14 Apr
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

11 Apr
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

10 Apr
"In at least five locations, South Sudanese seeking protection have been targeted and killed by armed actors in or around [UN] bases."

—from today’s report, South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name

A Late-Night Phone Call Between One Of Syria’s Top Extremists And His Sworn Enemy | Mike Giglio
A rebel commander named Mohamed Zataar sat on a living room couch in the ancient Turkish city of Antakya one recent night, taking a short break from the war across the border with Syria some 15 miles down the road. He was eager to return. “There is a new battle starting,” he said, staring at the door. Instead Zataar, who leads a battalion of moderate rebels called Wolves of the Valley, decided to call his enemy from his iPhone.
He dialed the number for the shadowy jihadi known as Abu Ayman al-Iraqi, one of the most notorious men on the chaotic battlefields of northern Syria. Abu Ayman doesn’t fight for the Syrian regime. He’s a leader in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, the al-Qaeda-inspired force that has upended the rebellion with its fanaticism and brutality — while also kidnapping Western journalists and raising global alarms that the foreign fighters who fill out its ranks will return to sow terror at home. Other rebel groups turned on ISIS at the start of the new year, sparking an internal war that men like Zataar, a former dealer of fake antiques who despises extremists, were happy to join. “We are fighting a war against terror,” Zataar said.
Someone answered on the other line, and Zataar asked to speak with Abu Ayman, whom he referred to as “sheikh.” Then he hung up, saying it wasn’t uncommon for the two men to speak. An hour later, Abu Ayman called back.
FULL ARTICLE (BuzzFeed)
Photo: FreedomHouse/flickr

A Late-Night Phone Call Between One Of Syria’s Top Extremists And His Sworn Enemy | Mike Giglio

A rebel commander named Mohamed Zataar sat on a living room couch in the ancient Turkish city of Antakya one recent night, taking a short break from the war across the border with Syria some 15 miles down the road. He was eager to return. “There is a new battle starting,” he said, staring at the door. Instead Zataar, who leads a battalion of moderate rebels called Wolves of the Valley, decided to call his enemy from his iPhone.

He dialed the number for the shadowy jihadi known as Abu Ayman al-Iraqi, one of the most notorious men on the chaotic battlefields of northern Syria. Abu Ayman doesn’t fight for the Syrian regime. He’s a leader in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, the al-Qaeda-inspired force that has upended the rebellion with its fanaticism and brutality — while also kidnapping Western journalists and raising global alarms that the foreign fighters who fill out its ranks will return to sow terror at home. Other rebel groups turned on ISIS at the start of the new year, sparking an internal war that men like Zataar, a former dealer of fake antiques who despises extremists, were happy to join. “We are fighting a war against terror,” Zataar said.

Someone answered on the other line, and Zataar asked to speak with Abu Ayman, whom he referred to as “sheikh.” Then he hung up, saying it wasn’t uncommon for the two men to speak. An hour later, Abu Ayman called back.

FULL ARTICLE (BuzzFeed)

Photo: FreedomHouse/flickr

South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name
Addis Ababa/Juba/Nairobi/Brussels  |   10 Apr 2014
Refocusing international engagement as well as the peace negotiations is essential to stop South Sudan’s raging civil war from claiming ever more lives. 
South Sudan’s four-month civil war has displaced more than a million and killed over 10,000; an escalating humanitarian crisis threatens many more. In its latest report, South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name, the International Crisis Group looks at the longstanding political and military grievances behind spiralling violence and examines the steps necessary for peace and reconciliation. Communal conflicts cannot be separated from political disputes, and resolving both requires sustained commitment from South Sudanese and international actors.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
The dispute within the governing Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) that led to the conflict was primarily political, but ethnic targeting and communal mobilisation quickly led to appalling levels of brutality against civilians. As peace talks between the government and the SPLM/A in Opposition stalled, both sides sought gains on the battlefield to strengthen their position in negotiations.
Peace talks and reconciliation efforts must expand considerably beyond deals between political elites to include other militarised actors as well as community-based organisations, religious groups, women’s associations and others.
To address the rapidly growing humanitarian crisis, armed actors must permit unconditional humanitarian access to civilians in areas they control. Aid providers must prepare to scale up humanitarian service delivery to prevent an avoidable famine.
Plans by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to deploy a Protection and Deterrent Force raise the prospect of even greater regional involvement. IGAD should only do so with a clear mandate that supports a political resolution of the conflict. 
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is called upon to be an impartial actor in conflict-affected areas and to carry out state-support tasks in others. This dual mandate creates confusion and should urgently be amended to focus on the protection of civilians, human-rights reporting, support for IGAD’s mediation and logistical help to the African Union Commission of Inquiry.
“Many communities are aligning themselves with military factions, giving the conflict a dangerous ethno-military nature”, says Casie Copeland, Consulting South Sudan Analyst. “To prevent further catastrophe, South Sudan’s leaders and its international partners need to consider a radical restructuring of the state. New constituencies have to be admitted to a national dialogue, including armed groups previously not included, civil society actors and disaffected communities”.
“The conflict that broke out on 15 December 2013 was decades in the making. Resolving it requires not a quick fix but sustained domestic and international commitment”, says Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director. “The democratic space that was closed after independence in July 2011 must be reopened to enable peace and reconciliation processes to take hold”.
FULL REPORT

South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name

Addis Ababa/Juba/Nairobi/Brussels  |   10 Apr 2014

Refocusing international engagement as well as the peace negotiations is essential to stop South Sudan’s raging civil war from claiming ever more lives. 

South Sudan’s four-month civil war has displaced more than a million and killed over 10,000; an escalating humanitarian crisis threatens many more. In its latest report, South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name, the International Crisis Group looks at the longstanding political and military grievances behind spiralling violence and examines the steps necessary for peace and reconciliation. Communal conflicts cannot be separated from political disputes, and resolving both requires sustained commitment from South Sudanese and international actors.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

The dispute within the governing Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) that led to the conflict was primarily political, but ethnic targeting and communal mobilisation quickly led to appalling levels of brutality against civilians. As peace talks between the government and the SPLM/A in Opposition stalled, both sides sought gains on the battlefield to strengthen their position in negotiations.

Peace talks and reconciliation efforts must expand considerably beyond deals between political elites to include other militarised actors as well as community-based organisations, religious groups, women’s associations and others.

To address the rapidly growing humanitarian crisis, armed actors must permit unconditional humanitarian access to civilians in areas they control. Aid providers must prepare to scale up humanitarian service delivery to prevent an avoidable famine.

Plans by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to deploy a Protection and Deterrent Force raise the prospect of even greater regional involvement. IGAD should only do so with a clear mandate that supports a political resolution of the conflict. 

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is called upon to be an impartial actor in conflict-affected areas and to carry out state-support tasks in others. This dual mandate creates confusion and should urgently be amended to focus on the protection of civilians, human-rights reporting, support for IGAD’s mediation and logistical help to the African Union Commission of Inquiry.

“Many communities are aligning themselves with military factions, giving the conflict a dangerous ethno-military nature”, says Casie Copeland, Consulting South Sudan Analyst. “To prevent further catastrophe, South Sudan’s leaders and its international partners need to consider a radical restructuring of the state. New constituencies have to be admitted to a national dialogue, including armed groups previously not included, civil society actors and disaffected communities”.

“The conflict that broke out on 15 December 2013 was decades in the making. Resolving it requires not a quick fix but sustained domestic and international commitment”, says Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director. “The democratic space that was closed after independence in July 2011 must be reopened to enable peace and reconciliation processes to take hold”.

FULL REPORT

8 Apr
Policing urban violence | Tariq Khosa
While political, ethnic, religious and socio-economic tensions contribute to conflicts, escalating urban violence is largely a product of poor governance, inappropriate security policies and neglected police reforms.
This is the crux of a recent report by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG). “The police are demoralised and paralysed by political interference, and a lack of adequate resources and political support,” says Samina Ahmed, ICG’s South Asia project director. “But they could become effective if properly authorised and given institutional and operational autonomy.”
The recommendations are timely and deserve immediate attention at the federal, provincial and district levels of government. Similarly, the legislature, executive and judiciary must not only contribute to improving governance but also display a vision for ensuring that the criminal justice system upholds the rule of law by encouraging police officers, prosecutors and judges who are honest and efficient. This may entail massive purges to weed out the corrupt and the callous.
FULL ARTICLE (Dawn)
Photo: lukexmartin/flickr

Policing urban violence | Tariq Khosa

While political, ethnic, religious and socio-economic tensions contribute to conflicts, escalating urban violence is largely a product of poor governance, inappropriate security policies and neglected police reforms.

This is the crux of a recent report by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG). “The police are demoralised and paralysed by political interference, and a lack of adequate resources and political support,” says Samina Ahmed, ICG’s South Asia project director. “But they could become effective if properly authorised and given institutional and operational autonomy.”

The recommendations are timely and deserve immediate attention at the federal, provincial and district levels of government. Similarly, the legislature, executive and judiciary must not only contribute to improving governance but also display a vision for ensuring that the criminal justice system upholds the rule of law by encouraging police officers, prosecutors and judges who are honest and efficient. This may entail massive purges to weed out the corrupt and the callous.

FULL ARTICLE (Dawn)

Photo: lukexmartin/flickr

Voter anger, parties’ disarray could bring change in Bissau | Bate Felix and Alberto Dabo
Disarray in Guinea-Bissau’s political parties and frustration among voters could open the way for a Harvard-educated political outsider to win a presidential election next week aimed at turning the page on years of coups and crime.
Guinea-Bissau - a transit route for South American cocaine into Europe which has been dubbed Africa’s first ‘narco-state’ - was plunged into chaos two years ago when soldiers stormed the presidential palace days before an election for that post.
FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)
Photo: Gabor Basch/Flickr

Voter anger, parties’ disarray could bring change in Bissau | Bate Felix and Alberto Dabo

Disarray in Guinea-Bissau’s political parties and frustration among voters could open the way for a Harvard-educated political outsider to win a presidential election next week aimed at turning the page on years of coups and crime.

Guinea-Bissau - a transit route for South American cocaine into Europe which has been dubbed Africa’s first ‘narco-state’ - was plunged into chaos two years ago when soldiers stormed the presidential palace days before an election for that post.

FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)

Photo: Gabor Basch/Flickr