23 December, 2011

Insurgencies – Trajectories in 2012

2011 happened to be a singularly remarkable year insofar as insurgencies and terrorism were concerned. 

The month of May marked the death of Osama bin Laden – a pinnacle of glory for counterterrorism and counterinsurgency (COIN).  At the other end, the insurgents in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and other parts of the world felt the touch of the nadir; at least psychologically, if not materially and operationally.

In this backdrop, it seems verily pre-ordained that non-state actors are likely to lose steam in the New Year. However, it is pertinent to quote in this regard, the predictions of the National Intelligence Council of USA:

“The relative power of non-state actors is likely to have an upward trend by 2025.”

Hence, terrorism will likely continue, as per the prediction, but its appeal could lessen if economic growth emerges and consequent youth unemployment is reduced. As the resources on the earth would deplete, the surface of the globe shall be replete with acts of anarchism and disruption. Mundane problems will transcend to the realm of the transnational. 

When a bubbling youth will be unable to accommodate himself within the structures of socio-economic and political framework of Pakistan; then the fertile plains of Punjab will continue to help germinate Islamist terror network.

It may be said that 2012 would certainly provide a range of technologies and scientific knowledge to the insurgents and terrorist networks. Under economic duress, conditions shall be ripe for radicalism and possible recruitment of youths into terrorist groups. 

South and Central Asia, Middle East and North Africa will remain as the potential areas of unrest. At the micro-level, fragility of the newly founded democracies of Libya and Kyrgyzstan would be tested. Even not so weak states would be pushed a bit. The likes of Chechnya and Dagestan will continue to trouble the Russians, albeit sporadically. 

Such a nuisance may spin a web of transnational tie-ups in the campaign of COIN: the cold-war protagonists, along-with China - with its perturbation in Xinjiang and Tibet, may join hands in combating terror. At least in the warm waters of the Persian Gulf a plethora of counter-insurgents shall be seen to team up against the adventurism of the Somali pirates.  

Nonetheless, the Af-Pak theatre may see only the American soldiers languishing; with their compatriots from other nation-states slowly evacuating as the basic reason for their camaraderie is no more. But the Russian interest will remain in Afghanistan - partly for historical reasons and partly, for the geopolitical. 

It may not be frippery to predict that irregular warfare would rule the roost in 2012.  In the process, urban areas would possibly be targeted more. Insurgencies are likely to be fuelled by various elements; viz. ideology, social, economic and political oppression, internally displaced peoples etc. 

Communist insurgents in Philippines and India would stick to their faith in protracted people’s war. Peace talks may wane as those were mere facades erected by the communist insurgents to prolong their existence. 

Dormant insurgencies, viz. in Sri Lanka, may shoot up if the Winning Hearts and Minds (WHAM) component of the COIN operations are not suitably put into practice. 

Conflict resolution methodology would bank upon the dual techniques of pro-people COIN as well as targeted killings and incarcerations. Procedural law will keep on being implemented while the substantive part may be missing in the magistracy of the counterinsurgents.


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