The events of the past six months show that fragile states must remain a priority for the United States and its allies


The West turns its sights on fragile states. Twenty years later, the United States is heading for the exits in Afghanistan, dragging NATO with it. French President Emmanuel Macron is Barkhane Process End, and withdrew many of the more than 5,000 French troops from the Sahel, where they were Fighting a fierce jihadist insurgency Since 2014. The UK has discussed a Security and Development Review Project This indicates a significant redeployment of its efforts in Asia. European Union Rethinking its global strategy To focus more on new global risks including China and Russia.

But fragile states may not easily loosen their grip on the West. Even as the Biden administration began to solidify its core strategy, geared toward competition with China and Russia and reasserting U.S. leadership for the “free world,” fragile states have pushed themselves into its own agenda and that of key European leaders. Events from the Americas to Africa to Southeast Asia in the past six months have demonstrated the potential costs of losing focus.

On February 1, Myanmar’s military staged a coup, arresting state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, and others and imposing a year-long state of emergency. The coup ended nearly 10 years of a quasi-democratic experiment. Mass protests ensued, as well as violent crackdowns by the security forces. Fighting broke out with armed minority groups, and Thailand and other neighboring countries experienced an influx of refugees. The country may be heading towards open civil war.

In the same time period, fighting erupted in Yemen, after Washington pressured Saudi Arabia to try to put together a file end of conflict. The result is an exacerbation of an already tragic humanitarian crisis. Renewed Houthi rebel attacks on airports in the south, on the city of Marib in the highlands, and drone attacks across the border with Saudi Arabia. Show how difficult it is It will be moving towards a cease-fire and a form of stability.

In the Americas, the slow and steady institutional collapse has worsened in Haiti. that kidnapping epidemic وباء For ransom by local gangs leading up to July 7 Assassination by President Jovenel Moise’s mercenaries, one of whom is apparently an American citizen, throwing the country into a deep constitutional crisis. Venezuela’s internal political crisis continues unabated, the state is sending Record numbers of refugees Across its borders, many of them headed to the United States.

In March, a large wave of immigrants, many of them children and young adults, appeared at the US-Mexico border. The Biden administration has struggled to respond to the politically sensitive situation. Administration I acknowledge The source of the problem is the extremely high level of fragility in the Northern Triangle countries: Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, which are stricken Gang violence at levels hard to reach elsewhere, high levels of corruption, poor governance, and increasingly populism and authoritarianism. The United States is waking up to the fact that it does not have a coherent strategy for the Northern Triangle, and neither do most multilateral agencies dealing with fragility in Central America. (In fact, these countries are not even within the World Bank List of fragile and conflict-affected situations الحالاتand depriving them of hundreds of millions of dollars that could be used to address some of the fragility challenges they face).

In Africa, Mozambique has seen renewed violence by an Islamist group linked to Somalia’s al-Shabab movement and the Islamic State. Palma was a major economic center for the extraction of natural gas Occupy For nearly 10 days, which prompted Total to suspend a $20 billion gas project, which is a major economic blow to the country. In April, fighting broke out again in the streets of Mogadishu, sparked by a political crisis sparked by Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi’s decision to postpone elections, a major step backwards after many years of improvement in both governance and security in Somalia. In Ethiopia, internal and cross-border fighting in the Tigray region saw widespread denial of humanitarian access, and the killing of civilians, imminent. risk of starvation.

The Sahel region witnessed multiple crises during the first six months of 2021, which made the situation even more dangerous in this large region. Chad President Idriss Deby Itno, the country with the most powerful army in the region, which has served as a key asset in the war against the jihadists, Died in battle with the rebels Coming from Libya, which creates a strong risk of instability in the country. On May 24, the Mali government ousted A military coup – the second in less than a year – left the country in turmoil.

Fragility is one of the most confusing problems of our time. Fragile countries, most affected by conflict and violence, suffer from a serious lack of social cohesion, lack access to viable political settlements, have weak institutions, high corruption, and governments that struggle to provide basic services to their populations. Over the past twenty years, large amounts of resources have been poured into these countries to try to enhance their capabilities, help the population meet their basic needs, and create a semblance of stability. Somewhat expensive military operations helped to contain the jihadist insurgency, but they were not able to achieve decisive progress. Bilateral donor organizations from OECD countries and international development organizations have supported their evolving funding and strategies with some success, but many of their programs remain largely classic state-building and development programs with only limited effectiveness in these contexts. No wonder: even the most optimistic assessments suggest that stability in fragile states It takes a generational effort.

Despite these challenges, there are many reasons why Western countries really cannot afford to ignore their interest in the unfinished business of fragility:

  • While international terrorism that directly affects European countries and the United States has decreased significantly, thanks to the massive efforts of security services and armies at a cost of several trillion dollars over the past twenty years, the deep causes of the jihadist insurgency, such as the marginalization of youth , the increase in societal conflict, mismanagement and the rule of law in fragile countries is still very much present, and many groups would be willing to turn again to international terrorism if given the opportunity.
  • Flows of asylum seekers and refugees arriving at the border somewhat in Europe But it remains very high in the United States. The main causes of these movements are fragility, conflict and violence.
  • China and Russia have Renewed interest in fragile statesAnd any efforts to constrain Russia and China require a presence in these contexts to provide alternatives to desperate governments, help maintain basic standards of international aid, and avert a major debt crisis. Fragile states offer many attractive things to Russia and China: military bases, strategic assets, especially ports, and communications infrastructure. natural resources; and voices in multilateral institutions.

For many years, the American strategic community has been engaged in an ongoing debate: Are geopolitical threats or transnational threats more important? During the intense focus on the “global war on terror,” geopolitical dynamics have received less attention. Now, as the United States and its allies struggle to gain a competitive footing in geopolitical competition, they risk over-correcting and ignoring or paying insufficient attention to fragile states.

Maintaining close engagement with fragile states does not mean expanding the military presence on a large scale as a key tool to respond; In fact, this was not a well-prepared strategy, and it was not politically sustainable. Moving forward, the United States and its partners must continue to apply political pressure on fragile states to reduce corruption, protect human rights, and improve the quality of their institutions. When regional, multinational and, in some cases, UN peacekeeping interventions are possible, the United States should support them with targeted resources and political support. The United States and its partners must continue to pressure multilateral banks and the United Nations to cooperate in preventing violence and fragility in fragile settings. Above all, Washington and its democratic partners must work steadily to create comprehensive support for security, peacebuilding, and development in fragile states, which face increasing pressure to turn to authoritarian authorities for support. the United States recently adopted A Global Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability Congress passed the Global Fragility Act. Many European countries and multilateral organizations already have such strategies in place. They all need more importance – and they must be closely coordinated among Western partners.

Rebalancing policy priorities with the changing challenges posed by China and Russia is prudent policy; Abandoning the participation of fragile states entirely is not the case.

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