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.  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.

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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.

Featured Article 
Totonicapán: Tension in Guatemala's Indigenous Hinterland
International Crisis Group
IPSI - Featured Article

 

On 4 October 2012, Guatemalan soldiers allegedly opened fire on Maya protestors from the highland province of Totonicapán, killing six and injuring more than 30. It was a tragedy that appeared to show not only the dangers of using the army to maintain public order but also the rising tensions within impoverished indigenous communities. Although President Otto Pérez Molina initially denied military responsibility for the shooting, he did the right thing by allowing prosecutors to conduct a thorough investigation. Now the government must step up efforts to reform and strengthen the national police, establishing clear benchmarks for the military's withdrawal from law enforcement. To minimise the risk of new confrontations, it must also address the legitimate demands of indigenous communities for access to electricity, education and land, as well as their right to be consulted about decisions that affect their culture and livelihoods.

 

Read Report >> 


Africa 

MALI: Tuareg rebels capture two Islamist leaders

Members of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), the primary Tuareg separatist group in northern Mali, captured two senior leaders of the Islamist rebel groups Ansar-al-Din and the Movement for Tawhid and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO); these groups both played a role in the imposition of a harsh version of Sharia law in towns captured by the rebels during the conflict. MNLA members captured the two men near the Algerian border on Saturday and brought them to the easternmost city of Kidal, which is still controlled by Tuaregs, for questioning. Comment: The MNLA, the primary Tuareg rebel group in northern Mali, joined forces with the better armed Islamist rebel groups following last year's coup; however, the Islamist rebel groups quickly began to edge the more secular MNLA out of power and took control of governance in the captured areas. Following the arrival of French troops, the MNLA has vowed to support the French in the fight against Islamist groups. Relations between the MNLA and the Malian army remain strained. (Magharebia, New York Times, Reuters)

 

RWANDA: Rwandan government "disappointed" by ICTR ruling

On Monday, The International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR) overturned the sentence of two former Rwandan ministers found guilty of conspiracy to commit genocide and public incitement to commit genocide. The ministers, who headed the trade and civil service department during the 1994 genocide, had been sentenced to 30 years in jail in September 2011. Rwanda's Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga called the ICTR's decision "deeply disappointing." Comment: The ICTR's decision has given its detractors, who criticize both the cost and ineffectiveness of the court, additional ammunition. At its inception in 1994, the court promised to indict 700 senior politicians, government officials, and others involved with orchestrating the genocide, but later reduced the figure to 300. Only 92 people have thus far been indicted. (BBC, Hirondelle News Agency, Rwanda Focus, The Telegraph)

 

SOUTH AFRICA: South African government raises hourly pay following protests

Following strikes and violent protests in the Western Cape that started last November, the South African government announced an increase in mandatory minimum pay for farm laborers from R69 (USD 8)/hr to R105 (USD 12)/hr. The new law will go into effect on March 1. Farmers have warned that this mandated wage increase will force them to lay off workers, who are generally only employed for seasonal work, and there are fears that the layoffs could spark renewed violence in the region. Comment: South Africa experienced a wave of labor unrest in 2012, which included protests by mine workers and in the trucking and agricultural sectors. These protests have effected economic growth and harmed the country's reputation among international investors. (BBC, IOL News, Reuters)

 

Researched/Written by Janene Sawers

Americas

ARGENTINA: Falkland talks

Last Tuesday, during his visit to London, Argentina Foreign Minister, Hector Timerman, rejected Britain's offer to hold a three-way negotiation on the fate of the disputed Falkland/ Malvinas Islands. Minister Timerman said in an open letter to his British counterpart, William Hague, that only a bi-lateral meeting between Argentina and Britain would be acceptable. British Foreign Secretary Hague stated that the permission of the Falkland/Malvinas Island government is essential before beginning any negotiations on the matter with Argentina. Comment: The two countries fought a 10-week war in 1982 over the Falklands, which are part of Britain's self-governing overseas territories. Britain won, but Argentina started pressing its sovereignty claim anew last year after oil exploration began in waters near the remote islands. (BBC News, Reuters, The Argentina Independent, La Nacion).

 

COLOMBIA: ELN rebels holding suspected German spies

Last Monday, Rebels from Colombia's leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) captured two men, in Catatumbo, near the Venezuelan border. The National Liberation Army (ELN) identified the hostages as Uwe Breuer and Gunther Otto Breuer - German citizens - whom in the absence of an explanation for their presence in the region, are being treated as spies. The German Embassy in Bogota has created a crisis management group to verify the claims and is in contact with all relevant parties. Comments: The ELN was formed in 1965 inspired by the Cuban revolution and Marxist ideology. It is seen as the more politically motivated of the two rebel groups in Colombia, but in recent years has increasingly resorted to drug trafficking, extortion, and kidnapping for ransom to finance its insurgency. The ELN has reportedly sought to step up pressure on the Colombian government in a bid to be included in the current peace talks with the FARC rebels. (BBC News, DW, Huffington Post, Reuters).

 

MEXICO: Explosion at PEMEX offices

Last Thursday, an explosion in the basement of the offices of Mexico's state oil company PEMEX caused the collapse of two floors of a building adjacent to the well-known tower; local authorities report that 37 people, mostly women, were killed and more than 100 still remain hospitalized. Further investigations confirmed that the cause of the explosion was an electrical fault which detonated leaking gas. Comment: Last September, 30 people died in a similar explosion at a PEMEX gas plant in northern Mexico, thought to have been caused by a build-up of gas. According to security analysts, these two events prompted speculations of sabotage, as well as renewed criticism of the oil company's safety record. (CNN, The Guardian, Reuters, El Universal,BBC).

 

PARAGUAY: Paraguay Presidential candidate Lino Oviedo dies in helicopter crash

Paraguayan presidential candidate Lino Cesar Oviedo was killed in a helicopter crash last Sunday on the 24th anniversary of the coup that ended Stroessner's 35-year dictatorship. The government decreed three days of mourning and suspended all official activities. The cause of the crash is still under investigation by Police. Comment: Lino Cesar Oviedo was a retired general who had been involved in politics for decades, and was a primary leader in the 1989 coup. (BBC News, The Washington Post , New York Times, Al Jazeera, the guardian).

 

Researched/Written by Ana Maria Rodriguez Contreras

 

East Asia

CHINA: Beijing refutes cyber-attack accusations

On Tuesday, Chinese experts denied allegations that the PRC is responsible for a string of security breaches targeting U.S. media outlets. Over the past week, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Twitter all released reports of cyber-attacks. China's government is suspected by each media source except for Twitter, who did not name a responsible party. The NY Times' hacking incident began on October 25 during an investigation into the wealth of China's Premier Wen Jiaboa and his family. The hackers worked for months to lift all employee passwords, but did not breach customer information, according to the NY Times report. Comments: Gaining access to Twitter accounts could allow the tracking of journalists, said Aska Soltani, an independent privacy and security researcher. Relations between the NY Times and Beijing have long been fraught with tensions due to the NY Times' coverage of events that portray China in a negative light, such as Tiananmen Square and corruption of Chinese leaders. The Chinese government reported that they too were victims of cyberattacks; 12,513 Chinese websites, 1,167 of which were governmental, were allegedly hacked in 2011. (AP, Xinhua, NY Times, WP)

 

MYANMAR: Kachin rebels agree to political dialogue with government; UN releases aid

The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) made agreements with the Myanmar government on Monday to set up a communications channel and monitoring system in hopes of reaching a ceasefire. China facilitated the talks between the Myanmar government and the Kachin rebels in the town of Ruili. Further talks are slated for later this month, and China will continue to play a role in the dialogue. On Wednesday, the Myanmar government allowed the Kachin territory to receive UN aid for the first time since December 2012. Comments: After 17 years of ceasefire, violence between the Kachins and the government erupted in June 2011 when KIO refused to abandon a base near a hydropower plant jointly owned by China. The KIO seek greater autonomy from the government and is the last of 11 major ethnic groups in Myanmar to make peace with President Thein Sein. (AP, China Daily, Reuters)

 

TIBET: Weak international response to self-immolations

At a four day gathering this week in New Delhi for the Tibetan People's Solidarity Campaign, Tibetans questioned the lack of international response to nearly 100 self-immolations since 2009. On January 31, China convicted eight Tibetans for inciting the self-immolations. Lobsong Sangay, the Prime Minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, called the trials a "sham" and blamed the self-immolations on repression of Tibetans by the Chinese government. In response to the unrest, the Chinese government tightened security in January to limit travel by collecting Tibetans' passports, claiming they would replace them with electronic versions that have not been issued, and most Tibetans' applications for new passports are denied.  Comments: The Chinese government accuses the Dalai Lama of encouraging self-immolations. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stated that the U.S. urges China to end oppressive policies toward Tibetans. Lobsang Sangay requested that that Tibetans around the world suspend Lunar New Year (Losar) celebrations in honor of those suffering in Tibet. (AP, Radio Free Asia, NY Times)

 

REGIONAL: Maritime dispute simmers between Japan and China

Japan lodged a complaint against the Chinese government on Tuesday over two incidents of Chinese military vessels directing fire-control radar toward a Japanese naval ship and helicopter on January 19and 30, respectively. The incidents took place in the East China Sea near the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. The complaint comes amidst efforts to ease tensions between the two nations, whose heads of state may meet in April for a summit. Comments: Japan's Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera stated that beaming fire-control radar is "very abnormal" and could easily escalate into a dangerous situation. Japan's Prime Minister Abe requested Onodera to respond calmly to provocations. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying demanded Japanese ships and airplanes desist from activity near the islands. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland warns that a miscalculation could jeopardize the peace and economic growth of the region. (Japan Times, China Daily, Reuters)

 

Researched/Written by Melissa Newcomb

Europe & Central Asia

ARMENIA: Presidential candidate against delaying elections

Despite surviving an attempted assassination by an unidentified gunman last Thursday, Paruyr Hayrikyan, the presidential candidate for the Union for National Self-Determination Party said that the forthcoming election should not be postponed. The speaker of the parliament, Ovik Abramian, said that the attack may have been carried out as a means to thwart the elections. Hayrikyan blamed the ex-Soviet secret agency, the KGB, since Hayrikyan was a dissident during the Soviet era. Comment: According to the Armenian constitution, if a candidate faces "circumstances of insuperable force," the election can be delayed for two weeks. Since President Serge Sarkisian is expected to win the forthcoming election, this predictability has triggered one of the presidential candidates, Andreas Ghukasya, to initiate a hunger strike on January 21 arguing that the election is rigged. The presidential election of 2008 ended with clashes between police forces and protesters, leaving 10 people dead and over 200 injured. (Reuters, BBC, Washington Post, RIA Novosti)

 

DENMARK: Islam critic and scholar survives shooting

On Tuesday, Lars Hedegaard, the head of both theDanish and theInternational Free Press Society, survived an attempted assassination by an unidentified man dressed as a postman outside his house in Copenhagen. Hedegaard, labeled a critic of Islam, has been campaigning against the lack of freedom of the press and expression under Islam, aligning himself with the Dutch far-right Geert Wilder's politics. Comment: Since 2005, when cartoonist Kurt Westergaard published images portraying the Prophet Muhammad with bombs in his turban in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, Denmark has been a target for Islamist militants. Portraying the Prophet violates an Islamic tenet; Hedegaard has criticized Islam, claiming it limits the freedom of the press. The cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad were republished in 2008, and Hedegaard was fined by the Danish Court for expressing critical statements about Muslims in 2011. (Nyhederne TV2, Dagens Nyheter, BBC, International Business Times)

 

FRANCE: President Hollande - "the liberator"

Malians hailed French President Francois Hollande's as the "liberator" during his visit to Mali this past Saturday, following the French troops' recapture of the three main towns of Gao, Timbuktu, and Kidal in northern Mali from rebel forces. In a statement last week, President Hollande said that the security of these towns were the main objective; however, on Saturday, he assured Malians that France will remain until the "job is finished," thereby pledging to reunify and restore stability in Mali. On Wednesday, a government spokeswoman confirmed that President Hollande supports a withdrawal of French troops in the beginning of March. Comment: Over the past three weeks, French troops have been present in Mali and forcing the rebels to retreat into themountains close to the Algerian border. Since its first deployment, France has encouraged the African forces to assume main responsibility. (Reuters, BBC, France24, Al Jazeera)

 

TURKEY: Suicide attack at U.S. Embassy

On February 1, a suicide bomber detonated explosives outside the U.S. embassy in Ankara, killing a Turkish security guard and injuring at least two others. Turkish media has identified the attacker as Ecevit Sanli, who is affiliated with the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKD/C), which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States. DHKD/C has claimed responsibility for the attack as a response to the anti-missile system along Turkish-Syrian borders, but media sources say that it could also be in retaliation to the detention of 85 members of the DHKD/C by the Turkish police last month. Comment: DHKD/C was founded in 1978 and is a Marxist-Leninist party that has been blamed for similar attacks during the 1990's. (Reuters, Eurasianet, Hurriyet Daily News)

 

Researched/Written by Caroline Larsson

Middle East & North Africa

IRAQ: Surges of violence strike north of Baghdad

On Sunday, a detonated car bomb was followed by gunmen storming the police headquarters in the northern city of Kirkuk, leaving 33 dead and at least 70 others wounded. The following day, a suicide bomber killed 23 people and left 49 wounded at the Sahwa headquarters in Taji, a city 20km north of Baghdad, as local members gathered to collect their monthly checks. The Sahwa, also known as the "Sons of Iraq" are former Sunni warfighters who rebelled against al-Qaeda in the Anbar province during the U.S.-led war. On Tuesday, another attack at the entrance to the Taji central prison left 19 dead in an apparent attempt to break into the jail and release prisoners. Comment: Monday's suicide bombing was the seventh attack the country has suffered in the past month. There were a total of 246 deaths recorded during the month of January, the most in a single month since September 2012. The recent surge of attacks comes as President Nouri al-Maliki faces mounting protests from Sunnis who feel they are being marginalized. Although no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, local security officials have blamed the al-Qaeda affiliate, Islamic State of Iraq, who has vowed to retake land they had controlled prior to the U.S. occupation. (al-Jazeera, CNN, al-Arabiya, al-Arabiya, al-Jazeera)

 

LEBANON: Hezbollah under fire from the West

On Tuesday, Bulgaria reported that two of the three people responsible for the bus bomb that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian citizen and left 30 wounded last July in Burgas, were members of the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah. It was the deadliest attack against Israelis abroad since 2004. In response to the report, the U.S. and Israel immediately appealed to the EU to have Hezbollah deemed a terrorist organization. Lebanon has responded to the report by saying that it will cooperate with Bulgaria in its continuing investigation. Comment: Because Hezbollah is part of Lebanon's coalition government, the stability of the government will be in jeopardy if the EU moves towards sanctions. Since Prime Minister Najib Mikati formed the government two years ago, it has been receiving promising support from EU members; however, if the role of Hezbollah is confirmed, some members may withdraw their support. Hezbollah has not responded to the charges against it. (al-Jazeera, Haaretz, al-Arabiya, CNN)    

 

SYRIA: Possible first step to peace talks

This past weekend, Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, leader of the opposition umbrella organization Syrian National Coalition (SNC), met with Russian, Iranian, and U.S. officials in Germany for peace talks that stressed the importance of Syria finding a way of ending its conflict internally. The talks came in light of Khatib's initiative for dialogue with Syrian Vice President, Faruq al-Sharaa, last week to bring about an end to the bloodshed. Khatib said that he was willing to talk if Assad released around 160,000 detainees and issued passports for those Syrians stranded in neighboring countries. Khatib has stated that he called for dialogue out of humanitarian concerns to save Syrian lives and the country's failing infrastructure. On the other hand, the Syrian National Council, which is under the umbrella of the SNC, has rejected Khatib's call for dialogue and is committed solely to overthrowing Assad. Comment: President Assad has not yet commented on Khatib's call for dialogue, yet it is likely that the government will dismiss it. In the past, the opposition, led by Khatib and the SNC, has demanded that Assad step down before peace talks begin, which may indicate that the opposition is now more willing to negotiate. While the U.S. has explicitly supported Khatib's initiative, Russian and Iranian officials have said that they will simply continue talks with opposition leaders. (al-Arabiya, al- Jazeera, BBC, al-Arabiya)

 

TUNISIA: Political opposition leader assassinated

On Wednesday, the leading opposition figure of the Popular Front party, Chokri Belaid, was gunned down outside of his home in the capital of Tunis. Belaid was the leading critic of the ruling Islamic party, Enhnahda, and other Islamic authorities that dominate the coalition government. He has often accused Islamic authorities for not trying to deter violence by Islamic conservatives on the secularities, like art and mausoleums, which are seen as outside of Islam. As a result of the slaying, 8,000 protestors gathered outside the Interior Ministry calling for the end of the government, while thousands of others went to the streets in the cities of Mahdia, Sousse, Monastir, and Sidi Bouzid. Comment: The country has struggled with political and economic stability since the overthrowing of dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011. Many of those who contributed to the removal of Ben Ali feel that their hopes and personal freedoms are now being repressed by Islamists. Last month, President Moncef Marzouki warned that the tension between secularists and Islamists could lead to civil war. Mazouki returned from his trip to France early and cancelled his trip to Egypt on Thursday to address the unrest. (Reuters, al-Arabiya, al-Jazeera

 

Researched/Written by Kevin Coughlin

South Asia

BANGLADESH: ICT sentences Abdul Quader Mollah for life

Abdul Quader Mollah, assistant secretary general of the Jamaat-e-Islami, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in Bangladesh this Tuesday. Mollah had been accused of torture, murder, and mass killings during Bangladesh's war for independence in 1971. Jamaat members called for a national strike to protest the verdict with the closing of shops and businesses until Wednesday. Following the verdict, protesters vandalized buildings and burned vehicles in violent demonstrations that led to the deaths of three people. Comment: Protests have prevailed in the country since January following the tribunal's death sentence of Abdul Kalam Azad, the Islamic television cleric convicted for crimes against humanity during the 1971 war. The ICT was set-up in 2010 to try those accused of war crimes in Bangladesh's war of independence. (The Daily Star, Reuters, BBC)

 

INDIA: Rape victim's companion witness for rape trial

On Tuesday, the 28-year-old male companion of a deceased gang rape victim in New Delhi served as a primary witness in the trial of the perpetrators.  The witness was able to identify the bus on which they were attacked. Further evidence, including cellphones, jewelry, and debit cards, was found in the homes of the accused in addition to the DNA from the victim's clothing. Five of the men accused of raping and killing the 23-year-old female medical student pleaded not guilty. The sixth man accused is being tried in juvenile court, and if convicted would serve three years in prison. Comment: The rape of the young woman has sparked significant protest in India for its rape laws and safety of women. The names of the victims remain undisclosed for their protection. (Times of India, Reuters, CNN, BBC)

 

PAKISTAN: Taliban raid army base

On February 2, Taliban militants raided an army base in the Northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa resulting in the deaths of 35 people, including 10 civilians and 13 soldiers; 12 militants also died in the attack. The 10 civilians, including three women and three children, were killed in a nearby home, although there are conflicting reports about whether the militants directly attacked the home or if it was struck by a rocket. The Taliban claim the attacks were in response to the Pakistan army's support of U.S.-led drone strikes in January that killed two Taliban senior members, Faisal Khan and Toofani. Comment: Despite Pakistani army operations against the Taliban, attacks have intensified throughout the northwest. Although Pakistan's government has publicly criticized drone strikes, they have also been known to privately support them. (Reuters, Al Jazeera, BBC)

 

REGIONAL: Afghanistan and Pakistan peace deal

After a meeting with British PM Cameron on February 4, Afghan President Karzai and Pakistani President Zardari agreed on the creation of a peace deal between their two countries over the next six months.  The two leaders also hope to include the Taliban in the reconciliation process by supporting the establishment of an office in Doha where the Taliban and the High Peace Council of Afghanistan can initiate peace talks. Zardari, who recently released Afghan Taliban prisoners to jumpstart negotiations, stated that "Peace in Afghanistan is peace in Pakistan. We can only survive together." The Taliban, who in the past have publicly refused to negotiate with Kabul, have yet to make a statement. Comment: Despite peace talks, mistrust between the two countries is still a standing issue. With the withdrawal of troops approaching in 2014, peaceful relations in the region are in the strategic interest of the U.S. (The Nation, Al Jazeera, BBC)

 

Researched/Written by Angela Mughal

February 8, 2013
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In This Issue

Featured Article

Africa

Americas

East Asia

Europe & Central Asia

Middle East & North Africa

South Asia

IPSI Symposium

The Hague Symposium on Post-Conflict Transitions & International Justice
July - August 2013

Applications due Mar 11  

Learn More >>

 

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IPSI Symposium

The Bologna, Italy Symposium on Conflict Prevention, Resolution, & Reconciliation
June-July 2013
Applications due Mar 11
Learn More >>

 

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IPSI Leadership 

 

Cameron M. Chisholm

Dr. I. William Zartman 
Dr. P. Terrence Hopmann 
Chic Dambach

George Foote

Melanie Greenberg

Alexander Little 
Kevin Melton

William Stuebner 
Pamela Aall 
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah
Betty Bigombe 

Dr. Francis Deng
Jan Eliasson
Gareth Evans 
Dr. Ted Robert Gurr
Amb. Jacques Paul Klein
Peter Kyle 
Dr. Jean Paul Lederach
Jeffrey Mapendere
John Marks 
Susan Collin Marks 
Dr. Joyce Neu

John Prendergast

Dr. Valerie Rosoux 
Dr. Ruth Wedgwood

Dr. Craig Zelizer

 

About Us >>

 

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