the profits of illicit trade in diamonds. There was no appeal to the population or political discourse whatsoever. The “black hole” thesis illustrates how civil wars in our times are for the most part a legitimization for the private enrichment of the criminal parties involved and at the same time product of the desire of these parties for the war to never end.

The end of the Cold War saw a shift in the study of the nexus between crime and terrorism. During the previous period, it was a phenomenon only present in Latin America between insurgent groups and drug cartels. It was not until the emergence of Al Qaeda’s highly networked and globally interconnected cells that governments realized the level of threat to international security that non-state actors could pose. As long as weak or failed states exist, the crime-terror nexus will be further enhanced. Moreover, the activity of these groups will be buttressed by effects of globalization such as the increase of open borders policies, immigration flows, international transportation infrastructure, and technological development. Policymakers do not pay enough attention to the criminal activities of both types of organizations. Rather than dealing with the political motivations of a group, what really makes the difference is to focus on its funding resources – credit-card frauds, smuggling, money laundering, etc.

The following section focuses on the crime-terror continuum that exists between illegal drug trade and terrorist networks. This phenomenon has emerged in many regions all around the world, but the case of Latin America, or the Andean region more specifically, represents the paradigm of the characteristics, dangers and opportunities of these situations.

NARCO-TERRORISM CASE STUDY:

When drug trafficking meets political violence

The concept of narco-terrorism was born in recent years as a result of the understanding of illicit drug trade and terrorism as two interconnected phenomena. Traditionally linked with Latin America, the concept can now be found in other parts of the world like, for example, the Golden Crescent (Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan), or the Golden Triangle (Thailand, Laos and Myanmar).

There is no consensus on the convenience and accuracy of the term “narco-terrorism,” if only because it may refer to different realities. One can think of narco-terrorism as the use of terrorist attacks by criminal organizations such as the Colombian Medellin Cartel to attain an immediate political goal. Or, from a different point of view, one can think of a terrorist organization engaging in illicit drug trade to raise funds for its activity. Briefly, according to Tamara Makarenko’s Crime-Terror Continuum construct all organizations, no matter the type, could at some point move along this continuum depending on their activities and motivations; from the one extreme of a purely criminal organization, to the other of a purely political one, or even constituting a hybrid in the middle (Makarenko, 2010).

There is a general perception of a usual interaction between drug-trafficking and terrorist organizations. Here, it is necessary to distinguish between the cooperation of two organizations of each nature, and an organization carrying out activities under both domains. There are common similarities between the different organizations that can be highlighted to help policymaking more effective.

Both type of organizations cohabit in the same underground domain of society and share the common interest of remaining undiscovered by law enforcement authorities. Also, their transnational operations follow similar patterns. Their structure is vertical in the highest levels of the organization and turns horizontal in the lowest. Finally, the most sophisticated among them use a cell structure to reduce information sharing to the bare minimum to reduce the risk of the organization being unveiled if some of its members are arrested.

The main incentive for organizations to cooperate are tangible resources. Revenues from narcotics trafficking might be very helpful for terrorist organizations, while access to explosive material may benefit drug trade organizations. As an example, according to the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in 2004, an estimated US$ 2.3 billion of the total revenue of global drug trade end up in the hands of organizations like Al Qaeda. Another example is the illegal market of weapons emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union, field of interest of both types of networks. On the other hand, intangible resources are similar to tangible in usefulness but different in essence. Intangible resources that drug trafficking organizations possess and can be in the interests of terrorist ones are the expertise on methods and routes of transports, which could be used for terrorist to smuggle goods or people - drug corridors such as the Balkan route or the Northern route. On the other way around, terrorists can share the military tactics, know-how and skills to perpetrate attacks. Some common resources that can be used by both in their benefit are the extended networks and contacts (connections with corrupt officials, safe havens, money laundering facilities, etc.) A good example of the latter can be found in the hiring of ELN members by Pablo Escobar to construct car bombs.

The organizations are, as we have seen, often dependent on the same resources, communications, and even suppliers. This does not lead to cooperation, but rather to competition, even to conflict. Examples can be traced back to the 1980s in Peru when clashes erupted between drug traffickers and the terrorist Sendero Luminoso, and in Colombia when drug cartels and the FARC clashed for territorial matters. Even the protection of crops terrorists offer to drug traffickers is one of the main drivers of conflict, even if they do find common grounds of understanding most of the time; for example, in terms of government, revenue-motivated organizations are a threat to the state as they fight to weaken some parts of it such as law enforcement or jurisdiction, while politically-motivated ones wish not only to undermine the state but to radically change its structures to fit their ideological vision (state-run economy, religious-based society, etc.).

The terrorism and drug connection in the Andean Region

Nowhere has the use of illicit drug trade as a source of funds for terrorism been so developed as in the Andean Region (Steinitz, 2002). Leftist groups such as FARC and Peruvian Sendero Luminoso, as well as right-wing paramilitary organizations such as the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) are involved in this activity. At the beginning, the engagement between terrorists and drug traffickers was limited only to fees imposed by the former on the latter in exchange for the protection of crops, labs and shipments. Later, FARC and AUC have further expanded this engagement and are now involved in the early stages of the traffic itself – being the main substance cocaine, and the main reward money and arms from the drug syndicates. The terrorist cells can be therefore considered a hybrid of political and criminal groups. The following paragraphs will further analyze each case.

Peru’s Sendero Luminoso

Sendero Luminoso (SL) started to operate in the Huallaga Valley, a strong Peruvian coca region, several years after its foundation, in 1980. Peru was at the time the world’s first producer of coca leaf. The plant was then processed into coca paste and transported to Colombian laboratories by traffickers. Arguably, the desire for profit from the coca business rather than for political influence was the ultimate motive for Sendero Luminoso’s expansion into the region. SL protected the crops and taxed the production and transportation of coca paste: the 1991 document “Economic Balance of the Shining Path” shows that the group charged US$ 3,000-7,000 per flight leaving Huallaga. Taxes were also levied in exchange for a service that the group provided the cocaleros: negotiating favorable prices with the traffickers. In the late 1980s, SL’s annual income from the business was estimated at US$ 15-100 million (McClintock, 1998).

The Peruvian government’s fight against SL represents a milestone in the fight against the terrorism-crime nexus. Lima set up a political-military command which focused on combatting terrorism while ignoring drugs, because a reasonable percentage of the Peruvian population eked out a living by working in the coca fields. The government also avoided using the police as they were seen as highly corruptible. They succeeded in gaining the support of peasant growers and traffickers of Huallaga Valley, a valuable source of intelligence to use against SL. The latter finally left the Valley.

But it was not a final victory. Due to the vacuum SL left, the now more powerful traffickers reduced the prices paid for the coca leaf. SL was no longer there to act as an intermediary in defense of peasants and minor traffickers, so thanks to the new lower prices, the cocaine market experienced a boom. The military deployed in the area started to accept bribes in exchange for their laissez-faire attitude, becoming increasingly corrupted. President Fujimori in 1996 carried out a strategy of interdiction of the flights that departed from the Valley carrying coca paste to Colombia, causing the traffickers and farmers to flee and the coca leaf price to fall notably. However, this environment did not last long, and the country is experiencing a rise in drug trade and terrorist subversive activities.

The Colombian nexus expands

The collapse of the Soviet Union and an economic crisis in Cuba diminished the amount of aid that the FARC could receive. After the government’s crackdown, with the help of Washington, of the Medellin and Cali cartels, the drug business in Colombia was seized by numerous smaller networks. There was not any significant reduction of the cocaine flow into the United States. The FARC benefitted greatly from the neighboring states’ actions, gaining privileged access to drug money. Peru under Fujimori had cracked down on the coca paste transports, and Bolivia’s government had also put under strict surveillance its domestic drug cultivation. This elimination of competitors caused a doubling of coca production in Colombia between 1995 and 2000. Moreover, opium poppy cultivation also grew significantly and gained relevance in the US’ East-coast market. The FARC also benefitted from this opportunity.

According to the Colombian government, in 1998 the terrorist groups earned US$ 551 million from drug, US$ 311 million from extortion, and US$ 236 million from kidnapping. So much so that the organization has been able to pay higher salaries to its recruits than the Colombian army pays its soldiers. By 2000, the FARC had an estimated 15,000-20,000 recruits in more than 70 fronts, de facto controlling 1/3 of the nation’s territory. Most of the criminal-derived money in the country comes nowadays from taxation and protection of the drug business. According to the Colombian Military, more than half both the FARC’s fronts were involved in the collection of funds by the beginning of the 2000s decade, compared to 40% approx. of AUC fronts (Rebasa and Chalk, 1999).

The situation that was created in both scenarios required created a chaos in which the drug cartels, the cultivation syndicates and the terrorist organizations were the strongest actors. This makes it a very unstable environment for the peoples that lived in the territories under criminal/terrorist control. The tactics of law enforcement agents and government, in these cases, need to be carefully planned, so that multilateral counter-drug/counter-terrorist strategies can satisfactorily address threats existing at multiple dimensions. In the following section, the author will review some key aspects of the policies carried out by the US government in this domain.

The “War on Drugs” and the “War on Terror”

Since 9/11, policies considering both threats as being intertwined have become more and more popular. The separation of counter terrorism and counter-narcotics has faded significantly. Although in the Tashkent Conferences of 1999-2000 the necessary link between both was already mentioned, the milestone of cooperative policies is the Resolution 1373 of the UN Security Council (Björnehed, 2006). In it, emphasis is given to the close connection between terrorism and all kinds of organized crime, and therefore coordination at national, regional and global level is said to be necessary. War on drugs and war on terror should no longer be two separate plans of action.

The effectiveness of a policy that wishes to undermine the threat of illicit drug trade and terrorism is to a high degree dependent on successful intelligence gathering. Information about networks, suspects, shipments, projects, etc. benefits agencies fighting drug trafficking as well as those fighting terrorism, since the resources are most of the times shared.  Narco-terrorism nexus is also present in legal acts, with the aim of blocking loopholes in law enforcement efforts. Examples are the Victory Act and the Patriot Act, passed in the US. Recognizing the natural link and cooperation between drug trade and terrorism leads to security analysts developing more holistic theories for policymakers to implement more accurate and useful measures.

However, there are many aspects in which illicit drug trade and terrorist activity differ, and so do the measures that should be taken against them. An example of a failure to understand this point can be found in Afghanistan, where the Taliban in 2000 set a ban in poppy cultivation which resulted in a strong increase of its price, being this a victory for traffickers since the trade did not stop. Another idea to have in mind is that strategies of a war on drugs differ greatly depending on the nature of the country: whether it is solely a consumer like the UK or a producer and consumer like Tajikistan. In regard to terrorism, the measures adopted to undermine it (diplomacy, foreign aid, democratization, etc.) may have minimal effect on the fight against drug trade.

Sometimes, the risk of unifying counter-policies is leaving some areas in which cooperation is not present unattended. Certain areas are suitable for a comprehensive approach such as intelligence gathering, law enforcement and security devices, while others such as drug rehabilitation are not mutually beneficial. Not distinguishing the different motivations and goals among organizations can lead to a failed homogenous policy.

CONCLUSIONS:

Multilevel threats demand multilevel solutions

Terrorism has traditionally been considered a threat to national and international security, while illicit drug trade a threat to human security. This perception derives from the effects of drugs in a consumer country, although war on drugs policies are usually aimed at supplier ones. Although it was already constituting a threat to regional stability during the twentieth century, it was not considered a crucial political issue until 9/11 attacks, when the cooperative link between criminal and terrorist organizations became evident. An example of unequal attention paid to both threats can be found in US’s Plan Colombia in 2000: one of the main advocators of the legislation stated that the primary focus was on counter-drug, so the United States would not engage with Colombian counterinsurgency efforts (Vaicius, Ingrid and Isacson, 2003).The same type of failure was also seen in Afghanistan but in the opposite way, when the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) completely neglected any action against drug traffickers, the trade or the production itself.

The merging of drug trafficking and terrorism as two overlapping threats have encouraged authorities to develop common policies of intelligence gathering and law enforcement. The similarities between organizations engaged in each activity are the main reason for this. However, the differences between them are also relevant, and should be taken into consideration for the counter policies to be accurate enough.

Evidence of a substantial link between terrorists and criminals has been proved all along our recent history. Around the world, leaders of mafias and terrorist commanders have oftentimes worked together when they felt that their objectives were close, if not similar. When cohabitating in the outlaw world, groups tend to offer each other help, usually in exchange for something. This is part of human behavior. Added to the phenomenon of globalization, lines tend to be blurred for international security authorities, and thus for the survival of organizations acting transnationally.

The consequences can be noticed especially in Latin America, and more specifically in organizations such as the FARC. We can no longer tell what are the specific objectives and the motivations that pushed youngsters to flee towards the mountains to learn to shoot and fabricate bombs. Is it a political aspiration? Or is it rather an economic necessity? The reason why we cannot answer this question without leaving aside a substantial part of the explanation is the evolution of the once terrorist organization into a hybrid group that moves all along the crime-terror continuum.

The ideas of Makarenko, Björnehed and Steinitz have helped the international community in its duty to protect its societies. It cannot be expected for affected societies to live in peace if the competent authorities try to tackle its structural security issues only through the counter-terrorist approach or through the organized crime lens. The hybrid threats that the world is suffering in the twenty-first century demand hybrid solutions.

 

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Categorías Global Affairs: Seguridad y defensa Latinoamérica Ensayos