Showing posts tagged as "lebanon"

Showing posts tagged lebanon

3 Feb
Catch up on the world’s conflicts in this month’s CrisisWatch map.

Catch up on the world’s conflicts in this month’s CrisisWatch map.

9 Sep
Heed Syria refugee crisis: Column | Lionel Beehner
The aerial footage of the Zaatari camp near Syria’s border with Jordan — row upon dusty row of squat trailers and tents as far as the eye can see, like a desert version of Oz — could become the iconic image of this war, along with photos of children gassed outside Damascus.
While the images of the chemical attacks capture the inhumanity of this conflict, the aerial shots of the camp capture the scale. More than 2 million Syrians have fled the war, half of them children, making it the world’s worst refugee crisis since Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. Left unaddressed, the crisis risks destabilizing Syria’s neighbors and disposing any hope of instilling peace and democracy in the region.
FULL ARTICLE (USA Today)
Photo: Freedom House/Flickr

Heed Syria refugee crisis: Column | Lionel Beehner

The aerial footage of the Zaatari camp near Syria’s border with Jordan — row upon dusty row of squat trailers and tents as far as the eye can see, like a desert version of Oz — could become the iconic image of this war, along with photos of children gassed outside Damascus.

While the images of the chemical attacks capture the inhumanity of this conflict, the aerial shots of the camp capture the scale. More than 2 million Syrians have fled the war, half of them children, making it the world’s worst refugee crisis since Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. Left unaddressed, the crisis risks destabilizing Syria’s neighbors and disposing any hope of instilling peace and democracy in the region.

FULL ARTICLE (USA Today)

Photo: Freedom House/Flickr

3 Jun
CrisisWatch N°118  |  (01 Jun 2013)
The Syrian crisis continues to draw in its neighbours, threatening to set off a wider regional conflict. Israel launched its first major strike inside Syria, sending jets reportedly to target Iranian missiles bound for Hizbollah. The Syrian regime threatened to retaliate immediately and harshly to any further attack, and to turn the Golan Heights into a new front against Israel. The EU lifted its arms embargo on Syria but said there were no immediate plans to arm the rebels. Russia’s decision to honour its 2010 contract to deliver S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to the Assad regime prompted calls from the U.S., France and Israel to reconsider. Israel’s defence minister suggested Israel could resort to force to prevent delivery of the weapons. The U.S. and Russia agreed to convene a new peace conference in Geneva in June, but it remains uncertain whether the parties will come to seek compromise. (See our recent commentary in French).
Lebanon is becoming ever more deeply implicated in the Syrian conflict. Hizbollah extended more overt and extensive military support to the Syrian regime, including fighting against rebels in al-Qusayr near the Lebanese border, and for the first time openly declaring its military support to the regime. Lebanese Sunni Islamists are increasingly backing Syria’s rebels. Tensions increased within Lebanon, with sectarian violence between Sunnis and Alawites in Tripoli reaching levels not seen since the country’s civil war.
In Iraq more than a thousand people were killed in sectarian attacks and bombings fuelled by the country’s deepening political crisis, making May the country’s deadliest month in five years. Hopes for a political breakthrough faded as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and parliamentary speaker Osama al-Nujaifi blamed each other for mounting violence. The government’s crackdown on Sunni protesters continued to spur a re-emerging insurgency and retaliatory attacks, leaving the country again teetering on the brink of civil conflict.
In Bahrain the Shiite opposition al-Wifaq announced its withdrawal from the National Dialogue for two weeks after government security forces raided the house of the most prominent Shiite cleric Issa Qassem. In the face of political impasse, al-Wifaq called for intensified protests ahead of polls scheduled for next year.
In Madagascar, presidential elections scheduled for July and intended to end four years of political deadlock were postponed after transitional president Andry Rajoelina refused to step down ahead of polling, violating the electoral law. The September 2011 transition roadmap appeared to be unravelling as former first lady Lalao Ravalomanana, Rajoelina and former president Didier Ratsiraka all announced that they would contest the election, and the electoral court validated their applications. Rajoelina and Ratsiraka had pledged not to run, while Lalao Ravalomanana’s candidacy is widely viewed as a proxy for her husband, former president Marc Ravalomanana, who had also promised not to compete. The African Union and the Southern African Development Community said they would not recognise the outcome of the elections should any of these candidates win, and the UN said its continued support is contingent on compliance with the roadmap.
Protests against Kyrgyzstan’s largest gold mine escalated and took a violent turn in late May. Protesters demanding an end to alleged environmental pollution from operations at the mine and calling for it to be nationalised blocked the road to the mine and cut off power. The government declared a state of emergency after police clashed with some 3,000 protesters who were attempting to storm mining company offices. The mine is one of Kyrgyzstan’s biggest sources of foreign earnings, and disruption to its operations could damage the country’s faltering economy. Despite the protesters’ environmental demands, much of the unrest appears to have been organised by the nationalist Ata Jurt party. Protestors in the southern city of Jalal-Abad seized government buildings demanding the release of three jailed Ata Jurt members.
In a boost to Colombia’s peace process, the government and the FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, announced on 26 May that they had reached an agreement on rural development, the first agenda item in peace talks which began over six months ago (see our recent blog post). President Juan Manuel Santos said that the four main points include access to and use of land, rural development programs, health and education for the rural poor, and food security. The talks will now turn to political participation. Hopes that peace talks with Colombia’s second guerrilla group the ELN (National Liberation Army) would begin in May suffered a setback, however, when the ELN killed eleven soldiers in an ambush in Norte de Santander.
In Myanmar the government and the Kachin Independence Organisation agreed a seven-point peace pact at the end of the month. The talks, convened for first time in the government-controlled capital of Kachin state, had previously been in deadlock. The deal means that in principle hostilities with all major armed groups in the country have stopped. Crisis Group identifies a Conflict Resolution Opportunity for Myanmar. The month also saw the Rakhine State government announce it was reactivating an earlier local directive imposing a two-child limit for families in Muslim-majority areas of the state, prompting local and international condemnation. There was a further outbreak of Buddhist-on-Muslim violence at the end of the month, this time in the northern town Lashio; one person was reported killed (see our recent blog post and commentary).
FULL CRISISWATCH
Photo: James Gordon/Flickr

CrisisWatch N°118  |  (01 Jun 2013)

The Syrian crisis continues to draw in its neighbours, threatening to set off a wider regional conflict. Israel launched its first major strike inside Syria, sending jets reportedly to target Iranian missiles bound for Hizbollah. The Syrian regime threatened to retaliate immediately and harshly to any further attack, and to turn the Golan Heights into a new front against Israel. The EU lifted its arms embargo on Syria but said there were no immediate plans to arm the rebels. Russia’s decision to honour its 2010 contract to deliver S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to the Assad regime prompted calls from the U.S., France and Israel to reconsider. Israel’s defence minister suggested Israel could resort to force to prevent delivery of the weapons. The U.S. and Russia agreed to convene a new peace conference in Geneva in June, but it remains uncertain whether the parties will come to seek compromise. (See our recent commentary in French).

Lebanon is becoming ever more deeply implicated in the Syrian conflict. Hizbollah extended more overt and extensive military support to the Syrian regime, including fighting against rebels in al-Qusayr near the Lebanese border, and for the first time openly declaring its military support to the regime. Lebanese Sunni Islamists are increasingly backing Syria’s rebels. Tensions increased within Lebanon, with sectarian violence between Sunnis and Alawites in Tripoli reaching levels not seen since the country’s civil war.

In Iraq more than a thousand people were killed in sectarian attacks and bombings fuelled by the country’s deepening political crisis, making May the country’s deadliest month in five years. Hopes for a political breakthrough faded as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and parliamentary speaker Osama al-Nujaifi blamed each other for mounting violence. The government’s crackdown on Sunni protesters continued to spur a re-emerging insurgency and retaliatory attacks, leaving the country again teetering on the brink of civil conflict.

In Bahrain the Shiite opposition al-Wifaq announced its withdrawal from the National Dialogue for two weeks after government security forces raided the house of the most prominent Shiite cleric Issa Qassem. In the face of political impasse, al-Wifaq called for intensified protests ahead of polls scheduled for next year.

In Madagascar, presidential elections scheduled for July and intended to end four years of political deadlock were postponed after transitional president Andry Rajoelina refused to step down ahead of polling, violating the electoral law. The September 2011 transition roadmap appeared to be unravelling as former first lady Lalao Ravalomanana, Rajoelina and former president Didier Ratsiraka all announced that they would contest the election, and the electoral court validated their applications. Rajoelina and Ratsiraka had pledged not to run, while Lalao Ravalomanana’s candidacy is widely viewed as a proxy for her husband, former president Marc Ravalomanana, who had also promised not to compete. The African Union and the Southern African Development Community said they would not recognise the outcome of the elections should any of these candidates win, and the UN said its continued support is contingent on compliance with the roadmap.

Protests against Kyrgyzstan’s largest gold mine escalated and took a violent turn in late May. Protesters demanding an end to alleged environmental pollution from operations at the mine and calling for it to be nationalised blocked the road to the mine and cut off power. The government declared a state of emergency after police clashed with some 3,000 protesters who were attempting to storm mining company offices. The mine is one of Kyrgyzstan’s biggest sources of foreign earnings, and disruption to its operations could damage the country’s faltering economy. Despite the protesters’ environmental demands, much of the unrest appears to have been organised by the nationalist Ata Jurt party. Protestors in the southern city of Jalal-Abad seized government buildings demanding the release of three jailed Ata Jurt members.

In a boost to Colombia’s peace process, the government and the FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, announced on 26 May that they had reached an agreement on rural development, the first agenda item in peace talks which began over six months ago (see our recent blog post). President Juan Manuel Santos said that the four main points include access to and use of land, rural development programs, health and education for the rural poor, and food security. The talks will now turn to political participation. Hopes that peace talks with Colombia’s second guerrilla group the ELN (National Liberation Army) would begin in May suffered a setback, however, when the ELN killed eleven soldiers in an ambush in Norte de Santander.

In Myanmar the government and the Kachin Independence Organisation agreed a seven-point peace pact at the end of the month. The talks, convened for first time in the government-controlled capital of Kachin state, had previously been in deadlock. The deal means that in principle hostilities with all major armed groups in the country have stopped. Crisis Group identifies a Conflict Resolution Opportunity for Myanmar. The month also saw the Rakhine State government announce it was reactivating an earlier local directive imposing a two-child limit for families in Muslim-majority areas of the state, prompting local and international condemnation. There was a further outbreak of Buddhist-on-Muslim violence at the end of the month, this time in the northern town Lashio; one person was reported killed (see our recent blog post and commentary).

FULL CRISISWATCH

Photo: James Gordon/Flickr

13 May
"A population influx of such magnitude would be a huge problem anywhere. In Lebanon – with fragile institutions and infrastructure; a delicate political and sectarian balance; tense social fabric; and declining economy, all of which the refugee crisis worsens – it is a nightmare."

—from Crisis Group’s most recent report, Too Close for Comfort: Syrians in Lebanon 

"What began as relatively modest help to the regime over time has mushroomed into what now appears to be direct, comprehensive, full-fledged and less and less concealed military support."

—from Crisis Group’s most recent report, Too Close for Comfort: Syrians in Lebanon

"The vast majority are Sunnis who back the uprising. Most Lebanese view the conflict through a sectarian prism, and thus their attitude toward refugees from the outset has largely been informed by confessional considerations, as well as by their potential security impact and implications for future domestic politics."

—from Crisis Group’s most recent report, Too Close for Comfort: Syrians in Lebanon

"Porous boundaries, weapons smuggling, deepening involvement by anti-Syrian-regime Sunni Islamists on one side and the pro-regime Hizbollah on the other, and cross-border skirmishes, all atop a massive refugee inflow, implicate Lebanon ever more deeply in the conflict next door."

—from Crisis Group’s most recent report, Too Close for Comfort: Syrians in Lebanon

Too Close for Comfort: Syrians in Lebanon
Beirut/Washington   |   13 May 2013
As the Syrian conflict increasingly implicates and spills over into Lebanon, a priority for its government and international partners must be to tackle the refugee crisis, lest it ignite domestic conflict that a weak state and volatile region can ill afford.
In its latest report, Too Close for Comfort: Syrians in Lebanon, the International Crisis Group examines the impact of Syria’s war on its most fragile neighbour.  It focuses on the presence of over a million Syrians, half of them refugees – a figure that is a quarter as great as the state’s citizen population of four million. The influx of refugees aggravates state dysfunction, taxes Lebanon’s already limited resources and, by reigniting fears of a shift in the sensitive confessional make-up, risks renewing violent conflict in a state still recovering from its devastating civil war of the 1970s and 1980s. 
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
Porous boundaries, weapons smuggling, deepening involvement by Sunni Islamists opposed to the Syrian regime on one side and, especially, the pro-regime Hizbollah on the other, and cross-border skirmishes are drawing Lebanon ever more deeply into its neighbour’s conflict which, in turn, increasingly morphs into a regional and international confrontation between opposing axes.
Lebanon is reaching a breaking point: the refugee influx rises daily and likely will soar if and when the battle for Damascus is fully joined; this Syrian presence is fueling pre-existing political, social and communal tensions and exposing Lebanon’s dysfunctions and declining economy; the government, divided and polarised, has been slow to meet the resulting challenges.
Once Lebanon’s factions negotiate a replacement for the government that fell in March, the new cabinet needs to tackle the refugee question head-on. Together with the political parties, it should plan the establishment of refugee camps, while exploring with security and military authorities how to ensure their safety without excessively intrusive measures.
The international donor community should give Lebanon, UN agencies and their partners the funds they need to address the refugee crisis.
“Lebanon’s fate historically has been deeply intertwined with Syria’s”, says Sahar Atrache, Middle East and North Africa Analyst.  “As Syria heads even more steadily toward catastrophe, there is every reason for Lebanese of all persuasions to worry about their own country — and to do something about it”. 
“It is too late for Lebanon to wind back the clock and adopt a genuine policy of non-interference.  But if the country’s various political forces cannot agree on what to do in Syria, at least they might agree on a sensible approach toward the refugee tragedy”, says Program Director Robert Malley.  “Such a population influx would be staggering anywhere, but with Lebanon’s institutional frailty, scant resources and highly sensitive sectarian balance, it is a nightmare”.
FULL REPORT

Too Close for Comfort: Syrians in Lebanon

Beirut/Washington   |   13 May 2013

As the Syrian conflict increasingly implicates and spills over into Lebanon, a priority for its government and international partners must be to tackle the refugee crisis, lest it ignite domestic conflict that a weak state and volatile region can ill afford.

In its latest report, Too Close for Comfort: Syrians in Lebanon, the International Crisis Group examines the impact of Syria’s war on its most fragile neighbour.  It focuses on the presence of over a million Syrians, half of them refugees – a figure that is a quarter as great as the state’s citizen population of four million. The influx of refugees aggravates state dysfunction, taxes Lebanon’s already limited resources and, by reigniting fears of a shift in the sensitive confessional make-up, risks renewing violent conflict in a state still recovering from its devastating civil war of the 1970s and 1980s. 

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

  • Porous boundaries, weapons smuggling, deepening involvement by Sunni Islamists opposed to the Syrian regime on one side and, especially, the pro-regime Hizbollah on the other, and cross-border skirmishes are drawing Lebanon ever more deeply into its neighbour’s conflict which, in turn, increasingly morphs into a regional and international confrontation between opposing axes.
  • Lebanon is reaching a breaking point: the refugee influx rises daily and likely will soar if and when the battle for Damascus is fully joined; this Syrian presence is fueling pre-existing political, social and communal tensions and exposing Lebanon’s dysfunctions and declining economy; the government, divided and polarised, has been slow to meet the resulting challenges.
  • Once Lebanon’s factions negotiate a replacement for the government that fell in March, the new cabinet needs to tackle the refugee question head-on. Together with the political parties, it should plan the establishment of refugee camps, while exploring with security and military authorities how to ensure their safety without excessively intrusive measures.
  • The international donor community should give Lebanon, UN agencies and their partners the funds they need to address the refugee crisis.

“Lebanon’s fate historically has been deeply intertwined with Syria’s”, says Sahar Atrache, Middle East and North Africa Analyst.  “As Syria heads even more steadily toward catastrophe, there is every reason for Lebanese of all persuasions to worry about their own country — and to do something about it”. 

“It is too late for Lebanon to wind back the clock and adopt a genuine policy of non-interference.  But if the country’s various political forces cannot agree on what to do in Syria, at least they might agree on a sensible approach toward the refugee tragedy”, says Program Director Robert Malley.  “Such a population influx would be staggering anywhere, but with Lebanon’s institutional frailty, scant resources and highly sensitive sectarian balance, it is a nightmare”.

FULL REPORT

1 Apr
CrisisWatch N°116 | 01 April 2013
In the Central African Republic, a peace deal signed two months ago in Libreville collapsed as the Seleka rebel alliance, having repeatedly violated the ceasefire, seized the capital Bangui on 24 March. President Francois Bozizé fled to Cameroon. Seleka leader Michel Djotodia declared himself president and suspended the constitution and National Assembly. The African Union condemned Seleka’s “unconstitutional change” of government, suspending CAR’s membership and imposing sanctions against Seleka’s leaders. Despite its rapid seizure of power, the Seleka coalition appears fragile and prone to fragmentation, prompting fears that factions may take up arms again. Crisis Group identifies a conflict risk for Central African Republic.
Tensions continued to escalate on the Korean peninsula. The UN Security Council’s 7 March resolution condemning North Korea’s February nuclear test prompted Pyongyang to threaten pre-emptive nuclear strikes against “invaders”. North Korea announced that it would no longer be bound by the 1953 Korean War armistice, and cut off communications hotlines with South Korea and the UN Command in Seoul. The North Korean army ordered all its rocket and long-range artillery units to be combat-ready and targeting U.S. bases and territory, and the government declared North Korea to be in a “state of war” with South Korea. In a show of force the U.S. flew B-52 and B-2 bombers over South Korea and deployed F-22 stealth fighters to the South as part of an ongoing military exercise. On 31 March, a rare Central Committee meeting in Pyongyang declared nuclear weapons are non-negotiable and North Korea’s nuclear status should be written into law.
In a new outbreak of intercommunal violence in Myanmar in the central town of Meiktila on 20-22 March, more than 40 people were killed and over 12,000 displaced, and hundreds of mainly Muslim-owned buildings destroyed, in attacks by Buddhist mobs. President Thein Sein imposed a state of emergency in the area and deployed the military to restore calm. Amid speculation that the attacks were pre-planned by extremists, there was widespread concern as the violence spread to towns and villages in other parts of the country in the following days, although there were no reported casualties from these other incidents.
The political uncertainty and paralysis gripping Lebanon worsened with the abrupt resignation of Prime Minister Najib Mikati on 22 March following a standoff with Hizbollah. Political instability further fed ongoing sectarian tensions and clashes, mainly in the southern town of Saida and the northern city of Tripoli, where a dozen people were killed in clashes between Sunni and Alawite militants 22-24 March. Regular cross-border shelling by Syria continued, and the Syrian regime for the first time launched air strikes inside Lebanon.
Within Syria the first credible reports emerged of chemical weapons use in the ongoing conflict. The government and rebels accused each other of firing a rocket loaded with chemical agents near Aleppo on 19 March, and the opposition reported two people killed in an alleged chemical missile attack on Adra, near Damascus.
Iraq’s political crisis again deepened in March. Widespread demonstrations in Sunni areas of the country have met an increasingly hardline security response, with security forces killing two Sunni protesters in Mosul on 8 March. Finance Minister Rafie al-Issawi resigned his post, as did Agriculture Minister Ezz al-Din al-Dawla, in solidarity with the protesters. Meanwhile Iraq’s parliament relied exclusively on votes from the Shia’s political blocs to pass the 2013 budget law, illustrating Baghdad’s increasingly sectarian politics.
As the stalemate between Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi and the opposition continued, violent clashes between opponents and supporters of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood broke out outside the Islamists’ headquarters in Cairo on 22 March. Subsequent days also saw violent protests. President Morsi warned that he would take “necessary measures” to “protect the nation”, and the prosecutor general ordered the arrest of several activists. The violence took place as political demonstrations and riots in Egypt are increasingly giving way to socio-economic protest in the face of fuel shortages, inflation and price increases.
Nepal’s main parties ended months of political deadlock on 14 March. They agreed to hold elections to a new Constituent Assembly by 21 June under an interim election government, led by Supreme Court chief justice Khil Raj Regmi. The interim government will comprise retired bureaucrats, and be guided by a political committee of the four largest parties. If elections are not held in June, the government will be extended until 15 December.
Prospects for peace between Turkey’s government and Kurdish insurgents are improving after five months of negotiations between the national intelligence agency and the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan. The 21 March call by Öcalan for an eventual ceasefire and withdrawal to outside Turkish borders – and PKK’s military leader Murat Karayılan’s subsequent acceptance of the idea – are particularly positive signs.
FULL CRISISWATCH
Photo: hdptcar/Flickr

CrisisWatch N°116 | 01 April 2013

In the Central African Republic, a peace deal signed two months ago in Libreville collapsed as the Seleka rebel alliance, having repeatedly violated the ceasefire, seized the capital Bangui on 24 March. President Francois Bozizé fled to Cameroon. Seleka leader Michel Djotodia declared himself president and suspended the constitution and National Assembly. The African Union condemned Seleka’s “unconstitutional change” of government, suspending CAR’s membership and imposing sanctions against Seleka’s leaders. Despite its rapid seizure of power, the Seleka coalition appears fragile and prone to fragmentation, prompting fears that factions may take up arms again. Crisis Group identifies a conflict risk for Central African Republic.

Tensions continued to escalate on the Korean peninsula. The UN Security Council’s 7 March resolution condemning North Korea’s February nuclear test prompted Pyongyang to threaten pre-emptive nuclear strikes against “invaders”. North Korea announced that it would no longer be bound by the 1953 Korean War armistice, and cut off communications hotlines with South Korea and the UN Command in Seoul. The North Korean army ordered all its rocket and long-range artillery units to be combat-ready and targeting U.S. bases and territory, and the government declared North Korea to be in a “state of war” with South Korea. In a show of force the U.S. flew B-52 and B-2 bombers over South Korea and deployed F-22 stealth fighters to the South as part of an ongoing military exercise. On 31 March, a rare Central Committee meeting in Pyongyang declared nuclear weapons are non-negotiable and North Korea’s nuclear status should be written into law.

In a new outbreak of intercommunal violence in Myanmar in the central town of Meiktila on 20-22 March, more than 40 people were killed and over 12,000 displaced, and hundreds of mainly Muslim-owned buildings destroyed, in attacks by Buddhist mobs. President Thein Sein imposed a state of emergency in the area and deployed the military to restore calm. Amid speculation that the attacks were pre-planned by extremists, there was widespread concern as the violence spread to towns and villages in other parts of the country in the following days, although there were no reported casualties from these other incidents.

The political uncertainty and paralysis gripping Lebanon worsened with the abrupt resignation of Prime Minister Najib Mikati on 22 March following a standoff with Hizbollah. Political instability further fed ongoing sectarian tensions and clashes, mainly in the southern town of Saida and the northern city of Tripoli, where a dozen people were killed in clashes between Sunni and Alawite militants 22-24 March. Regular cross-border shelling by Syria continued, and the Syrian regime for the first time launched air strikes inside Lebanon.

Within Syria the first credible reports emerged of chemical weapons use in the ongoing conflict. The government and rebels accused each other of firing a rocket loaded with chemical agents near Aleppo on 19 March, and the opposition reported two people killed in an alleged chemical missile attack on Adra, near Damascus.

Iraq’s political crisis again deepened in March. Widespread demonstrations in Sunni areas of the country have met an increasingly hardline security response, with security forces killing two Sunni protesters in Mosul on 8 March. Finance Minister Rafie al-Issawi resigned his post, as did Agriculture Minister Ezz al-Din al-Dawla, in solidarity with the protesters. Meanwhile Iraq’s parliament relied exclusively on votes from the Shia’s political blocs to pass the 2013 budget law, illustrating Baghdad’s increasingly sectarian politics.

As the stalemate between Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi and the opposition continued, violent clashes between opponents and supporters of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood broke out outside the Islamists’ headquarters in Cairo on 22 March. Subsequent days also saw violent protests. President Morsi warned that he would take “necessary measures” to “protect the nation”, and the prosecutor general ordered the arrest of several activists. The violence took place as political demonstrations and riots in Egypt are increasingly giving way to socio-economic protest in the face of fuel shortages, inflation and price increases.

Nepal’s main parties ended months of political deadlock on 14 March. They agreed to hold elections to a new Constituent Assembly by 21 June under an interim election government, led by Supreme Court chief justice Khil Raj Regmi. The interim government will comprise retired bureaucrats, and be guided by a political committee of the four largest parties. If elections are not held in June, the government will be extended until 15 December.

Prospects for peace between Turkey’s government and Kurdish insurgents are improving after five months of negotiations between the national intelligence agency and the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan. The 21 March call by Öcalan for an eventual ceasefire and withdrawal to outside Turkish borders – and PKK’s military leader Murat Karayılan’s subsequent acceptance of the idea – are particularly positive signs.

FULL CRISISWATCH

Photo: hdptcar/Flickr

1 Mar
CrisisWatch N°115  |  (01 Mar 2013)
The assassination on 6 February of opposition leader Chokri Belaïd sparked Tunisia’s worst political crisis since the 2011 revolution. The killing triggered mass protests throughout the country against the ruling Islamist party An-Nahda, and in turn counter-protests by An-Nahda supporters. Having dissolved the government in response to the assassination, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali later resigned after his plan to form an interim cabinet of technocrats collapsed in the face of opposition from his own An-Nahda party.
Syria’s conflict continued to exact a horrific toll, with the number of dead, wounded and displaced rising. The Assad regime further escalated violence, reportedly firing ballistic missiles into civilian neighbourhoods, while reports also emerged of its mistreatment of prisoners; the rebels continued to make steady gains; signs of intensifying communal and sectarian friction continued to emerge. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees called the humanitarian situation “dramatic beyond description”. As yet there is little sign of progress in advancing a political solution to the crisis.
The Syrian conflict continues to threaten to destabilise neighbouring Lebanon. Ever more refugees flow across the border and Hizbollah appears increasingly sucked into the fighting. Meanwhile recent controversy over a proposed new electoral law exposed rising sectarianism and mistrust between the various Lebanese communities.
In Yemen, tensions between southern separatists on the one hand and state security forces and the Islamist party, Islah, on the other reached their highest levels since early 2012, and could lead to further violence. Clashes between separatist protesters and security forces in the South left at least six people dead. The UN Security Council warned that the actions of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and separatist leader Ali Salim al-Bid threatened to undermine the country’s democratic transition.
North Korea conducted its third nuclear test on 12 February, a reaction to the UN Security Council’s January resolution condemning its satellite launch last December. As the Security Council held immediate emergency talks, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the nuclear test as “deeply destabilising”. China also declared publicly its “firm opposition” to the test and summoned the North Korean ambassador to Beijing to express its dissatisfaction.
Tension increased ahead of Guinea’s forthcoming legislative elections. The electoral commission, accelerating its preparations for the vote scheduled for 12 May, controversially validated the choice of two companies to undertake a revision of voter rolls. The opposition, who believe the companies are open to political pressure, responded by withdrawing from electoral preparations, and opposition supporters protested in Conakry and other cities.
In Bangladesh, violent Islamist protests against the country’s 1971 war crimes tribunal intensified, as protesters faced off against a popular movement in support of death sentences for those accused, including senior leaders of the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami. One of the organisers of the demonstrations in support of death sentences was hacked to death in a suspected Jamaat-e-Islami attack mid-February. Dozens have been killed in clashes since the tribunal sentenced a Jamaat-e-Islami leader to death on 28 February, and violence was continuing. The government faces growing calls to ban Jamaat-e-Islami.
In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe announced that the referendum on a new constitution would be held on 16 March, as worrying reports emerged of politically-motivated violence and intimidation, and of raids on non-governmental organisations (NGOs), confiscation of their documents and equipment, and police allegations that 99 per cent of NGOs are engaged in regime change.
FULL CRISISWATCH
Photo: Bronski Beat/Flickr

CrisisWatch N°115  |  (01 Mar 2013)

The assassination on 6 February of opposition leader Chokri Belaïd sparked Tunisia’s worst political crisis since the 2011 revolution. The killing triggered mass protests throughout the country against the ruling Islamist party An-Nahda, and in turn counter-protests by An-Nahda supporters. Having dissolved the government in response to the assassination, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali later resigned after his plan to form an interim cabinet of technocrats collapsed in the face of opposition from his own An-Nahda party.

Syria’s conflict continued to exact a horrific toll, with the number of dead, wounded and displaced rising. The Assad regime further escalated violence, reportedly firing ballistic missiles into civilian neighbourhoods, while reports also emerged of its mistreatment of prisoners; the rebels continued to make steady gains; signs of intensifying communal and sectarian friction continued to emerge. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees called the humanitarian situation “dramatic beyond description”. As yet there is little sign of progress in advancing a political solution to the crisis.

The Syrian conflict continues to threaten to destabilise neighbouring Lebanon. Ever more refugees flow across the border and Hizbollah appears increasingly sucked into the fighting. Meanwhile recent controversy over a proposed new electoral law exposed rising sectarianism and mistrust between the various Lebanese communities.

In Yemen, tensions between southern separatists on the one hand and state security forces and the Islamist party, Islah, on the other reached their highest levels since early 2012, and could lead to further violence. Clashes between separatist protesters and security forces in the South left at least six people dead. The UN Security Council warned that the actions of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and separatist leader Ali Salim al-Bid threatened to undermine the country’s democratic transition.

North Korea conducted its third nuclear test on 12 February, a reaction to the UN Security Council’s January resolution condemning its satellite launch last December. As the Security Council held immediate emergency talks, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the nuclear test as “deeply destabilising”. China also declared publicly its “firm opposition” to the test and summoned the North Korean ambassador to Beijing to express its dissatisfaction.

Tension increased ahead of Guinea’s forthcoming legislative elections. The electoral commission, accelerating its preparations for the vote scheduled for 12 May, controversially validated the choice of two companies to undertake a revision of voter rolls. The opposition, who believe the companies are open to political pressure, responded by withdrawing from electoral preparations, and opposition supporters protested in Conakry and other cities.

In Bangladesh, violent Islamist protests against the country’s 1971 war crimes tribunal intensified, as protesters faced off against a popular movement in support of death sentences for those accused, including senior leaders of the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami. One of the organisers of the demonstrations in support of death sentences was hacked to death in a suspected Jamaat-e-Islami attack mid-February. Dozens have been killed in clashes since the tribunal sentenced a Jamaat-e-Islami leader to death on 28 February, and violence was continuing. The government faces growing calls to ban Jamaat-e-Islami.

In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe announced that the referendum on a new constitution would be held on 16 March, as worrying reports emerged of politically-motivated violence and intimidation, and of raids on non-governmental organisations (NGOs), confiscation of their documents and equipment, and police allegations that 99 per cent of NGOs are engaged in regime change.

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