29 Sep
Ghost Nation: How Ebola Is Threatening Daily Life In Liberia With ‘Chaos And Collapse’ | Louise Ridley 
The deadly Ebola epidemic ravaging West Africa isn’t only claiming thousands of lives – it is paralysing society.
Liberia’s four million people are the most severely hit by the worst outbreak of the virus in history, and the effects could be felt for generations.
The country’s night-time streets – deserted between 9pm and 6am due to a nationwide curfew – hint at the vacuum in a country where daily norms are swiftly vanishing.
On 22 March, the first two cases of the Ebola virus were confirmed in Liberia’s northern county of Lofa. Just six months later, at least 3,000 cases and 1,328 deaths have been reported, the highest numbers of any affected country.
The number of cases worldwide could explode to 1.4 million by January if urgent measures are not taken, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
FULL ARTICLE (The Huffington Post)
Photo: EC/ECHO/Jean-Louis Mosser/Flickr

Ghost Nation: How Ebola Is Threatening Daily Life In Liberia With ‘Chaos And Collapse’ | Louise Ridley 

The deadly Ebola epidemic ravaging West Africa isn’t only claiming thousands of lives – it is paralysing society.

Liberia’s four million people are the most severely hit by the worst outbreak of the virus in history, and the effects could be felt for generations.

The country’s night-time streets – deserted between 9pm and 6am due to a nationwide curfew – hint at the vacuum in a country where daily norms are swiftly vanishing.

On 22 March, the first two cases of the Ebola virus were confirmed in Liberia’s northern county of Lofa. Just six months later, at least 3,000 cases and 1,328 deaths have been reported, the highest numbers of any affected country.

The number of cases worldwide could explode to 1.4 million by January if urgent measures are not taken, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

FULL ARTICLE (The Huffington Post)

Photo: EC/ECHO/Jean-Louis Mosser/Flickr

Reconciliation in Central African Republic ‘a distant prospect’ | Mark Caldwell
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is opening a new investigation into atrocities committed in the Central African Republic (CAR) in the last two years.
Months of fighting between the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition and the Christian anti-Balaka militia have left at least 5,000 people dead. The atrocities to be probed include murder, rape, forced displacement, persecution, pillage and the use of children under the age of 15 in combat.
DW: Can you see the process of reconciliation between the warring factions becoming easier if justice is seen to be done and perpetrators of atrocities are brought to justice?
Thierry Vircoulon: I think right now we are very far away from the prospect of reconciliation in CAR. A lot of massacres happened last year and there is unfortunately still fighting going on so reconciliation seems to be a very far away prospect. I think it’s very welcome that the ICC has finished its preliminary investigation and that the conclusion is that they will definitely investigate further the crimes that have been committed and that are still being committed in Central African Republic. We must not forget that this is a request that has made to the ICC by the transitional government, it is not the initiative of the ICC.
FULL INTERVIEW (Deutsche Welle)
Photo: Pierre Holtz for UNICEF/hdptcar/Flickr

Reconciliation in Central African Republic ‘a distant prospect’ | Mark Caldwell

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is opening a new investigation into atrocities committed in the Central African Republic (CAR) in the last two years.

Months of fighting between the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition and the Christian anti-Balaka militia have left at least 5,000 people dead. The atrocities to be probed include murder, rape, forced displacement, persecution, pillage and the use of children under the age of 15 in combat.

DW: Can you see the process of reconciliation between the warring factions becoming easier if justice is seen to be done and perpetrators of atrocities are brought to justice?

Thierry Vircoulon: I think right now we are very far away from the prospect of reconciliation in CAR. A lot of massacres happened last year and there is unfortunately still fighting going on so reconciliation seems to be a very far away prospect. I think it’s very welcome that the ICC has finished its preliminary investigation and that the conclusion is that they will definitely investigate further the crimes that have been committed and that are still being committed in Central African Republic. We must not forget that this is a request that has made to the ICC by the transitional government, it is not the initiative of the ICC.

FULL INTERVIEW (Deutsche Welle)

Photo: Pierre Holtz for UNICEF/hdptcar/Flickr

North Korea admits to Kim Jong-un’s ill-health for first time | Justin McCurry
That Kim Jong-un is carrying a few extra pounds has been obvious since he became North Korea’s leader in late 2011. But speculation that his increasing weight – apparently partly due to a weakness for cheese – has brought on debilitating spells of gout rose dramatically this week, after he failed to attend an important parliamentary session.
Rumours that Kim, reputedly a heavy smoker, is in less than robust health surfaced earlier this year when state TV footage showed him with a pronounced limp and looking noticeably bulkier than he did during his first few months as leader.
On Friday, North Korean authorities, in a rare display of openness about their leader’s health, admitted for the first time that Kim was suffering from an “uncomfortable physical condition”, although they did not confirm rumours that the 31-year-old, Swiss-educated leader was suffering from gout.
FULL ARTICLE (The Guardian)
Photo: Thierry Ehrmann/Flickr

North Korea admits to Kim Jong-un’s ill-health for first time | Justin McCurry

That Kim Jong-un is carrying a few extra pounds has been obvious since he became North Korea’s leader in late 2011. But speculation that his increasing weight – apparently partly due to a weakness for cheese – has brought on debilitating spells of gout rose dramatically this week, after he failed to attend an important parliamentary session.

Rumours that Kim, reputedly a heavy smoker, is in less than robust health surfaced earlier this year when state TV footage showed him with a pronounced limp and looking noticeably bulkier than he did during his first few months as leader.

On Friday, North Korean authorities, in a rare display of openness about their leader’s health, admitted for the first time that Kim was suffering from an “uncomfortable physical condition”, although they did not confirm rumours that the 31-year-old, Swiss-educated leader was suffering from gout.

FULL ARTICLE (The Guardian)

Photo: Thierry Ehrmann/Flickr

26 Sep
Central Asia’s Coming Winter of Discontent | Deirdre Tynan
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Germany and like-minded Western donors like Switzerland and the Netherlands have poured millions into trying to solve Central Asia’s chronic water problems. But Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have wasted this opportunity. A new strategy is called for, both in the region and by those who would help it.
After more than two decades of political independence, millions of people still have inadequate access to clean water. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan face chronic energy shortages this winter, despite huge potential as producers of hydroelectric power. Water supplies have even triggered cross-border skirmishes in the Ferghana Valley. These have been limited so far. But they have the potential to trigger a chain reaction that brittle Central Asian governments would struggle to contain without significant loss of life.
FULL COMMENTARY (Crisis Group Blog: In Pursuit of Peace)
Photo: Max De Haldevang/Crisis Group

Central Asia’s Coming Winter of Discontent | Deirdre Tynan

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Germany and like-minded Western donors like Switzerland and the Netherlands have poured millions into trying to solve Central Asia’s chronic water problems. But Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have wasted this opportunity. A new strategy is called for, both in the region and by those who would help it.

After more than two decades of political independence, millions of people still have inadequate access to clean water. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan face chronic energy shortages this winter, despite huge potential as producers of hydroelectric power. Water supplies have even triggered cross-border skirmishes in the Ferghana Valley. These have been limited so far. But they have the potential to trigger a chain reaction that brittle Central Asian governments would struggle to contain without significant loss of life.

FULL COMMENTARY (Crisis Group Blog: In Pursuit of Peace)

Photo: Max De Haldevang/Crisis Group

"One year after the Westgate Mall terrorist attack in Nairobi, Al-Shabaab is more entrenched and a graver threat to Kenya. But the deeper danger is less in the long established terrorist cells that perpetrated the act – horrific as it was – and more in managing and healing the rising communal tensions and historic divides that Al-Shabaab violence has deliberately agitated, most recently in Lamu county."

—From Crisis Group’s latest Africa Briefing Kenya: Al-Shabaab - Closer to Home

Crisis in Venezuela worsening | Mark Schneider
The lull in the street battles that raged across many of Venezuela’s cities this spring belies the violent civil conflict still threatening the country. From February to June, dozens of people died, hundreds were wounded and several thousand more were detained during conflict between protesters and government security forces.
Repression, exhaustion and disorganization have quieted protesters for the moment, but they will certainly return given the government’s failure to address the causes of the country’s polarization. With its vast oil reserves — by some measures the world’s largest — and its complex network of regional relations, Venezuela’s meltdown would be a disaster not only for its people but for the entire hemisphere.
FULL COMMENTARY (Miami Herald)
Photo: andresAzp/flickr

Crisis in Venezuela worsening | Mark Schneider

The lull in the street battles that raged across many of Venezuela’s cities this spring belies the violent civil conflict still threatening the country. From February to June, dozens of people died, hundreds were wounded and several thousand more were detained during conflict between protesters and government security forces.

Repression, exhaustion and disorganization have quieted protesters for the moment, but they will certainly return given the government’s failure to address the causes of the country’s polarization. With its vast oil reserves — by some measures the world’s largest — and its complex network of regional relations, Venezuela’s meltdown would be a disaster not only for its people but for the entire hemisphere.

FULL COMMENTARY (Miami Herald)

Photo: andresAzp/flickr

25 Sep
"The Ebola health crisis threatens to become a political crisis that could unravel years of effort to stabilise West Africa. The hardest-hit countries now face widespread chaos and, potentially, collapse. Adding social breakdown to the epidemic would create disaster perhaps impossible to manage."

—From Crisis Group’s latest Statement on Ebola and Conflict in West Africa

Why Turkey is reluctant to join U.S-led coalition against ISIS | Mark Gollom
The launch of airstrikes in Syria by a U.S.-led coalition as part of the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has placed Turkey in a delicate position of needing to thwart the militant group’s growing threat while not wanting to raise its ire and face retribution.
"It`s obviously very careful on how it handles ISIS," said Didem Ackyel Collinsworth, the International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Turkey. "In terms of signing on to the coalition and taking part in airstrikes and so on, [it] would be very cautious about that."
On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was considering expanding support for Western and Arab operations against the Islamic State group to include everything, “both military and political.”
The remarks signalled a possible shift by Erdogan, who has so far not committed to a U.S.-led coalition to take on the militants.
FULL ARTICLE (CBC News)
Photo: Eboni Everson-Myart, U.S. Army/DOD/flickr

Why Turkey is reluctant to join U.S-led coalition against ISIS | Mark Gollom

The launch of airstrikes in Syria by a U.S.-led coalition as part of the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has placed Turkey in a delicate position of needing to thwart the militant group’s growing threat while not wanting to raise its ire and face retribution.

"It`s obviously very careful on how it handles ISIS," said Didem Ackyel Collinsworth, the International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Turkey. "In terms of signing on to the coalition and taking part in airstrikes and so on, [it] would be very cautious about that."

On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was considering expanding support for Western and Arab operations against the Islamic State group to include everything, “both military and political.”

The remarks signalled a possible shift by Erdogan, who has so far not committed to a U.S.-led coalition to take on the militants.

FULL ARTICLE (CBC News)

Photo: Eboni Everson-Myart, U.S. Army/DOD/flickr

Germany to offer South Korea tips on reunification | Julian Ryall
Berlin and Seoul set up advisory panel to pass on the foreign policy lessons Germany learned from reunification in 1990, although analysts suggest hurdles are much higher for a divided Korean peninsula.
Not many aspects of German reunification passed off without a hitch when the process began nearly a quarter of a century ago, with numerous bumps in the road only visible after the nation had set out on the journey to bring the two sides back together. But the lessons that were learned still have resonance today and some of the politicians, academics and bureaucrats who steered Germany through those difficult times are sharing their knowledge and experience with another country that has been divided for decades.
On September 18, Markus Ederer, a German foreign ministry secretary, and Kim Jae-shin, South Korean ambassador to Germany, signed a memorandum of understanding in Berlin on the creation of a group to offer advice specifically on foreign policy as the two Koreas move closer to reunification.
FULL ARTICLE (Deutsche Welle)
Photo: ores2k/flickr

Germany to offer South Korea tips on reunification | Julian Ryall

Berlin and Seoul set up advisory panel to pass on the foreign policy lessons Germany learned from reunification in 1990, although analysts suggest hurdles are much higher for a divided Korean peninsula.

Not many aspects of German reunification passed off without a hitch when the process began nearly a quarter of a century ago, with numerous bumps in the road only visible after the nation had set out on the journey to bring the two sides back together. But the lessons that were learned still have resonance today and some of the politicians, academics and bureaucrats who steered Germany through those difficult times are sharing their knowledge and experience with another country that has been divided for decades.

On September 18, Markus Ederer, a German foreign ministry secretary, and Kim Jae-shin, South Korean ambassador to Germany, signed a memorandum of understanding in Berlin on the creation of a group to offer advice specifically on foreign policy as the two Koreas move closer to reunification.

FULL ARTICLE (Deutsche Welle)

Photo: ores2k/flickr

Kenya: Al-Shabaab – Closer to Home
Nairobi/Brussels  |   25 Sep 2014
One year after the Westgate attack, Al-Shabaab has become more entrenched and active in Kenya. Meanwhile, the country’s immediate post-Westgate unity has broken down in the face of increasing attacks, and the political elites, security services, and ethnic and faith communities are beset by mutual suspicion and recriminations.
In its latest briefing, Kenya: Al-Shabaab – Closer to Home, the International Crisis Group highlights Al-Shabaab’s growing presence and increasingly frequent attacks and the muddled response of Kenya’s government, security services and political elite. Anti-terrorism operations perceived to target entire communities have exacerbated feelings of marginalisation and persecution, particularly of the Muslim minority, and are feeding directly into Al-Shabaab’s messaging and recruitment.
The briefing’s major findings and recommendations are:
The wider danger of Al-Shabaab’s tactics in Kenya lies in its ability to use existing religious and ethnic fault lines to deepen the country’s political and social divides.
Kenyan political elites need to acknowledge the domestic terror threat and form a common action-plan together with the country’s senior Muslim leadership to counter extremist recruitment.
The government should put into practice the recommendations of the 2008 Special Action (“Sharawe”) Committee set up to address the concerns of the Muslim minority: these include measures to end institutional discrimination against Muslims and their more proportional representation in senior public service appointments.
The government and its security services need to identify and isolate the specific Al-Shabaab threat and not conflate the actions of extremists with specific communities – especially in the north east and the coast – whose past and present grievances make them suspect in the eyes of the state. It must reappraise its anti-terrorism practices and operations, which are perceived as collective punishment of Muslims and particular ethnic groups. It should also allow for transparent investiga-tions and redress where operations have exceeded the law or breached constitutional rights.
“Kenya’s 4.3 million Muslims have been historically marginalised, especially in the north east and along the coast”, says Cedric Barnes, Horn of Africa Project Director. “If the government wants to cut grassroots support for Al-Shabaab, it has to address the widespread institutional and socio-economic discrimination felt by Kenyan Muslims”.
“The blame for growing radicalisation in Kenya lies less in the weaknesses of the country’s institutions than in the unwillingness of political leaders to put aside partisan divisions”, says EJ Hogendoorn, Deputy Africa Program Director. “Their playing politics with terrorism compounds an already volatile situation”.
FULL BRIEFING

Kenya: Al-Shabaab – Closer to Home

Nairobi/Brussels  |   25 Sep 2014

One year after the Westgate attack, Al-Shabaab has become more entrenched and active in Kenya. Meanwhile, the country’s immediate post-Westgate unity has broken down in the face of increasing attacks, and the political elites, security services, and ethnic and faith communities are beset by mutual suspicion and recriminations.

In its latest briefing, Kenya: Al-Shabaab – Closer to Home, the International Crisis Group highlights Al-Shabaab’s growing presence and increasingly frequent attacks and the muddled response of Kenya’s government, security services and political elite. Anti-terrorism operations perceived to target entire communities have exacerbated feelings of marginalisation and persecution, particularly of the Muslim minority, and are feeding directly into Al-Shabaab’s messaging and recruitment.

The briefing’s major findings and recommendations are:

  • The wider danger of Al-Shabaab’s tactics in Kenya lies in its ability to use existing religious and ethnic fault lines to deepen the country’s political and social divides.
  • Kenyan political elites need to acknowledge the domestic terror threat and form a common action-plan together with the country’s senior Muslim leadership to counter extremist recruitment.
  • The government should put into practice the recommendations of the 2008 Special Action (“Sharawe”) Committee set up to address the concerns of the Muslim minority: these include measures to end institutional discrimination against Muslims and their more proportional representation in senior public service appointments.
  • The government and its security services need to identify and isolate the specific Al-Shabaab threat and not conflate the actions of extremists with specific communities – especially in the north east and the coast – whose past and present grievances make them suspect in the eyes of the state. It must reappraise its anti-terrorism practices and operations, which are perceived as collective punishment of Muslims and particular ethnic groups. It should also allow for transparent investiga-tions and redress where operations have exceeded the law or breached constitutional rights.

“Kenya’s 4.3 million Muslims have been historically marginalised, especially in the north east and along the coast”, says Cedric Barnes, Horn of Africa Project Director. “If the government wants to cut grassroots support for Al-Shabaab, it has to address the widespread institutional and socio-economic discrimination felt by Kenyan Muslims”.

“The blame for growing radicalisation in Kenya lies less in the weaknesses of the country’s institutions than in the unwillingness of political leaders to put aside partisan divisions”, says EJ Hogendoorn, Deputy Africa Program Director. “Their playing politics with terrorism compounds an already volatile situation”.

FULL BRIEFING

(Source: )