|International Peace & Security Institute
PEACE & SECURITY REPORT
IPSI's Peace & Security Report (PSR) is a concise weekly e-publication intended to brief busy students, academics, advocates, and practitioners in the conflict management community 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.
Kosovo and Serbia: A Little Goodwill Could Go a Long Way
International Crisis Group
A violent standoff in northern Kosovo risks halting Kosovo's and Serbia's fragile dialogue and threatens Kosovo's internal stability and Serbia's EU candidacy process. Pristina's push to control the whole territory of the young state, especially its borders with Serbia, and northern Kosovo Serbs' determination to resist could produce more casualties. Belgrade has lost control and trust of the northern Kosovo Serb community, which now looks to homegrown leaders. The international community, especially the EU and U.S., should encourage Belgrade to accept the government in Pristina as an equal, even if without formal recognition, but not expect it can force local compliance in northern Kosovo. All sides should seek ways to minimise the risk of further conflict, while focusing on implementing what has been agreed in the bilateral technical dialogue. They should build confidence and lay the groundwork for the political talks needed to guide a gradual transformation in northern Kosovo and eventually lead to normal relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
AFRICAN UNION: Chairman Vote ends in deadlock
On Sunday, elections were held in Addis Ababa for African Union (AU) president and chairperson of the commission. Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi was elected to the rotating presidency; he succeeds outgoing chairman President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea. However, the vote for chairperson of the commission ended in deadlock on Monday after four rounds of voting with neither South Africa's Home Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma nor Gabon's Jean Ping gaining a majority. Current deputy AU Commission Chief, Erastus Mwencha, will take over as interim chair until new polls are held during the next AU summit in Malawi in June. Comment: Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and Gambian President Yahya Jammeh earlier last week were named as likely successors to the outgoing chairman, but Jammeh withdrew his bid and Jonathan did not pursue the chairmanship due to domestic security problems. Monday's voting split the organization into Anglophone versus Francophone nation blocs; ultimately, Dlamini-Zuma withdrew her candidacy. (Al Jazeera, AllAfrica, AllAfrica, Voice of America, Voice of America)
SENEGAL: Opposition protests against Wade third term
On Monday, Senegal's highest legal body, the Constitutional Court, ruled that incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade can seek a third term, sparking protests in central Dakar and resulting in the deaths of two civilians by paramilitary police in the northern town of Podor on Tuesday. Clashes continued on Wednesday with security forces using tear gas and flash grenades to disperse hundreds of rock-throwing youths in Dakar. The June 23 Movement (M23), an umbrella group of opposition and activists, called the ruling a "constitutional coup" and have threatened to make the nation ungovernable until Wade stands aside before the February 26 presidential vote. Comment: The opposition argues that the Senegalese constitution allows a president to serve only two consecutive terms, but Wade says the law, which was amended in 2008, does not apply retroactively and cannot take into account his previous two terms. The constitutional council on Monday also dismissed all appeals against Wade's candidacy, leaving no legal recourse for his opponents. Observers have accused Wade of nepotism in the appointment of his 43-year-old son, Karim Wade, to his government with the aim of eventual succession. (Reuters, Reuters, Al Jazeera, BBC)
SOMALIA: Somali Islamist group bans Red Cross
On Monday, the United Nations expressed concern over the Somali Islamist group al-Shabab's blockade of food aid deliveries by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). On January 12, the aid group suspended food distribution to 1.1 million people in southern and central Somalia due to the block. In November 2011, the ICRC was one of few international agencies able to operate after al-Shabab accused 16 other aid organizations, including several UN agencies, of "illicit activities and misconduct" and subsequently banned them. Comment: Al-Shabab said the ICRC had "betrayed the trust" of the fighters, and the group set fire to "nearly 2,000 metric tons of expired ICRC rations intended for distribution." The UN categorizes large parts of south and central Somalia as famine zones affecting nearly 250,000 people. (The Guardian, Al Jazeera, AllAfrica, The Guardian)
BOLIVIA: Protestors march in La Paz, demand construction of controversial highway
Two Bolivian indigenous groups remained at loggerheads Wednesday over the construction of a 300 km highway that would run through the Territorio Indigena Parque Nacional Isiboro Secure (TIPNIS), an ancestral homeland for an estimated 50,000 peoples of three different indigenous groups. The two indigenous groups in conflict, the South Indian Council (CONISUR) and the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia (CIDOB), have agreed to initiate dialogue on the issue. This comes after 2,000 members of CONISUR marched to La Paz on Monday demanding President Morales approve the highway construction project. The project was canceled last year after outcry from other Amazonian indigenous groups. Comment: Aside from environmental damage, indigenous groups cite the project will increase illegal crop cultivation and mining in the Amazon, and are fearful landless Andean Quechua and the Aymara people, the largest indigenous groups in Bolivia, will colonize the land. Last October, Short Law 180 was passed protecting the inviolability of TIPNIS after members of CIDOB marched to La Paz to meet with President Morales. If approved, Brazil will fund the project in aims of linking the Brazilian Amazon to ports on the coast of Peru and Chile.
(BBC, AFP, Prensa Latina, Houston Chronicle)CANADA: Afghani family found guilty of honor killings
On Sunday, an Ontario court convicted members of an Afghani family on four accounts of first-degree murder. The court found Mohammad Shafia, Tooba Mohammad Yahya, and their 21-year old son Hamed guilty of the murder of the family's three daughters and Shafia's first wife. The victims were found dead in 2009 in the family's Nissan, which was submerged in a Kingston canal. The prosecution presented wiretapped recordings of Shafia denouncing his daughters for dishonoring the family with their behavior, including dress, socializing, and internet usage. Comment: Prior to their death, one of the daughters had unsuccessfully sought police protection and placement in foster care. The case has been the center of cultural sensitivity debates in Canada, as there have reportedly been 12 cases of honor killings in Canada since 1999. Defense lawyers are expected to appeal the conviction. The Canadian government expressed making honor killings a separate category in Canada's criminal code.
(Aljazeera, NY Times, AP, Toronto Sun)COLOMBIA: Prisoner release stalls, FARC claims Colombian government militarized zone
On Wednesday, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionaries de Colombia (FARC) announced it would not release six prisoners held for more than a decade, stating that the Colombian government militarized the release zone. The FARC claims the Santos Administration planned a mission to rescue the prisoners to lessen the humanitarian significance of the FARC's release. Colombian Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinz'on denied these claims, stating the Colombian government had no prior knowledge of the prisoner release site. Comment: The FARC is a revolutionary guerilla movement that espouses Marxist-Leninist ideologies in its war against the Colombian government. In order to financially sustain itself, the FARC has employed tactics of kidnapping, ransom, and illicit drug trading as sources of revenue. The delay in releasing the six prisoners further strains relations between the FARC and the Santos Administration.
(CNN, BBC Mundo, BBC Mundo, El Espectador, Washington Post, El Comercio)
CHINA: Tightens grip on Tibet in the face of unrest
On January 31, Chinese authorities continued tightening security in Tibet and predominantly Tibetan regions of neighboring provinces after violent unrest last week ahead of emotionally significant dates in the Tibetan calendar. Qi Zhala, the Communist party chief in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, said in a statement on Tuesday that security forces are to step up registration and inspection work along national roads, at key monasteries and among leading suspects. He further emphasized that officials must profoundly recognize the important significance of preserving stability in temples and monasteries. Comment: According to exile groups, six Tibetans have died and scores have been wounded over the past few days in clashes between security forces and demonstrators; most casualties have been in Tibetan areas of the neighboring Sichuan province. Last week's violence was the worst since Tibetan unrest in March 2008 left 22 people dead. (Guardian,VS,CSM)
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Mutinous soldiers lay down arms
On January 30, mutinous soldiers in Papua New Guinea laid down their arms in return for general amnesty in a ceremony hosted by current Prime Minister, Peter O'Neil. The mutinous soldiers had been holed up at the Taurama barracks in the capital Port Moresby following a failed mutiny on January 26 aimed at restoring former Prime Minister Michael Somare to power. The leader of the mutiny, retired colonel Yaura Sasa, was arrested over weekend and remains in jail. Sasa has denied any wrongdoing, stating that he was appointed military commander by Somare, who claims to be the country's legitimate prime minister. Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court in December ruled Somare be reinstated as a parliamentarian and prime minister, but O'Neill rejected the ruling and was reelected to the PM position by parliament, leaving the country with two competing leaders. Comment: Papua New Guinea, a country of six million, has a history of political and military unrest. An army mutiny in 1997 overthrew the government after it employed mercenaries to end a long-running secessionist rebellion on the island of Bougainville. (Reuters, Aljazeera, The Australian)
PHILIPPINES: U.S. may increase military presence
On January 27, the Philippines began talks with the Obama administration about expanding the American military presence in the island nation. Philippine defense and military officials confirmed a Washington Post report last week that Manila and Washington are negotiating a deal that would increase cooperation between the two militaries. These talks come 20 years after the Philippines evicted U.S. forces from their biggest bases in the Pacific. Comment: Military and defense analysts suspect that the sudden rush by many in the Pacific region to embrace Washington is a direct reaction to China's rise as a military power and its assertiveness in staking claims to disputed territories. (ADS, VOA, CP)
|Europe & Central Asia
|FRANCE: Genocide bill reviewed in highest court
As a follow-up to last week's PSR, the bill that was passed by the French parliament declaring it illegal to deny that genocide was committed against Armenians is currently under review by France's highest court. Should the court rule the bill to be constitutional, it will need to be approved by Sarkozy before going into effect; if found to be unconstitutional, it will be annulled. Comment: The move has been welcomed by Turkey, with Prime Minister Erdogan stating "this is what befits France. The senators did what befits France."
(Today's Zaman, BBC, NY Times)NORWAY: Two convicted in Danish newspaper plot
On Monday, a Norwegian court sentenced two men to prison for their role in a plan to bomb the Danish newspaper offices responsible for printing controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005. The leader in the plot, Mikael Davud, a Norwegian of Chinese Uighur descent, was found guilty of conspiring with al-Qaeda to plan the attack, while the second man, Iraqi Kurd Shawan Sadek Saeed Bujak, was given a lesser sentence due to the court's inability to prove his knowledge of the al-Qaeda links. A third man was convicted on lesser, non-terrorism charges. The two terrorism charges are the first under Norway's anti-terrorism laws. Comment: The cartoons were printed in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005, sparking outrage across the Muslim world. The Norwegian terror cell first began planning attacks on the newspaper in 2006 and were arrested in July 2010 after being observed by Norwegian authorities for over a year.
(BBC, Telegraph, AP, Deutsche Welle)SPAIN: Judge stands trial for abuse of power
Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, who became famous as a champion for human-rights when he indicted Chile's Pinochet, now stands trial for overstepping his magistrate boundaries in his investigation of human rights crimes he claims were committed by the Franco regime between 1936 and 1975. An amnesty law was passed in 1977, preventing prosecution of crimes committed during the Franco regime. Garzon is accused of breaching this law to investigate the disappearance of more than 114,000 during Spain's civil war and the period of dictatorship under Franco. Garzon took the stand in his own defense on Tuesday, stating, "The amnesty law refers to crimes of a political nature, in no way can it be said that crimes against humanity of the kind that were alleged could have any political nature." Comment: Although Garzon is supported by international human rights advocacy groups, opinion is divided among Spaniards, many of whom see Garzon's investigation as reopening old wounds.
(NPR, Al Jazeera, Telegraph, Guardian)UNITED KINGDOM: Guilty pleas in plot to bomb London Stock Exchange
Four British men pled guilty on Wednesday to conspiring to bomb the London Stock Exchange. The four were part of a group of nine who were planning to plant explosive devices in the toilets of the Stock Exchange in a move intended to cause terror and economic disruption. The men furthermore intended to plant bombs at a number of other locations, including Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the U.S. Embassy, and the home of the mayor of London. Comment: The men are not members of al-Qaeda; however, prosecutors say they were inspired by the terrorist organization and "were implementing the published strategy of AQAP" (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an affiliate of al Qaeda).
(Al Jazeera, Telegraph, AFP, CBC)
|Middle East & North Africa
EGYPT: Soccer riots kill 74, injure hundreds
Troops were deployed in Port Said after rioting broke out following a soccer match on Wednesday, February 2. Al-Masry fans stormed the field following their team's victory against al-Ahly, throwing stones, bottles, and fireworks. Among the 74 dead and estimated 1000 injuried are police that attempted to control the riots. Also on Wednesday, fans set fire to the stadium in Cairo after another scheduled match between Al-Ismaili and Zamalek was cancelled due to the violence in Port Said. Comment: Activists protested in Port Said and Cairo on Thursday, blaming the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) for conspiring to use the violence to further their hold on power. The recently elected PA, or lower house of Parliament, also criticized SCAF for the violence and called an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss the situation. (Voice Of America, Al Jazeera, New York Times)
SAUDI ARABIA: 35 Ethiopian Christians face deportation for "illicit mingling" during a private prayer service
35 Ethiopian Christians, 29 of them women, were arrested for illicit mingling of the sexes when their private residence was raided in mid-December in Jedda, Saudi Arabia. Human Rights Watch released a report on Tuesday, January 31 which stated that the women reported being stripped searched, and the men were routinely beaten and called "unbelievers" while in Saudi Arabia's Buraiman Prison. "Illicit Mingling" of unmarried members of the opposite sex is not prohibited under codified Saudi Law, although Shaikh Ibrahim al-Ghaith, the president of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, stated that it was permissible in private unless it is for the "purpose of corruption." Comment: Although public worship of religions other than Islam is prohibited in Saudi Arabia, it is permissible to worship other faiths in private. In 2006, the Saudi government in a "Confirmation of Policies" promised not to interfere with private worship of other faiths and to "ensure that members of the [religious police] do not detain or conduct investigations of suspects, implement punishment, [or] violate the sanctity of private homes." (Al Jazeera, Bikya Masr, BBC)
SYRIA: Deaths mount as UN debates Security Council Resolution regarding Syrian violence
The UN Security Council continues to debate a resolution that would target the Assad regime in the midst of renewed violence between the Syrian government and anti-regime protesters. The resolution draft, proposed by Arab League member Morocco, calls for an end to violent crackdowns and the formation of a unity government that will transition to transparent and free elections. Russia has promised to veto any resolution that calls for regime change, although Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, remarked on Wednesday that Russia has a "less negative" view on the resolution if amendments are made. Comment: Russia blocked a Security Council Resolution in October that would have held Assad responsible for the violence, but has made more conciliatory comments regarding this resolution. An estimated 5,400 to 6,000 people have died in Syria since the protests started last year. (AP, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera)
INDIA: India augments air force with French jets
This week, French fighter jet company Dassault successfully offered Indian buyers 126 Rafales for USD 11 billion, making it the most expensive weapons contract ever purchased for the South Asian country. The first 18 jets will be shipped to India within the next three years, and the remaining aircraft will be manufactured in Bangalore. New Delhi-based defense analyst Rahul Bedi said of the deal that "India needs to bolster its fighting capabilities," citing that Pakistan is not India's only concern, but also the "longer term threat posed by an aggressive China." Comment: Dassault was picked over UK jet company Eurofighter, as well as Boeing and Lockheed Martin of the United States. India currently has the fourth largest air force in the world, standing behind the U.S., Russia, and China. (Le Monde, Times of India, Huffington Post)
PAKISTAN: U.S. defends drone strikes in Pakistan
Drone strikes on the Pakistani-Afghani border were vehemently defended by President Obama on Monday. The president maintained that U.S. drone strikes only target "people...on a list of active terrorists," but officials in Pakistani tribal regions attest that the strikes kill civilians. Pakistan Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abdul Basit maintains that "drone strikes are unlawful, counterproductive and hence unacceptable. We cannot condone violation of our sovereignty." It is difficult to measure the number of civilian deaths caused by U.S. drone strikes due to a Pakistani ban on aid workers and reporters from entering tribal regions. Comment: Pakistani government officials frequently question the effectiveness of U.S. drone strikes. Public debate around the strikes increased this week in Pakistan after eight Pakistani soldiers were killed in two Taliban attacks on a military post in Kurram, Peshawar; an area where drone strikes are common. (Al Jazeera, BBC, Dawn)
PAKISTAN: Supreme Court charges PM with contempt
After months of debate, the Supreme Court of Pakistan charged Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani with contempt on Thursday. PM Gilani is accused of failure to reopen charges against his superior, Pakistani President Zardari, who was charged with embezzlement in Switzerland several years ago. The Pakistani government, in defense of the Prime Minister, issued a statement that claimed presidents have immunity from Supreme Court prosecution while holding office. PM Gilani's lawyer, Aitzaz Ahsan, said that the Prime Minister plans to file an appeal. Comment: This is the second major case involving disagreements between the Pakistani government and the Supreme Court. The first case, dubbed "Memogate," forced the former Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, to step down from his position. (NYT, Dawn, Hindustan Times)
SRI LANKA: President looks to bypass Iranian sanctions
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, Luke Bronin, visited Sri Lanka this week to discuss the effects of Western sanctions against Iran. Bronin's visit comes after Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa insisted the West "find an alternative" for countries that depend on business with Iran. "The U.S. and the West are not punishing Iran, but they are punishing us small countries," said President Rajapaksa. Sri Lankan's concerns over western sanctions on Iranian oil are echoed throughout much of the world, including Japan and India, who have called on the U.S. to "detail" the exact extent to which they must cut oil imports. Comment: Sri Lanka imports 93 percent of its crude from Iran, while Japan and India import almost 20 percent of their oil from the sanctioned state. Sri Lanka has long balanced the desires of its two superpower neighbors, China and India, who tend to view Western-imposed sanctions in opposite lights. (Reuters, Daily News, WSJ, BBC)
Researched/Written by Tarek J. Nasser
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