email: office@mantraya.org

Mantraya Occasional Papers are peer reviewed research papers of approximately 5000 words. The themes of occasional papers conform to Mantraya’s identified project themes. Researchers are encouraged to submit unsolicited papers to office@mantraya.org

LIST OF PUBLISHED OCCASIONAL PAPERS

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MANTRAYA OCCASIONAL PAPER #06: 12 MARCH 2018

Pakistan-based militant groups & Prospects of their integration: A Structural Analysis

Muhammad Amir Rana  

Abstract

Different militant streams operating in Pakistan are characterized respectively by conventional jihadist groups – established to safeguard the state’s strategic interests in the region; independent militant groups – formed by the militants who grew in the folds of or parallel to conventional groups but gradually formed their separate groups such as tribal Taliban militant groups; violent sectarian groups and new militant groups/cells as well a self-radicalized individuals; and foreign militant groups such as Al-Qaeda, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Islamic State. Although all these four groups or categories have diverse primary, or priority agendas – ranging from liberating Kashmir to targeting Shias and establishing national and global Islamic state or caliphate – but almost all share similar secondary agendas which include cooperating with global militant groups. The conventional groups have developed expansive physical infrastructure and assets which some see as their weakness that does not allow them to go against state. Meanwhile, collaborations and nexus among groups play an important role in determining the operational strength of a group. Without breaking this operational nexus, preventing major guerrilla-style terrorist operations would be an uphill task. The reintegration prospects, though, can be explored within the conventional militant groups, who appear willing to be part of political mainstreaming.

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MANTRAYA OCCASIONAL PAPER #05: 26 FEBRUARY 2018

Redefining Extremism in Central Asia

Roger Kangas, Ph.D.  

Abstract

For over twenty years, the Central Asian states have faced periodic challenges of violent extremist groups and radical ideologies. These have varied among the countries, in terms of intensity, motivation, and methods, requiring the states to adjust their counter-measures accordingly. To an extent, the national narratives are similar, in that extremism is deemed an existential threat that needs to be managed with the harshest measures. However, in time, parallel approaches of de-radicalization, counter-messaging, and the like have been employed, suggesting a better appreciation of the root causes of violent extremism. That said, punitive measures remain important and with the concern of “returning foreign fighters,” one can expect an increase in them. This contribution will examine the various strands of extremism in Central Asia and compare and contrast the respective government approaches to them. Not surprisingly, the capacity and motivation to carry our measures against such groups vary. Sometimes outside assistance is required. Likewise, multinational security organizations appear to offer some ability to frame the issues in the region. For all, it is a matter of how important the threat really is, or is perceived to be, that determines the severity of counter measures and actions.

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MANTRAYA OCCASIONAL PAPER #04: 14 JUNE 2017

A Preliminary Reconnaisance: Female Combatant Participation in Nepal’s Maoist People’s War

Thomas A. Marks

Abstract

Nearly sixteen years since 9-11, the quest to explain individual motivation for participation in “terrorism” has produced a body of gendered work of increasing sophistication. As illustrated by the case of female combatant participation in Nepal’s Maoist people’s war, however, conflation of irregular terminology confuses the issue as to the object of participation, thus the reasons for joining, staying, or leaving.  For Nepali women, agency took the form of perceived self-defense enabled by structural deficiencies in Nepal’s democratic polity. Nonetheless, the organizational expression of solution, people’s war, was itself flawed, leading to a mixed legacy of revolutionary impulse.

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MANTRAYA OCCASIONAL PAPER #03: 06 MAY 2017

The Thai Southern Insurgency: External view of the Way Forward

Thomas A. Marks

Abstract

As insurgency continues in the Thai Southern Border Provinces (SBP), external commentary, overwhelmingly in academia, remains the primary source of suggestions for how Bangkok should proceed.  Discussion falls into three major threads, ranging from designating a special status (e.g., autonomy) to improving the efficiency of the “counterterrorism” effort, with the most relevant treatment distinguished by its specific knowledge of the insurgents themselves within the larger SBP context.  Though Thai short-term approaches have been adequate, they throw open the long-term possibility of internationalization of the conflict through institutionalizing process at the expense of a search for a viable political solution.
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MANTRAYA OCCASIONAL PAPER #02: 28 JANUARY 2017

Enduring Dilemmas: Nepali Insurgency Redux

Thomas A. Marks

Abstract

Though touted as acceptance of political reintegration, the Nepali Maoist move to end the 1996-2006 overt hostilities was at the time tactical rather than strategic. The party had no intention of supporting a parliamentary version of democracy and thus, for most of the 2006-2016 period, engaged in a covert effort to seize power. In this effort, it made ample use of terrorism. Ultimately, organizational, national, and regional circumstances caused the main Maoist movement to move decisively away from its covert approach. By that time, however, radical splinters had embraced the use of terrorism against rival political actors, creating a situation whereby local politics is yet a dangerous endeavor in circumstances and places.

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MANTRAYA OCCASIONAL PAPER #01: 27 MAY 2016

Sri Lanka: Assessment of the End-Game

Thomas A. Marks

Abstract

Much has already been written concerning the dramatic climax of three decades of war in Sri Lanka.  Still, much remains to be assessed.  This is imperative, for the conflict, one of the most complex in recent history, provides a window into the heart of 21st century “new war.” The insurgency of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) privileged terrorism as a method of action yet ultimately fielded land, air, and sea regular forces, rounded out by powerful special operations and information capabilities. LTTE grew in capacity until it was capable of forcing the government to agree to a February 2002 ceasefire and the de facto existence of a Tamil state, or Tamil Eelam. It was this victory of sorts that produced a host of unforeseen consequences and led to the July 2006 resumption of hostilities that resulted in May 2009 total victory in the field for Colombo.

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