Observatoire politique de l’Amérique latine et des Caraïbes de Sciences Po

Amérique latine - L’Année politique is a publication by CERI-Sciences Po’s Political Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean (OPALC). The study extends the work presented on the Observatory’s website (www.sciencespo.fr/opalc) by offering tools for understanding a continent that is in the grip of deep transformations.

Observatoire politique de l’Amérique latine et des Caraïbes de Sciences Po

Amérique latine - L’Année politique 2017 est une publication de l’Observatoire politique de l’Amérique latine et des Caraïbes (Opalc) du CERI-Sciences Po. Il prolonge la démarche du site www.sciencespo.fr/opalc en offrant des clés de compréhension d’un continent en proie à des transformations profondes.

Bayram Balci, Juliette Tolay

While the issue of Syrian refugees has led an increasing number of countries to work on curbing arrivals, one country, Turkey, hosts almost half of these refugees. Yet, far from imposing restrictions, Turkey has distinguished itself for its open border policy and large-scale humanitarian contribution. Turkey’s generosity alone is not sufficient to understand this asylum policy put in place specifically for Syrians. There are indeed a number of political factors that indicate a certain level of instrumentalisation of this issue. In particular, Turkey’s benevolent attitude can be explained by Turkey’s early opposition to Assad in the Syrian conflict and its wish to play a role in the post-conflict reconstruction of Syria, as well as by its willingness to extract material and symbolic benefits from the European Union. But the refugee crisis also matters at the level of domestic politics, where different political parties (in power or in the opposition) seem to have used the refugee issue opportunistically, at the expense of a climate favorable to Syrians’ healthy integration in Turkey

Laetitia Bucaille

Today, the creation of a Palestinian state appears to be a distant possibility: the international community rejected to manage the issue, and the leadership in these territories weakened because of its divisions, revealing their inability to advance. Both the political and the territorial partition between the Gaza strip, governed by the Hamas and the West Bank, under Palestinian authority in line with Fatah, reveal a profound crisis that questions the very contours of Palestinian politics. It also shows that Hamas’ integration in the political game made it impossible to pursue the security subcontacting system. Maintaining the system avoids reconstructing the Palestinian political community, and makes it difficult to develop a strategy that moves towards sovereignty. Since October 2015, the popular and pacific resistance project has been shelved by the return of the violence against Israeli civilians. The Palestinian leadership counts on internationalization of the cause, which has shown mediocre results. Will the replacement of Mahmoud Abbas by his competitors permit to leave the rut?

avec la collaboration de Madhi Mehraeen et Ibrahim Tavalla

War since 1979 and the reconstruction of the state under Western tutelage since 2001 have led to a simplification of the identity of Afghan society, through an invention of ethnicity and tradition – a process behind which the control or the ownership of the political and economic resources of the country are at stake. Hazarajat is a remarkable observation site of this process. Its forced integration into the nascent Afghan state during the late nineteenth century has left a mark on its history. The people of Hazara, mainly Shi’ite, has been relegated to a subordinate position from which it got out of progressively, only by means of jihad against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s and the US intervention in 2001, at the ost of an ethnicization of its social and political consciousness. Ethnicity, however, is based on a less communitarian than unequal moral and political economy. Post-war aid to state-building has polarized social relations, while strengthening their ethnicization: donors and NGOs remain prisoners of a cultural, if not orientalist approach to the country that they thereby contribute to “traditionalize”, while development aid destabilizes the “traditional” society by accelerating its monetization and commodification.

Renaud Egreteau

In March 2011, the transfer of power from the junta of general Than Shwe to the quasi-civil regime of Thein Sein was a time of astonishing political liberalization in Burma. This was evidenced specifically in the re-emergence of parliamentary politics, the return to prominence of Aung San Suu Kyi elected deputy in 2012 and by the shaping of new political opportunities for the population and civil society. Yet, the trajectory of the transition has been chiefly framed by the Burmese military’s internal dynamics. The army has indeed directed the process from the start and is now seeking to redefine its policy influence. While bestowing upon civilians a larger role in public and state affairs, the army has secured a wide range of constitutional prerogatives. The ethnic issue, however, remains unresolved despite the signature of several ceasefires and the creation of local parliaments. Besides, the flurry of foreign investments and international aid brought in by the political opening and the end of international sanctions appears increasingly problematic given the traditional role played in Burma by political patronage, the personification of power and the oligarchization of the economy.

During the Cold War the US-Pakistan relationship was one in which the US considered Pakistan as a necessary part of its effort to contain communism in Asia while Pakistan considered its relationship with the US as strengthening its position vis a vis India. The high point in this relationship was during the Soviet-Afghan war. The US tried to renew this relationship after 9/11, although when Obama replaced GW Bush he stated his intention to move US-Pakistani relations off the security agenda which the Pentagone and the Pakistani army considered a priority. However, Obama rain into resistance from the Pakistani army and from the national security establishment in Washington- as can be seen from the security-oriented distribution of US aid. But not even in the area of security have the two nations been able truly to collaborate. To begin with, the strengthening of US-India relations angered Pakistan. Then Islamabad protected the Taliban in its fight with NATO. Finally, Obama violated Pakistani sovereignty (the Drone strikes in the tribal belt and the Ben Laden raid). These conflicting interest, however, do not necessary means the end of the relationship.

Christian Olsson

In this study, we try to apply the genealogical methodology to the analysis of French, British and American military discourse on the « pacification of populations » from the xixth century until today. The objective is indeed to analyse and problematise the colonial continuities that the leitmotiv of the « hearts and minds » reveals. We do this by focusing on the « moments » that have framed and reframed the social uses and significations of this leitmotiv: firstly, the « moment » of colonial conquest ; then, the « moment » of the wars of decolonization ; finally, the « moment » of western interventionism in postcolonial states. While highlighting the colonial continuities of military practice, our main conclusion is that the meanings of the leitmotiv are extremely variable and always subjected to contradictory interpretations. The genealogy of the « hearts and minds » hence draws attention to its many discontinuities. It particularly shows how the postcolonial « moment » has subverted its colonial meanings.