International Crisis Group

Apr 17

The Syrian “guests” of Istanbul | Tanya Talaga
They beg on the street corners with their Syrian passports open so passersby don’t confuse them with Roma.
Others crowd the congested, winding streets of Istanbul in their luxury cars with Syrian license plates.
Outside of the 220,000 refugees from Syria living in temporary camps lining the southern border, no one knows exactly how many displaced Syrians are living inside Turkey’s major cities, but estimates place the number at between 500,000 and 1 million people.
Syrian refugee family in Turkey ‘trying to leave this miserable life’
They can be found all over Istanbul, a sprawling metropolis of more than 14 million.
FULL ARTICLE (The Toronto Star)
Photo: ultimcodex/flickr

The Syrian “guests” of Istanbul | Tanya Talaga

They beg on the street corners with their Syrian passports open so passersby don’t confuse them with Roma.

Others crowd the congested, winding streets of Istanbul in their luxury cars with Syrian license plates.

Outside of the 220,000 refugees from Syria living in temporary camps lining the southern border, no one knows exactly how many displaced Syrians are living inside Turkey’s major cities, but estimates place the number at between 500,000 and 1 million people.

Syrian refugee family in Turkey ‘trying to leave this miserable life’

They can be found all over Istanbul, a sprawling metropolis of more than 14 million.

FULL ARTICLE (The Toronto Star)

Photo: ultimcodex/flickr

Apr 16


The security sweep – at one point 6,000 police descended on Eastleigh and neighbouring Majengo and Pangani – and mass arrests are particularly poignant for Kenyans of Somali heritage, a significant minority population whose districts were for long years under a state of emergency.

—Cedric Barnes, “Losing Hearts and Minds in Kenya”

The security sweep – at one point 6,000 police descended on Eastleigh and neighbouring Majengo and Pangani – and mass arrests are particularly poignant for Kenyans of Somali heritage, a significant minority population whose districts were for long years under a state of emergency.

—Cedric Barnes, “Losing Hearts and Minds in Kenya

Losing Hearts and Minds in Kenya | Cedric Barnes (@CedricHOA)
The round-up and mass detention of Somalis in Nairobi, which began in earnest on 31 March, deliberately conflated immigration issues with counter-terrorism and has widened dangerous communal divides. Al-Shabaab and its extremist allies in Kenya will be very satisfied. What the attack on Nairobi’s Westgate mall last September failed to do – sow division among Kenyans – might well be achieved by these detentions and deportations. This month’s events brought out the worst in Kenya, from the prejudice shown, especially in social media, by ordinary citizens, to petty point scoring by the political class, to police extortion of bribes from lawfully resident Somalis, to the extrajudicial execution of the controversial Muslim preacher known as Makaburi (“graveyard”).
The terrorist threat is real enough. In March, security forces seized a pick-up truck packed with explosives, reportedly part of a planned multi-pronged attack in Mombasa. (Authorities believed the truck was one of several devices.) Soon thereafter, armed gunmen killed six worshipers at a Christian Church in the Likoni area of Mombasa. There was also a spate of grenade attacks targeting Christians, and claiming another six lives, in the Nairobi suburb of Eastleigh, where people of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds live side by side.
The Westgate mall attack killed indiscriminately and brought a unified response: private Kenyan citizens, including of Somali origin, were applauded for their individual heroism and community support, and the nation, led by President Kenyatta, stood as one. By contrast, the recent attacks were targeted and the government’s security operations in response quickly exposed divides between majority and minority communities, even between MPs within the ruling Jubilee coalition. The operations also drew a belated but firm response from the opposition Orange Democratic Coalition.
FULL ARTICLE (Crisis Group’s Blog: The African Peace-building Agenda)
Photo: REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Losing Hearts and Minds in Kenya | Cedric Barnes (@CedricHOA)

The round-up and mass detention of Somalis in Nairobi, which began in earnest on 31 March, deliberately conflated immigration issues with counter-terrorism and has widened dangerous communal divides. Al-Shabaab and its extremist allies in Kenya will be very satisfied. What the attack on Nairobi’s Westgate mall last September failed to do – sow division among Kenyans – might well be achieved by these detentions and deportations. This month’s events brought out the worst in Kenya, from the prejudice shown, especially in social media, by ordinary citizens, to petty point scoring by the political class, to police extortion of bribes from lawfully resident Somalis, to the extrajudicial execution of the controversial Muslim preacher known as Makaburi (“graveyard”).

The terrorist threat is real enough. In March, security forces seized a pick-up truck packed with explosives, reportedly part of a planned multi-pronged attack in Mombasa. (Authorities believed the truck was one of several devices.) Soon thereafter, armed gunmen killed six worshipers at a Christian Church in the Likoni area of Mombasa. There was also a spate of grenade attacks targeting Christians, and claiming another six lives, in the Nairobi suburb of Eastleigh, where people of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds live side by side.

The Westgate mall attack killed indiscriminately and brought a unified response: private Kenyan citizens, including of Somali origin, were applauded for their individual heroism and community support, and the nation, led by President Kenyatta, stood as one. By contrast, the recent attacks were targeted and the government’s security operations in response quickly exposed divides between majority and minority communities, even between MPs within the ruling Jubilee coalition. The operations also drew a belated but firm response from the opposition Orange Democratic Coalition.

FULL ARTICLE (Crisis Group’s Blog: The African Peace-building Agenda)

Photo: REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Bombing and mass kidnapping in Nigeria | WBEZ-Chicago -

Reportedly, hundreds of girls in northeast Nigeria were kidnapped from school by the Islamist group Boko Haram. The kidnapping follows a promise from Boko Haram’s leader that he would attack schools and take girls. Among its demands, the group wants a stricter form of Sharia law and the Nigerian government’s downfall. Last month, because of these attacks, Nigeria’s Borno state closed its schools and sent tens of thousands of children home. Boko Haram is blamed for other deadly attacks on schools in the area and numerous bombings, including one in the capital of Abuja earlier this week that killed at least 70 people. Crisis Group’s Africa Director, Comfort Ero, provided WBEZ-Chicago with some context behind the attacks.

“In the space of little more than a week, Kenyan Somalis (almost 2 million people), along with half a million refugees and migrants, have found themselves to be in a targeted class.” — Cedric Barnes, “Losing Hearts and Minds in Kenya”, The African Peacebuilding Agenda

Apr 14

Guinea-Bissau votes in watershed elections | AFP
Guinea-Bissau held watershed presidential and parliamentary elections Sunday aimed at ushering in a new era of stability in a country plagued by drugs and upended by a military coup.
The polls cap four decades of chaos marked by a series of mutinies since the west African nation won independence from Portugal, and commentators have called for the new regime to finally bring the military into line.
The impoverished country has been stagnating for two years under the rule of a transitional government backed by the all-powerful military, with the economy anaemic and cocaine trafficking fuelling corruption.
Interim president Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo, who is not a candidate, told AFP he “hoped and wished to turn the page to stability”. 
"The problem of Guinea-Bissau is political and military, and everyone must work together in mutual respect," he said.
FULL ARTICLE (Agence France-Presse)
Photo:  Free Grunge Textures/flickr

Guinea-Bissau votes in watershed elections | AFP

Guinea-Bissau held watershed presidential and parliamentary elections Sunday aimed at ushering in a new era of stability in a country plagued by drugs and upended by a military coup.

The polls cap four decades of chaos marked by a series of mutinies since the west African nation won independence from Portugal, and commentators have called for the new regime to finally bring the military into line.

The impoverished country has been stagnating for two years under the rule of a transitional government backed by the all-powerful military, with the economy anaemic and cocaine trafficking fuelling corruption.

Interim president Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo, who is not a candidate, told AFP he “hoped and wished to turn the page to stability”. 

"The problem of Guinea-Bissau is political and military, and everyone must work together in mutual respect," he said.

FULL ARTICLE (Agence France-Presse)

Photo:  Free Grunge Textures/flickr

Iran’s Leaders Still Touting Nuclear Progress | Jay Solomon 
A senior cleric delivering a nationally televised sermon urged a crowd that included former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the head of Iran’s nuclear energy organization to observe sexual piety, aid the poor and support Iran’s development of nuclear power.
"This technology is progressing our nation," Ayatollah Imami Kashani said at weekly Friday prayers at the University of Tehran. "Our enemies are against such progress."
The sermon, like other speeches and television appearances by senior leaders recently, offered few signs the government is conditioning Iranians for any major limitations on nuclear work. But in talks Iran is pursuing with world powers, U.S. and European officials are aiming to significantly scale back Iran’s nuclear capabilities to guard against development of nuclear weapons—something Tehran denies that it seeks.
FULL ARTICLE (Wall Street Journal)
Photo: AslanMedia/flickr

Iran’s Leaders Still Touting Nuclear Progress | Jay Solomon 

A senior cleric delivering a nationally televised sermon urged a crowd that included former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the head of Iran’s nuclear energy organization to observe sexual piety, aid the poor and support Iran’s development of nuclear power.

"This technology is progressing our nation," Ayatollah Imami Kashani said at weekly Friday prayers at the University of Tehran. "Our enemies are against such progress."

The sermon, like other speeches and television appearances by senior leaders recently, offered few signs the government is conditioning Iranians for any major limitations on nuclear work. But in talks Iran is pursuing with world powers, U.S. and European officials are aiming to significantly scale back Iran’s nuclear capabilities to guard against development of nuclear weapons—something Tehran denies that it seeks.

FULL ARTICLE (Wall Street Journal)

Photo: AslanMedia/flickr

Apr 11

Guinea-Bissau: the challenge of economic recovery | RFI
Lamine came to drink tea with his old friend Felix. At Diolo their neighborhood, there is no water or electricity. Poverty is everywhere. It’s harder every day. ”  I was married, I worked in boats. When there was the coup (in April 2012, ed) , the boss, a Spaniard, stopped its activities. Now we are unemployed. So I find myself here to beg, I’m doing door to door for the whole family. It’s not easy.  ”
Today, nearly two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line. Since the coup of April 2012, international donors have suspended most of their cooperation. Even trade cashew first income countries is in crisis.
FULL ARTICLE (RFI)
Photo: Gabor Basch/Flickr

Guinea-Bissau: the challenge of economic recovery | RFI

Lamine came to drink tea with his old friend Felix. At Diolo their neighborhood, there is no water or electricity. Poverty is everywhere. It’s harder every day. ”  I was married, I worked in boats. When there was the coup (in April 2012, ed) , the boss, a Spaniard, stopped its activities. Now we are unemployed. So I find myself here to beg, I’m doing door to door for the whole family. It’s not easy.  ”

Today, nearly two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line. Since the coup of April 2012, international donors have suspended most of their cooperation. Even trade cashew first income countries is in crisis.

FULL ARTICLE (RFI)

Photo: Gabor Basch/Flickr

Out of the blue | S.C.S.
FORAGING in South Korea’s mountains may soon become more fruitful. Since a wild ginseng digger reported the wreckage of a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on April 3rd, the South’s ministry of defence has been ruminating on rewards for anyone who spots an enemy drone. The report followed the discovery of two other similar aircraft: on March 24th in Paju, a border city; and on March 31st on Baengnyeong island, near the disputed Northern Limit Line which demarcates the two Koreas’ maritime border. North Korean inscriptions on the planes’ batteries; an ongoing military investigation into their engines, fuel tanks and weight; and the sequence of the photographs found stored in one of the plane’s cameras suggest the drones were sent from North Korea. For others, their sky-blue camouflage paintwork, identical to that on larger drones paraded in the capital Pyongyang two years ago, was a giveaway.
FULL ARTICLE (The Economist)
Photo: Uwe Schwarzbach/Flickr

Out of the blue | S.C.S.

FORAGING in South Korea’s mountains may soon become more fruitful. Since a wild ginseng digger reported the wreckage of a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on April 3rd, the South’s ministry of defence has been ruminating on rewards for anyone who spots an enemy drone. The report followed the discovery of two other similar aircraft: on March 24th in Paju, a border city; and on March 31st on Baengnyeong island, near the disputed Northern Limit Line which demarcates the two Koreas’ maritime border. North Korean inscriptions on the planes’ batteries; an ongoing military investigation into their engines, fuel tanks and weight; and the sequence of the photographs found stored in one of the plane’s cameras suggest the drones were sent from North Korea. For others, their sky-blue camouflage paintwork, identical to that on larger drones paraded in the capital Pyongyang two years ago, was a giveaway.

FULL ARTICLE (The Economist)

Photo: Uwe Schwarzbach/Flickr

Negotiators at halfway point, move to drafting phase of Iran deal talks | Laura Rozen
Iran and six world powers have advanced through the first phase of comprehensive nuclear talks and are preparing to shift into the next phase of drafting a final deal accord starting at the next meeting in May, negotiators said in Vienna Wednesday.
“We have now held substantive and detailed discussions covering all the issues which will need to be part of a Comprehensive Agreement,” European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a joint statement with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the conclusion of the third round of talks in Vienna Wednesday.
“A lot of intensive work will be required to overcome the differences which naturally still exist at this stage in the process,” Ashton said, in a statement subsequently delivered by Zarif in Persian.
FULL ARTICLE (Al-Monitor)
Photo: Örlygur Hnefill/Flickr

Negotiators at halfway point, move to drafting phase of Iran deal talks | Laura Rozen

Iran and six world powers have advanced through the first phase of comprehensive nuclear talks and are preparing to shift into the next phase of drafting a final deal accord starting at the next meeting in May, negotiators said in Vienna Wednesday.

“We have now held substantive and detailed discussions covering all the issues which will need to be part of a Comprehensive Agreement,” European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a joint statement with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the conclusion of the third round of talks in Vienna Wednesday.

“A lot of intensive work will be required to overcome the differences which naturally still exist at this stage in the process,” Ashton said, in a statement subsequently delivered by Zarif in Persian.

FULL ARTICLE (Al-Monitor)

Photo: Örlygur Hnefill/Flickr