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Insurgency in Nepal

Authored by Dr. Thomas A. Marks. | December 2003

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Summary

A decade has passed since the end of the Cold War, and insurgency remains a major factor on the world scene. Whether driven by separatism, religious alienation, or ideological desire to restructure the state, insurgents are as active now as in the earlier Cold War era of state support. Indeed, forced to rely more upon their own devices, insurgencies have posed increasingly complex problems for the globe?s numerous weak states which fi nd themselves challenged by a growing array of development and population issues.

This reality has driven continuous and extensive U.S. military involvement, thus a renewed need to focus upon the realities of internal war. Upheavals in once-obscure spots such as Nepal have come routinely to demand our attention. The study of such cases will prepare military practitioners for effective engagement -- in strategies, operational art, and tactics.

Insurgency in Nepal has existed for perhaps 5 decades but burst into the open only with the declaration of ?people?s war? on February 13, 1996, by the Communist Party (Maoist), or CPN(M), the most radical offshoot of the leftwing spectrum in Nepali politics. Desultory action ended when the ?Maoists,? as they are universally termed, unilaterally abrogated talks with the government and launched a nationwide general offensive in November 2001.

Since that time, a steadily increasing level of violence has left as many as 8,000 Nepalis dead, a majority of them in little more than a year. Terror has been integral to the Maoist campaign. US involvement has played an important role in assisting this minor but strategically-located democratic state to meet the challenges posed by ruthless radical actors.