Hivos International


Hivos' and Carnegie's Kawa Hassan interviewed by Washington Post/Bloomberg on Kurdish Fragmentation and Unity

The international attention and support Kurds are getting as they fight Islamic State marks a rare opportunity for them to lay the foundations of a state either in Iraq or Syria, said Kawa Hassan, visiting scholar at Carnegie Middle East Center. “Kurds are in a paradoxical position: They are fragmented more than ever, but they are also emerging as strong players,” said Hassan, who is also Middle East expert at Hivos, a Dutch development organization.

What Next For Kurdistan and Iraq?

As most of Iraq threatens to collapse under the weight of sectarian violence, Kurdistan in northern Iraq stands in sharp contrast. Often described as the “Other Iraq,” Kurdistan has enjoyed stability, security, and an economic boom during the last decade.

The Carnegie Middle East Center held a public event on 17 July 2014 to shed light on the latest developments in Iraq. Carnegie’s and Hivos' Kawa Hassan, Maria Fantappie of the International Crisis Group, and Carnegie’s Lina Khatib discussed how the intricate dynamics between the Kurds, the Maliki government, and the Islamic State will shape a region in turmoil.

Policy Brief by Barah Mikail

As Iraq heads towards parliamentary elections on 30 April, a combination of political and sectarian divides, poor governance  and terrorist attacks continue to add to instability in the country.  The risk of regional spill-over is considerable. Meanwhile, there is a strong chance that the increasingly authoritarian Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, will win a third mandate. This could take Iraq to the brink  of fragmentation. While facing many political obstacles, progress towards decentralisation could offer the best option to prevent further destabilisation and preserve the unity of the country.

This policy brief paper argues that democracy without Islamists is now inconceivable in the Middle East. Their exclusion from any democratic process would put the legitimacy and sustainability of the entire process at stake.

However, merely lifting the barriers to inclusion is not enough to cure the region’s persistent democratic deficit. It is necessary to revisit socio-economic structures, broaden participation and implement comprehensive transitional justice processes that confer legitimacy on emerging political systems. Even among radicals, such measures can help reduce the incentives for resorting to violence. Among organisations committed to engagement, they can help transcend ideological dogmas.

As the Syrian revolution enters its third year, the risks to regional stability are escalating. Violence has spilled over all of Syria's borders. The conflict has elevated sectarian tensions in Lebanon, threatening the 1990 Taif settlement that ended 15 years of civil war. It has sharpened ethnic and sectarian frictions in Iraq and engulfed southern Turkey. It has heightened tensions across the Syrian-Israeli border. Violence has also spilled into Syria from across the region. Regional involvement in the conflict is deepening. Syrian refugees, now numbering more than a million, are straining the economies and the social fabric of receiving countries. This paper addresses the implications of the regionalisation of Syria’s conflict and the challenges it presents to the stability of the post-Ottoman state order in the Levant.

'Ugandans have been too engrossed with our differences. We have a history of tribalism that manifest itself in the idea that one has to create strong tribal entities that are able to dominate the othes. We must accept plurality as a fact and a gift and identify the common ground. This is a challenge for our political leadership, but also for each of us here.´ Key note speaker Bishop Zac Niringiye conveyed this message to the participants of the pluralism knowledge programme conference in Kampala, supported by various speakers.

Nairobi graffiti mobilizes Kenyans for change – or not…

Gregg Mwenda & Ute Seela

Kenyans these days wake up to biting graffiti about the country’s corrupt politicians. Largely anonymous artists are calling on the people to use their vote in the next elections to bring about change. Kenyans talk about it, on the street, on the internet, radio and on TV. But Kenyans always talk, talk, talk.  Will the citizen led “WanjikũRevolution” (through the ballot) finally challenge ‘The Way Things Have Always Been Done Around Here’?

Uganda: playing the ethnicity card

Jimmy Spire Ssentongo on openDemocracy's 'Religion, Gender, Politics'

Ethnic diversity in itself is not a recipe for conflict. In the run up to next week's elections politicians should be celebrating Uganda's diversity, not playing the ethnicity card for political gain, says Jimmy Spire Ssentongo. 

Pluralism: what relevance for Uganda?

John de Coninck on openDemocracy's 'Religion, Gender, Politics'

As Uganda moves into an intense election period under a multi-party system, Western notions of pluralism appear irrelevant in a context where cultural diversity often results in exclusion, to the detriment of the public good.

This paper comprises four case studies of communities in different parts of Uganda. All four examine how local communities deal with issues of human rights and justice, accountability, access to resources and conflict resolution. They illustrate how ‘community governance’, ‘culture’ and the State interplay when it comes to access to land, as in one of the examples.