Security forces trusted over civilian institutions, says Kosovo Security Barometer

Kosovo’s citizens have greater faith in the country’s security forces than its civilian institutions, according to the third edition of the Kosovo Security Barometer.

The report aims to serve as a platform for providing reliable and accurate data that can meaningfully inform the public and provide an overview of people’s perceptions about security in Kosovo, citizens’ perceptions on security institutions (Police, EULEX, KFOR, KIA, KSF, Customs, MIA, MFA) and judicial institutions, the nature of external and internal threats, perception on corruption, the legitimacy of the Government and Assembly of Kosovo, political stability and regional cooperation and Prishtina-Belgrade dialogue.

The Kosovo Security Barometer Project is supported by the US-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

Resolve East Asia crises through new Helsinki Process

A more comprehensive architecture would provide a valuable forum for East Asia’s regional powers to discuss pressing security concerns, a Congressional hearing was told this week.

The Economist suggested that such a forum, had it existed in Europe in the early part of the last century, might have prevented the outbreak of World War I, and that there are disturbing parallels to the situation in Northeast Asia today, with the Senkakus playing the role of Sarajevo, said Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy:

It has been said that adding a “basket-three” human dimension would not work for Northeast Asia because the region’s autocracies are well aware of the liberalizing consequences of the Helsinki process in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. But it is hard to imagine a system of collective security working without more interaction at the societal level, and having a broader context for negotiations would make possible trade-offs that might facilitate reaching an agreement. Northeast Asia may be different from the region encompassed by the Helsinki process, but the “Sakharov doctrine” regarding “the indivisibility of human rights and international security” has universal relevance and should not be abandoned, even if it has to be adapted to the circumstances of the region.

Another helpful factor is the potential role of Mongolia, Gershman noted:

Mongolia’s international position is rising. In addition to chairing the Community of Democracies, it has joined the OSCE and may soon become a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation organization (APEC). Last September, at the opening of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, President Elbegdorj was the only head of state invited to join President Obama in presiding over a forum of the Administration’s Civil Society Initiative that seeks to defend civil society around the world against growing government restrictions.

Henry Kissinger, writing about Austria’s Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, observed that “One of the asymmetries of history is the lack of correspondence between the abilities of some leaders and the power of their countries.” President Elbegdorg is such an outsized leader of a small country, and the fact that he is now positioning Ulaanbaatar to play the kind of role in Northeast Asia that Helsinki once played in Europe could be an important factor leading to a system of collective security in Northeast Asia.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has insisted that Mongolia, which recently chaired the Community of Democracies, provides a more attractive and sustainable model of Asian prosperity than its authoritarian neighbors.

“We need to make the 21st century a time in which people across Asia don’t only become more wealthy,” she told a CD forum in Ulaanbaatar. “They must also become more free.”

In comments described as “an unmistakable dig at China,” she implicitly critiqued its model of developmental authoritarianism by insisting that economic prosperity without political reform was unsustainable.


Click here to watch the testimony

The New Great Game? Putin, Syria and the West

idrissHaving outmanoeuvred the Western democracies, Vladimir Putin is now so confident that he is busy drafting plans for a new ‘post-Assad’ Syria, says Garry Kasparov, a former world chess champion and a Russian political activist.

Of course, in any international dispute, a dictator always has an upper hand over democrats, he writes for The Spectator (UK):

That is why Hitler outmanoeuvred Chamberlain. During peacetime, democratic leaders are always underdogs because they have to pay attention to public opinion and parliaments — the House of Commons in the UK, or the Senate in America. Not to mention facing the free press. A dictator, on the other hand — a Hitler, Stalin, Putin or Mao — does not need to care about any of this. They are far more mobile in reacting to situations and crises. They do not care whether they lie and it does not matter if they are caught lying. They can U-turn on policy, and be as inconsistent as they like.

Moderate factions within Syria’s opposition have been so outflanked by radical Islamists that their leading general (above) has been forced to leave the country and they have been obliged to appeal to one jihadist group for protection against another:

US officials said the Islamic Front offered to help protect the headquarters and two warehouse facilities from harder-line groups. Then, when the Islamic Front came in and helped secure the sites, “they asserted themselves and said: ‘All right, we’re taking over,’ ” a senior US official said.

US officials say there was no battle for control of the facilities between the SMC and the Islamic Front. One senior US official said the takeover amounted to “an internal coup”. Other US officials disputed that characterisation.

“I wouldn’t say this is the end of the SMC and the end of General Idris,” a senior US official said.

Charles Lister, an analyst with IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre, has estimated the Islamic Front’s fighting strength at 45,000. The FSA, which had been the largest rebel fighting force and was once estimated to have 70,000 to 150,000 fighters, now has about 40,000 men, according to one commander.

Opposition activists in the disputed area said the Islamic Front was seeking to diminish the moderate umbrella group.

“They don’t want the SMC to exist….They took over all their bases and set up new checkpoints,” an activist in the area said by Skype. 

“Shipping weapons to the Syrian opposition would not have solved all these problems, obviously, “ Kasparov argues, “but what concerns many of us is that on a wider scale America and the West have failed to come up with a long-term plan that could demonstrate vision and opportunity for people in a part of the world which needs to see the value of being allied with liberal democracies as opposed to the Putins of this world.”

With such tyrants on top, there will be many people who will lose confidence in the idea that history is moving against the dictators, he contends:

Yet I remain an optimist. I believe that history is on the side of freedom. I don’t know whether I am wrong or not, but my experience of studying history is that although we may go through very bad periods, eventually freedom is the natural demand of the whole human race. New technologies and devices can help us get to each other throughout the world.


On Syria, U.S deployed most tools in the box – Samantha Power

Samantha Power is not the liberal hawk she is sometimes made out to be, supporting military interventions at every looming disaster, writes the FT’s Geoff Dyer:

She was against the Iraq war, for instance. But last year, she was one of the officials arguing for a more decisive American role in trying to influence the outcome of the civil war. She believes the Syrian situation to be the “singular moral and strategic challenge of our time” and still sees it in terms of an “Arab spring” struggle between dictator and oppressed, despite the appearance of thousands of jihadis among the opposition ranks.

“If anything, the recent success of extremists accentuates the argument to invest body and soul in trying to find a way forward,” she says. “People did not set out to trade a dictator for being under the control of terrorists.”

Yet, aware that she will be accused of selling out her earlier self, she defends her writings beside current US policy in Syria. The point of A Problem From Hell was not always to send in the marines, she says, but to use all possible means to try and prevent atrocities, including diplomacy, sanctions, arms embargoes and the UN.

“What people forget about President Obama’s response to Syria is that he has deployed literally every tool in the box short of going to war in Syria,” she says. As the Syrian conflict drags on, it is an argument she is likely to find herself presenting many times over the next three years at the UN.