Tuesday :: Jan 13, 2009

Developing A Framework to Understand and Develop Working Solutions to Major Conflicts: The Case of Mizoram (India) - Part 3

by eriposte

[BACKGROUND: In the Introduction to this series, I discussed its objective - namely, to develop a simplified, generic framework to discuss major conflicts - including their root causes, the conditions under which they continue and the conditions under which they could be resolved successfully in the long term. The example used to develop this framework is the secessionary conflict in the Indian state of Mizoram that lasted roughly two decades before Mizoram became the 23rd state of India in 1986. In Part 1, I highlighted the origins of the Mizo struggle - the main trigger and the additional, exacerbating factors that eventually ignited the violent conflict between the Mizo National Front (MNF) and the Indian Government in 1966. In Part 2, I discussed the Mizo insurgency and the key factors that prolonged it.]

In this part, I will briefly synthesize the major issues that were integral to the initiation and continuation of the Mizo insurgency into a preliminary, simplistic framework. This framework allows us to conceptually understand the nature of this conflict and its eventual resolution. Subsequently, we can extend the framework to discuss other conflicts.

Based on the information I presented in the previous parts of this series, the following are the major factors that led to the conflict between the Mizo National Front (MNF) and the Indian Government in 1966 and sustained it for almost 2 decades:

1. Failure of Government Leadership

The failure of Government leadership over a significant period of the conflict manifested in a few ways:

1A. The Government was out of touch with the conditions on the ground and some of the most significant needs of the local population - which led to a failure to grasp the major factors that could foment violence

1B. The physical distance between the Government and the local population was compounded by its cultural distance and lack of respect for important socio-religious, cultural and linguistic traditions of the local population

1C. The Government's response to the local population's dire socio-economic conditions - especially the response to a severe economic crisis - was grossly inadequate

1D. The disproportionate and often reckless use of force by the Government in an attempt to crush the insurgency had a very negative impact on the local civilian population, further poisoning the population against the Government

1E. Failure of the Government to act aggressively to prevent terrible human rights violations by some of its security forces, and worse, its official sanction sometimes for such behaviors

2. Credibility of the Insurgency Movement

2A. Strong grassroots credibility of the non-violent group/political party that eventually turned to violence against the State

2B. Significant public sympathy and moral support within the local population for the ultimate goals of the insurgents, even when their violent tactics were not supported

2C. Public support for insurgents unnecessarily magnified by repressive Government actions

3. Domination of Violent Faction

3A. The violent faction long dominated non-violent groups also seeking similar or less aggressive goals for the broader population

3B. Terrorism by the violent faction against ordinary citizens or leaders opposed to the violence

3C. Perception amongst insurgents that violence was a necessary mechanism to achieve the end goals

4. Support for violent insurgents from other groups or foreign countries

5. Delayed Government engagement with violent faction and vice-versa

6. Unfavorable Political Factors

6.1 The political instability in the Government prolonged the time to closure of the conflict

6.2. Local political realities made it very difficult for the insurgents to return sooner to mainstream political leadership roles even if they had renounced violence earlier

It is instructive to note that the majority of modern conflicts could easily be examined using the preliminary framework above as our guide. Needless to say, some conflicts have additional unique elements that might not fit in a straightforward manner into the above framework, but we can always refine the framework in those cases. In the next part of this series, I will use this framework to discuss the circumstances that allowed a final resolution of the Mizo conflict.

eriposte :: 6:44 AM :: Comments (0) :: Digg It!