Protesters in Miraflores demonstrate “For a Peru without corruption” on November 14, 2020. Peru’s crisis ahead of the April 11 parliamentary elections is multifaceted. | Photo: Flickr, Samantha Hare. | CC BY 2.0
Protesters in Miraflores demonstrate “For a Peru without corruption” on November 14, 2020. Peru’s crisis ahead of the April 11 elections is multifaceted. | Photo: Flickr, Samantha Hare. | CC BY 2.0

Peru: General Elections in the Air, a Crisis of Democracy on the Ground

On 11 April 2021, the Republic of Peru will hold general elections. However, the elections have been overshadowed by the November 2020 Parliamentary Coup and the massive police violence against protesters who have been demonstrating against the controversial outcast of the former President Martín Vizcarra by the Congress. PRIF student research assistant Laura Fischer had the opportunity to speak with Carlos López Felipe Vásquez, a Human Rights activist and a professor for Public International Law at the Technical University of Peru, about the background of the political and constitutional crisis.

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Video games such as Minecraft have started to become the target of extremist actors. | Photo: Flickr, Lego Photo mureut | CC BY-ND 2.0

Let’s play prevention: Can P/CVE turn the tables on extremists’ use of gamification?

In the wake of the attacks in Christchurch, El Paso and Halle, the so-called ‘gamification of terror’ has made headlines and sparked academic interest in the potential role of gamification in radicalisation processes. Most recently, the Radicalization Awareness Network (RAN) has discussed both videogames and gamification as potential facilitating factors of radicalisation in the EU. This blog article is based on the new RAN Paper “The Gamification of Violent Extremism & Lessons for P/CVE”.

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U.S. Navy Seizes Weapons in Gulf of Aden. Photo: U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) Public Affairs | Public Domain (The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement).

Arms Transfers in the Gulf of Aden. Shining the Spotlight on Regional Dynamics

Since the outbreak of the war in Yemen in 2015, the state has seen a growing influx in the supply of weapons. These weapons are both legally and illegally provided by regional and international powers to all major factions of the conflict. While arms transfers and their effects on the conflict in Yemen have received considerable attention, a lesser known fact is that weapons are increasingly circulating between Yemen, Somalia and Djibouti – the three states adjoining the Gulf of Aden. Against this background, this text shines the spotlight on weapons flows dynamics in a highly militarized region.

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Past German-Russia relations have surely also been shaped by the relationship between both countries’ long-standing leaders. With Angela Merkel not running for election again and the upcoming Greens, how will a future German approach towards Russia look like? | Photo: flickr, Lord Jim | CC BY 2.0

Green is the New Black? What might the “Green” German foreign policy vis-à-vis Russia look like?

The election of a new German Chancellor to replace Angela Merkel after more than 15 years in office is eagerly anticipated both at home and abroad. However, anyone expecting a drastic change in German foreign policy towards Russia will be most likely disappointed. At present, most signs indicate that relations between both countries will remain frosty or even deteriorate post-election, regardless of who ultimately prevails in the voters’ preference. However, one uncertain variable in this otherwise predictable equation is the possible role played by the Green Party in shifting the country’s international course, as it most likely will become a part of a new German government after the election.

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Plenary session of the European Parliament on the situation in Venezuela, January 2019. | CC-BY-4.0: © European Union 2019 – Source: EP

A New Framework for Dealing with Venezuela: From Democracy to Conflict Resolution

Venezuela is mired in a prolonged, multifaceted crisis, to which no solutions are in sight. In the wake of the country’s December 2020 parliamentary election, the EU needs to rethink some of the basic premises of its policy toward Venezuela. Instead of quarreling about which domestic actors and political institutions should be recognized as democratic, the EU should approach the country through a lens of conflict resolution. While a democracy-based framework divides the EU and a broad range of other external actors, a framework focused on conflict resolution may increase the chances of a more coordinated international response. That approach may be more likely to lead—eventually and indirectly—to some kind of inclusive political settlement in Venezuela.

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Photo: © picture alliance / ASSOCIATED PRESS | STR)

China in transitionary Myanmar. Challenging paths to democratization and peace

The recent military coup in Myanmar reversed a decade-long experiment towards incremental political liberalization. At the same time, it also brought China’s engagement there back into the spotlight, and initial Chinese reactions led to suspicions that Beijing had welcomed or even aided the return to military rule. However, the reality of China’s role in Myanmar’s democratic transition and simultaneous peace process is far more complicated, and instructive for its overall engagement in conflict societies.

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Women in Gilgit-Baltistan, interior Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and rural Punjab - areas that have been left relatively excluded from the dars' (cyber) influence and emphasis on the Arab-styled hijab - still wear ensembles reflecting local ethnic roots that predate the advent of Islam and the creation of Pakistan. | Photo: © Wasiasuhail via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Dars and Madrassas: Remnants of a Lost Pedagogy that has advanced onto the Cyber Realm

Madrassas (school-like religious seminaries, mostly for young boys who train to become Islamic theologians) and dars (female-only institutional and/or home-based study circles and diploma courses) constitute an informal and unregulated religious education space in Pakistan. Dars, often taught by self-declared authorities on religion, are increasingly delivered online and could contribute to radicalisation; until now, there is no coherent strategy in Pakistan that takes the online element sufficiently into account. Tackling online radicalisation would require the Pakistani state to reflect deeply on its scholastic apparatus, the shortcomings of which often pave the way for digital Islam to serve as the alternative for a state-approved religious education.

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Why do pro-democracy narratives struggle with responding to the utopian visions propagated by extremist actors? | Photo: Unsplash, Paweł Czerwiński | Free use

Missing an epic story: Why we are struggling to counter extremists’ utopian narratives

Contrary to popular opinion, extremist communication is not simply based on hatred and calls for violence. While beheading videos or livestreamed shootings may generate attention, displays of violence alone are an insufficient basis for an extremist ideology and claims of legitimacy. Utopian narratives – visions for the perfect society – are an indispensable element of propaganda efforts. Without detailing what one is fighting for, an essential part would be missing from the web of extremist ideological communication. While the last years have seen an increase in narrative campaigns designed to delegitimize extremist ideologies and provide alternative worldviews, pro-democracy narratives struggle with responding to the utopian visions propagated by extremist actors.

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A fighter jet of the Russian Aerospace Forces accompanied the Presidential aircraft en route to the Syrian Arab Republic in January 2020. | Photo: Kremlin. | Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

Counter-Terrorism for Peace – Syria between the Russian-Led Coercive Peace and the United States’ Withdrawal

After the fifth round of the UN-led Constitutional Committee for Syria in January 2021, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pederson, eventually announced that they failed to draft a new charter for the Syrian constitution. Further UN-led negotiations were postponed after the Russian-led meeting in Sochi which took place on February 16 and 17. This blog presents the latest developments of the parallel processes of peace talks for Syria, arguing that the United States’ uncertainty in the region is leading to more success of the Russian-led Astana format. This comes not only at the cost of UN-led engagement in Syria but also risks the lives of the population in Idlib as regional counter-terrorism plans are a central issue in the current peace talks.

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Protests in the Rif, Northern Morocco, May 2017. | Photo: © Anass Sedrati via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Ten Years After the Arab Spring: How Stable is Morocco Really?

Ten years after the onset of the February 20 Movement, its variant of the “Arab Spring”, Morocco is still perceived as a bedrock of stability in the region. However, while the king successfully contained the 2011 uprising, under the surface the rift between state and society is still widening. As public trust continues to erode, Moroccans increasingly turn their attention to the streets in order to air their grievances. Drawing parallels to Algeria, which saw its dictator unexpectedly fall in 2019, this article questions the paradigm of Moroccan stability. The next wave of protests may not be so distant after all.

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