CrisisWatch N°111, 1 November 2012
Renewed violence broke out in Myanmar’s Rakhine State on 21 October involving Muslim and Buddhist communities. Official figures report the death toll from the latest outbreak of inter-communal tensions, which mostly involved Muslim Rohingya and Buddhist Rakhine, to be at least 89, with 136 injured and over 5,000 houses torched. More than 30,000 people were officially displaced. Human rights groups have used satellite imagery to show that Rohingya and other Muslim communities are being explicitly targeted in this latest wave of violence.
On 19 October a car bomb in Beirut killed eight people, including Lebanon’s intelligence chief Brigadier-General Wissam al-Hassan, and wounded dozens. The opposition alleged Syrian involvement and demanded the resignation of the pro-Syrian Prime Minister Najib Mikati and his government. The attack triggered demonstrations and clashes in the capital and elsewhere, deepening sectarian tension as Lebanon struggles to contain spill over from the conflict in neighbouring Syria.
On the Korean peninsula, Seoul announced on 7 October a deal with the United States to extend the range of its ballistic missile system. North Korea condemned the move as part of a plan to invade, and claimed it has missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. On 19 October Pyongyang – in its most strident warning for months – threatened military strikes on a location from which South Korean activists planned to launch an airdrop of propaganda leaflets to the North.
In Guinea-Bissau, an alleged coup attempt on 21 October by a group of ethnic Felupe soldiers failed. Suspected coup leader Captain Pansau N’Tchamá was swiftly arrested and three accomplices were reportedly killed, sparking fears of a backlash against the Felupe minority. The government accused Portugal, former army Chief of Staff Zamora Induta and ousted Prime Minister Carlos Júnior of involvement in the coup. Opposition leaders, on the other hand, maintain the coup was a government ploy aimed at giving it a pretext to clamp down on its critics.
Philippines President Benigno Aquino’s government signed a peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country’s largest and best-armed insurgent group. The agreement, which envisions the creation of a new autonomous regional government called the Bangsamoro to replace the failed Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, is the best chance for peace with the MILF for years. Both parties have been careful to underscore the hard work that lies ahead in implementing the agreement’s terms.
Historic parliamentary elections in Georgia marked the country’s first democratic transfer of power since independence. President Saakashvili quickly conceded the defeat of his United National Movement to the opposition coalition Georgian Dream, led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, which took 55 per cent of the vote. International observers praised the conduct of the elections. The change in government might signal a thaw in Georgia’s relations with Russia, although the new government has ruled out restoring diplomatic ties as long as Moscow continues to recognise the independence of breakaway regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
FULL CRISIS WATCH
Photo: Oscar Buhl/Wikimedia Commons