|International Peace & Security Institute
PEACE & SECURITY REPORT
IPSI's Peace & Security Report (PSR) is a concise weekly e-publication intended to keep busy students, academics, advocates, and practitioners in the conflict management community briefed on pertinent global news, events, and trends. Meticulously researched and written by IPSI, the PSR empowers us all to take a step back from our immediate deadlines each Friday and gain a greater understanding of the week's global events.
Peace-Building That Pays Off
By ANTHONY C. ZINNI
In voting last month to eliminate financing for the United States Institute of Peace, members of the House of Representatives did not do their research. You will find the institute's competent work behind practically every American success in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has undertaken missions from the Balkans and Sudan to the Philippines and Somalia, where I supported the institute's efforts to mediate conflicts, promote the rule of law and encourage democracy.
This week, as the Senate considers alternatives to the House budget bill, we should remember that the stakes for national security and peace-building are high. The institute was created in 1984, when the cold war was still at its height. Congressional leaders guided by Senator Spark M. Matsunaga, a Hawaii Democrat, saw the need for an institution that would strengthen the nation's ability to limit international violence and manage global conflict. President Ronald Reagan signed the act creating the institute. A bipartisan majority of Congress has supported it since - until now.
IVORY COAST: Government to control cocoa trade
Disputed Ivorian President Gbagbo issued a decree on Monday that will nationalize the cocoa industry by making the state sole purchaser and exporter of cocoa. The decree will replace exporters who have suspended supplies due to EU sanctions as well as counter opposition leader Ouattara's call to ban cocoa to financially starve Gbagbo. The following Wednesday, the government announced it will seize $1.8 billion worth of cocoa beans stalled on the piers if taxes are not paid or the beans are not exported by the end of March. Comment: The ultimatum places major cocoa producers and exporters in a difficult situation as they have to decide to whether to break EU sanctions or have their cocoa beans seized. As the world's largest producer of cocoa, the decree will significantly impact both producing and consuming countries worldwide. (Al jazeera, Reuters, AP)
KENYA: Kenya will challenge ICC case
The Kenyan government is set to challenge the International Criminal Court's right to try six Kenyans suspected of being behind the 2008 post-poll violence that claimed 1,200 lives. The government will use the Rome Statute to challenge the admissibility of the cases as well as the jurisdiction of the court. The six, including the deputy prime minister, an ex-minister and an ex-police chief, have been summoned to appear at The Hague on April 7 to face murder, deportation and persecution charges. Comment: The six men are close allies of President Kibaki and PM RailaOdinga. Ministers are currently traveling around the world gathering support to defer the trial for a year. The ICC stated the Kenyan government should bring the issue before the judges, and then they will determine whether to grant the challenge. (CNN, BBC, Reuters)
SOMALIA: Rebels on verge of collapsing
Somali Transitional President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed told reporters on Monday the Al Shabaab rebels are "on the verge of collapse" after a four year insurgency; his announcement was made the same day government forces backed by pro-government militias, and AU troops, reclaimed two towns from the Islamist rebel group. Al Shabaab continues to desert more towns as troops advance further, and such a retreat could lead to the group being driven out of the capital Mogadishu. In the past few weeks, Somali forces have recaptured parts of Mogadishu and now control 70 percent of the city. Comment: The recent government offensive has been the largest coordinated effort in years to regain the country from the al Qaeda-affiliated rebels. A government official explained "the war to eliminate the Shabaab threat from the country has begun, we will not stop until we succeed in our goal to cleanse this country of Al Qaeda and their Somali followers." (Reuters, AFP, NY Times)
Researched/Written by Haja Kakay
COLOMBIA: Oil contractors freed
Tuesday, the Colombian military rescued 22 of 23 hostages that were kidnapped a day earlier by rebels at a Talisman Energy oil camp where contractors were staying. The military's pursuit of the rebels pressured them to abandon the hostages in order to escape. The military also received key information from an escaped hostage regarding the whereabouts of other hostages. The kidnapping took place in the Vichada department, a remote jungle area. Comment: Authorities believe FARC's 16th Front is responsible for the abductions. Violence in Colombia has declined since 2002, following a government-initiated security crackdown supported by the U.S. This is the first mass kidnapping since President Santos took office in August. Despite the rescue of these hostages, as well as those freed last month, FARC is still holding 15 others captive. (Reuters, AFP, El Universal)
GUATEMALA: Lawsuit threat over syphilis testing
Lawyers representing those affected by U.S. experiments testing syphilis signaled to the U.S. that Friday is the deadline to settle this matter out of courts. In the 1940s, U.S. scientists deliberately infected Guatemalan prisoners, mental health patients and orphans in order to study the effects of penicillin on syphilis. The experiments were concealed for years; however, last year the U.S. government officially apologized for these events. Comment: While the experiments directly involved 700 Guatemalans, the fallout spread to many more people. According to records, the Guatemalan government gave permission for these experiments, but not all of those tested were made aware that they were being infected with syphilis. (AP, BBC, Siglo XXI)
MEXICO: Police chief seeks asylum in U.S.
Last week, Mexico's youngest police chief fled the country, seeking asylum in the United States. 20 year-old Marisol Valles Garcia was due to return to work from leave on March 2 but did not report to duty. As a result she was fired for abandoning her post. Garcia took over the position of police chief in Praxedis G. Guerrero in October. The small town is close in proximity to Juarez, which continues to be the epicenter of the drug war. Last year, 3,100 people were killed there due to drug-related violence. Comment: Garcia took her post after all other candidates declined. She and her family are currently being held at a detention center in El Paso pending a hearing in front of an immigration judge, where she will have the chance to make her case for asylum. It is speculated that she fled after receiving death threats, although this has not been confirmed. (BBC, Reuters, AFP)
CHINA: Earthquake near Burmese border kills at least 19, injures over 100 others
A 5.4 magnitude earthquake struck southwestern China's Yunnan province early Thursday afternoon. Power outages and extensive damage to buildings in Yingjiang county were reported, including the collapse of a large supermarket. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the depth of the earthquake at 35 kilometers; however, Chinese authorities report a depth of only 10 kilometers. The Chinese military sent 400 personnel to the affected area to help in rescue and recovery. To date, there is no information about the impact of the earthquake in Burma. Comment: Southwest China frequently experiences earthquakes; in 2008 a massive earthquake struck Sichuan province killing at least 68,000. In its aftermath, Chinese authorities came under fire for the poor construction quality of schools and apartment complexes that collapsed. (Xinhua, The Australian, VOA)
FIJI: Ex-Minister seeks political asylum in Australia
Former cabinet minister, Samisoni Tikoinasau, said Monday that he will seek political asylum in Australia after allegedly being detained and beaten in the Fijian capital for distributing anti-government DVDs to villagers. Mr. Tikoinasau is the older brother of George Speight, an imprisoned leader of the 2000 coup, and a vocal critic of the current military government. The current government came to power in a 2006 coup, led by current leader Frank Bainimarama, and is regularly accused of human rights violations. Comment: Mr. Tikoinasau's announcement comes after a recent report by Amnesty International that condemns the Fijian government for human rights abuses, especially against government critics. The Fijian military strongly denies the allegations. Since Bainimarama's 2006 coup, Fiji was expelled from the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum and is the subject of sanctions by Australia, New Zealand and the United States. (Radio New Zealand, Radio Australia News, AFP, BBC)
SOUTH KOREA: Seoul offers Pyongyang a meeting with four North Korean defectors
On March 9, the South Korean government invited Pyongyang to meet in Seoul in order to discuss four North Korean defectors who wish to stay in the country. The invitation comes after Pyongyang reiterated its claim that the four are being coerced to stay and repeated its demand that they be returned along with the other 27 people found stranded in South Korean waters last month. North Korean state television released video of the four defectors' family members pleading for their return. Comment: The row over the stranded North Koreans is the latest flare-up in a troubled period in inter-Korean relations. Talks and South Korean aid to the North were halted after the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel and the shelling of Yeonpyong Island last year. South Korea demands that Pyongyang apologize for the two attacks, but the North denies involvement in the sinking of the ship and accuses the South of instigating the attack on Yeonpyong. (Joonggang Daily, Reuters, AFP)
|Europe & Central Asia
|ITALY: Italian police crackdown on mafia domestically and internationally
This week, Italy began carrying out a major offensive against the 'ndrangheta crime syndicate, arresting suspects in Italy and Germany and seeking suspects in Canada and Australia. Nearly 40 people were arrested on charges of drug trafficking, murder, money laundering, protection rackets, robbery, and possession of arms and explosives. Italian officials have declared the operation a great success and believe the organization will either dissolve or be forced to reorganize. Comment: The 'ndrangheta syndicate gained its power through drug trafficking and has a firm hold on the European cocaine trade. Through the raids and arrests, police have gained insight into how the organization is run and organized; many consider the 'ndrangheta as more powerful than the Sicilian mafia. (Deutche-Welle, AP, BBC)
KOSOVO / SERBIA: Kosovo and Serbia hold first dialogue
On March 8 and 9, Serbia and Kosovo began the first round of talks since Kosovo declared independence in 2008. Initial talks avoided topics such as Serbia's non-recognition of Kosovo as an independent state. The discussions focused on issues that affect the day-to-day lives of citizens including recognition of Kosovo's university diplomas and use of Serbian airspace for flights to Pristina. Both sides made positive statements about the talks and another round is expected by the end of March. Comment: Belgrade has made it clear that it has no intention of recognizing Kosovo as a sovereign state; however, the Kosovo delegation has been far more optimistic. In general, the talks were productive and are seen as a positive step for Serbia's bid for EU candidacy. (Radio Free Europe, AFP, Ekonom East Media Group)
RUSSIA: Azerbaijan and Armenia meet to discuss Nagorno-Karabakh, swap POWs
On March 5, Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Sochi to discuss the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. The meeting was convened by the OSCE Minsk group, headed by Russia, France, and the United States, and led to an agreement to launch bilateral investigations into border skirmishes as well as the exchange prisoners of war. Comment: The territory has been under Azerbaijani control since the two countries fought over it during the 1990s, but the dispute has escalated in recent months. Previously, neither country was willing to make further concessions to try to resolve the conflict; so while this is certainly a positive step, the two countries remain far apart in trying to find a solution. (The Economist, Radio Free Europe, AFP)
Researched/Written by Daniel Pechtol
|Middle East & North Africa
EGYPT: Muslims and Copts clash in Cairo
On March 8, religious clashes between Muslims and Coptic Christians in Cairo left at least 13 people dead and 100 others injured. The deadly clashes erupted after at least 1,000 Copts gathered outside a radio and television building to protest the burning of a church in the Helwan provincial city of Sol. Muslims burned the church last week over an illicit romantic relationship between a Christian and a Muslim. The rally angered Muslims who wanted to pass through the protestors. As a result, both sides threw rocks and fought with guns, knives and clubs well into the night while soldiers fired warning shots in an effort to disperse the crowds. Comment: This was the second outbreak of sectarian fighting, and the latest in a string of violent protests, since the ouster of President Mubarak. Copts make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population. They often complain of systematic harassment and discrimination; the government denies the allegations. (Al Jazeera, BBC, AP, Ahram)
LIBYA: Gaddafi forces launch major offensive against rebels
On March 10, forces loyal to Gaddafi launched a major offensive against rebels in the central port city of Ras Lanuf, the site of a key oil installation. After intense fighting, the rebels retreated from their positions and headed further east after coming under fire from rockets and shells. News outlets reported that Gaddafi forces are intensifying their counter-assault on the rebels; attacking by land from the west along the coastal roads, from the northern sea, and from the south with tanks and war planes. Comment: The rebel fighters are pressuring the international community to impose a no-fly zone over Libya in an effort to crush Gaddafi's air force. Secretary of State Clinton suggested such move should be driven by the UN and not the U.S. Meanwhile, Gaddafi sent emissaries to Brussels and Cairo amid international debate over the no-fly zone. After a NATO meeting about international military options, France was the first country to recognize the rebel leadership, the National Libyan Council (NLC), as the country's legitimate government. (BBC, Al Jazeera, AFP)
YEMEN: President promises new constitution as protests continue to increase
Thousands of people protested outside the University of Sanaa on March 9 before Yemini security forces opened fire with rubber bullets, tear gas, and live rounds. According to medics, the raid left at least 80 people injured and one dead. Meanwhile, hundreds of children protested in anti-Saleh demonstrations in Ataq, chanting "No studying, no teaching until president falls." Comment: On March 10, President Saleh announced a referendum to change the constitution and move the country to a parliamentary system. Saleh said the new constitution would guarantee the separation of executive and legislative powers and new general elections. However, opposition forces asserted the move came too late and that the plan fails to meet the demands of protesters. (BBC, Al Jazeera, Yemen News Agency)
INDIA: Maoists recruit youth in urban centers
Earlier this week, a new intelligence report warned police in Maharashtra and Gujarat that Maoists are increasing their youth recruitment in urban centers. According to the report, Maoists are forming groups to target industrial centers and carry out regular extortion to fund their activities. Although some media sources speculate that Maoists aim to create unrest in Mumbai, Maoist supporters say the recruitment of rural youth is solely to test physical prowess. Comment: Much of the information about Maoist activities is garnered from a booklet seized during a raid on Maoist frontrunners detailing specific locations for exploitation, as well as the recent arrest and interrogation of an unnamed Maoist leader. On March 3, Prime Minister Singh described the Maoist insurgency as India's biggest internal security challenge, with presence in 20 of India's 28 states; nearly a third of the country. (India Talkies, Express India, Times of India)
PAKISTAN: Taliban suicide bomber kills 37 at Peshawar funeral
On March 9, a Taliban suicide bomber attacked a funeral in Peshawar killing at least 37 and wounding over 50 people. The funeral was for the wife of pro-government, ethnic Pashtun tribal elder, Hakeem Khan. Khan is a leader of the Peace Committee in Adezai and helped create the lashkar militia, a government supported force used to fight militants. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack; a Taliban spokesman told media sources that the militia forces operate at the behest of the Americans and will continue to be attacked if they do not stop their activities. According to a commander, if the government does not extend support and compensate the families suffering loses, committee members will reconsider whether the support the government or join with the ranks of the militants against the government. On Wednesday, a Senior Minister indicated that government representatives are ready to sit with committee members to address grievances. Comment: At the time of the reports, it was not clear whether Hakeem Khan survived the attack; the exact numbers of the dead and wounded are still emerging. This bombing follows one day after militants set off a car-bomb at a natural gas filling station in Faisalabad killing 25 and wounding another 125 people. (Reuters, NY Times, Pakobserver, Daily Mail News)
SRI LANKA: Sir Lankan PM warns parliament of LTTE camps in Tamil Nadu
On March 9, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Jayaratne told parliament that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are secretly operating camps in Tamil Nadu, India. According to Jayaratne, the camps aim to reestablish the LTTE in Sri Lanka, with at least one dedicated to training cadres to carry out VIP assassinations. According to Jayaratne, the report also indicated that the LTTE is still active overseas, making efforts to regroup and launch strikes on high-profile targets including Indian political officials. PM Jayaratne motioned for the extension of emergency regulations; parliament voted to extend the emergency by one month with a 75 vote majority. Comment: Jayaratne linked the LTTE remnants to the recent attack of the Maha Bodhi in Chennai. In January, the Canadian government ordered the forfeiture of properties of both the World Tamil Movement of Ontario and the World Tamil Movement of Quebec for raising millions of dollars to support the LTTE. While the organizations indicated the Tamil community has moved on, the Canadian government expressed concern about whether the LTTE will move to reorganize. (IBN Live, The Hindu, Colombo Page, Lankapuvath)
Researched/Written by Jennifer Clemens
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