|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.
Conflict Baromoter 2011
Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research (HIIK)
The Conflict Barometer has been published since 1992 and is our annual analysis of the global conflict events and the main publication of the HIIK. Non-violent and violent crises, wars, coup d'etats as well as peace negotiations are observed in it. In the summary of the course of global conflicts the HIIK is presenting last year's developments in text and graphics. Therefore, the Global Conflict Panorama explains the general development, while the regional chapters give an insight into the conflict events in the Americas, Asia and Oceania, Europe, the Middle East and Maghreb as well as in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2011, a total of 388 conflicts were observed. Among these were twenty wars and eighteen limited wars, amounting to 38 highly violent conflicts. Another 148 conflicts were classified as violent crises, thereby exceeding last year's all-time high. The remaining 202 conflicts were conducted without violent means, with 87 conflicts being judged as non-violent crises and 115 as disputes. Compared to the previous year, the total number of conflicts increased by eighteen, from 370 to 388. Most significant was the increase in the number of wars, from six cases in 2010 to twenty in 2011, while limited wars decreased by four from last year's 22 cases. Furthermore, the number of crises rose by nine, from 139 to 148. In contrast, the number of non-violent conflicts decreased by two, with a drop of non-violent crises from 108 to 87 and a simultaneous rise of disputes from 95 to 115.
MALI: Elections will be held despite rebellion
On Sunday, President Amadou Toumani Toure announced scheduled elections will be held on time in April despite growing security issues caused by the surge of fighting in Northern Mali against the separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). President Toure, on Malian national radio said, "Whatever the difficulty, you must have a president, elected legally and legitimately," and referred to past polls held during the Tuareg uprisings in the 1990s. The general elections will take place on April 29, 2012. Comment: According to UN figures, some 120,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Mali since hostilities began last month. The displaced Malians are primarily fleeing into neighboring countries Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger. (Reuters, Reuters AlertNet, Afrik)
SOMALIA: al-Shabaab loses key stronghold
On Wednesday, Somali and Ethiopian troops captured the town of Baidoa in central Somalia, a key stronghold for Islamist rebel group al-Shabaab. The group claims its withdrawal from the city was tactical and aimed at avoiding casualties. The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Ethiopian troops are engaged in a campaign to expel the rebels who control most of central and southern Somalia. Baidoa was the site for Somalia's interim government from 2006 until 2009, when al-Shabaab seized the city and expelled the TFG. Comment: On Wednesday, the UN Security Council unanimously voted to increase the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) from 12,000 to 17,731 troops. The resolution also gives AMISOM a stronger mandate to attack the rebels and increases international funding for the military operation. Representatives from 50 nations met on Thursday in London to discuss stabilization and the security situation in Somalia. (BBC, All Africa, Reuters, Al Jazeera, The Telegraph)
SUDAN: UNAMID peacekeepers freed in Darfur
On Tuesday, Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) spokesperson Gibril Adam Bilal announced the release of 49 UN peacekeepers in Darfur, although the group will not release three Sudanese nationals they suspect of being intelligence officers. On Monday, JEM said they captured 52 members of the joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) forces; however, UNAMID disputed the group's claim, saying the soldiers were "blocked" and not kidnapped. Forty-six of the peacekeepers were from Senegal, including two officers, while there was one each from Yemen, Ghana, and Rwanda. Comment: JEM, Darfur's largest armed opposition group, refuses to sign the 2011 Doha Peace Agreement for Darfur -- despite their participation in the over two-year peace process -- citing insufficient individual compensation and security arrangement issues. (Al Jazeera, France 24, All Africa, Sudan Tribune)
ARGENTINA: Several killed, hundreds injured in train crash
A train carrying more than 800 passengers crashed in a Buenos Aires station early Wednesday morning, killing 49 and injuring more than 600. Reported to be the third deadliest crash in the nation's history, it is one of five accidents since December 2010; brake failure is the suspected cause of Wednesday's accident. Transportation Secretary Juan Schiavi said the train collided into the end of the track of the railway station, traveling at a speed of 20 km (12 m) per hour. The front engine and passenger carriages were destroyed, leaving passengers trapped in the wreckage for several hours. Comment: Argentina's rail network has been criticized for being outdated and run by inept private businesses. The most fatal accidents occurred in a 1972 collision, in which 142 were killed, and in a 1978 transit accident that killed 55. The Buenos Aires rail system is one of the biggest in Latin America, transporting an estimated 400 million passengers annually.
(BBC, Al Jazeera, NY Times)CHILE/PERU: Border crossing reopened, landmines detonated
A border crossing was reopened along the Chile-Peru border after heavy rains caused the Seco River to flood, depositing more than 100 landmines onto a road linking the towns of Arica, Chile with Tacna, Peru. The crossing was closed on Monday, causing approximately 1,400 travelers to wait 48 hours until the ban was lifted. Devices were detonated in controlled explosions by disposal experts, and the Chilean military dug drainage channels along the crossing to prevent similar incidents in the future. Comment: Thousands of mines were planted by Chile along the border with Peru in the 1970s during the Pinochet regime. There are still an estimated 143 mined areas currently located along the Peru border. As a signatory of the Ottawa Treaty banning anti-personal mines, the Chilean government plans to be mine-free by 2020.
(BBC, Andean Air Mail/Peruvian Times, Santiago Times)MEXICO: Prison guards arrested for mass prison break
The director of a Mexican prison and 28 guards were arrested and face possible charges of assisting gang members during a prison break from the Apodaca jail on Sunday outside the city of Monterrey. Investigators believe the guards assisted the breakout of 30 inmates with ties to the Zetas drug cartel, which left 44 prisoners of the Gulf cartel dead from stab wounds, strangling, and severe beating. Comment: Like many prisons in the region, the Apodaca jail houses approximately 3,000 inmates, double its capacity. The governor of Nuevo Leon, Rodrigo Medina, offered rewards upwards of $775,000 for escaped fugitives, and Mexico's Human Rights Commission commenced an investigation into the outbreak. The Zetas and Gulf cartels compete violently for drug-smuggling routes passing through Nuevo Leon into the United States.
(BBC, Al Jazeera, Reuters)
INDONESIA: Police quell riots in Bali prison
On Wednesday, a force of about 100 police and military raided Bali's Kerobokan prison at dawn to quell a riot that injured one policeman and three inmates. The violence reportedly started Tuesday night in retaliation by unidentified gang members for a stabbing. Guards on duty were forced to abandon the overcrowded prison, which holds roughly 1,000 inmates, when prisoners began throwing rocks and engaging in arson. On Thursday, authorities forcibly emptied the fire-damaged prison; sources have suggested that most of the prison's 1,000 inmates will be moved by military aircraft to another location in Indonesia, mostly likely Surabaya, on the island of Java. Comment: In recent years, officials voiced concerns about the level of security at the Kerobokan prison which has experienced a number of violent incidences, including a riot last June.
(BBC, BP, WP, SMH)PHILIPPINES: Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo enters not guilty plea against poll fraud
On February 23, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo entered a not guilty plea on charges filed last November of electoral fraud. The 64-year-old, who governed the Philippines from 2001 to 2010, is accused of ordering her allies, including those in the country's election commission, to fix the victory of all her party's 12 senatorial candidates in the Muslim province of Mindanao in the south during the 2007 elections. A pretrial is scheduled for April 19; if the case continues and she is convicted, it is likely Arroyo will spend the rest of her life in prison. Comment: Arroyo also faces other corruption investigations for her alleged role in the misuse of public funds and kickbacks from a multi-million dollar telecommunications deal with a China's ZTE Corp; accusations which she also denies. The public broadband deal was aborted in 2008.
(Reuters, PS, Aljazzera)SOUTH KOREA: Military holds drills in defiance of North Korea
On February 20, South Korea conducted live-fire military drills near the disputed Yellow Sea border with North Korea, despite Pyongyang's threat to respond with military force. The South Korean Defense Ministry said the Marine Corps, which guards the frontline islands near the border, began the exercise at about 10am local time. The South notified the North of the planned drill through representatives earlier in the week. In response, North Korean military officials issued a notice late Sunday, denouncing the drill and vowing to make "prompt merciless retaliatory strikes" if the South violated its territorial waters during the drill. South Korean military officials said they were ready to fend off any attack. The 1,400 residents on the frontline islands were evacuated into underground shelters before the drills commenced. Thus far, North Korea has given no response or retaliation for the drills. Comment: A similar military drill in 2010 provoked heavy artillery exchanges between the two countries near Yeonpyeong Island. The maritime line separating North and South was drawn by the U.S.-led UN Command without the North's consent at the close of the Korean War, which ended with a truce, not a peace treaty. North Korea routinely argues that the line should run further south. The two Koreas have technically been at war for 60 years.
(AlJazeera, HP, Xinhua)
|Europe & Central Asia
|GEORGIA: Abkhazia leader survives ambush
Aleksandr Ahkvab, the president of the separatist Abkhazia region of Georgia, escaped an assassination attempt in the Abkhazia region on Wednesday. An unidentified group of attackers detonated a landmine as Ahkvab's motorcade drove by, then opened fire. Ahkvab was uninjured, but two of his bodyguards were killed and one was injured in the attack. Comment: Abkhazia declared its independence from Georgia in 1999; the status of the region remains disputed. These most recent attacks may be an attempt to destabilize the political situation of Abkhazia ahead of elections in early March.
(BBC, RFE/RL, New York Times
)GERMANY: Gauck chosen as new president following Wulff resignation
German President Christian Wulff announced February 17 he would step down amid a series of accusations of corruption centering around a claim that Wulff had received a low-interest, private loan from the wife of a friend while governor of Lower Saxony. On Sunday, the German government chose Joachim Gauck as its nomination to be his successor. Gauck's nomination was not a foregone conclusion; Chancellor Merkel and her party, the Christian Democratic Union, initially opposed Gauck, but eventually gave in to political pressure from opposition parties. Comment: Wulff had been Merkel's choice for president in 2010 when previous leader Horst Köhler unexpectedly resigned. Gauck had at that time been supported by the opposition parties. Merkel's support of Gauck now is seen by some as an admission that her support of Wulff in 2010 was a mistake.
(Spiegel, Deutsche Welle, Euronews, CNN)HUNGARY: EU proposes aid cuts for budget rule breaks
The European Commission plans to freeze up to EUR 495 million of EU funding to Hungary in 2013 if the eastern European country is unable to improve its budget finances by January 1. Since joining the EU in 2004, Hungary has consistently been in breach of EU debt laws, which mandate that member states must keep their budget deficits below three percent of their GDP. The development funds are designed to support the poorer European countries. Comment: This move is unprecedented in EU history. Observers say this action is likely to lead to increased tensions between Budapest and the EU. The relationship was strained last month after the EU mandated changes to the Hungarian constitution, citing violations of EU law.
(Guardian, BBC, Euronews)
|Middle East & North Africa
ISRAEL: Khader Adnan agrees to end hunger strike in return for April 17 release
Khader Adnan, a Palestinian held without trial by Israel since December, agreed Tuesday, February 21, to end his 66-day hunger strike after Israeli Justice Ministry authorities committed to releasing him in April without charge. As part of the plea deal, Israel has said that it will not conduct a review of the practice of Administrative Detention more widely, in which suspected terrorists can be held without charge or trial. Comment: Celebrations in the Palestinian territories over the court's decision ended weeks of protests and solidarity hunger strikes, some of which involved violent confrontations between protestors and Israeli security forces. In regards to the Israeli Justice Ministry's decision, the Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman stated "There was a wrongful decision today, to release this Jihad activist." No evidence has been presented against Adnan, a reputed Islamic Jihad activist, before or since his December 17 arrest. (Reuters, CNN, AlJazeera)
SYRIA: Military assault on Homs continues despite attempted Red Cross brokered truce
On Monday, the Red Cross said that it was in talks with the Syrian authorities and rebels to sign a temporary ceasefire in order to deliver humanitarian aid to the city of Homs, which has suffered 22 days of bombardment. The International Committee of the Red Cross has called for a two-hour truce in order to deliver aid and evacuate civilians, a plea that has been largely ignored as Syrian forces continue the assault against the rebel-held city. The number of casualties in the siege could not be independently verified as foreign media faces stiff restrictions within Syria, although Amnesty International has estimated the number to be around 400. Comment: U.S. officials gave differing accounts of possible U.S. support for rebels, although direct financial support has been all but ruled out. U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland stated that "We don't believe that it makes sense to contribute now to the further militarization of Syria, but we may have to consider additional measures." Russia, which vetoed a UN Resolution that would have condemned the Assad regime earlier this month, stated that it will introduce a proposal in the UN supporting the delivery of humanitarian aid. Russia has also confirmed that it will not send a delegation to the Friday, February 24 meeting in Tunis to discuss possible actions to end the bloodshed. (RadioFreeEurope, GulfNews, AlJazeera)
YEMEN: Voting marred by violence in South
At least four people died in poll-related violence in the southern port city of Aden on Tuesday in presidential elections aimed at selecting a successor to Ali Abdullah Saleh. Although voter turnout was better than expected across the country, former vice-president Abdurabu Mansur Hadi was the only candidate and will be elected for a period of two years. He is expected to restructure the security forces, oversee the drafting of a new constitution, and promote job growth. Comment: Although the elections are seen by the general public as guaranteeing the end of Saleh's 33-year rule, the year-long struggle has undoubtedly contributed to Yemen's current instability. The country faces rebellions in both the north and the south, and has an al-Qaeda presence responsible for recent attacks. According to political analyst Abdulghani al-Iryani, "If the new government fails to fulfill its obligations to reach out and re-integrate the southerners, the Houthis (northerners) and the youth... then conflict will be inevitable." (OmanDailyObserver, CNN, BBC)
AFGHANISTAN: NATO admits to burning multiple copies of the Qur'an
At least 12 were killed and dozens injured throughout Afghanistan on Wednesday as Afghani riot police attempted to quell violent protests in response to the "inadvertent" burning of several Qur'ans by NATO forces; two of the dead were found Thursday to be U.S. soldiers. Crowds swelled up to 3,000 outside Bagram airbase in Kabul where the burnings were confirmed to have taken place on Monday when, according to civilian witnesses, two NATO officials threw bags of books into an incineration pit. Nearby Afghani workers later discovered the books were the copies of the Muslim holy book, the Qur'an, and attempted to extinguish the flames. NATO's general in command, John R. Allen, offered his "sincerest apologies for any offense... to the noble people of Afghanistan," and promised a thorough investigation into the incident. "We are taking steps to ensure this does not ever happen again. I assure you... this was not intentional in any way," General Allen said in video statement through the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Comment: It has not yet been reported who authorized the disposal of the Qur'ans or why they were burned, but some reports have speculated that the Holy Books were used by detainees in the Bagram prison to transfer messages. (NYT, BBC, The Guardian)
PAKISTAN: Delegates meet in London to discuss U.S. relations
Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar arrived in London on Monday as part of a delegation to discuss U.S.-led drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal regions. Khan was also scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Clinton to discuss the reopening of NATO supply routes between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The meetings, facilitated by the UK, may be a sign of thawing U.S.-Pakistani relations; last month, Pakistan denied Special Representative Marc Grossman a visit to Islamabad. In addition to asking her British counterpart, William Hague, to press the U.S. to end drone strikes, Khan will discuss with Western diplomats the results of last week's trilateral talks between Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Comment: Tri-lateral talks between the three nations' presidents were centered on bringing Taliban leaders to the negotiating table. Afghan President Hamid Karzai bluntly asked Pakistan to allow Afghanistan "access to Taliban leaders," to which Foreign Minister Khar responded, "If you have unrealistic, almost ridiculous expectations, then you don't have... common ground." (Dawn, Tribune, Pakistani Tribune, NYT)
REGIONAL: Sri Lanka meets with new Maldivian government
Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa met with new Maldivian Vice President Mohammed Waheeduddin on Wednesday to discuss peace and stability in the Maldives following the alleged coup earlier this month. Maldivian President Waheed Hassan sent his envoy to Sri Lanka, where Rajapaksa stressed the importance of a "restoration of stability" on the island chain. Former Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed, who left office February 7, has called for immediate elections following the supposed coup by supporters of Hassan. His request has been denied, however, and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake called the situation in the Maldives one that "would not ensure... free and fair elections could be held" until 2013. Comment: Nasheed did not take advantage of an opportunity to seek asylum in Sri Lanka, although his wife, Laila Ali, has fled from the Maldives. (Colombo Page, Hindustan Times, Sunday Times)
Researched/Written by Tarek J. Nasser
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